0
   

North Carolina nearly nuked.

 
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Fri 27 Sep, 2013 07:59 am
Quote:
New evidence has emerged confirming that the US came just one safety switch away from detonating a hydrogen bomb over North Carolina that was 260 times more powerful than the "Little Boy" bomb that destroyed Hiroshima.

Previously unseen video footage involving some of the country's top nuclear weapons safety experts, together with documents that have never before been made public, reveal that senior US officials were fully aware that the country came to catastrophe in January 1961 when a B-52 bomber accidentally dropped two Mark 39 hydrogen bombs over Goldsboro, North Carolina.

The knowledge went as far up the chain as the then defence secretary Robert McNamara, who according to a top-secret document told Pentagon officials in 1963 that "by the slightest margin of chance, literally the failure of two wires to cross, a nuclear explosion was averted".

The new video footage and documents were obtained by the investigative journalist Eric Schlosser while researching his new book Command and Control, which chronicles America's nuclear weapons experience. Last week the Guardian published for the first time a secret document acquired by Schlosser that proved that America was spared a disaster of monumental proportions by just one low-voltage switch.

The newly revealed video is taken from a longer documentary called Always-Never: The Quest for Nuclear Safety, Control, and Survivability, which was produced in 2010 by the Sandia National Laboratories, the agency charged with ensuring that the US nuclear weapons stockpile remains safe and secure. Created for internal viewing within Sandia, marked "Official Use Only" and never released to the public, the film uses animation vividly to recreate the events of 23 January 1961.

A B-52 bomber flying a routine run along the north-east coast of the US got into trouble after it refueled in mid-air. The boom operator of the fuel tanker noticed pink fluid leaking from the bomber's right wing, and soon after the wing ripped off, sending the plane into a spin.

The video then shows, in animated form, the atomic bombs being separated from the B-52 and falling to ground over Goldsboro. In the case of one of the bombs, it behaved exactly as it was designed to do should it have been dropped as an act of war.

As Dan Summers, one of Sandia's nuclear weapons safety engineers, recalls in the film: "The weapon dropped, power was now coming on and the arming rods had been pulled, the barrel switches began to operate, the next thing was for the parachute to deploy." Crucially, Summers adds: "When it hit the ground it tried to fire."

There was only one safety device left between the bomb and disaster: a switch known as a pre-arming ready-safe switch that could turn the bomb on and off through the normal operation of a 28-volt signal sent from the B-52's cockpit. But even that switch was known by nuclear safety experts to be deeply unreliable.

"Unfortunately, there have been thirty-some incidents where the ready-safe switch was operated inadvertently," notes Charlie Burks, a former Sandia nuclear weapons systems engineer. "We are fortunate that the weapons involved at Goldsboro were not suffering from that same malady."

Schlosser told the Guardian that the significance of the video was that it "conclusively establishes that the Sandia weapons lab itself was concerned about the risk of accidental detonation. Their own experts said that disaster was prevented by a single switch that they knew to be defective."

Further detail on what happened to the Mark 39 bomb when it fell over Goldsboro is given in a newly declassified document written in 1987 reviewing the US nuclear weapon safety programme. It records that as the B-52 broke up, the pin to arm the bomb that was normally manually operated was yanked out as it fell, thus arming it.

All the various stages of the bomb's fall – the operation of the arming system, deployment of the parachute, timer operation, activation of its batteries, and delivery of the signal that would actually fire the bomb at impact – "all followed as a natural consequence of the bomb falling free". Only the lack of engagement of the final ready-safe switch "prevented nuclear detonation of this bomb".

Despite such expert awareness of the extremely tentative safeguards that stood between America and unthinkable disaster, successive US administrations kept up the line in public that the country's nuclear arsenal was free from any risk of accidental detonation.

The Sandia film ends on an ominous note. As the camera pans over the wreckage of a military plane strewn over a valley, the narrator remarks that "unfortunately there was no shortage of new data, as the accidents continued".
Source: US atomic bomb detonation avoided by 'the slightest margin of chance'

Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Fri 27 Sep, 2013 07:59 am
@Walter Hinteler,
0 Replies
 
BillRM
 
  1  
Reply Fri 27 Sep, 2013 08:20 am
@Walter Hinteler,
Quote:
As Dan Summers, one of Sandia's nuclear weapons safety engineers, recalls in the film: "The weapon dropped, power was now coming on and the arming rods had been pulled, the barrel switches began to operate, the next thing was for the parachute to deploy." Crucially, Summers adds: "When it hit the ground it tried to fire."


