ORCA Missile System / Project Sunrise - Containerized Seafloor-based ICBM

Boxman

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Just posted by the San Diego Air & Space Museum (SDASM) Archives on Flickr, a 1962 General Dynamics Astronautics film detailing the ORCA Weapons System / Project Sunrise, a containerized / encapsulated ocean floor-based ballistic missile (ICBM). The only mention of the concept I was able to find on the forum was by Michel Van in the MX (Peacekeeper) Deployment Concepts topic (link).


Hosting and narrating the film is Mortimer Rosenbaum, described as a Vice President of Research, Development and Engineering at General Dynamics (GD).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YyJjfCpfnI4
 

sferrin

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I wonder if, in today's hyper-PC climate, anybody would have the spine to name a nuclear missile system "Project Sunrise". B)
 

circle-5

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ORCA was an excellent concept. The folks at General Dynamics never lacked foresight and creativity. Would Crimea be an issue today, with 1,360 of these 200kT sentinels, parked a few miles away at the bottom of the Aegean Sea?

Unfortunately (with the exception of the UK) NATO seldom shared our bold vision, and France even pulled out of NATO in 1966, to pursue its "independent" nuclear agenda.
 

bobbymike

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sferrin said:
I wonder if, in today's hyper-PC climate, anybody would have the spine to name a nuclear missile system "Project Sunrise". B)

Yes times have changed. Now you can barely mention 'nuclear' anything and people go crazy as in even talk about replacing a 40 year old ICBM :eek:

Ya gotta love three guys in suits at the beach looking like Michael Douglas from 'Falling Down'. Not making fun these men were great minds and engineers that each in their way protected this nation for 70+ years on the 'intellectual' side of the Cold War.
 

Jemiba

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This system would have been non-mobile and to my opinion much harder to guard,
than land based missile silos. Disguising the deployment of those weapons would
probably have been hard to conseal, too. Fishery in the deployment areas, for example
would have to be strictly forbidden, giving even more clues to their locations and every
vessel using sonar would have to regarded as a potential threat ...
No wonder, that this concept wasn't adopted, I think.
 
M

MilwaukeeRoad

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circle-5 said:
ORCA was an excellent concept. The folks at General Dynamics never lacked foresight and creativity. Would Crimea be an issue today, with 1,360 of these 200kT sentinels, parked a few miles away at the bottom of the Aegean Sea?

Unfortunately (with the exception of the UK) NATO seldom shared our bold vision, and France even pulled out of NATO in 1966, to pursue its "independent" nuclear agenda.
It's not clear whose "our vision" it is, but the link made with Crimea is ludicrous - to say the least. One also fails to see why France is mentionned here, except because of their usual francophobia. France did not withdraw from NATO in 1966, but only from the integrated military structure. France remained a State party to the Washington treaty, which, BTW does NOT even mention the integrated military structure. And yes, the deterrent was and remains independent. You like or not.
 

RLBH

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Jemiba said:
This system would have been non-mobile and to my opinion much harder to guard,
than land based missile silos. Disguising the deployment of those weapons would
probably have been hard to conseal, too. Fishery in the deployment areas, for example
would have to be strictly forbidden, giving even more clues to their locations and every
vessel using sonar would have to regarded as a potential threat ...
No wonder, that this concept wasn't adopted, I think.

When the MX basing issue came up, ORCA was given another look and found lacking on the grounds of security, operability and arms control. The arms control objection was because emplacement of WMDs on the seabed was prohibited by treaty in 1971; this wouldn't have been an issue before then. The security and operability objections were rather stronger - the missiles could be located readily by an active sonar search, and the missiles' serviceability couldn't be verified without giving away their location.

On the other hand, it was felt to have excellent endurance, minimal public interface and environmental impact, and be fairly cheap to implement.
 

marauder2048

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RLBH said:
The security and operability objections were rather stronger - the missiles could be located readily by an active sonar search, and the missiles' serviceability couldn't be verified without giving away their location.

On the other hand, it was felt to have excellent endurance, minimal public interface and environmental impact, and be fairly cheap to implement.

+1 for desiring not to have the CONUS serve as an RV sink. Surely the above security and operability issues would be mitigated by basing ORCA in some of the larger
US (natural or artificial) lakes (the Rush-Bagot treaty notwithstanding).
 

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