The Navy said yesterday that it has experienced 628 "incidents" and two "accidents" with nuclear weapons since 1965 but that none resulted in an explosion, leak of radioactive material or posed any risk to public health.
The disclosure came in response to a suit filed in U.S. District Court in Honolulu by the American Friends Services Committee and Ian Y. Lind, executive director of Common Cause of Hawaii.
The suit seeks to force the Navy to release documents detailing any mishaps with nuclear weapons on its ships, submarines and aircraft.
The committee and Lind have opposed storage of nuclear weapons in Hawaii. They have contended that the Navy has an obligation to release reports on mishaps to enable citizens to judge the risks of allowing nuclear weapons to be stored or based in their home areas.
It is known within the Defense Department that the first nuclear accident the Navy has listed for the 1965-1985 period occurred in 1965 when a nuclear-armed A4 fighter-bomber slid off a carrier deck and sank in the western Pacific.
The second accident, according to Pentagon officials, was the loss in the Atlantic of the attack submarine Scorpion, which carried nuclear weapons, in May 1968.
Navy officials said that, of the 630 incidents and accidents in the 20-year period, 364 did not involve nuclear weapons but support or training equipment.
In the remaining 266, Navy officials said, no damage was done to the weapons and none was inadvertently dropped from an aircraft or shot from a ship. The only inadvertent launches were of dummy weapons used for training, the Navy said.