Eerie images, wreck of USS Thresher
When I started writing my earlier post In the ocean , I actually was looking at eerie photos of scraps of the wreck of the USS Thresher (SSN-593), the first of the new Thresher-class 3700-ton nuclear-powered attack submarines. Commissioned in August 1961, she underwent extensive sea trials during ’61 and ’62. On April 10, 1963, after completion of a re-fit, she began post-overhaul trials. Accompanied by the submarine rescue ship Skylark (ASR-20), she transited to an area some 220 miles east of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and started deep-diving tests.
At 9:13 a.m., the USS Skylark (a surface vessel assigned to assist Thresher) received a signal, via underwater telephone, indicating that the submarine was experiencing “minor difficulties, have positive up-angle, attempting to blow.”
Shortly afterward, the Skylark received a series of garbled, undecipherable message fragments from the Thresher. At 9:18 a.m., the Skylark’s sonar picked up the sounds of the submarine breaking apart. All 129 hands were lost—112 military and 17 civilian technicians.
The submarine community, the Navy and the nation were stunned. Thresher was the best of the newest. The ship was built at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine and was the first of a new class of submarine, designed for optimum performance of sonar and weapons systems. (source: http://www.csp.navy.mil/othboats/593.htm)
After an extensive underwater search utilizing the bathyscaph Trieste, oceanographic ship Mizar, and other ships, Thresher’s shattered remains were located on the sea floor, some 8400 feet below the surface. Deep sea photography, recovered artifacts and an evaluation of her design and operations permitted a Court of Inquiry to determine that she had probably sunk due to a piping failure, subsequent loss of power and inability to blow ballast tanks rapidly enough to avoid sinking. Over the next several years, a massive program was undertaken to correct design and construction problems on the Navy’s existing nuclear submarines, and on those under construction and in planning. Following completion of this “SubSafe” effort, the Navy has suffered no further losses of the kind that so tragically ended Thresher’s brief service career. (source: http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/sh-usn/usnsh-t/ssn593.htm)
This is perhaps the eeriest image that I’ve seen. This is an air bottle, standing up in the silt at some 8,400 foot depth, just waiting for a crew member to pick up and put back on it’s rack.