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Pacific Proving Grounds - U.S. Nuclear weapons Testing in Pacific Ocean

marshall islands 8 June, 2021 14:3HRS

Pacific Proving Grounds

Pacific Proving Grounds is the designated name of multiple test sites located mainly in Marshall Islands as well as multiple other locations in Pacific Ocean. These nuclear testing locations are collectively designated as Pacific Proving Grounds by the United States of America. American Nuclear test programs that took place in the years from 1946 to 1962 mainly were tested on Pacific Proving Grounds.

The formation of Pacific Proving Grounds started as the United States of America got an agreement to govern the Islands and atolls of Micronesia in the Pacific Ocean as a form of a Trust Territory which included an area of 7.8 Million Kilometer square (3 Million Square miles) in the North Pacific Ocean and had some 2,000 islands and atolls within this area. This was the first of its kind trusteeship strategic territory that was granted by the United Nations and to this day stays only one of its kind.

Soon after the 5 day test period the formation of this Strategic Trust Territory in the North Pacific, the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission and the Department of Energy designated this location as Pacific Proving Grounds. The majority of Islands and Atolls that are in Pacific Proving Grounds and were part of America's Nuclear test operations are still contaminated by Radioactive particles and nuclear fallout contaminations. The natives of these islands are highly affected by these nuclear test operations and have suffered from many health issues and sickness caused by radioactive fall-out particles and fallout radiation exposure from contaminated materials that were scattered and formed by the nuclear testing.


In July 1947, The United Nations designated Micronesian Islands of the Pacific as Strategic Trust Territory directing the U.S. to promoted and support the natives of Bikini Atoll, Johnston Island, Enewetak Atoll, Kure Atoll, Christmas Island, Langkai Island, Cocos Island and many other Islands and atolls of Micronesia in the Pacific Ocean. The United States was asked to support and protect the natives of affected islands of Micronesia from further loss of land resources. The Headquarters to control and manage this trust was set to be built in Guam where the Advisory board, multiple classes of employees along with direct coordination with the United States Navy will operate it.

Till 1951, The U.S. Navy operated the Strategic Trust Territory from the established HQ located in Guam. After 1951 U.S. Department of Interior took control of this trust and they set up the new HQ in Saipan, Northern Marina Islands. During the period of 1946 to 1947 the circumstances of living and comforts were unfavourable for the natives of the islands and atolls that were affected by the radiation doses and multiple other issues from the American Thermonuclear testing that was done before.

These people were literally dying of hunger on Rongerik Atoll and Kili Island for this time period.


1946 - Operation Crossroads

1948 - Operation Sandstone

1951 - Operation Greenhouse

1952 - Operation Ivy

1954 - Operation Castle

1956 - Operation Redwing

1958 - Operation Hardtack I

1962 - Operation Dominic


The Nuclear tests started with Operation Crossroads, Operation Crossroads started on 1st July 1946 and officially ended on 25th July 1946. This Operation conducted the first detonations of nuclear bombs since the 1945 Nagasaki atomic bombing by United States of America.

As the America and its other Allied nations were engaged in the Nuclear arms race and Space race with the Soviet Union as part of the Cold War in the years of 1947 to 1991. Both superpowers were racing to build more technologically advanced and powerful Space systems and Nuclear weapons.


Operation Greenhouse was a codename for the nuclear test series of the United States of America that was conducted at the Enewetak Island, Enewetak Atoll of Pacific Proving Grounds in 1951. This series of nuclear weapons tests were conducted after Operation Crossroads (1946) and Operation Sandstone (1948).

After Operation Greenhouse, Operation Ivy, Operation Castle, Operation Redwing, Operation Hardtack and Operation Dominic were also conducted on sites at Pacific Proving Grounds.


Operation Castle was the codename of Thermonuclear testing series that was conducted by the United States of America after the Operation Crossroads. Operation Castle started with the detonation of a new Nuclear device called Castle Bravo.

Castle Bravo was first of the high yield dry fuel thermonuclear bombs and it was tested in Bikini Atoll’s hydrogen bomb test of 1954 as part of Operation Castle. Castle Bravo was way beyond expectation and caused a vast spread of radioactive particles and fall-out particles.

