of Nuclear Tests at Bikini Atoll
In 1945 the US developed the first atomic bomb. The first test,
Trinity, took place in New Mexico and 2 bombs are dropped on the
Japanese cities of Nagaskai & Hiroshima. The two main reasons
for this were so to make the Japanese surrender and thus avoid a
land invasion of Japan, a scenario that filled the US military with
dread. have to invade Japan and secondly as a little warning to
the Soviets to deter them from thinking they can "expand"
into Europe too far!
In 1946 the US found a remote and sparsely inhabited island in
the Marshall group, throwing off 167 natives "for the good
of mankind" and arranged to test three nuclear bombs on various
obsolete and captured WW2 ships to see what they would do to them.
The operation was known as Operation Crossroads, because mankind
was, it seemed, at a nuclear crossroad.
As comedian Bob Hope commented: As soon as the war ended, we
located the one spot on earth that hadn't been touched by the war
and blew it to hell.
This was not only the US showing off its might, but also an internal
ding-dong between the navy and the newly formed Air Force (the air
force having previously been part of the army). The first test is
an air drop, by the air force, on 1 July. A 20kt device similar
to that used on Japan, it landed 600 yards off target, which is
why most of the films and photos of it are off centre! It was "not
very impressive" to the thousands of people observing. It did
sink a few small ships, but the big ships survived to tell the tale.
For the next 3 weeks people scrambled over them, LIVED in them and
all built up nice doses of radiation, thank you very much indeed.
On 25 July the navy, having suspended a similar device 90ft below
the surface of the sea, set off their bomb. Kaboom! A much more
impressive display, it has to be said. This explosion not only looked
amazing, it also dumped serious amounts of radiation on the ships
and on Bikini. Those that are now at the bottom of the lagoon sank,
some, like the Germand battlecruiser Prinz Eugen got towed to Kwajalein
and sank, and some were returned to the US and were broken up or
used for target practice.
The resulting data was used for scientific purposes to determine
the future of nuclear weapons and Bikini was abandoned. (Remember,
there were to be 3 tests.)
The people of Bikini now assumed that they would be able to return
to their island soon after the tests had finished, but obviously
they had not been told about the radiation. They were subsequently
banished from their island until it was safe to return. As history
relates, they are yet to do so, and most are currently living on
the island of Kili, waiting for their safe return.
Things remained quiet until 1948, when Truman authorised a series
of tests because Cold War tensions were increasing and the only
stockpiles of weapons that the US had were based on the design of
the Trinity test, as used in Japan and at Bikini. These tests were
to take place at Enewetak, also in the Marshalls. Subsequently,
there were 7 more "Operations" at Enewetak and at the
Nevada test site, including, in 1952, Operation Ivy, where the US
started developing a hydrogen bomb - a thermonuclear device. The
Mike test at Enewetak on I November 1952 was that test, and this
paved the way for Operation Castle in 1954, to take place on Bikini.
Having built a hydrogen bomb at Enewetak that was about the size
of a house, the US started trying to redesign the bomb to make it
deliverable by air.
On 1 March 1954 the US tested their third bomb at Bikini - the
Bravo. This was the first dry or solid fuel hydrogen bomb, filled
with lithium deuteride, and was the largest bomb EVER set off by
the US. In fact, it resulted in an explosion almost 3 times greater
than expected, due to the tritium provided by the lithium-7 isotope
which made up most of the lithium. Coming in at a whopping 15 megatons
(that's 15 million tons of TNT equivalent, compared with only 20
thousand tons for the 1946 tests and those in Japan), the bomb vaporised
3 islands, and blew a hole 250ft deep and 6500ft in diameter in
the atoll. The resulting mushroom cloud rose 130,000ft into the
air, and drifted across the atolls of Rongerik, Rongelap, Ailinginae
and Utirik because the powers that be could not be bothered to wait
for the prevailing winds to blow the radioactivity away from islands
of inhabitation, but rather wanted to set the thing off on the day
they had planned. This was to be the worst radiological disaster
in US history. The entire atoll was contaminated, and the exclusion
zone around the test was increased to 570,000 sq miles, a circle
850 miles in diameter.
