Talk:USS Thresher (SSN-593)

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The two sizes for the debris field don't agree - 134,000m² and 400 square yards. GreatWhiteNortherner 08:48, Jan 1, 2004 (UTC)

They agreed when the Imperial measurement read 400 yards square, which means a square 400 yards on a side. I hope whoever changed it from "yards square" to "square yards" went down and actually swept all that debris into the new 60x60 foot area. (I've reverted the change.)--the Epopt 15:47, 1 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Technicians or engineers?[edit]

Not sure if civilians were technicians, engineers or both.Fg2 01:52, Aug 7, 2004 (UTC)

Per the bios in the external link at the bottom, and other sources, the Portsmouth employees were a mix of techs and engineers, while the NOL, Sperry, and Raytheon employees were engineers. I also corrected the affiliation of the NOL employee, which is now consistent with numerous other sources (the error was probably copied from the Arlington Cemetary site which corrected it in 2005). The history of NOL, "The Legacy of the White Oak Laboratory", NSWC, Department of the Navy, Dahlgren VA, 2000, p. 55, refers to a Naval Ordnance Laboratory scientist, Don Kuester, lost on board the USS Thresher in April 1963. Mattfiller 23:00, 21 May 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Folk tale[edit]

I deleted this tale:

One of the final communications from the Thresher was reportedly radioed by the executive officer "Tell the boys from General Dynamics that they fucked up". The crew had apparently realized that the submarine was doomed after repeated attempts to empty the ballast tanks and surface had failed.

It is utterly impossible for anyone to radio anything from Thresher's test depth, and I find it hard to believe that the executive officer of a submarine in distress is taking the time to send droll messages to "the boys from General Dynamics" (not Electric Boat?). If can cite any credible evidence for this unbelievable and hither-to unknown story, I will publicly apologize. ➥the Epopt 14:36, 18 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Concur that the "every guy in SWO heard this" is still FOAF. Looking for official reports, documentation, even the name of a credible witness. Jinian 17:35, 18 Jun 2005 (UTC)
I was thoroughly briefed on the Thresher disaster, both in Naval Nuclear Power School and as part of my qualification in SUBSAFE/Level One Quality Assurance. I will state positively that no such message as described above was ever sent; the last communication received by Skylark was "Experiencing minor problem. Have positive angle. Attempting to blow." The next identifiable sounds were the well-known noises made by a submarine falling through crush depth. Today is Saturday; Monday morning I will repeat this story to the many surface-warfare officers I work with (most of whom are in their forties so they would have been in "surface warfare officer (SWO) school in the early to mid 1980s"); Monday evening I will describe their reactions here. ➥the Epopt 17:45, 18 Jun 2005 (UTC)

