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Sat Apr 10, 2021, 07:48 AM

On this day, April 10, 1963, the USS Thresher sank.

Last edited Sat Apr 10, 2021, 10:08 AM - Edit history (2)

Sat Apr-10-04: USS Thresher (SSN-593) lost 41 Years ago today

USS Thresher (SSN-593)


USS Thresher (SSN-593) underway, 30 April 1961

Ordered: 15 January 1958
Builder: Portsmouth Naval Shipyard
Laid down: 28 May 1958
Launched: 9 July 1960
Commissioned: 3 August 1961
Motto: Vis Tacita (Silent Strength)
Fate: Lost with all hands during deep diving tests, 10 April 1963; 129 died.

The second USS Thresher (SSN-593) was the lead boat of her class of nuclear-powered attack submarines in the United States Navy. She was the U.S. Navy's second submarine to be named after the thresher shark.

On 10 April 1963, Thresher sank during deep-diving tests about 350 km (220 mi) east of Boston, Massachusetts, killing all 129 crew and shipyard personnel aboard. It is the second-deadliest submarine incident on record, after the loss of the French submarine Surcouf, in which 130 crew died. Her loss was a watershed for the U.S. Navy, leading to the implementation of a rigorous submarine safety program known as SUBSAFE. The first nuclear submarine lost at sea, Thresher was also the third of four submarines lost with more than 100 people aboard, the others being the Argonaut, lost with 102 aboard in World War II, the Surcouf, and the Kursk, which sank with 118 aboard in 2000.

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Sinking

On 9 April 1963, Thresher, commanded by Lieutenant Commander John Wesley Harvey, left from Kittery, Maine, at 08:00 a.m. and met with the submarine rescue ship Skylark at 11:00 a.m. to begin her initial post-overhaul dive trials, in an area some 220 mi; 350 km (190 nmi) east of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. That afternoon, Thresher conducted an initial trim-dive test, surfaced, and then performed a second dive to half of test depth. She remained submerged overnight and re-established underwater communications with Skylark at 06:30 a.m. on 10 April to commence deep-dive trials. Following standard practice, Thresher slowly dove deeper as she traveled in circles under Skylark – to remain within communications distance – pausing every 30 m (100 ft) of depth to check the integrity of all systems. As Thresher neared her test depth, Skylark received garbled communications over underwater telephone indicating " ... minor difficulties, have positive up-angle, attempting to blow," and then a final, even more garbled message that included the number "900." When Skylark received no further communication, surface observers gradually realized Thresher had sunk.

By mid-afternoon, 15 Navy ships were en route to the search area. At 06:30 p.m., the commander of Submarine Force Atlantic sent word to Portsmouth Naval Shipyard to begin notifying the crew's family members, starting with Commander Harvey's wife Irene, that Thresher was missing.

By morning on 11 April, all hope of finding Thresher was abandoned, and at 10:30 a.m., Chief of Naval Operations Admiral George W. Anderson Jr. went before the press corps at the Pentagon to announce that the submarine was lost with all hands. President John F. Kennedy ordered all flags to be flown at half staff from 12 to 15 April in honor of the 129 lost submariners and shipyard personnel.

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Cause

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Information declassified in the 2008 National Geographic Documentary Titanic: Ballard's Secret Mission, shows that USNR Commander (Dr.) Robert Ballard, the oceanographer credited with locating the wreck of RMS Titanic, was sent by the Navy on a mission under cover of the search for Titanic to map and collect visual data on the Thresher and Scorpion wrecks.[23] Ballard had approached the Navy in 1982 for funding to find Titanic with his new deep-diving robot submersible. The Navy conditionally granted him the funds if the submarine wrecks were surveyed before Titanic. Ballard's robotic survey showed that the depth at which Thresher had sunk caused implosion and total destruction; the only recoverable piece was a foot of marled pipe. His 1985 search for Scorpion revealed a large debris field "as though it had been put through a shredding machine." His obligation to inspect the wrecks completed, and with the radioactive threat from both established as small, Ballard then searched for Titanic. Financial limitations allowed him 12 days to search, and the debris-field search technique he had used for the two submarines was applied to locate Titanic.

Almost all records of the court of inquiry remain unavailable to the public. In 1998, the Navy began declassifying them, but decided in 2012 that it would not release them to the public. In February 2020, in response to a FOIA lawsuit by military historian James Bryant, a federal court ordered the Navy to begin releasing documents by May 2020.

On May 22, 2020, the Navy stated in a court-mandated status report that due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Navy's Undersea Warfare Division (OPNAV N97) had placed the records review on hold as N97 staff were limited to supporting mission-essential tasks supporting undersea forces and operations only. However, the Navy stated that they "will return to the review and process of Plaintiff’s FOIA request once the office is able to expand beyond mission-essential capabilities." Following the release of the July 18, 2020 court-mandated report the Navy stated that they had identified and approved additional resources and reservists to begin processing the documents in August. The Navy began a rolling release of the records on September 23, 2020.

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Memorials

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Other

• On 12 April 1963, President John F. Kennedy issued Executive Order 11104 paying tribute to the crew of Thresher by ordering all national flags to half-staff.
• Five folk music groups or artists have produced songs memorializing Thresher; "Ballad Of The Thresher" by The Kingston Trio, "The Thresher Disaster" by Tom Paxton; "The Thresher" by Phil Ochs on his 1964 album All the News That's Fit to Sing, "The Thresher" by Pete Seeger, and "Thresher" by Shovels & Rope.
The Fear-Makers, an episode in the 1964 season of the television series Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea is inspired by the loss of the USS Thresher. Anthony Wilson, a writer for the series, was fascinated by the loss of the USS Thresher, and he wrote a teleplay for the series. In Wilson's teleplay, the submarine, the Seaview, searches for a missing submarine, the Polidor.

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Reply On this day, April 10, 1963, the USS Thresher sank. (Original post)
mahatmakanejeeves Apr 10 OP
2naSalit Apr 10 #1
ProudMNDemocrat Apr 10 #2
mahatmakanejeeves Apr 10 #3
Archae Apr 10 #4
bahboo Apr 10 #5

Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Sat Apr 10, 2021, 07:59 AM

1. I remember that...

My dad was acquainted with some of the crew members.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Sat Apr 10, 2021, 08:06 AM

2. April 10, 1912, TITANIC leaves Southampton for New York.

On her maiden voyage, only to hit an iceberg on the evening of April 14th, sink in the Atlantic 2 hours and 40 minutes later. 109 years ago.

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Response to ProudMNDemocrat (Reply #2)

Sat Apr 10, 2021, 08:10 AM

3. I was just about to rerun that thread too. I did it last year.

It's coming right up.

Thanks for writing.

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Response to ProudMNDemocrat (Reply #2)

Sat Apr 10, 2021, 09:32 AM

4. My family has a connection to the Titanic...

My Grandfather and Great-Grandfather (on my Dad's side,) emigrated to the US in 1912.

They were booked in steerage, (that's where the big cruise lines made the most money, from immigrants,) but due to a bureaucratic screwup in Europe, both my relatives missed the boat and ended up taking the next one.

I saw the boarding ticket decades ago, I don't know who has it now.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Sat Apr 10, 2021, 11:22 AM

5. I remember this...

it was a huge deal. Just horrifying....they named our local public swimming pool after it for some reason...

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