The Americans had got their 3 tests in at Bikini and their thinking
was, well the place is totally uninhabitable now, let's nuke it
to hell! In the space of 2 and a half months from 1 March to 14
May 1954, the Americans dropped 48 megatons of bombs on Bikini.
By 1958, when they finished, the total was nearer 75 megatons.
The Bikinians then started asking questions such as:
Q: What the have you done to our island?
A: Err…nuked it
Q: When can we go back?
A: Aah, ummm, well, not for a VERY long time, I am afraid.
Q: Can we sue you?
A: Oh, darn, shoot
So various trust funds were set up for the Bikinians, and they
have been living off them every since. A few families returned to
Bikini in 1968 but soon became ill, and since then they have never
really trusted anything the Americans will say to them about whether
it is or is not safe to return.
The main reason that they can’t go back is because there
is Caesium in the soil, and the breadfruit trees, coconut &
pandanus palms - their main staple diet - take up caesium instead
of potassium, and irradiate their fruit. The coconut crabs that
also eat the coconuts have taken the caesium into their bodies.
Bikinians like eating coconut crabs. The ground water is also contaminated.
So all their "land" food is unfit to eat.
Bikini was "abandoned" for a few decades, and in the
late 80s a feasibility study was done on the wrecks to see if the
place could be turned into a marine park where divers pay money
to see them. The rest, as they say, is history.
The US Dept of Energy and Lawrence Livermore Laboratories have
done extensive research and monitoring of Bikini. Their reports
state in general that the environment poses no radiological danger.
However, there are some very low amounts of residual caesium deep
in the soil that may be absorbed into plants with deep root structures
such as coconut trees. If these plants are consumed in large quantities
over a long periods of time, an unacceptable level of caesium may
be absorbed by humans. (Remember the Austrian wine scare?!) The
background radiation at Bikini is approximately 1/10th that of a
major city such as London or New York. Remember, the staff at the
resort would not be there if there was any danger!
General Info on the Wrecks
Bikini Atoll contains perhaps the most important collection of
WW2 shipwrecks anywhere on earth. There are places with more wrecks
- Rabaul & Hansa Bay in Papua New Guinea, Truk Lagoon further to
the Northwest of the Marshalls have more. But none have battleships
or an aircraft carrier! There are numerous other shipwrecks at Bikini
than those listed below but with only 12 dives in the week, these
are without a doubt the finest examples of their type anywhere in
What is there to say about Saratoga that has not already
been said? A US Navy Aircraft Carrier, CV-3, she was only the 3rd
US carrier ever built, and the first to be built specifically as
a carrier, the others being converted battleships. A steel-hulled
vessel with a waterline length of 830 feet, flight deck length of
888 feet and officially weighing 33,000 standard tons, the Saratoga
is the largest shipwreck most of us are ever likely to dive on!
In fact, her flight deck length of 888ft makes her longer than the
Titanic. After the attack on Pearl Harbour on 7 December
1941, Saratoga became America's primary carrier in the Pacific.