The following is in retort to some of the above points. Course material from surface warfare officer (SWO) training classes at Newport RI, including official US Navy reports, tapes, and transcripts, indicated that the malfunctions aboard Thresher did not present themselves in a sudden or mysterious way. Rather, events occured over an extended period during which her crew repeatedly struggled to surface. Thresher attempted to surface with forward propulsion and a positive degree "up bubble" on the planes. Unfortunately, Thresher was handicapped by having her ballast tanks full of seawater after numerous failed attempts to blow. Ultimately, Thresher was unable to maintain positive bouyancy and subsequently sank in over 8000 feet of water. The quoted taped message was received while Thresher was near the surface immediately before her final uncontrolled dive. It was not the final communication from Thresher. The "droll" message was only sent after the situation was obviously beyond remedy; it is not beyond reason for a LCDR to dispense with communication protocol upon the realization that his life, and the lives of over 100 men, were doomed. As for the question of why the quote was directed to "the boys at General Dynamics", Electric Boat was, and still is a division of the General Dynamics Corporation. The assertion that the quote "Tell the boys from General Dynamics that they fucked up" was one of the final communications from Thresher, along with the above accounts, was corroborated by separate personal interviews with three Naval officers (one retired, two active duty surface line officers) that were in SWO school classes and were witness to these documents and recordings in the early to mid 1980s. Note also that officers attending SWO school in that period are currently in their late 40's and early to mid 50's. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 19:15, 18 June 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I personally like the strong statement "Thresher was near the surface". Going up is canceling of the test, it absolutely should be reported by captain. Since his report of 9:02 tells nothing about it, we may assume that at least a 9:02 the ship was below 300m depth and had low speed. There was told to be implosion noise at 09:18. This allow to state the question, could 16 minutes be enough for Thresher to jump from 300m depth to the surface (more accurately, from a bit below 300m to a bit below surface) and then dive back to collapse depth? (talk) 19:21, 22 September 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Absolutely none of which is can be looked up by anybody but you — we have nothing to go on but your word. Until you cite a verifiable reference that we can look up, we cannot add your tale to this encyclopedia. Personal interviews, unless they are published so that they can be found by third parties, are not acceptable sources. ➥the Epopt 20:23, 18 Jun 2005 (UTC)
My sources are reluctant to be identified. Apparently, there is some question regarding the official status of the material they saw. I'll wait to see what your superiors in the Navy have to say, although your indignance doesn't give me much confidence in your impartiality. Unless somebody with more time can view the actual documents (freedom of information act?), I suspect certain people won't even take a Naval officer's word as truth.
It's not a question of believing one guy's recollection of a story, but whether or not such a memory is appropriate reference material. Undocumented tales - undiscovered by someone with more time (i.e., the author of "Death of the USS Thresher") - seem inappropriate to an encyclopedia. Obviously, if sourced material surfaces, it would be included. Without sources, perhaps you can craft a "Reportedly, one of the last comms..." and make the apocryphal nature of the story evident. Jinian 04:01, 19 Jun 2005 (UTC)
Let me confirm your suspicion: you are absolutely right when you say that without viewing "the actual documents ... certain people won't even take a Naval officer's word as truth." Those certain people have crafted the fundamental policies of this encyclopedia. We don't take anybody's word as truth, even those paragons of veracity, Naval officers. We only take verifiable published sources as truth. Until you have a page number in a published work (the Proceedings of the Naval Institute would be good) your anecdote remains apocryphal. ➥the Epopt 14:14, 19 Jun 2005 (UTC)
I'll wait to see what your superiors have to say. The fact remains that the recordings exist, and those words were heard on that tape by at least 3 seperate men. Note that these are not recollections of a story; they are recollections of the XO's own words on tape. In addition to this, documents detailing Thresher's loss in nauseating detail also exist. In light of this fact, Polmar's book (which is not even cited) should not be the primary source for what should be a thorough article. As it stands, this article is presently a mere rehash of material from websites.
Two LCDRs and two CDR currently working at SPAWAR Old Town, all of whom went through SWO school in the mid- to late-eighties, never heard of anything like your story. They heard tapes of submarines operating and submarines being sunk, but no dialog whatsoever. One of the CDRs quizzed me at length as to why I [sic] thought that the Navy would waste time playing such a tape to surface officers. After my explanation, he indicated that he would check out this Wikipedia thing ... so that's one good thing to come out of this discussion.
So the score stands at three officers unwilling to be named (a slight reduction from "every officer in surface warfare officer (SWO) school") who allegedly heard this tape against four officers whom I didn't ask if I could name but who think the story is ridiculous ... and the inarguable facts (a) that it is impossible to "radio" from test depth and (b) that I get exactly zero (0) Google hits for either of the searches
submarine "the boys at General Dynamics" 
submarine "the boys from General Dynamics" 
I think we'll stick with Wikipedia policy: no unverifiable material allowed.
By the bye, I'm a civilian contractor; the rank-equivalence is fuzzy, of course, but I call Lt.Cols./CDRs and under by their first names, Cols./CAPTs by rank-plus-last name, and only say "sir" to guys wearing stars. ➥the Epopt 03:39, 21 Jun 2005 (UTC)
I'll add that I asked some of the target audience (SWOS in the 1980s) as well and got a similar reponse. Mainly, "HUH? Who could have radio'd from depth?" But the consensus was that it was a folktale and not real. Jinian 00:19, 22 Jun 2005 (UTC)
I'm not sure tribal memory within the SWO - surface warfare officer - community is the most authoritative source. How come nobody within the submarine community ever heard this story? The Thresher was widely discussed for decades afterwards, especially on sister ships of the same class (such as mine). During the period of great tension between EB and the submarine community in the early 1980s, anything that negative about EB would have been widely repeated. Furthermore, I never heard a submariner refer to the Electric Boat shipyard by the name of its' parent, General Dynamics -- it was always "EB". Finally and most tellingly, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (where Thresher was built and then overhauled just before the accident) took the blame. I can think of no reason the XO would point the finger at a totally unrelated shipyard in his last words. For more history on Thresher's maintenance history, see and 02:00, 14 December 2006 (UTC)I'd be willing to be that the XO, as the senior Nuke on board, would have had his kiester back aft, trying to contain the flooding or restart the plant, not casting aspersions about Electric Boat (or, more correctly, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, which had just performed the overhaul) over the UQC. The ONLY rumor I've heard is that a junior officer was calling off depths and pressures right up until the end, but I've never seen this confirmed anywhere. As guilt-striken as the Navy was about Thresher (and rightfully so), it would be almost impossible to hush this sort of thing up for so long. (Mike Chapman68.163.249.43 02:00, 14 December 2006 (UTC))Reply[reply]

