The US Department of Defence (DoD) first published a list of nuclear weapon accidents in 1968 which detailed 13 serious nuclear weapon accidents between 1950-1968. An updated list released in 1980 catalogued 32 accidents. At the same time, documents released by the Navy under the Freedom of Information Act cited 381 nuclear weapon incidents between 1965 and 1977.

A number of nuclear cases involve ships or submarines colliding at sea or, in some cases, submarine nuclear power units becoming unstable and the subs having to be abandoned. According to Greenpeace No Nukes there have been more than 120 submarine accidents since 1956. The most recent incident, in August 2000, was the loss of the Russian nuclear submarine Kursk in the Barents Sea. The Kursk is the seventh nuclear submarine lost, five of them Russian, two American.

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty was established in 1968, yet there are more than 23,000 nuclear weapons ready for firing.

There are 92 known cases of nuclear weapons lost at sea.