Her service to the US during World War II was distinguished, not
least because the Japanese claimed to have sunk her 7 times; she
saw action all over the Pacific theatre - Bougainville, Munda, Vella
Lavella, Rabaul, Gilbert Islands, Eniwetok, Kwajelein, Sumatra,
Java, Iwo Jima and the Tokyo area of Japan. Her planes are known
to have sunk 1 Japanese carrier, 2 cruisers and several destroyers,
and shot down numerous enemy planes. Her finest hour was undoubtedly
at Iwo Jima, where she survived 7 aerial bombs and Kamikaze attacks
from no less than 5 planes. 123 crew died in the ensuing infernos,
but Saratoga gamely refused to sink. Her actions during World War
II gained her an unprecedented 7 Battle Stars. By 1945, however,
Saratoga was out of date, superseded by faster carriers capable
of carrying more planes & munitions over greater distances. Having
partaken in the Magic Carpet run - she shipped some 30,000 war weary
American troops home across the Pacific on 8 crossings - Saratoga
was graciously retired, and sailed to Bikini Atoll for the US military's
Saratoga, like so many of the ships at Bikini, survived
the Able Blast, but succumbed to damage caused by the massive shock
waves and water surge that Baker Blast created. Some 8 hours after
Baker Blast Saratoga finally slipped between the waves. New
York Times correspondent Hanson W. Baldwin wrote this epitaph as
he watched Saratoga sink slowly beneath Bikini's lagoon:
"There were many who had served her in the observing fleet and they
fought with her through the long hot hours as the sun mounted. Outside
the reef...the observing ships cruised, while the Sara slowly
died. There were scores who wanted to save her - and perhaps she
might have been saved, had there been a crew aboard. But she died
a lonely death, with no man upon the decks once teaming with life,
with pumps idle and boilers dead. From three o'clock on she sank
fast, her buoyancy gone, as the fleet kept the death watch for a
'fighting lady'. The Sara settled - the air soughing from
her compartments like the breath from exhausted lungs. At 3:45 pm
the starboard aft corner of her flight deck was awash; then the
loud speakers blared: 'The water is up to her island now; the bow
is high in the air.' She died like a queen - proudly. The bow slowly
reared high; the stern sank deep, and, as if striving for immortality,
the Sara lifted her white numeral 3 high into the sun before
her bow slipped slowly under. Her last minutes were slow and tortured;
she fought and would not sink, but slowly the 3 was engulfed by
the reaching waters, the tip of her mast was the last bit of Sara
seen by man." Unless, of course, you are a diver fortunate enough
to be visiting Bikini Atoll!
Like all the warships at Bikini, Saratoga was "battle ready"
- as well as primed munitions and a complement of bunker & aviation
fuel, she carried 3 of the US Navy's Helldiver single-engine dive
bombers and an Avenger single-engine torpedo bomber, located in
the main hangers, in a line just aft of the forward elevator. 500lb
bombs are also located in the same area. Eight paired 38 calibre
guns in four houses - two forward and two aft; 12 single 38 calibre
guns & 24 Bofors antiaircraft guns of which six have been located;
and 52 Oerlikon 20 mm anti-aircraft guns of which five have been
located bristled along the edges of the flight deck. Twelve Mk 51
gun fire-control directors can be found next to the anti-aircraft
guns. Forward of the bridge can be found one of her large twin 5-inch
turrets, the other having been removed prior to the Bikini tests.
Saratoga is the shallowest dive at Bikini. She sits upright
on the seabed 190ft below the surface, but her bridge superstructure
can be clearly seen from the surface, being only 40ft down. Spiralling
down the bridge you arrive at the flight deck in about 90ft. The
gaping maws that are the main elevators lead down to the hanger
deck at about 130ft.
Because of her vastness Saratoga is worthy at least 4 during
a week at Bikini. The first "check-out" dive (some check-out dive!)
is on Saratoga - a 90ft dive to the flight deck and an inspection
of the bridge where a full complement of instrumentation can be
found, including dials, telegraph an voice tubes. The conning tower
portholes are all covered with screens, but they let in some light
- a torch is a useful item to have on every dive at Bikini! Also
in the superstructure can be found a map table, basin and gun directors.
A small school of inquisitive batfish can usually be found around
the top of the bridge. Dropping down onto the flight deck and moving
across to the port side, you pass first the forward munitions lift
and then the colossal forward elevator, a square shaft some 70ft
wide that drops down into the guts of the ship. Continuing past
the elevator and after a 120ft swim (yes, that is how wide the Saratoga
is!) you eventually reach the port side. Here can be found various
anti-aircraft guns and a forklift truck, which makes for a great
photo moment! Returning across the flight deck you pass one of the
blast gauge towers, metal structures about 20ft high upon which
numerous instruments were placed to measure a range of data from
the detonations, including radiation, wind, temperature, light etc.
Back to the forward section of the bridge and you can find the Saratoga's
5-inch gun turret, the twin barrels pointing skyward in a final
salute. These guns are perhaps the most famous images of the Saratoga.
The second dive on Saratoga takes you into the hanger.
