Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Nuclear Weapons Accidents- The Broken Arrow Blog.

by Michael H. Maggelet.

  This blog was created to inform the public on facts surrounding nuclear weapons accidents (Broken Arrows) and incidents (Bent Spears) that have been declassified by various government agencies.

 In 1980, the U.S. Department of Defense released a list of 32 accidents. In 1983, Field Command, Defense Nuclear Agency released details on four additional accidents on Johnston Island in the Pacific in 1962.

  It's my opinion, after reviewing thousands of declassified documents, that there are nearly 60 accidents which resulted in severe damage to US nuclear weapons. This would have involved return of the weapon or warhead to a production facility for disassembly and replacement. Despite the severe stress on weapon components, there was no possibility of a nuclear explosion.

  After a four year effort through the Freedom of Information Act, Jim Oskins and I published our second book on nuclear weapons accidents and incidents, "Broken Arrow, Volume II". We believe it is the definitive source on US nuclear weapons accidents, and includes information on Soviet accidents, and incidents in the United Kingdom. Some of the Broken Arrows we cover include never before released details on the Thule, Greenland, and Palomares, Spain accidents, and details on the loss of the USS Scorpion in 1968 (which do not point to any hostile act, despite the claims of conspiracy theorists).

  We were also fortunate to include several first hand accounts by individuals present during several accidents and incidents. These include the Cunningham incident at RAF Sculthorpe in 1958, the 1965 USS Ticonderoga accident, the 1967 USS Ozbourn incident off Viet Nam, and a 1974 confrontation at an overseas base.

  Our books are available on, Books A Million, Barnes & Noble, and other fine booksellers.

"Broken Arrow, Volume II- A Disclosure of Significant U.S., Soviet, and British Nuclear Weapons Incidents and Accidents, 1945-2008" by Michael H. Maggelet and James C. Oskins. ISBN 978-0-557-65593-9, 348 pages, black and white photographs. Lulu Press.


  1. Two FOIAs have been submitted concerning personal-knowledge accidents/incidents not shown in any database of such (by
    Ramey AFB 1964 Nuclear Accident/Incident
    Description of Records Requested
    • DoD Directive 5230.16 defines a "Nuclear Weapon Accident” as, among other categories, “accidental or unauthorized launching, firing, or use by U.S. forces or U.S. supported Allied forces of a nuclear-capable weapons system”; “radioactive contamination” and “public hazard, actual or perceived.”
    In the first quarter of 1964, there was a maintenance accident/incident at the Ramey Air Force Base Nuclear Maintenance Facility in Puerto Rico, which required the shipment of the affected thermonuclear bomb to be sent to a facility in Albuquerque, NM for a tear-down analysis. This accident/incident is not in any currently released list of accidents/incidents, but the Strategic Air Command Two-Man-Policy purportedly resulted from that accident/incident Four Air Police personnel were involved in the transport of that weapon from the maintenance facility to the flight line where it was loaded on a cargo plane for said transport. As of this date, all four of these escorting ex-Air Police members have been diagnosed with common cancers, two having died as a result. Since this accident/incident clearly falls within the purview of DoD Directive 5230.16, we are therefore collectively requesting all information concerning this accident/incident, including all technical details concerning the weapon details, the exact dates, the detailed results of the tear-down analysis and the results of any radiological/biological hazards monitoring resulting.
    Sometime in the first half of 1957, there was a B-47 accident at the Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri, in which a B-47 went off the runway and burned with a nuclear weapon on board and all three crewmen perished. This accident/incident is not in any currently released list of accidents/incidents. Since this accident/incident clearly falls within the purview of DoD Directive 5230.16, we are therefore collectively requesting: all information concerning this accident/incident, including all technical details concerning the weapon, the exact date of the occurrence, the detailed results of the weapon tear-down analysis, the names and ranks of the personnel involved, the results of any radiological/biological hazards monitoring resulting and all Strategic Command level correspondence that resulted.

    1. What was the weapon involved at Ramey? I have incident/accident reports for that time frame. If you can describe the incident in more detail, I can narrow it down.

      This is what I've located for the B-47 crash at Whiteman- 6th August 1957
      USAF B-47E Stratojet 51-2102 340th BW, Whiteman AFB, MO Ground-looped during landing. Let me know if this is the accident you are referring to, then I will FOIA it.

      Yours, Mike (Admin)

  2. Hello Mike, I'm working with Don Chapin as webmaster for his website. I told him that I had read this post and your reply and he sent me some (long-delayed!) information to answer your questions. First, the weapon that nearly detonated at Ramey was a Mk 39, as pictured (in his post, A Near Miss: Regarding the B-47 crash at Whiteman, the weapon on board the B-47 was a Mk 6 mod 6 ... a direct descendant of the Nagasaki weapon. He also sent an email thread between himself and the Air Police who were there that day for verification. I don't check my Gmail often, so writing me might result in another long delay, but I just added that document to the A Near Miss post in downloadable pdf format. Assuming you'll moderate this comment (and remove Don's email) before posting, I'll add Don's current email address in case you'd like to contact him yourself:

    Thank you for the work you're doing,