1962 Pacific Nuclear Tests – 1962 – 21:15 – Color – “Polaris underway with a nuclear warhead,” is the narrator’s description of the first of a two-part video. Joint Task Force 8, made up primarily of Department of Defense and Atomic Energy Commission representatives, was responsible for the upcoming test.
The video shows the preparations, installation of safety monitoring and diagnostic equipment, placement of test and observation vessels, and the actual nuclear test of a Fleet Ballistic Missile. Participating in the test were personnel aboard the aircraft carrier Yorktown, the destroyer Norton Sound, and the submarine Carbonero.
The May 6, 1962, date loomed for the nuclear detonation FRIGATE BIRD, part of the Operation Dominic/Nougat test series. The test was conducted approximately 525 miles from Christmas Island, the nearest land mass, at coordinates for ground zero of North 4 degrees 50 minutes, West 149 degrees 25 minutes. The submerged submarine Ethan Allen, carrying 16 Polaris missiles, launched the missile, and the warhead detonated on target, giving the cameras and viewers a spectacular scene. The narrator closes: “Polaris on target. . .with design yield and full service.” The yield has not been announced, but it was enough to shake the crew of the submarine Carbonero for several seconds.
The second part of the video shows an antisubmarine rocket (ASROC) underwater nuclear weapons-effects test, described as another proof test of a Navy nuclear weapon system. It was configured as a nuclear depth charge. The video shows the preparations, placement of diagnostic devices, safety precautions, and other activities performed in readiness for the test. The SWORDFISH test was conducted approximately 370 miles southwest of San Diego at North 31 degrees 14 minutes, West 124 degrees 13 minutes. It has a reported yield of less than 20 kilotons.
The ASROC was launched from the destroyer Agerholmn on May 11, 1962. Its target was a raft circled by diagnostic devices. The ASROC is shown flying for a short time before entering the water and detonating at a predetermined depth. The explosive force created a one-mile radius radioactive base surge, and it engulfed a target ship. Once the initial base surge subsided, a second plume was created from the detonation bubble, plummeting tons of water. The cameras captured sensational footage of the blast effects. The submarine Razorback, submerged at periscope level 2.5 miles from ground zero, is shown being tossed around. The full sequence of the nuclear depth bomb deployment is shown.