November 33 and Oscar 0

Category Exploration Date Status Province / State Country
Military Public North Dakota United States

History: 

Located just outside Cooperstown, North Dakota, the Oscar 0 Missile Alert Facility was built in the 1965 and features a Launch Control Support building (LCSB) and a Launch Control Centre (LCC) 60 feet below.

Oscar 0 was constructed as part of the Grand Forks AFB's 321 Missile Wing and could control as many as 50 remote Minuteman launch facilities. In addition, if required, Oscar 0 could assume control over the launch facilities assigned to other LCC's if they were disabled.

The missileers, as they were called, worked 24-hour shifts, essentially locked into their underground vaults. Other support staff who remained on the surface included 4 security personnel, a flight security coordinator, a facility manager, and a chef.

The START treaty between the United States and the Soviet Union, signed in 1991, called for the dismantling of a significant portion of both country's nuclear arsenal. Oscar 0 was closed down in 1997, as would the remainder of the 321 Missile Wing's operations from Grand Forks.


Personal Commentary: 

While on my way to the Oscar 0 launch facility, I accidentally passed the November 33 missile silo first. A quick stop revealed a deceptively featureless surface. While feeling a little disappointment at not being able to see more of it, I continued on to Oscar 0.

Not unlike the missile silo, the launch facility looks, from the road, quite unimpressive. The interior of the main building is little more than a house for several men to live in. A well-furnished living room, dining room, well-equipped kitchen, and several bedrooms.

It isn't until you get underground via slow elevator, that the truly impressive nature of this complex becomes apparent. I couldn't help but think of what it must have been like to lock yourself into this concrete tomb, waiting for the end of the world to come, and making a career of this. An unpleasant thought to say the least.


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