2. Operation Crossroads in the Marshall Islands
Operation Crossroads was a test of nuclear weapons against ships, with the vessels gathered in a lagoon in Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands. The ships involved were of all types, including battleships, heavy cruisers, aircraft carriers, destroyers, and support ships. The German heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen, which had fought alongside Bismarck during the Battle of the Denmark Straits, was present for the tests, as were captured Japanese vessels. The purpose of the tests was to establish the fact that the United States Navy was still germane in the atomic age, and the Army Air Force attempted to stack the deck against the Navy, packing as many ships as possible into the target area, and demanding that the ships involved in the test be carrying full loads of fuel and ammunition, as they would be in a combat situation. Three bombs were to be detonated, one exploding in the air and the other two submerged. They were the first atomic weapons detonated since the bomb over Nagasaki.
Numerous animals were placed on the target ships to allow for study of the effects of radiation following the blasts. The animals included goats, pigs, rats and mice, guinea pigs, and insects which were embedded in bundles of grains. Eight B-17s were converted to remote control so that they could be flown into the radiation cloud, equipped with sensors to monitor the environment in the immediate aftermath of the blasts. The three tests were labeled Able (the air burst) and Baker and Charlie (submerged). The first test was scheduled for July 1, 1946, with the target for the bomb, which was dropped by a B-29, the venerable US battleship Nevada, the only American battleship which had gotten underway during the attack on Pearl Harbor and which later bombarded the Normandy beaches during the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944.