Nov 09, 2016 I Micah Hanks

Has the Lost Nuke From an Early US “Broken Arrow” Incident Been Found?

"My god, I found a UFO. I found the strangest thing I'd ever seen!"

It's not every day that a diver returns to his vessel telling his crew about the apparent "UFO" he's just found in the waters below. This was precisely what happened recently though, while Sean Smyrichinsky was diving off the coast of Banks Island, near British Columbia.

In a CBC News report, Smyrichinsky said he had been swimming further from his boat than he normally might have, when he discovered something he had "never ever seen before." The diver described the object as looking similar to a bagel cut in half, with large bolts molded onto it.

Based on Smyrinchinsky's colorful description of the discovery, experts now believe that the sunken object could very well likely be a lost U.S. weapon from the Cold War era.

The story of the missing weapon has been surrounded with controversy and intrigue in the decades following its disappearance, and is recognized today as the earliest "Broken Arrow" incident, involving the accidental loss of a U.S. nuclear weapon.


1950. It was the same year Senator Joe McCarthy was busy uncovering "communists" hidden away within the US Department of State, while further east, the USSR had been demanding that Japanese Emperor Hirohito be condemned for war crimes. Roberto Rossellini's Italian-American film Stromboli: Land of God was playing in theaters, sinking ever-slightly into an initial flood of negative reviews, which kept many couples at home instead. Hence, work-worn husbands read newspapers and magazines, as their wives were curled up nearby, absorbed with Daphne du Maurier's The Parasites.

It was Monday, February 13, and the majority of Americans had already cashed in for the evening as US Air Force B-36 Bomber 44-92075 was passing over Canada's northwestern coast. The plane was part of a broader mission of nuclear strike test runs, in which the USAF had been practicing in the event that a full-scale strike against the Soviet Union ever became eminent. Part of the scope of this mission had been to gauge whether such B-36 aircraft were capable of attacking the Soviets during the extreme cold of the Arctic winter. As expected, the adverse cold of the season did cause minor problems with some equipment aboard Bomber 075 prior to takeoff, but nothing significant enough to ground the exercise.

The ensuing flight was to last 24-hours, with the bombing crew passing across the Alaska and British Columbia and eventually crossing the North Pacific, before returning inland over the Northwestern United States, ascending to the requisite 40,000 foot altitude for the simulated bomb run, and then cross over California before moving inland, concluding its run in the American Southwest.

Just before midnight, the bomber was passing over the northwestern coast of Canada, when ice buildup within the aircraft's air intakes is believed to have caused a fire in three of the plane's six engines. Realizing that the existing three engines weren't sufficient to bring the plane down safely, the crew made the decision to jettison the craft.

Prior to evacuation, the atomic weapon on board was also deployed and detonated in mid-air, with the fake practice core inserted before launch, resulting in a large, but nonthreatening explosion over the Northwest. Steering the plane over Princess Royal Island, the crew then parachuted from the plane, as the aircraft commander--the last to leave--set the autopilot controls and aimed the plane toward the North Pacific ocean.

Although it was believed that the Bomber 075 went down in the Pacific, four years after the incident the plane was spotted during a search for another plane, having apparently crashed on the side of Mount Kologet near the Alaskan border. The discovery was made quite by accident, and despite public knowledge of the incident, a report issued decades later erroneously placed the discovery of the plane's wreckage on Vancouver Island, hundreds of miles south of the actual crash site.

September 26 2006 Zoltan Szabo 570x375
Crash site as seen September 26, 2006, image by Zoltan Zsabo.

Earlier this year, the incident was the subject of a book by researcher Dirk Septer, titled Lost Nuke: The Last Flight of Bomber 075in which the author questions what led the plane to crash inland, in addition to whether the events concerning the jettison of the bomb without its live core were indeed accurate.

CBC reports that Canadian Armed Forces Major Steve Netta provided a statement, indicating that the lost bomb had merely been a dummy capsule, further noting that, "Nonetheless, we do want to be sure and we do want to investigate it further."

Within the next two weeks, a Canadian naval vessel will be dispatched to the area, in order to investigate whether Sean Smyrichinsky's chance discovery is indeed somehow related to the 1950 Broken Arrow incident. Perhaps with the new discovery, the final chapter to this long standing Cold War era incident will finally reach some degree of closure.

Micah Hanks

Micah Hanks is a writer, podcaster, and researcher whose interests cover a variety of subjects. His areas of focus include history, science, philosophy, current events, cultural studies, technology, unexplained phenomena, and ways the future of humankind may be influenced by science and innovation in the coming decades. In addition to writing, Micah hosts the Middle Theory and Gralien Report podcasts.

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