Dropping down through the forward elevator shaft you descend a further
50ft below the flight deck to the main hanger deck at 130ft. Moving
aft the first things you come upon are a line of 500lb bombs, massive
bulbous beasts about 6ft long. Moving aft from the bombs you come
across the first of the 4 planes that can be found in the hanger.
They are all intact, though those further aft are beginning to deteriorate.
From the position of the planes you can clearly see back through
the hanger to the light pouring in from the aft plan elevator. The
deck in this region buckled during Baker blast, and over the ensuing
55 years has become to slowly collapse downwards. Like a giant's
discarded toys, twisted metal, girders and cables are strewn across
the hanger floor and drape from the underside of the deck. However,
with the ambient light filtering in through the elevators it is
easy to make your way aft and out onto the flight deck again. The
flight deck near the aft elevator is so severely damaged that it
has been crushed down to almost the same level as the hanger deck.
From the aft elevator you can proceed back towards the bridge by
way of the engine exhausts. Saratoga's conspicuous funnel collapsed
onto the deck during the Atom bomb tests but the huge exhausts holes
coming up from the engines can be seen in line along the starboard
side. From here you can inspect the gun sites and range finders
located on the aft section of the bridge before exiting the water.
Another dive is at the bow of the ship. Because Saratoga
is so enormous, it is actually quite difficult to get any idea of
her true size by looking at individual portions. The bridge is decidedly
small in comparison to the overall size of the vessel, as are the
elevator shafts. It is only when you consider that each elevator
is approximately one-twelfth the length of the ship - and to be
honest, that does not really work! - that you get an idea of the
size of this behemoth. However, a swim to the bow rectifies that
problem. Swim off the flight deck like some old Helldiver and drop
down over the bow to the hawsers. The port hawser is empty, the
chain for the anchor dropping away below you to the anchor on the
sea floor. Each link in the chain is bigger than a human's torso,
and they are draped in soft corals and sea whips. A human could
fit in the hawser, no problem. The port hawser still contains its
vast anchor, a monster chunk of metal about 15ft across. But the
true size of the ship is gained if you swim a few yards off from
the bow into open water and look down the vessel's prow - the sweeping
curve drops down to the sea floor. The sides of the hull sprout
millions of whip corals like oversized hairs, and as you look back
along the edge of the hull you realise that you are at main deck
level in 90ft of water and the hull is resting on the sand some
100ft below you! It is only then that you get a true perspective
of exactly how massive the Saratoga really is!
Another Saratoga dive is to the stern section of the ship,
where you can gain access through the open passageways along the
side of the ship to interior sections, and down to the lagoon floor
to gawk at her massive props and rudder.
Saratoga is undoubtedly the most massive wreck that most
people are likely to dive and she still has secrets to give up.
She has some 8 deck levels, but only the first 3 have been even
remotely scrutinised; her engine rooms are yet to be accessed. With
the large amounts of sediment to be found in the wreck, and with
her increasing age, this will probably be unlikely, as well. For
all that, she is without doubt the most famous shipwreck upon which
I have ever dived!
Saratoga Deck Plans & Perspectives
HIJMS NAGATO: Which brings
us on to the Nagato. If Saratoga is the most famous
ship at Bikini then Nagato I surely the most infamous! She
was the first warship in the world to have 16 inch guns and was
the largest battleship in the world at her launch. 708ft in length
and weighing 38,500 tons, Nagato had eight 16 inch guns in
4 turrets, 2 forward and 2 aft, twenty 50 calibre guns, 4 antiaircraft
guns, three machine guns and eight torpedo tubes, 4 above the water
and 4 below. She was a striking ship, not least because of her size,
but because of her distinctively high bridge superstructure, that
seemed to tower ever upwards, making the ship look extremely unstable!
She wasn't. Nagato was the Japanese Imperial Navy's largest
capital ship until the launch of the super battleships Yamato
& Musashi and it was from her bridge that Admiral Yamamoto
ordered the attack on Pearl Harbour in December 1941. She was the
only Japanese capital ship to survive the entire war and partook
in the official surrender of Japan in Tokyo Bay in 1945 (along with
Missouri, which can be found moored at Pearl Harbour). It
was therefore fitting that she be taken to Bikini and used in the
A-Bomb tests. Having over seen so much devastation of her own making,
it was time for a bit of payback!
