Project SHAD, an acronym for Shipboard Hazard and Defense, was part of a larger effort called Project 112, which was conducted during the 1960s. Project SHAD encompassed tests designed to identify U.S. warships' vulnerabilities to attacks with chemical agents or biological warfare agents and to develop procedures to respond to such attacks while maintaining a war-fighting capability.

Exposures of uninformed and unwilling humans during the testing to the test substances, particularly the exposure to United States military personnel then in service, has added controversy to recent revelations of the project.


Project SHAD was part of a larger effort by the Department of Defense called Project 112. Project 112 was a biological and chemical experimentation project conducted by the United States Department of Defense and CIA handled by the Deseret Test Center and United States Army Chemical Materials Agency from 1962 to 1973. The project started under John F. Kennedy's administration, and was authorized by his Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, as part of a total review of the US military. The name of the project refers to its number in the 150 review process. Every branch of the armed services and CIA contributed funding and staff to the project. Project 112 primarily concerned the use of aerosols to disseminate biological agents that could produce "controlled temporary incapacitation" (CTI). The test program would be conducted on a large scale at "extracontinental test sites" in the Central and South Pacific and Alaska in conjunction with Britain, Canada and Australia.[1][page needed][2][page needed]


The official statement on Project SHAD's purpose was " identify U.S. war ships vulnerabilities to attacks with biological or chemical warfare agents and to develop procedures to respond to such attacks while maintaining a warfighting capability." 134 tests were planned initially, but reportedly, only 46 tests were actually completed. In these tests, chemical and biological agents were introduced to military personnel, who were at the time ignorant that they were involved in such an experiment. Nerve agents and chemicals include, but are not limited to, VX nerve gas, Tabun gas, Sarin, Soman, and the marker chemicals zinc cadmium sulfide, and QNB. Biologics include Bacillus globigii, Coxiella burnetti (which causes Q fever), and Francisella tularensis (which causes tularemia or 'rabbit fever').


Revelations concerning Project SHAD were first exposed by independent producer and investigative journalist Eric Longabardi. Longabardi's 6-year investigation into the still secret program began in early 1994. It ultimately resulted in a series of investigative reports produced by him, which were broadcast on the CBS Evening News in May 2000. After the broadcast of these exclusive reports, the Pentagon and Veteran's Administration opened their own ongoing investigations into the long classified program. In 2002, Congressional hearings on Project SHAD, in both the Senate and House, further shed media attention on the program. In 2002, a class action federal lawsuit was filed on behalf of the US sailors exposed in the testing. Additional actions, including a multi-year medical study was conducted by National Academy of Sciences/Institute of Medicine to assess the potential medical harm caused to the thousands of unwitting US Navy sailors, civilians, and others who were exposed in the secret testing. The results of that study were finally released in May 2007.

28 fact sheets have been released, focusing on the Deseret Test Center in Dugway, Utah, which was built entirely for Project SHAD and was closed after the project was finished in 1973.

The US Department of Defense (DoD) has come under great scrutiny[by whom?] because those that were involved with Project 112 and SHAD were unaware of any tests being done. No effort was made to ensure the informed consent of the military personnel. Until 1998, the Department of Defense stated officially that Project SHAD did not exist. Because the DoD refused to acknowledge the program, surviving test subjects have been unable to obtain disability payments for health issues related to the project. US Representative Mike Thompson said of the program and the DoD's effort to conceal it, "They told me – they said, but don’t worry about it, we only used simulants. And my first thought was, well, you’ve lied to these guys for 40 years, you’ve lied to me for a couple of years. It would be a real leap of faith for me to believe that now you’re telling me the truth."[3]

The Department of Veterans Affairs has commenced a three-year study comparing known SHAD-affected veterans to veterans of similar ages who were not involved in any way with SHAD or Project 112. The study cost approximately US$3 million, and results are being compiled for future release.

Ships and air units involved


Air units

See also



  • United States. Congress. Senate. Committee on Armed Services. Subcommittee on Personnel, "The Department of Defense's inquiry into Project 112/Shipboard Hazard and Defense (SHAD) tests: hearing before the Subcommittee on Personnel of the Committee on Armed Services, United States Senate, One Hundred Seventh Congress, second session, October 10, 2002," United States Congress, S. hrg. 107–810 (2003), 1–39.
  • United States. Congress. House. Report, “Health care for veterans of Project 112/Project SHAD Act of 2003: report (to accompany H.R. 2433),” United States Congress, Report/108th Congress, 1st session, House of Representatives, 108–213, 1–19.
  • United States. Congress. House. Committee on Veterans' Affairs. Subcommittee on Health, “Military operations aspects of SHAD and Project 112: hearing before the Subcommittee on Health of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, House of Representatives, One Hundred Seventh Congress, second session, October 9, 2002”, 107th Congress, 2nd session, 107–43, 1–19.
  • "Project Shipboard Hazard and Defense (SHAD)" from

External links

  • Columbia Journalism Review, Laurels November/December 2000
  • Vietnam Veteran's of America - The Veteran December2000/January 2001
  • United States Department of Veterans Affairs, includes pocket guides and Q&A
  • Vietnam Veterans of America
  • GAO
  • The Chemical-Biological Warfare Exposures Site, Official Web site of Force Health Protection & Readiness Policy & Programs
  • Project 112/SHAD - Shipboard Hazard and Defense, Official Web site of Force Health Protection & Readiness Policy & Programs

Declassified documents

OSD & Joint Staff FOIA Requester Service Center

  • , May 1964
  • , December 1964
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