What engineer would design a nuclear weapon to power up when drop without the crew setting it to do so before hand!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Quote:
"When it hit the ground it tried to fire."


I question that any such bomb would be design to go off when it hit the ground as even from the first two bombs that was dropped on Japan they was set for an air bust at a few thousands feet.

You waste far far too must power of a nuke in having it going off at ground level.

The whole thing smell to high heaven.

PS intact planes can drop as fast as a bomb in free fall and so to design a bomb that would arm itself when it is in free fall is even more silly for that reason. alone.
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Fri 27 Sep, 2013 09:07 am
@BillRM,
BillRM wrote:
The whole thing smell to high heaven.

Do you think that fake documents were declassified?
Frank Apisa
 
  0  
Reply Fri 27 Sep, 2013 09:27 am
@Walter Hinteler,
Walter Hinteler wrote:

BillRM wrote:
The whole thing smell to high heaven.

Do you think that fake documents were declassified?


Good luck reasoning with Bill, Walter. Frankly, I think you'd have better luck teaching a pig to sing.
0 Replies
 
BillRM
 
  1  
Reply Fri 27 Sep, 2013 10:19 am
@Walter Hinteler,
Quote:
Do you think that fake documents were declassified?


I think that the report was most likely not written by an engineer/engineers but by someone who did not have the background to understand the engineering reports on the accident.

As for all the reason already given the story does not made any kind of sense at all.
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Fri 27 Sep, 2013 10:41 am
@BillRM,
BillRM wrote:
I think that the report was most likely not written by an engineer/engineers but by someone who did not have the background to understand the engineering reports on the accident.
Okay. So it's no fake but the official "1987 reviewing the US nuclear weapon safety programme" was written by the doorman or someone similar.

And "some of the country's top nuclear weapons safety experts" are actually third-class mechanics.

However, Dan Summers really is an engineer, with a couple of degrees, and not just an "one of the country's top nuclear weapons safety experts".
0 Replies
 
cicerone imposter
 
  2  
Reply Fri 27 Sep, 2013 10:52 am
@Walter Hinteler,
Walter, I just can't believe that report - simply because of process requirements established by our government that no nuclear weapon is to be in "armed" position in the continental US. Pilots do not have the authority to override the safeguards, and they must follow processes to explode the bomb. One of the safety "switches" makes it virtually impossible for a nuke implosion.

The only possible outcome is a non-nuclear explosion, and that's only when the right switch is turned on.
0 Replies
 
hawkeye10
 
  0  
Reply Fri 27 Sep, 2013 10:56 am
@Walter Hinteler,
the hits just keep on coming for those who try mightily to have faith in the state. having secrets is one thing, lying to us is another.
cicerone imposter
 
  2  
Reply Fri 27 Sep, 2013 10:58 am
@hawkeye10,
hawk, Just because I don't trust our government has nothing to do with what I understand about nuclear weapons. I worked with them for four years, and was a team leader. I will admit what I know is now over 60 years old, but that event happened in 1961. There were other "events" with nukes when I was still active in the service.

I'll add one more "fact." Back in those days, the US had more nuclear weapons than Russia who had over 55,000 warheads. With so many weapons, why do you think there were no nuclear accidents? Guess.
0 Replies
 
BillRM
 
  0  
Reply Fri 27 Sep, 2013 11:09 am
@hawkeye10,
Sorry Hawkeye but it not faith in the state of any kind it faith concerning common sense engineering safe guards that any repeat any engineer would put into the design of nuclear weapons.
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Fri 27 Sep, 2013 11:16 am
I really know a little bit more than nothing about this.

Since c.i. and Bill are nuclear experts and nuclear weapon safety engineers: why do Sandy Laboratories write such reports and produce such (video) documentaries? Why do official commissions repeat this?

Another question: what qualifications is a "supervisor of the Nuclear Weapons Safety Department at Sandia National Laboratories" supposed to have got?
cicerone imposter
 
  2  
Reply Fri 27 Sep, 2013 11:28 am
@Walter Hinteler,
You wrote,
Quote:
Since c.i. and Bill are nuclear experts and nuclear weapon safety engineers: why do Sandy Laboratories write such reports and produce such (video) documentaries? Why do official commissions repeat this?


A very cheap shot, Walter. Didn't expect such from you!

A near explosion is not a nuclear explosion. The safety processes worked and will continue to work - even with "one switch away." Can a woman be half pregnant?
BillRM
 
  0  
Reply Fri 27 Sep, 2013 11:38 am
@Walter Hinteler,
Quote:
Since c.i. and Bill are nuclear experts and nuclear safety engineers: why do Sandy Laboratories write such reports and produce such (video) documentaries? Why do official commissions repeat this?


