The Royal Canadian Navy is preparing to dispatch one of its warships later this month to investigate a mysterious object found by an intrepid diver in the Pacific waters off the coast of British Columbia.
Sean Smyrichinsky told CBC News he found the strange object during a recent diving trip near Banks Island, in the Haida Gwaii archipelago.
“It resembled, like, a bagel cut in half, and then around the bagel these balls all cut into it, moulded into it … It was the strangest thing that I had ever seen,” he said in an interview with the CBC’s Daybreak North program.
Smyrichinsky’s first guess was that he must have come across something completely alien.
“I came out from the dive and I came up and I started telling my crew ‘my God, I found a UFO!’”
However, it turned out there might be a more earthly if no less sinister explanation for Smyrichinsky’s find – a long-lost US nuclear bomb, or at least one without the nuclear core.
When Smyrichinsky started asking around veteran divers about the possible origins of the strange object, he was told the story of Convair B-36B, a US Air Force bomber en route from Alaska to Texas that crashed off BC’s north coast in 1950.
Smyrichinsky later found out that the bomber was reportedly carrying a nuclear bomb, a Mark IV, which was never found after the plane crashed.
As soon as he looked up Google images of Mark IV the resemblance with the object he saw at the bottom of the ocean was obvious, Smyrichinsky said.
“It was a piece that looked very much like what I saw, a big circle with these balls,” Smyrichinsky said. “I had no idea that a nuclear bomb contained all these big balls, bigger than basketballs.”
The Convair B-36B had crashed about 50 miles (81 kilometres) south of where he found the object, Smyrichinsky said.
“That’s what really set me off,” Smyrichinsky said. “Wow! I’m right in the right area, and it looks like it could be a piece of that thing, there is nothing else like that. What else could it possibly be?”
Greg Menzies, a spokesman for the Royal Canadian Navy, told dpa that Canadian military experts were working in close collaboration with their US colleagues to determine what the object was.
The navy plans to dispatch HMCS Yellowknife, a coastal defence vessel, around the third week of November to conduct an investigation. And they will take Smyrichinsky with them so he can pinpoint the location of his find.
The navy will deploy a small remotely operated vehicle (ROV) that can take still and video images of objects on the ocean floor, Menzies said.
“What we will also do we will also embark a small team from Fleet Diving Unit Pacific who are very well versed in operating this kind of equipment and they will provide explosive ordinance oversight in determining what the object is when they do in fact find it,” Menzies said.
Based on information provided by the US military the object is most likely from the 1950 crash of the B-36B bomber, but records indicate the lost bomb was a dummy capsule and so there is little risk of the object being a nuclear weapon and posing an environmental hazard, Menzies said.
“At this point I can tell you that there is no nuclear material on this particular item and we have been confirmed that it’s actually a dummy capsule,” Menzies said.