The Marshall Islands And Us Military Nuclear Testing

1764 words - 7 pages

Bikini Atoll is one of 29 atolls and five islands that make up the Marshall Islands (“A Short History”). Located in Micronesia, Bikini Atoll played a major role in World War II. Originally taken by the Japanese and used as a lookout point, it was later captured by U.S. forces in a battle that took place in its neighboring Kwajalein Atoll (“A Short History”). This would crush the Japanese hold on the Marshall Islands. After the war, President Truman recognized the importance of the Marshall Islands and its location in the Pacific. The Truman Administration wanted to enhance the countries knowledge on the effects of nuclear weapons on its ships and equipment. Until that point, nuclear testing was done on the behavior of nuclear weapons.
During the summer of 1946, a joint task force was given the mission to test the effects of nuclear radiation on ships, equipment and material. Formed in the winter of 1946, Joint Task Force 1 was made up of Navy, Army and civilian personnel (“Operation Crossroads, 1946”). The test was done using two atomic bombs, ABLE and BAKER. The target, was a fleet of 71 to 90 ships, depending on the source, and was made up of older U.S. ships and captured German and Japanese ships the first detonation in the series was named ABLE. ABLE was a 23 kt air burst that would fall short and to the left of its target resulting in only 5 ships being destroyed (“Operation Crossroads”). Experts determined the radiation was low enough to only require a couple of days before a crew could board the vessels and do their research. The BAKER detonation would be a similar weapon with only slight modifications to allow it to be suspended underwater. Anchored to the LSM-60, a landing ship, the BAKER detonation would test the effects of a subsurface blast. Similar to ABLE, this was a 23kt weapon. After its detonation, it destroyed 8 ships and damaged 8 more (“Operation Crossroads”). What was discovered with BAKER was that most of the ships were washed with highly radiated waters that came from the blast. The radiation levels were so high that it took weeks before any team could move out to do any kind of assessment. The aftermath of both the detonations would leave Bikini Atoll uninhabitable to this day. The 167 Bikini natives that were displaced were never allowed to return to their home. Presently, some Bikini natives have relocated to nearby islands in the Marshall Island systems. Radio Bikini documented how naïve the world was about nuclear weapons.
Robert Stone.
Robert Stone is an English born filmmaker who moved to the United States to attend and graduate from the University of Wisconsin/Madison (“Biography”). After receiving his degree in History, he moved to New York City to make a career as a film maker. Radio Bikini would be Robert Stones first documentary film, produced in 1987 it would premier in the Sundance Film Festival and gains him recognition as the film was nominated for both an Oscar and an Emmy (“Biography”).
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