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America’s missing NUKES: How US has LOST three bombs since 1958 (and that’s just the ones they’ve told us about)


Somewhere at the bottom of the Philippine Sea rests an undetonated hydrogen bomb with around 70 times the power of the one dropped on Hiroshima.

The 1965 disaster which saw the weapon sink to the bottom of the sea is just one of at least three cases where the U.S. lost nuclear weapons

According to some sources, the number could be as high as six, and that does not account for those lost by other countries.

At least three bombs have been lost around the world (Picture: DailyMail.com)

At least three bombs have been lost around the world (Picture: DailyMail.com) 

USS Ticonderoga

USS Ticonderoga

Since 1950, there have been several dozen ‘Broken Arrow’ incidents involving the accidental launch, theft or detonation or loss of US nuclear weapons.

They include the 1980 Damascus Incident in rural Arkansas where a nine-megaton weapon was thrown from its silo by a fuel explosion.

But only three cases of nukes going missing have been documented. 

One of the lost nuke cases involved a one megaton B43 thermonuclear bomb that vanished during the Vietnam War after a freak accident in the Philippine Sea.

The bomb was being carried by a Navy A-4E Skyhawk that tried to land on board the carrier U.S.S. Ticonderoga in 1965.

As it docked on the aircraft elevator, it began to roll relentlessly as servicemen whistled, shouted and tried to block its tires.

The pilot on board, Lieutenant Douglas Webster, the plane, and the plane’s cargo have not been seen since.

Retired Chief Petty Officer Delbert Mitchell, U.S. Navy, who worked as an aviation ordnanceman aboard the Ticonderoga, told Naval History that he and the other ordnancemen, ‘saw the Skyhawk suddenly hit the end of the elevator and fall overboard.

‘We never saw Lieutenant Webster after he climbed into the cockpit or knew what efforts he might have attempted to get out of the Skyhawk, but we were stunned to witness a plane, pilot, and nuclear weapon fall into the ocean.

‘We watched helplessly as the attack plane and pilot sank into the abyss, the ship continuing to move forward. It was horrifying to watch a human being die before our very eyes, powerless to save him.’

A B43 bomb similar to the one which went missing

A B43 bomb similar to the one which went missing

Lieutenant Douglas Webster

Lieutenant Douglas Webster

Another case which is still surrounded in mystery occurred in 1958 during a military exercise off Tybee Island near Savannah in Georgia.

A B-47 bomber was involved in a collision during an exercise, and jettisoned a nuclear weapon over water so that the bomb wouldn’t be involved in an emergency landing.

The 7,600lbs, Mark 15 bomb had an explosive yield of up to 3.8 megatons.

Aircrew of B-47, left to right, Major Howard Richardson, Lieutenant Bob Lagerstrom and Captain Leland Woolard

Aircrew of B-47, left to right, Major Howard Richardson, Lieutenant Bob Lagerstrom and Captain Leland Woolard

The Boeing B-47 Stratojet collided with a F-65 Sabre jet during training, and the pilot of the Stratojet was concerned that the bomb would break loose and detonate.

Pilot Colonel Howard Richardson jettisoned the bomb into the waters of Wassaw Sound.

Teams of personnel attempted to find the bomb for two months, but it was never unearthed – and it became well known among local residents, who refer to it as the ‘Tybee bomb’.

Controversy remains as to whether the bomb actually had the plutonium core required to detonate, with the U.S. government having said that it did not contain a core.

But 1966 testimony by Jack Howard suggested that the bomb was a ‘complete nuclear weapon’, although military sources have since suggested that was ‘in error’.

Colonel Richardson has said that he has a signed receipt proving the bomb did not have an active capsule (which would allow it to be detonated).

A Mark 15 thermonuclear device

A Mark 15 thermonuclear device

Colonel Richardson later said: ‘What I should be remembered for is landing that plane safely. I guess this bomb is what I’m going to be remembered for.’

Another major source of ‘lost’ nuclear weapons has been submarines, with the Soviet submarine K-219 which sank in 1986 believed to be carrying more than a dozen thermonuclear weapons. 

In 1968, the nuclear attack submarine the U.S.S. Scorpion sank in the middle of the Atlantic, with the loss of 99 lives – and two nuclear-tipped torpedoes.

The submarine and the weapons have never been recovered.

Technical problems with the submarine had led crew members to refer to the doomed submarine as the ‘Scrapiron’.

A Boeing Stratojet

A Boeing Stratojet

Making one last voyage back to home base, the submarine disappeared, and the crew did not respond to the call sign after the submarine failed to show up at the allotted time.

The wreck was found on October 29, having imploded beneath the Atlantic, with all 99 sailors still on board.

Conspiracy theorists have suggested that the Scorpion was in fact sunk by a Soviet vessel – claiming that the high number of submarines sunk in 1968 suggests a secret war conducted beneath the surface.



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