During World War II, the United States worked to develop a “bat bomb” that consisted of an air dropped canister containing Mexican free-tailed bats with a small timed incendiary bombs attached to their tails. Work on the bat bomb was cancelled due to the development of the atomic bomb. Almost as strange as the “bat bomb” was a top secret operation, code-named “Project Seal“, which apparently came close to developing a “tsunami bomb.” The goal was to destroy coastal Japanese cities with man-made tsunamis. Testing was carried out in waters around New Caledonia and Auckland and showed that the weapon may have been feasible. A series of 10 large offshore blasts could potentially create a 33-foot tsunami capable of inundating a small city.
The plans came to light during research by a New Zealand author and film-maker, Ray Waru, who examined military files buried in the national archives. “Presumably if the atomic bomb had not worked as well as it did, we might have been tsunami-ing people,” said Mr Waru.
“It was absolutely astonishing. First that anyone would come up with the idea of developing a weapon of mass destruction based on a tsunami … and also that New Zealand seems to have successfully developed it to the degree that it might have worked.” The project was launched in June 1944 after a US naval officer, E A Gibson, noticed that blasting operations to clear coral reefs around Pacific islands sometimes produced a large wave, raising the possibility of creating a “tsunami bomb”.