During the height of World War II, the United States and New Zealand reportedly tested a bomb that would cause a 33-foot-tall tsunami.
As part of “Project Seal,” explosives were detonated in the Pacific Ocean to potentially create a devastating tsunami capable of inundating a small city, reported The Telegraph newspaper, which cited New Zealand-based author and filmmaker Ray Waru, who obtained his information by looking over military files.
“Presumably if the atomic bomb had not worked as well as it did, we might have been tsunami-ing people,” Waru told the newspaper.
In 1999, the New Zealand government declassified “Project Seal,” which first revealed the existence of weapons testing to generate a tsunami, but the Telegraph report on Wednesday suggests for the first time that testing may have actually been successful.
“It was absolutely astonishing. First that anyone would come up with the idea of developing a weapon of mass destruction based on a tsunami … and also that New Zealand seems to have successfully developed it to the degree that it might have worked,” said Waru, who published his findings in a new book, Secrets and Treasures.
The Telegraph reported that nearly 4,000 bombs were detonated on Whangaparaoa Peninsula and near the French island territory New Caledonia in an attempt to generate a tsunami.
Waru said that the first testing yielded results but the project was shut down in 1945. New Zealand officials in the 1950s continued to experiment in generating a tsunami before coming to the conclusion that a successful tsunami bomb would need around 2 million kilograms (4.4 million pounds) of explosives arrayed in a line to generate a tsunami five miles from shore.
“If you put it in a James Bond movie it would be viewed as fantasy but it was a real thing,” Waru said. “I only came across it because they were still vetting the report, so there it was sitting on somebody’s desk [in the archives].”
Toby Laing, one of the survivors of the group that tested the weapons, described the experience as “Bang, bang, bang all day long, that’s why I’m so deaf now,” according to the New Zealand-based Stuff news website. He spoke with Stuff in 1999 after existence of the project was revealed.
Lt. Col. Thomas Leech, of Auckland University and who was in charge of “Project Seal,” said at the time that 11-meter (36 feet) high waves could be generated, Stuff reported.
However, Laing said the tests were mostly a failure.
“If you were in a small boat, you could have ridden out some of the waves,” Laing said.
The files don’t identify an intended target for the bomb, but Laing said they all guessed the target was Japan.
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