Nagato survived both Able & Baker Blasts and sank a few
days after Baker, on 29 July 1946. Being a battleship, and top-heavy,
ship flipped over on descent, and now rests upside down on the lagoon
floor in 170-180ft of water. Because her main gun turrets were fitted
bayonet-fashion to the deck, and not held in place by the sheer
weight, like in most warships, they remain attached to their barbettes.
The ships main superstructure holds her of the seafloor, so you
can inspect all 4 main turrets with ease.
Nagato is an overwhelming diving experience! As you dive
down to her, her hull stretches away into the distance in both directions.
From the shot line you drop down over the port side (which is on
the starboard side, because the boat is upside down!) and swim along
the edge of the deck. Forward you pass some of her smaller guns,
huge cogs and wheels, winches, and other paraphernalia. As you swim
towards the bow you don't realise until it I almost too late that
at some point you have stopped swimming along the side of the boat
but dropped slightly down and under, and are swimming alongside
one of her massive gun turrets. These huge objects are about 50ft
long - out of them stick two monster gun barrels, each 60ft long
and with a girth at the base of about 5ft. Tampions are fitted to
each barrel to stop sea water entering the barrel and thus the breach
mechanism, and they are covered in whip corals. Remember, they are
the second largest guns ever fitted to a warship (only Yamato
& Musashi had larger guns), and the only 16 inch guns that
you will ever dive on. Awesome! Forward from here and you come to
the bow, where anchor chains droop down to the seabed. You can get
right under the ship here and swim out the other side! On your return
along the ship you come across a strange section of superstructure
resting on the seabed by the side of the ship, ripped off from the
deck as the ship sank. Ironically the bridge has come apart from
the Nagato and came to rest next to her. You can now swim
where Yamamoto once stood.
The second dive on Nagato is to the rear. As you swim along
the underside of the vessel you can access a hole in the deck that
takes you up through an opening into the aircraft hanger located
forward of her C-turret. Here numerous dials and other stuff an
be seen. Looking aft through the massive entrance to the hanger
you can see C & D Turret silhouetted against the open sea, festooned
with whip corals, and held in place above the seabed by their bayonets.
Imagine if they had dropped out of their barbettes? You would not
be able to see these monster guns to their full advantage! Swimming
past the guns an out to the stern you then come up over the hull
and the grand finale! Nagato's 4 massive propellers stick
skywards from the hull. Each prop has 4 blades and each blade I
about 8ft long; each prop is 20ft across. I've never seen bigger!
With clear water and plenty of ambient light photographers can easily
capture a single propeller on film! Nagato is my favourite
dive at Bikini because, to be honest, I prefer 16 inch guns and
stuff like that!
USS ARKANSAS: Arkansas
was a US dreadnought battleship from the First World War, but had
numerous refits throughout her long and distinguished career. A
riveted steel vessel, Arkansas was 562ft long with a maximum
beam of 106 feet, a draft of 29ft and weighed 23066 tons. Fitted
to be a flagship, Arkansas contained more elaborate quarters
than standard. Arkansas was stationed in both the Pacific
and European theatres of war, and was involved in the initial bombardments
of the Normandy beaches during the D-Day landings. She, like Saratoga,
was out of date by 1945, superseded by a new class of battleship,
of which Missouri is the only remaining example. She was
slow, poorly armoured and out gunned by her rivals, and the US Navy
now had no real need for battleships with naval warfare being dominated
by carrier based fleets.
Prior to the Able blast, Arkansas was fitted with blast
gauge towers, test equipment and test ordinance. A 90mm howitzer
was also secured to the deck. Armaments that can be found are three
51 calibre Mk13 guns on single mounts, damaged shutters and splinter
shields from 40mm anti-aircraft guns. Inside the casemate, two 5-inch
rounds can be found in the ready rack. There were no recorded alterations
made to the Arkansas prior to the Baker blast. The seriously
damaged Arkansas lies inverted on the bottom of Bikini Lagoon in
180ft of water. The keel is at 100ft, the weather deck at 160ft,
while the aircastle can be found at 170ft. The first thing you notice
as you drop down to the bottom of the Arkansas's hull (at
the top!) is the terrible damage inflicted on her by the tests.
