The Nuclear Arms Race

The Upshot-Knothole atomic test series of 11 explosions above ground (the one pictured left is the U-K Grable test 1953/05/25 from the High Energy Weapons Archive) took place at the Nevada Test Site March 17-June 4 1953. The first explosion was witnessed by a group of local women invited to the site by the Atomic Energy Commission as part of its new public relations campaign. One of these women, Klien Rollo, wrote in an editorial of the local newspaper that "the light was so bright that it was impossible to recognize colors..." and that "Governor Val Peterson, head of the National Federal Civil Defense Administration, was flabbergasted by the amount of dust and debris present even at two miles distant from ground zero." These tests later were discovered to be unusually "dirty" and caused "extraordinary concentrations" of radioactive iodine-131 in the bodies of thousands of sheep killed by the effects of the blast. The court case of Bulloch v. United States that resulted from these sheep deaths would drag on for thirty years. The arms race that began after the Korean War would make the policy of deterrence credible. However, this security came at a high price.


Operation Crossroads in 1946 was the first public demonstration of America's atomic arsenal since Nagasaki.

Photo of workers in cafeteria at the Hanford plant built during World War II to refine plutonium for the Manhattan Project. In the postwar years, this plant underwent a major expansion - see the History of Hanford Operations Chronology

The Castle Bravo H-bomb test in 1954 resulted in the worst fallout accident in American history.


The Seawolf, launched 1955, was the Navy's 2nd atomic-powered submarine


The George Washington, launched June 9, 1959, was the Navy's 1st submarine in Nov. 1960 to deploy the solid-fuel Polaris missile with one-megaton warhead
[U.S. Navy photo]


The cruiser USS Long Beach, launched July 14, 1959, was the Navy's 1st nuclear-powered surface ship and carried 8 Polaris missles
[photo from 1959 ad by Westinghouse that built the ship reactor]


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