That a very good question indeed and without far more information it can not be address in any meaningful manner.

The only maybe reason that come to mind is to increase their budget perhaps?

Love to see the engineering report not the dumb down documentary just to start with.
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Fri 27 Sep, 2013 12:10 pm
@BillRM,
I just watched that video, and that video's claims are wrong. There is more than that arm safety switch that requires "manual" adjustment.

People get excited about things they don't understand.

BTW, while stationed at Walker AFB in New Mexico, I found errors in the Top Secret manual on the weapons, and informed my boss. I was awarded the six months airman of the base by the base commander, General Kingsbury, and I'm not a nuclear safety engineer.
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Fri 27 Sep, 2013 12:15 pm
@Walter Hinteler,
cicerone imposter wrote:
People get excited about things they don't understand.
Very often, indeed. So back to my above posted question:
Walter Hinteler wrote:
Another question: what qualifications is a "supervisor of the Nuclear Weapons Safety Department at Sandia National Laboratories" supposed to have got?
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Fri 27 Sep, 2013 12:22 pm
@cicerone imposter,
cicerone imposter wrote:
The safety processes worked and will continue to work - even with "one switch away."
Well, mostly, it seems.
Quote:
[...]
The knowledge went as far up the chain as the then defence secretary Robert McNamara, who according to a top-secret document told Pentagon officials in 1963 that "by the slightest margin of chance, literally the failure of two wires to cross, a nuclear explosion was averted".
[...]
As Dan Summers, one of Sandia's nuclear weapons safety engineers, recalls in the film: "The weapon dropped, power was now coming on and the arming rods had been pulled, the barrel switches began to operate, the next thing was for the parachute to deploy." Crucially, Summers adds: "When it hit the ground it tried to fire."

There was only one safety device left between the bomb and disaster: a switch known as a pre-arming ready-safe switch that could turn the bomb on and off through the normal operation of a 28-volt signal sent from the B-52's cockpit. But even that switch was known by nuclear safety experts to be deeply unreliable.

"Unfortunately, there have been thirty-some incidents where the ready-safe switch was operated inadvertently," notes Charlie Burks, a former Sandia nuclear weapons systems engineer. "We are fortunate that the weapons involved at Goldsboro were not suffering from that same malady."
[...]
Further detail on what happened to the Mark 39 bomb when it fell over Goldsboro is given in a newly declassified document written in 1987 reviewing the US nuclear weapon safety programme. It records that as the B-52 broke up, the pin to arm the bomb that was normally manually operated was yanked out as it fell, thus arming it.

All the various stages of the bomb's fall – the operation of the arming system, deployment of the parachute, timer operation, activation of its batteries, and delivery of the signal that would actually fire the bomb at impact – "all followed as a natural consequence of the bomb falling free". Only the lack of engagement of the final ready-safe switch "prevented nuclear detonation of this bomb".
[...]
parados
 
  1  
Reply Fri 27 Sep, 2013 12:24 pm
@BillRM,
Quote:

What engineer would design a nuclear weapon to power up when drop without the crew setting it to do so before hand!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My God Bill. What engineer would automate anything?

Let me get this straight. The bomb can't drop unless the crew DOES something. But your argument is that the bomb shouldn't activate unless the crew DOES something.

Quote:
PS intact planes can drop as fast as a bomb in free fall and so to design a bomb that would arm itself when it is in free fall is even more silly for that reason. alone.
I think you failed to read the article Bill. It says nothing about activation because of the speed of fall. The weapon could have activated when it left the bomb bay through an automated system.
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Fri 27 Sep, 2013 12:26 pm
@Walter Hinteler,
As I said there is one more "switch" that will prevent a nuclear explosion. That switch is the one that cannot be placed in the arm position in the continental US.



0 Replies
 
parados
 
  1  
Reply Fri 27 Sep, 2013 12:30 pm
@parados,
Quote:
Further detail on what happened to the Mark 39 bomb when it fell over Goldsboro is given in a newly declassified document written in 1987 reviewing the US nuclear weapon safety programme. It records that as the B-52 broke up, the pin to arm the bomb that was normally manually operated was yanked out as it fell, thus arming it.

How could that pin come out without a crew member pulling it?

How could electricity make it into a circuit without a specific switch being thrown by a crewman? I can think of numerous ways but it seems Bill's universe works differently from mine.
 

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