I suggest our expert check out his story out with some submariners.A. B.

The story concerning the comment on General Dynamics is ridiculous. Thresher was designed and built by Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (PNSY). The people at PNSY took exceptional pride in that fact. At the time of her conception Thresher was conceived as a superior alternative to USS Tullibee, a smaller, slower, electric motor driven submarine of different design, designed and built by Electric Boat (EB)in Groton, CT. Thresher was bigger, faster, deeper diving, and steam-turbine driven with unique sound isolation features which gave her capabilities no other submarine had. She was viewed by Portsmouth as their salvation in their ongoing competition with EB, which had been until then used almost exclusively by BUSHIPS for designing and building the lead boats in the nuclear fleet. The success of Thresher would make PNSY the lead 'yard' in a new, superior class of submarine. In fact, there was a large sign posted on the ship's company's work/berthing barge during construction which stated "USS THRESHER, Portsmouth's Own". The only part of Thresher that was remotely related to Electric Boat was the S5W reactor plant which was primarily designed by Westinghouse Electric, in conjunction with EB to some degree for the Reactor Compartment and the Auxiliary Machinery Space compartment piping for the Skipjack Class submarines, and later used in several classes of submarines built elsewhere which used the S5W reactor plant. Finally, no matter who the builder was, the thought that anyone, with their ship in extremis, sinking out of control, would grab the UQC (underwater telephone) to send a stupid message such as that described above,is a sea story that could only be believed by an ignorant landlubber. EFM 4/27/06

Interestingly enough, Admiral Rickover had very little input as to Thresher's design. Since the S5W plant was a proven design, he was merely in charge of the training of the engneering crew and the selection and approval of the commanding officer, XO and Chief Engineer. Thresher used a "rafted" deck in the engine room for sound-isolation purposes, and though Rickover had serious doubts about the engineering, he had very little input as to the design, much less than he had enjoyed with the Skipjack class (which debuted the S5W plant.) He was very concerned about the great depths to which this class of ships would venture -- the Skipjack class had a maximum depth of about 700 feet, about half that of Thresher.

It's also interesting that Portsmouth got the contract for the lead ship in the class. It's well known that Portsmouth was offered the chance to design and build Nautilus, but that the yard superintendent at the time turned Rickover down -- he had too much work backlogged already. The story is that Rickover used the superintendent's own phone to call the GM of Electric Boat, who promptly accepted the challange. Most of the submariners I've known shuddered at the thought of having work done at Portsmouth. Being folks imbued with caution and long memories, they remember that Squalus sank after coming out of overhaul at Portsmouth, as did Thresher. (MBC02:09, 14 December 2006 (UTC))

Garbled message[edit]

Just sticking my nose in here for a sec - this week (early July 2021) a new batch of declassified docs makes it clear that Seawolf was getting human responses from Thresher a full 24 hours after the supposed sudden deadly disaster, and at a depth far above the sea floor. Some analysis here: by a former submariner who walks through the released transcript which he is angry about. Worth a watch if this topic matters to you.

I'm afraid this video misrepresents the evidence somewhat. The presenter suggests a hypothesis (that the submarine somehow survived, partially imploded and remaining neutrally buoyant) which is incompatible with the weight of evidence as well as with physics (a submarine which has imploded will be strongly negatively buoyant). The evidence he cites is an after-action report from the crew which amounts to them hearing various active sonar pings and other noises (all likely from other surface ships) which might have been a submarine, but this was later found to be false by the investigation. Unless stronger evidence also contradicting the accepted sequence of events presents itself, I believe this should not be included in the article as it is unlikely and in any case not verifiable. SomeRandomUserGuy (talk) 02:30, 14 July 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

