The Broken Arrow Project: Visualizing the Dangers of Maintaining the U.S. Nuclear Arsenal

July 28, 1957 - Atlantic Ocean

DOD: Two weapons were jettisoned from a C-124 aircraft on July 28 off the east coast of the United States. There were three weapons and one nuclear capsule aboard the aircraft at the time. Nuclear components were not installed in the weapons. The C-124 aircraft was enroute from Dover Air Force Base, Delaware when a loss of power from number one and two engines was experienced. Maximum power was applied to remaining engines; however, level flight could not be maintained. At this point, the decision was made to jettison cargo in the interest of safety of the aircraft and crew. The first weapon was jettisoned at 4,500 feet altitude. The second weapon was jettisoned at approximately 2,500 feet altitude. No detonation occurred from either weapon. Both weapons are presumed to have been damaged from impact with the ocean surface. Both weapons are presumed to have submerged almost instantly. The ocean varies in depth in the area of jettisonings. The C-124 landed at an airfield in the vicinity of Atlantic City, New Jersey, with the remaining weapon and the nuclear capsule aboard. A search for the weapons or debris had negative results.

CDI: Three of the 32 accidents occurred while transporting nuclear weapons from one place to another, using the C-124 "Globemaster" transport. In this instance weapons and a nuclear capsule were being taken to Europe. The weapons were jettisoned within an area 100 miles southeast of the Naval Air Station, Pomona, N.J.where the aircraft landed. The two weapons are still presumably in the area, somewhere east of Rehobeth Beach, Delaware, Cape May and Wildwood, N.J. Plutonium-239, an isotope used to fuel atomic bombs has a half-life of 24,400 years and remains poisonous for at least half a million years.

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