A mockup of a Mark IV bomb.

Department of National Defence to search for lost bomb off Banks Island

Reports of part of a newly-discovered Mark IV bomb, once lost by a U.S. aircraft, has prompted the navy to depart to waters near Rupert

The Department of National Defence is preparing to send a Maritime Coastal Defence Vessel near Banks Island in the coming days to search for a potentially lost nuke.

The search comes after a report was made to the RCMP regarding a suspicious object seen underwater that may be part of the Mark IV bomb, once lost by a U.S. aircraft. The report prompted the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) to depart to waters near Prince Rupert to confirm if the object in question, is in fact, part of a lost bomb that was inadvertently dropped in the area by an American B-36 bomber in 1950.

“The CAF treats reports of suspected unexploded ordnances very seriously and we continue to investigate this matter. Information provided by the US Military indicates this was likely a B4 weapon with a dummy capsule carried by the B-36 aircraft that crashed in the vicinity of Prince Rupert on 13 Feb 1950,” wrote head of media relations at the Department of National Defence, Daniel Le Bouthillier in an email on Nov. 4.

After multiple engines caught fire and the cold weather caused ice to build up on the aircraft on a journey from Alaska to Texas, 17 crew members bailed out of the bomber. Twelve were later rescued while five perished. The crew tried to steer the plane into open water and dispose of the bomb away from populated areas, but the plane eventually crashed on a mountain north of Hazelton.

“That particular dummy capsule did not contain any nuclear material and there is no suspected radiological safety hazard from this ordnance. The Canadian Armed Forces plans to investigate this further using a Maritime Coastal Defence Vessel to investigate more closely in the next 1-2 weeks,” wrote Le Bouthillier. The bomb contained lead instead of plutonium, nullifying its catastrophic, destructive power, which in a normal Mark IV ‘fat bomb’, could have explosive yields of up to 31 kilotons. The bomb had a weight of up to 10,900 pounds.

“The safety and security of Canadians is the Canadian Armed Forces’ top priority. We treat reports of suspected unexploded ordnances very seriously and we work very closely with federal and municipal partners to ensure public safety.”

-With files from Shannon Lough