Operation Wigwam

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Operation Wigwam
Wigwam surface surge
Country United States
Test site Pacific Ocean off California
Period 1955
Number of tests 1
Test type underwater
Max. yield 30 kilotonnes of TNT (130 TJ)
Previous test series Operation Teapot
Next test series Project 56 (nuclear test)
Video of the test

Operation Wigwam[1] involved a single test of the Mark 90 Betty nuclear bomb. It was conducted between Operation Teapot and Operation Redwing on May 14, 1955, about 500 miles (800 km) southwest of San Diego, California. 6,800 personnel aboard 30 ships were involved in Wigwam. The purpose of Wigwam was to determine the vulnerability of submarines to deeply detonated nuclear weapons, and to evaluate the feasibility of using such weapons in a combat situation. The task force commander, Admiral John Sylvester, was embarked on the task force flagship USS Mount McKinley (AGC-7).

The test device was suspended by a 2,000 feet (610 m) cable under a barge. A six-mile tow line connected a fleet tug, the USS Tawasa, and the shot barge itself. Suspended from the tow lines of other tugs were three miniature unmanned submarines named "Squaws", each packed with cameras and telemetry instruments.

The time of detonation was 1300 hrs Pacific Time. The test was carried out without incident, and radiation effects were negligible. The device yielded 30 kilotons. Three personnel received doses of over 0.5 rems.

The equipment intended for direct measurement of the explosion-generated underwater bubble was not operational at the time of the shot, but based on other measurements, the bubble's maximum radius was calculated as 376 feet (115 m), and its pulsation period approximately 2.83 seconds. (See Scientific Director's Report)[2]

The United States test series summary table is here: United States' nuclear testing series.

The detonations in the United States' Wigwam series are listed below:

United States' Wigwam series tests and detonations
Name [note 1] Date time (UT) Local time zone [note 2][3] Location [note 3] Elevation + height [note 4] Delivery,[note 5]
Purpose [note 6]
Device [note 7] Yield [note 8] Fallout [note 9] References Notes
Wigwam 14 May 1955 20:00:00.0 PST (-8 hrs)
Pacific Ocean off California 28°44′00″N 126°16′00″W / 28.7333°N 126.2667°W / 28.7333; -126.2667 (Wigwam) 0 - 610 m (2,000 ft) underwater,
weapon effect
Mk-90 B7 "Betty" depth bomb 30 kt [1][4][5] Deep water submarine hull test, including nuclear depth bomb, to gage surface contamination. Used instrumented "squaws", subscale sub pressure hulls. Tested shielded warships with base surge.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b Yang, Xiaoping; North, Robert; Romney, Carl (August 2000), CMR Nuclear Explosion Database (Revision 3), SMDC Monitoring Research 
  2. ^ "Operation Wigwam Scientific Director's Report (Large PDF)" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-03-24. 
  3. ^ "Timezone Historical Database". iana.com. Retrieved 2014-03-08. 
  4. ^ Sublette, Carey, Nuclear Weapons Archive, retrieved 2014-01-06 
  5. ^ United States Nuclear Tests: July 1945 through September 1992 (DOE/NV-209 REV15), Las Vegas, NV: Department of Energy, Nevada Operations Office, 2000-12-01, retrieved 2013-12-18