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The Thresher and The Scorpion

The Thresher and The Scorpion

April 10 is the 50th anniversary of the disappearance of The Thresher submarine.

At 9:18 a.m. on April 10, 1963, sonar operators aboard the U.S. Navy submarine rescue ship Skylark, which was accompanying the nuclear attack submarine Thresher, heard a chilling sound “like air rushing into an air tank,” and Thresher was no more. Its deep-dive trials southeast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, had come to a cataclysmic end and all 129 men aboard perished in 8,400 feet (2,560 meters) of water.

Phil Ochs wrote a song about it.

I still prefer his song about another submarine lost at sea, The Scorpion, which went down in 1968 somewhere near the Azores:

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Comments

fulldroolcup | April 5, 2013 at 6:40 pm

I lived in Portsmouth, NH, back then. A senior in high school, I got into a minor fender bender with another car in front of the construction site for a new post office.

The driver was a young sailor serving on the Thresher, which was built and based just across the river in Kittery.

Turns out , I had been the kid to replace him when, upon joining the Navy fresh out of Portsmouth high school, he left a part-time job at a jewelry store a few blocks from where our “accident” happened.

Huh. Coincidence.

The sailor came into the store once to say hi to his former fellow workers.

Fast-forward to about 15 months later, when I went to that new Post Office to get a replacement for my lost Selective Service draft card. I still have the card, now very tattered.

It’s dated …. April 10, 1963.

Peter DiBella, R.I.P.

Conservative Beaner | April 5, 2013 at 6:55 pm

One of the scariest momemnts of my life was getting run over by a South Korean destroyer. Fortunately the ship hit the rudder instead of the sail or I might sitting at the bottom of the ocean as well.

    David Yotham in reply to Conservative Beaner. | April 5, 2013 at 7:20 pm

    YES!

    Life on the boats could really tighten up a person sphincter – almost as bad as hitch-hiking through East St. Louis. Flooding, fire, etc. – no place to run and no place to hide.

TrooperJohnSmith | April 5, 2013 at 8:35 pm

Blind Man’s Bluff should be required reading for every American. Even then, we’ll still never know but a fraction of that continual struggle that was waged in the Stygian depths of the seas.

I’ve had the privileged to get to know two Russians, one enlisted and the other a retired naval officer, who served on the other side of that struggle. Neither will talk openly until they’re a little sauced, but they some of the stuff they describe about Soviet boats will make your skin crawl.

    Conservative Beaner in reply to TrooperJohnSmith. | April 5, 2013 at 9:13 pm

    Full of fun stuff loaded with things I might have or may not have done.

      TrooperJohnSmith in reply to Conservative Beaner. | April 5, 2013 at 11:22 pm

      I’d love to get some vets of the “Silent Service” together from both the US and Soviet navies. Of course with Putin heading back towards a Cold War re-start, such a reunion might be impossible.

SoCA Conservative Mom | April 5, 2013 at 8:40 pm

My dad was a plank owner on the USS Nautilus and then the USS Robert E Lee. He spent 20 years of his life on submarines. He retired in 1964 while on the Holy Lock deployment shortly after this incident occurred.

Some of my fondest memories are of my father regaling my husband with stories about submarine life in the 1940’s, 50’s, and 60’s.

My husband simuulates software for the submarine trainees, just read the whole thread to him. He loved it.

My father was a diver on the U.S.S. Skylark at the time. I still remember how sad everyone looked when the ship returned to New London after the sinking……..

NavyMustang | April 6, 2013 at 8:40 am

Yeah, I always tell folks that 50% of “Blind Man’s Bluff” is true. Just can’t tell them which 50%!

NavyMustang | April 6, 2013 at 8:42 am

Rest in peace, shipmates.

On Eternal Patrol:
USS SCORPION (SSN-589), USS THRESHER (SSN-593), USS ALBACORE (SS-218), USS AMBERJACK (SS-219), USS ARGONAUT (SS-166), USS BARBEL (SS-316), USS BASS (SS-164), USS BONEFISH (SS-223), USS BULLHEAD (SS-332), USS CAPELIN (SS-289), USS CISCO (SS-290), USS CORVINA (SS-226), USS DORADO (SS-248), USS ESCOLAR (SS-294), USS FLIER (SS-250), USS GOLET (SS-361), USS GRAMPUS (SS-207), USS GRAYBACK (SS-208), USS GRAYLING (SS-209), USS GROWLER (SS-215), USS GRUNION (SS-216), USS GUDGEON (SS-211), USS HARDER (SS-257), USS HERRING (SS-233), USS KETE (SS-369), USS LAGARTO (SS-371), USS PICKEREL (SS-177), USS POMPANO (SS-181), USS R-12 (SS-89), USS ROBALO (SS-273), USS RUNNER (SS-275), USS S-26 (SS-131), USS S-28 (SS-133), USS S-44 (SS-155), USS SCAMP (SS-277), USS SCORPION (SS-278), USS SCULPIN (SS-191), USS SEAWOLF (SS-197), USS SHARK (SS-174), USS SHARK (SS-314), USS SNOOK (SS-279), USS SWORDFISH (SS-193), USS TANG (SS-306), USS TRIGGER (SS-237), USS TRITON (SS-201), USS TROUT (SS-202), USS TULLIBEE (SS-284), USS WAHOO (SS-238).

I was a CTIC(SS) and was commissioned as a Warrant on my son’s fourth birthday at the Pearl Harbor Submarine Museum. Every time we did a spec op we were reminded of those who went before. Riders needed to get qualified! Know your job, but also, know the boat!

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