“Nuclear Weapons Afloat”, official tally

Mark 43 thermonuclear bomb, USAF Museum, Ohio, Ywm43_1b by Greg Goebel is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

As mentioned in the previous post, during a recent tour of the USS Midway Museum in San Diego, my curiosity awoke regarding how many nuclear weapons an aircraft carrier had onboard. On of several related questions is how many nukes the Navy had.

Previous discussion described two articles exploring the question.

Immediate answer to my first question is the article asserts a U.S. aircraft carrier typically had 100 nuclear weapons on board during the Cold War.

Deeper answer is the articles pointing to declassified information about the number of nuclear weapons Navy had at sea for the years 1961 through 1991.

The information is broken out only to the extent of weapons assigned in the Atlantic, the Pacific, and the Mediterranean. There is no detail on type of weapons.

Here is the article having the discussion which pointed me to the second link, which a table of the data.

Because it is of interest to me and because it may be of interest to other, the data is below.

Many observations are possible from the data.

One in particular is the early deployment of nukes to sea. On 9/30/55, there were 129 nukes on U.S. Navy ships.

The first deployment of a U.S. nuclear SSBN was the U.S.S. George Washington in December 1959 with first patrol in November 1960. Armed with 16 Polaris missiles, those warheads would presumably have first been counted in the 1961 data below.

All this to wonder about the composition of the 1,124 weapons at sea as of 9/30/59 and 1,516 as of 9/30/60 since none of those were on SSBNs.

Nuclear weapons afloat with the U.S. Navy, by region and in total, as of the end of each fiscal year:

yearAtlanticPacificMed.total
1953                –  
1954               91
1955            129
1956            292
1957            521
1958            757
1959         1,124
1960         1,516
1961            864            550            267         1,681
1962            745            811            269         1,825
1963            999            703            280         1,982
1964         1,384         1,035            292         2,711
1965         1,544         1,571            619         3,734
1966         1,650         1,792            453         3,895
1967         1,930         1,420            404         3,754
1968         1,956         1,709            425         4,090
1969         1,858         1,426            400         3,684
1970         2,012         1,403            411         3,826
1971         2,065         1,381            552         3,998
1972         2,500         1,758            596         4,854
1973         3,387         1,129            427         4,943
1974         4,165         1,292            403         5,860
1975         4,507         1,244            440         6,191
1976         4,506         1,089            433         6,028
1977         4,185         1,318            400         5,903
1978         4,177         1,191            402         5,770
1979         4,039         1,170            342         5,551
1980         3,961            968            278         5,207
1981         3,588            811            390         4,789
1982         4,038            881            528         5,447
1983         3,823         1,043            242         5,108
1984         3,950         1,213            376         5,539
1985         3,773         1,481            190         5,444
1986         3,291         1,853            349         5,493
1987         3,398         2,085         5,483
1988         3,573         1,949         5,522
1989         3,419         1,949         5,368
1990         3,827         1,889         5,716
1991         3,048         1,661         4,709

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