This Is How Alvin Recovered a Lost Hydrogen Bomb for the U.S. in 1966

by Owen James Burke


Since Alvin was first imagined in 1962, deep submergence ocean rovers have come a long way, undertaking functions more diverse than anyone first involved in their creation could ever imagine. The first, Alvin and the Aluminaut (the world’s first aluminum submarine since WWII) among them, required a pilot on board, but now every major oil company in the world operates with them, movie directors take them to the deepest depths of the sea, and for just a few hundred bucks, even you can buy one.

But the single most shocking occupation of them all came in 1966, 10 days after a U.S. military plane carrying 4 hydrogen bombs collided with another off the Spanish coast and one of the bombs went missing. The U.S. Department of Defense officially denied that there was a missing bomb, but called on Alvin, the Aluminaut, and a CURV (cable-controlled underwater recovery vehicle), along with a team of divers. It took a few dangerous attempts, but the H-bomb was finally recovered and secured safely (sort of) to a cradle in a ship and returned to shore.

“Alvin, the idea”, 1962:

Alvin’s arrival at Woods Hole, 1964:

Read more on The Atlantic — OB

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