National Park Service
The Archeology of the Atomic Bomb
A Submerged Cultural Resources Assessment of the Sunken Fleet of Operation Crossroads at Bikini and Kwajalein Atoll Lagoons
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The target ships of Operation Crossroads, even those that survived sinking at Bikini and those that also outlasted subsequent sinking, are now scrapped. The same holds true in large measure for the support fleet of ships. Nonetheless, four Crossroads veterans remain in active naval service as of 1990, and another one is preserved as a museum ship. In 1990, surviving vessels of Operation Crossroads are:

USS Conserver (ARS-39). Attached to the repair and service group for Operation Crossroads, the Bolster-class salvage vessel Conserver is assigned to the Pacific Fleet and based at Pearl Harbor.

USS Fulton (AS-11). Also assigned to the repair and service group for Operation Crossroads, the submarine tender Fulton is now attached to the Atlantic Fleet and based at Norfolk, Virginia.

USS Laffey (DD-724). Attached to the support fleet for Crossroads, Laffey patrolled the seas outside the atoll. Preserved and open as a museum display vessel at Patriot's Point, Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, Laffey is one of five historic vessels there, including USS Yorktown (CV-10).

USS Preserver (ARS-8). Attached to the repair and service group, this salvage ship is now assigned to the Naval Reserve Training Facility at Little Creek outside Norfolk, Virginia.

USS Reclaimer (ARS-42). Attached to the repair and service group as its first assignment, this then-new Diver-class salvage ship later returned to Bikini in 1954 for the Castle-Bravo test. This vessel remains in active service at Pearl Harbor.

Additionally, preserved portions of one target and one support ship survive as historic exhibits. The bridge of the target submarine Parche (SS-384), one of the nine vessels to survive the spate of post-Crossroads scuttlings, served as a Naval Reserve training boat at Mare Island, California, until November 1969. Sold for scrap in July 1970, portions of the submarine were saved and retained by the Navy. The bridge is on display at the Subase, Pearl Harbor, while the conning tower once inside the sail and bridge is displayed outdoors at the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park at Pearl Harbor. The above-the-waterline portion of the bow of USS Fall River (CA-131), the target ship group flagship for Crossroads, was saved after the cruiser was stricken and scrapped in 1971. It is now on display at Battleship Cove, Fall River, Massachusetts, where the battleship Massachusetts, the destroyer Joseph P. Kennedy Jr., and the submarine Lionfish are preserved.

At least one Crossroads aircraft survives as a museum exhibit. An F6F Hellcat used as a drone to sample the air after each burst is now at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. The ARADO 196 spotting plane from Prinz Eugen that did not accompany the cruiser to Bikini is also owned by U.S. Navy, and is in storage.

Some of the items of "historical interest" removed from the Crossroads target ships are displayed at various memorials, sites, and museums. The ship's bell of USS Arkansas is the centerpiece of the Arkansas War Memorial in Little Rock, while the Governor's office retains the ship's silver service for use on ceremonial occasions. Saratoga's bell is displayed at the Naval Aviation Museum at Pensacola, Florida. The bell of USS Anderson is displayed at the Anderson, South Carolina, post of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). Lamson's bell is displayed at the 9th Naval District Headquarters in Des Moines, Iowa. The U.S. Navy retains Prinz Eugen's bell, now in storage, as well as Lamson's commissioning plaque in Washington, D.C. Ordnance items stripped from Prinz Eugen prior to Crossroads are now in the Navy's museum collections, and include a 20mm and 37mm antiaircraft gun. Flags flown from the ships at Bikini, including a Japanese Naval Ensign from Nagato are in the Navy's collections.

Other artifacts from the target ships rest throughout the country in various museums and in private hands, and many are proudly displayed by the veterans of these vessels at their reunions--the last remnants in hand of the sunken fleet of Operation Crossroads.

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Last Updated: 22-Sep-2008