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In 1946, the US Navy conducted nuclear bomb tests on their own ships in an effort to fully understand the power of the atom.

Following the end of the Second World War, the world entered the Atomic Age where humanity developed the destructive capability to wipe out the vast majority of life on earth.

Efforts to understand the full power of a nuclear bomb and what it could be used for led to more testing, and in 1946 something called 'Operation Crossroads' was launched.

They were going to test the effects that a nuclear bomb could have on naval warfare and gathered a flotilla of American, German and Japanese ships which were going to be decommissioned.

These ships would be the targets for the bomb test, and Bikini Atoll was going to be the testing site. Some of them were filled with animals to judge what impact the blast would have on living creatures inside the vessels.

The ship which carried the bomb was vaporised almost instantly.
YouTube/Neural Networks and Deep Learning/Creative Commons

On 30 June, 1946, the first test of Operation Crossroads was underway, with a 23 kiloton nuclear bomb - the same model as the one dropped on Nagasaki - plunging into the Pacific Ocean amidst the flotilla of target ships.

This was test 'Able', and the blast of the nuke sunk two transport ships immediately, with two destroyers capsizing within hours and a captured Japanese cruiser going down the next day.

Dropped from a plane, the bomb had missed its target and not had the destructive capability expected. Test 'Baker' was conducted to see what the impact would be if the bomb was detonated underwater instead of dropped from the sky.

On 25 July, another 23 kiloton bomb was attached beneath a landing craft, which was placed in the middle of the target fleet, with the nuke 90 feet below the surface of the water when it detonated.

The US Navy ship that had carried it was vaporised instantly, while among the other vessels wrecked were two battleships and three submarines were destroyed.

The other ships caught in the blast were so contaminated by radiation that they were unusable.

Even the ships that weren't sunk were pretty much destroyed.
YouTube/Neural Networks and Deep Learning/Creative Commons

Astonishing footage of the blast was captured on camera and showed the ships being engulfed by a massive mushroom cloud bursting out of the water.

It swallowed up a number of the vessels, destroying those closest to the blast site and wrecking others around the impact zone.

Pretty much all of the animals they had placed aboard the ships died as a result of the bomb test, as while many had survived the impact of the blast, the exposure to radiation had since killed them.

This would not be the final test of detonating nuclear bombs underwater, as further operations would continue to test the results of setting off a nuke beneath the sea.

Featured Image Credit: YouTube/Neural Networks and Deep Learning/Creative Commons

Topics: US News, History