Step Inside President Kennedy's Top Secret Nuclear War Bunker

War Is Boring
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War Is Boring

Security, Americas

If the atomic bombs started to fall.

Step Inside President Kennedy's Top Secret Nuclear War Bunker

“This place wouldn’t have survived a direct hit,” Anthony Miller of the Palm Beach Maritime Museum told VisitFlorida.com, Florida’s official Website for promoting tourism.

In December 1960, the SeaBees – the U.S. Navy’s construction force — supposedly began the mundane task of building a munitions depot behind the Coast Guard station on Peanut Island, Florida.

Known as “Operation Hotel,” the SeaBees actually built a secret nuclear fallout shelter for president-elect John F. Kennedy, who often spent his winters at a nearby estate on Palm Beach.

(This first appeared in July 2017.)

It took the SeaBees less than two weeks to complete the underground bunker, which consisted of a corrugated steel shelter covered with 25 feet of concrete, earth and lead. Official documents referred to the site as “Detachment Hotel,” and the government didn’t formerly acknowledge its existence until 1974.

Fortunately, Kennedy never had to use the bunker, but it still stands today and has been open to the public for tours since 1999.

Though The New York Times called it a “Cold War Camelot,” Kennedy’s Peanut Island bunker falls more on the modest side of the era’s bountiful atomic warfare shelters.

It’s certainly no Cheyenne Mountain, Weather Mountain, Greenbrier or those beneath the East and West Wings of the White House. Kennedy’s bunker was positively … tiny.

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