Tybee Island’s Lost Nuke

by | Jul 12, 2005

Associated Press: A 7,600-pound nuclear bomb dumped off the Georgia coast in 1958 remains lost – and is best left unfound, the Air Force concluded after its first hunt for the missing nuke in decades.

“We haven’t found where the bomb is,” Billy Mullins, an Air Force nuclear weapons adviser who led the search, told a news conference in Savannah. “We still think it’s irretrievably lost. We don’t know where to look for it.”


The Air Force says the bomb is incapable of an atomic explosion because it lacks the plutonium capsule needed to trigger a fission reaction. The device does contain an undisclosed amount of uranium and about 400 pounds of conventional explosives.

“The best course of action in this matter is to not continue to search for it and to leave the property in place,” said the report by the Air Force Nuclear Weapons and Counterproliferation Agency.

A damaged B-47 bomber jettisoned the Mark-15 nuke into Wassaw Sound, where the Wilmington River meets the Atlantic Ocean about 15 miles from Savannah, in February 1958 after colliding with a fighter jet during a training flight.

City officials on Tybee Island, a beach community of 3,400 residents, urged the government four years ago to recover the lost weapon. But after hearing the Air Force report Friday, island City Manager Bob Thomson agreed that it’s best left alone.

“I’m not saying it’s a good thing that we have a warhead out there,” Thomson said. “But I believe the greatest danger is it being disturbed from its watery grave.”