Missing H-Bombs (?)

I read a fascinating obituary in the Washington Post this morning, the life story of Navy Captain Bill Searle, who speciality was salvaging sunken ships and other debris.  He seemed like quite a guy.

What caught my eye was this story, which (if it was ever there) had certainly faded from my mind:

“His involvement with the H-bomb grew out of the midair collision in January 1966 during the refueling of a B-52 over Palomares, Spain….Of the B-52’s four weapons, one parachuted to earth and was recovered intact two hit land and were destroyed when their high-explosive triggers went off, and one landed in the Mediterranean.  The so-called broken arrow incident prompted a 2 1/2 month-long search for the fourth bomb (valued at $2 billion).

“……The subersible Alvin [presumably some sort of a rescue vehicle] eventuallly located the bomb at 2300 feet, but lines broke as the 900-pound device was being hauled to the surface and it sunk even deeper.  The bomb was recovered two weeks later.”

H-bombs parachuting to Spain, their triggers exploding on impact?  H-bombs at the bottom of the Mediterranean?

Yes, this was more than 40 years ago, but something is very wrong with this picture.


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