Her hull is crushed like a concertina, huge waves of buckled hull
plates folded in on the more rigid structure of the girders within.
Testament to the forces unleashed by the A-Bombs!
On the port side (to be found to starboard!) one of her large forward
turrets is turned out to sea, the 12 inch gun barrels sticking proud
of the ship's hull. The bow stands off from the seabed and you can
gain access underneath. The view up the bow is impressive, the whole
being covered in whip corals and small hard coral formations.
USS PILOTFISH: US Navy Submarine.
A welded and riveted, high-tensile-steel submersible that was 311.8
feet long and weighed 2,424 standard tons submerged. Known alterations
to the Pilotfish prior to the Able blast included weights,
wire rope moorings as well as salvage fitting connections. The two
periscopes were removed and the shears scope tubes were blacked
out. Submerged for the Baker blast, Pilotfish was moored
at a depth of 168 feet at a range a 363 yards from the point of
the blast. The armaments onboard include a single 40mm rapid-fire
recoil-type gun. Aft, on the after cigarette deck of the sail is
a mounted twin 20mm Orelikon gun. Pilotfish is almost completely
intact with exception of a small portion of the conning tower which
was blown away. Pilotfish lies upright at 175 feet. The conning
tower can be reached at 130 while the deck is at 150 feet. The only
open hatch is the after escape trunk. The submarine is believed
to be flooded.
USS APOGON: Apogon
is one of two US Navy submarines sunk at Bikini, the other being
the Pilotfish. A welded, riveted and high-tensile Balao-class
steel submarine, Apogon was 311ft long and 47ft high; she
could dive to depths of 400 ft. Apogon played an important
role in co-ordinating attack information with other boats and was
part of a successful raiding party known as the "Mickey Finns,"
which sank 41,000 tons of Japanese shipping. The boat's primary
armaments consisted of ten 21-inch torpedo tubes - six forward and
four aft - with 24 Mark torpedoes. The boat also mounted a single
5 inch gun onto the deck forward of the conning tower. She is almost
identical to the Bowfin that can be found moored at Pearl
Harbour. On 11 September 1945 Apogon was selected to take
part in Operation Crossroads. The vessel was modified to submerge
and surface without a crew during the exercise. Lightly damaged
during the Able Blast, Apogon sank during the Baker Blast
into 180 feet of water. Salvage attempts were made and then shortly
abandoned. Apogon is a beautiful dive, not least because
she is completely covered in hip corals & soft corals, and shrouded
in swirling schools of glassfish, that are usually found around
the conning tower. Sitting upright on the bottom and at "only" 300ft
in length, she is easily viewed in a single dive, starting at the
stern, where her props are clearly visible, as are the stern torpedo
tubes that are open. The conning tower is stunning, with her 5 inch
gun pointing forward, the whole covered in beautiful corals. The
wooden deck has rotted away, exposing the pressure hull beneath,
and you can clearly see where the deck hatches run from where the
wooden deck used to be, down to the pressure hull beneath. One of
her hatches is open so the chances are the entire vessel is flooded.
USS LAMSON: A welded steel
destroyer, Lamson was 341ft long at the deck, with a waterline
length of 334ft. Armament consisted of a main battery of five 5
inch guns and three 21 inch torpedo tubes mounted on deck. Lamson
additionally carried four .50 calibre machine guns, two depth charge
tracks, and K-type depth charge projectors. In July 1937, nearly
a year after her commission, the vessel searched the Gilbert and
Marshall Island groups for the missing aviator Amelia Earhart. Lamson
was heavily damaged and sunk during the Able Blast on 1 July 1946.
