Canadian navy sending vessel to check into report atomic bomb wreckage found off BC

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By David Pugliese and John Mackie

The Royal Canadian Navy will send one of its ships to investigate a report that part of an atomic bomb jettisoned from a U.S. aircraft in 1950 has been found off the coast of British Columbia.

The device, dropped from a U.S. Air Force B-36 bomber, did not contain radioactive material and was being used at the time for a training mission. The aircraft had been flying from Alaska when a number of its engines caught on fire and its crew had to bail out while over the BC coast.

Scuba diver Sean Smyrichinsky told the Vancouver Sun he recently discovered what he believes is part of the missing bomb. The object was found about 50 feet (15 metres) underwater, off Boyle Point on Pitt Island.

“I found this big thing underwater, huge, never seen anything like it before,” Smyrichinsky said. “I came up telling all my buddies on the boat ‘Hey, I found a UFO. It’s really bizarre.’ And I drew a picture of it, because I didn’t have a camera.”

A couple of days later he ran into some fishermen and told them about his discovery. “Nobody had ever seen it before or heard of it, (because) nobody ever dives there,” he said. “Then some old-timer said ‘Oh, you might have found that bomb.’”

Smyrichinsky made his discovery in a remote area where there is no Internet. When he got back to Internet range, he started researching the “lost nuke” online, and came across a photo of a 1940s “Fat Man” nuclear bomb in two halves.

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“The picture I found has the bomb in sections, they’ve got it taken apart,” he said. “And in the middle, there’s a great big thing that looks just like what I found.

“The Mark IV bomb uses these things called pit balls. These pit balls have the explosives in them, and they’re quite large, bigger than basketballs. So what I think I found was the housing that holds these pit balls.”

Canadian military officers told the Ottawa Citizen that a Royal Canadian Navy ship has been assigned to investigate Smyrichinsky’s discovery. “The Canadian Armed Forces plans to investigate this further using a Maritime Coastal Defence Vessel to investigate more closely in the next 1-2 weeks,” a Department of National Defence official added in an email.

“The CAF treats reports of suspected unexploded ordnances very seriously and we continue to investigate this matter,” the official noted. “Information provided by the US Military indicates this was likely a B4 weapon with a dummy capsule carried by the B-36 aircraft that crashed in the vicinity of Prince Rupert on 13 Feb 1950.”

The device did not contain any nuclear material and there is no suspected radiological safety hazard from this ordnance, the DND statement added.

When it was jettisoned, the Mark IV atomic bomb was believed to have contained TNT.

The bomber crew parachuted from the burning aircraft; five were reported dead and 12 were rescued.

The wreckage of the plane was later found on Mount Kologet, about 300 km northeast of where the crew bailed out. The U.S. military later sent a team to recover equipment from the plane.

The unidentified object Smyrichinsky found is quite large. “I found this big bowl, at least 12 feet across, maybe bigger,” he explained. “Imagine a mushroom cap, it looks like that. The centre of it is sort of cut away. There’s a circle in the middle that I think goes right through.

“The bowls (inside the main bowl) are much larger than basketballs, maybe 24 inches across, 20 inches across. They’re very smooth on the inside and they’re all around the centre of this thing.”

 

(John Mackie writes for the Vancouver Sun)

 

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