“The Last of the Big Dogs” has a new home after Pantex workers recently delivered one of the few remaining B53 nuclear weapons cases to the Freedom Museum USA in Pampa, Texas.
The final B53, which received its “Big Dog” nickname from dismantlement workers due to its massive size, was dismantled at Pantex on October 25, 2011, in a historic ceremony. The B53 was the oldest, largest and most destructive nuclear weapon in the U.S. arsenal at the time it was retired.
Pantex was looking for a way to preserve the legacy of the B53 and recognize the workers who built, maintained and dismantled it. The Freedom Museum, located about 45 minutes from Pantex, volunteered to take the dismantled weapon on loan to add to its large collection of historical military artifacts.
Monica Graham, Pantex historian, said the move was an important effort to publicly display this iconic weapon that served in secret for decades, helping to ensure the safety of America.
The B53 was first put into service in 1962, a year when Cold War tensions were at their highest during the Cuban Missile Crisis. It served a critical role in the nation’s nuclear deterrent through the end of the Cold War, retiring from the active stockpile in 1997.
The B53 weighed around 10,000 pounds and was about the size of a minivan. Many B53s were dismantled in the 1980s, but a significant number remained in the U.S. arsenal until they were retired in 1997.
The B53 which was delivered this week consisted only of the outer casing of the weapon and is empty on the inside. It is one of only three such museum artifacts in the country built from a stockpile weapon. The others were assembled from training units or spare parts.
The NNSA holds a unique and important place in global nuclear science and technology. Through our laboratories and plants, our scientists conduct specialized research that is recognized internationally as among the best in the world. We should not take this for granted.
America’s National Security Strategy stresses that, “science and technology—and our ability to apply the ingenuity of our public and private sectors toward the most difficult foreign policy and security challenges of our time—will help us protect our citizens and advance U.S. national security priorities.”
That scientific ingenuity is embodied by NNSA’s workforce. Accomplishing our missions of maintaining a safe, secure and effective stockpile and being a world leader in preventing and countering nuclear proliferation and terrorism can only be accomplished with a superb technical base. This base must include resources for basic science to drive technical solutions to security challenges—both today and for decades to come.
That is why it is vitally important for us to assign the highest priority to maintaining the core scientific, technical and engineering (ST&E) capabilities of the Nation’s nuclear security enterprise. Our investment in the ST&E personnel and facilities that make this possible, as well as our commitment to attract and retain the best and brightest talent, must remain consistent and steadfast.
We will continue to emphasize the importance of science because, quite simply, our missions depend on it.
Allison Aiken, LANL (top left) Aiken’s work focuses on ambient aerosol measurements.
Alan Perelson, LANL (top middle) Perelson is part of a multinational team whose work contributed to the understanding of the Hepatitis C virus and a possible cure.
Bette Korber, LANL (top right) Korber’s work focuses on the human immune response to HIV infection and HIV evolution.
Charles Westbrook, LLNL (bottom left) Westbrook pioneered research that applies codes from studying weapons dynamics to combustion chemistry.
William Pitz, LLNL (bottom right) Pitz’s research focuses on the development of chemical kinetic mechanisms and their application to problems such as combustion in homogeneous charge compression ignition engines and diesel engines.
NNSA's Office of Acquisition and Project Management (APM), the community manager for acquisition professionals, hosted NNSA Contracting Officers in Albuquerque this week to align NNSA acquisition policies and procedures with Departmental goals and priorities, and to clarify roles and responsibilities among the various COs across the Nuclear Security Enterprise.
A key discussion topic was how NNSA was implementing the Deputy Secretary's policy for improving acquisition planning and contract management for capital asset projects. The primary principle behind this policy is that the Department must align contract incentives and vehicles with taxpayer interests. Each party must share the risk by bearing responsibility for its own actions. The policy includes guidance to ensure proper project planning so that requirements are clearly defined before issuing a solicitation; to first consider the use of a firm-fixed-price contract to complete work requirements; to establish objective performance measures when a fixed-price contract is not in the government’s best interest; to utilize fee strategies that assure each party in the contract bears responsibility for its own actions; and to document and stay apprised of real-time, accurate, and reliable project performance data.
With this new organizational construct in place, NNSA has delivered its $725M project portfolio $50M - or 7% - under budget during the past the three years. In 2013, NNSA was removed from the GAO High Risk list for construction projects, with a Total Project Cost up to $750 million as a result of the improvements it is making in NNSA contract and project management.