Castle Bravo detonation caused a nuclear fallout that spread its radioactive particles all the way to countries like Japan, Australia, India and Sri Lanka; it also spread minor nuclear materials to the United States, Europe and multiple other countries. Castle Bravo was detonated on 1st March 1954 as part of the Operation Castle.


The Operation Redwing was done by the United States of America to test a total of 17 Nuclear weapons in the Enewetak Atoll and Bikini Atoll after the almost full success of Operation Castle. Operation Redwing was conducted between period of May 1956 to July 1956.

The objectives of Operation Redwing were to test primary detonation devices that are used to initiate chain explosions for thermonuclear weapons; Operation Redwing also tested newly developed 2nd Generation of Thermonuclear devices and other air defense weapons systems.


Operation Hardtack 1 was done by the U.S. to test a total of 35 Nuclear weapon devices in the Pacific Providing Grounds. Operation Hardtack 1 was conducted between 28th April 1958 to 18th August 1958 along with U.S. Army, U.S. Navy and the U.S. Air Force. Operation Hardtack 1 was the largest Operation for thermonuclear testing on the north pacific at that period considering the total number of nuclear weapons tests In one Operation.


Operation Dominic was a series of tests in which a total of 36 nuclear fission bombs were tested near Christmas Island on Johnston Atoll in the Pacific Ocean that is a part of Pacific Proving Grounds in 1962. These 36 Atomic tests were conducted on Johnston Island but are taken as under testing sites at Pacific Proving Grounds on official Operation Dominic documents.

Operation Fishbowl was the collective name of all high-altitude nuclear tests of Operation Dominic I. Among all these High Altitude Nuclear Weapons Tests, the majority were successful but a few of them failed as well, that includes a launchpad nuclear explosion of a test bomb. In Operation Fishbowl, tests for ASROC Anti-Submarine Rocket and Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM) Polaris was also executed.


Cactus Dome is also known as the Runit Dome. The people of Enewetak also refer to it as The Tomb. Cactus dome is 115 meters in diameter and 18 inches thick concrete dome made at sea level on the island of Enewetak Atoll in the north Pacific.

The Runit Dome was constructed by the United States of America to encapsulate 73,000 cubic meters of radioactive debris and fallout material that were created by the nuclear tests conducted in the Enewetak Island by the United States.

More than 4,000 American servicemen with subcontractor employees were involved in this process cleanup of the radioactive debris; these efforts took 3 years to finish this nuclear waste containment dome.


The United States Government has paid more than USD $ 780 Million to the people of Marshall Islands who were affected by fallout related radiation exposures from the U.S. Nuclear test Operations and other weapons testing activities in the region of Bikini Atoll, Enewetak Atoll of the Marshall Islands. After the Nuclear Disaster that was caused by the detonation of Castle Bravo as objective of Operation Castle, The U.S. also had to pay around USD $15 Million in 1983 to Japan as a form of compensation for damages caused by the Castle Bravo Nuclear accident's contamination and vast radioactive fallout.In 1986, U.S. signed a Compact of Free Association with the Marshall Islands providing its Islands and Atolls Independence. This was modified and again became fully effective in the year 2004 as the new Amended Compact.

This Compact emplaced a Nuclear Claims Tribunal and was given the power to decide which families, people or victims should get this compensation and who should not. Additionally, it provided funds to the natives of Bikini Atoll, Enewetak Atoll and other Northern Atolls as compensation. It was a USD $150 Million fund that was planned to be distributed to the natives of these North Pacific Atolls who were affected by U.S. Nuclear Weapons Testing, this fund was distributed as annual or monthly payments.

In 2013, The U.S. Government created multiple trust funds to cover the Radiation sickness medical treatment costs and multiple other expenses of the people who were affected by the Nuclear Weapons testing activities of Bikini Atoll. The United States Government also paid USD $500 to USD $600 to every individual each year. The U.S. also paid USD $125 Million to the descendant families of the Bikini Atoll islanders as a form of compensation for destruction which was directly caused by the American Nuclear test programs on the Bikini Atoll and as a result displaced those natives from their homes.

Partial Test Ban Treaty

When the Partial Test Ban treaty was signed and got effective in 1963 to stop all atmospheric nuclear tests & underwater nuclear tests, the United States ceased its nuclear bomb testing on Pacific Proving Grounds (PPG).

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