This somewhat unassuming plaque was once the ship badge of HMS Plym, vaporized in 1952 in Britain’s first atomic test.
A River-class anti-submarine frigate, HMS Plym (F271) was commissioned by the Royal Navy on 4th Feb 1943 and launched on May 16th of the same year.
However, having survived the II World War, on 3rd October 1952, 6 seconds before 9.30am, Britain’s first nuclear weapon – a 25 kiloton bomb – was detonated within her hull. The River Class frigate measuring 301.5 feet in length and with a standard displacement of 1370 tons, was completely vaporized. The experiment took place 400 metres from the coast of the island of Trimouille in the Monte Bello Islands, Australia.
The decision to conduct ‘Operation Hurricane’ onboard a ship was made owing to the very real threat at the time of nuclear weapons being smuggled into and detonated within British harbours.
One of the last men to tread her decks the morning of that fateful day was Sid Hardwick, who later wrote, “It was very strange to wander around that ship knowing that everything I saw and touched was going to disappear in a blinding flash in a few hours time. It didn't seem right somehow”.
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