James P. Delgado’s Ghost Fleet: The Sunken Ships of Bikini Atoll is a lavish document of the shipwrecks at the former atomic bomb test site of Bikini Atoll
My dad – who’s a life long scuba diver, an expert on British shipwrecks and runs wreck website submerged.co.uk – is contemplating going to dive Bikini Atoll for his 60th birthday. I’d love to get hold of this book to find out more about it – it looks like a real labour of love and fascinating – if chilling – take on that time in history and its impact on the marine environment.
In 1946, the United States began a series of nuclear tests on Bikini Atoll to determine the impact of atomic bombs. Delgado, a noted marine archaeologist with the National Park Service, visited Bikini in the late 1980s to explore and document the condition of the sunken ships. His work is more than an archaeological study; it is the history of the nuclear age. This book chronicles the development of the bomb, its deployment in Japan, the preparations for the tests, the attempted clean-up afterward, and the beginning of the Cold War.
Ghost Fleet weaves the past–as I viewed it in thousands of pages of declassified documents, black and white newsreels, and hundreds of photographs, as well as interviews with participants in the first atomic bomb tests–with hours spent on the bottom swimming through irradiated and twisted hulks of ships sent to the bottom in 1946, The book is heavily illustrated with historic images as well as compelling photographs of the wrecks taken by my friends and colleagues Dan Lenihan and Larry Murphy of the National Park Service, and Bill Curtsinger of National Geographic. I have tried to make the book accessible to readers who are interested in naval history, nuclear issues, and wreck divers, as well as veterans of the tests and their families. I hope readers will enjoy it and experience, first hand as my colleagues and I did, the physical legacy of nuclear testing resting on the ocean floor.