The test burst tore off the light topside superstructure, stacks
and mainmast and smashed the bridge. Lamson is lying upright
with her stern near a depression in the reef indicating she sank
stern first. The guns remained in the mounts and the torpedo tubes
are intact. The depth charge tracks are twisted and torn but you
can clearly see the depth charges in the tracks. Lamson is
an awesome wreck. She has everything you could ever dream of finding
on a shipwreck (if only Nagato was sitting upright!) - large
guns, anti-aircraft guns, depth charge tracks, torpedo tubes (with
the torpedoes hanging out!), the whole nine yards! The old bridge
superstructure was destroyed during Able Blast but the ships telegraph
and some of the instrument binnacles are still in place. Like the
Apogon, Lamson is covered in whip corals & soft corals, and
her forward 5 inch gun has a large plate coral growing at the end
of the barrel. Schools of glassfish can be seen everywhere, and
there are aggregations of marbled grouper and coral trout everywhere.
Lamson is worthy of at least two dives.
USS ANDERSON: A Sims-class
destroyer of 2,300 tons displacement, 348ft in length but only 25ft
in beam. She was thus very sleek and very fast. She produced an
incredible 50,000bhp (that's a lot of power for a 2,300 ton ship!)
and was capable of a massive 37 knots.
Her primary roll was as a carrier escort. It is sad - but at the
same time amusing - to note that Anderson was not very good at her
Lexington - sunk at the Battle of the Coral Sea
Yorktown - sunk at the Battle of Midway
Hornet - sunk at the Battle of the Eastern Solomons
Wasp - sunk at the Battle of Gaudalcanal
Hmmm… there seems to be a theme running through this, don’t
you think! 4 carriers lost in 4 separate battles, all escorted by
the Anderson. No wonder they decided to sink her at Bikini
- perhaps she was jinxed!!!!
Anderson was very close to Able Blast Ground Zero and
in fact was one of the few ships to sink in that blast. Navy divers
reported her lying upright on an even keel after the Able blast.
However, she is actually lying on her port side, so one can only
assume that the shock wave from Baker knocked her over on her side.
Either that or the divers were narked!
Like all good destroyers she bristles with toys: anti-aircraft
guns, depth charge racks & projectors (racks drop them off the
back of the boat, projectors hurl them out to the sides), 2 sets
of torpedo tubes and 4 5-inch manin guns. Lying on her side as she
does gives you an interesting perspective on the ship. Being quite
small you can do the whole ship in one dive, starting at the stern.
She has fabulous twin props that are great for fotos. From there
you move round to the stern deck and move forward, with the wreck
on your right. As you swim along you pass depth charge racks, guns,
guns, the first set of torpedo tubes, which stick up in the air
and look very impressive indeed. You then come to the bridge which
has great portholes in it, and is always full of glassfish and then
a blast guage tower (used during the nuclear tests), then more guns
and yet more guns and then to the bow. The boat rests on a sandy
bottom, with a small reef next to it. The ambient light and the
way the sand scoops under the bow make it probably the most impressive
of all the bows in Bikini to photograph, espcially as it is not
so big that you have to be 100ft away from it. A diver above gives
an excellent perspective. Anderson is a wonderful taster
for the Lamson, another destroyer at Bikini.
USS CARLISLE: Carlisle was
a 426ft Gilliam-class attack transport. Attack transports were essentially
freighters, but were both heavily armed & armoured. This gave attack
transports a dual role of supply ship and escort vessel on convoys.
Carlisle sits upright on the lagoon floor, and her bow area
is frequented by a large school of jacks. I saw them swirling rapidly
along the edge of the hull, a vortex of perhaps 500 silvery jacks.
The holds of Carlisle contain plenty of interesting stuff
- plane engines & props, shells, ammo belts and rows of small ships'
propellers. I found a strange little trolley with what appeared
to be caterpillar tracks. I assume that it was for moving shells
across the deck. You can find a loo situated amidships, sitting
on one of the old gun mounts. Always amusing for photographers to
take a picture of a diver sitting on it!!!
USS GILLIAM: 426-foot attack transport.
Sitting upright with extensive midship damage. Highlights include
distinct rear gun, fish life.
HIJMS SAKAWA: 550-foot Agano-class
cruiser. Positioned 500 yards from ground zero of Able blast.