This issue of Naval History commemorates the 60th anniversary of an event that signaled the U.S. Navy's entry into the nuclear age: Operation Crossroads, the twin atomic bomb tests at remote Bikini Atoll. The U.S. Army Air Forces dropped the a-bombs that ended World War II, but the 1946 Bikini tests were largely a Navy affair.
Retired Navy Vice Admiral Jerry Miller explains in "Curiosity at the Crossroads" that the Navy's stakes were extremely high. Many observers believed bombers armed with atomic weapons would totally dominate future warfare, rendering naval fleets obsolete. The aerial and underwater detonations at Bikini-the fourth and fifth atomic blasts-helped determine the powerful new weapons' effects on warships, in this case an assortment of 71 surplus and captured vessels anchored close together in the atoll's lagoon.