It's been a few years, but I read about a garbled message from an underwater phone to a support ship. Maybe this is an embellishment on that? Pete 03:46, 21 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Thresher was in contact with Skylark throughout her tests. The last intelligible gertrude (sound) transmission received by Skylark was "Experiencing minor problem. Have positive angle. Attempting to blow." ➥the Epopt 23:11, 21 Jun 2005 (UTC)
It is possible that this was the "garbled message" left out of civilian books for the sake of decorum.
If so, it was also left out of all Naval records as well. The story is impossible, unbelievable, an insult to the XO, unverifiable, and — in my arrogant opinion as someone who has spend over 25 years working in, on, and with submarines — fictitious. ➥the Epopt 15:49, 23 Jun 2005 (UTC)


I have heard this recording, although it was at OCS (Newport, RI) in 1983. I can't remember the exact quote, but it was to the effect of "the guys at general dynamics fucked up". I believe the submarine was in contact via low freq. radio - although I was not a bubblehead, myself. This was over 20 years ago, but the recording left an impression. (unsigned comment by IP:

Sorry, but no matter how many anoynomous "I heard it, but can't confirm" I see, I still don't believe you. Unverifiable heresy does not belong is unencyclopedic. Jinian 17:24, 4 January 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Plus, isn't LFR morse-code, not voice? Ralph 1March06
VLF (very low frequency) radio does not penetrate water to the Thresher's depths. As I recall, it's receive-only alphanumeric data -- no voice. See and A. B.

Crush Depth[edit]

Anyone know what the actual lower limit on this class of Submarine is? I'm assuming it's lower/higher (...not sure what the correct nominclature is) that 8000m, but the article never actually mentions it.

I don't know if that data is still classified or not, so I googled for it, and states "diving depth is 1200' and crush depth is 1950'." ➥the Epopt 14:51, 6 March 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

As a member of the ship's commissioning crew and one who rode the ship through her trials up until August, '61, Test Depth, as it is termed,the maximum designed operating depth, was 1,300 feet. Collapse depth, as is is termed, was not a generally published figure. I know it was less than 2,000', but don't know the exact number. There are people familiar with that class of submarine who do know. 27 April 2006

Internal waves[edit]

I deleted this new material:
"Oceanographers have conducted studies that examine under water waves called "internal waves," and these usually occur between thermohaline (temperature and salinity) gradients. These thermohaline gradients reflect sonar pulses, which makes it an ideal area for submarines to cruise silently. Concurrently, the USS Thresher could have been cruising silently on a thermohaline gradient while an internal wave tossed the submarine (internal waves can easily be the size of a football field), sending it to an area with intense pressure. This pressure would make the submarine implode and the debris would sink to benthic regions."

  1. There's no evidence -- just speculation -- that this phenomenon occurred in the Thresher's case.
  2. There's no indication in the U.S. submarine community that any U.S. submarine has ever experienced unexpected large depth excursions due to underwater turbulence. I never encountered one nor heard of anyone else encountering one.
  3. The Thresher was on sea trials after an overhaul. Sea trials after extensive maintenance are the most dangerous time for a submarine, which is one reason the U.S. Navy will nowadays sometimes have escort vessels and rescue equipment nearby. The general held belief within the Navy is that an improperly weld or silver brazed joint made during the overhaul somewhere in the hundreds of feet of pressurized seawater piping within the engineering spaces subsequently failed. If such a failure is going to occur, it will probably occur during sea trials.
  4. A Google search ["Internal wave" AND Thresher] turns up numerous speculative comments within various oceanographic articles on internal waves that mention the possibility that Thresher may have been lost to an internal wave. Most of these passing comments make no mention of the original source of this notion and none of them make any mention of the accident investigation and report.
  5. The most pronounced gradient occurs somewhere between 100 and 200 feet. Were Thresher at this depth, it would have taken a depth excursion _far_ in excess of the "size of a football field" to take Thresher to crush depth. Even if Thresher were operating at its' maximum operating depth, there would still be several "football fields" between it and crush depth.
  6. Submarines do operate with neutral buoyancy, but they could add quickly substantial buoyancy to counteract such a wave. This was true even prior to the post-Thresher SUBSAFE modifications to allow blowing ballast tanks much faster. By contrast, an internal seawater piping failure can dump many tons per second of weight into the boat if it occurs near test depth -- this is true even of a very skinny pipe. Blowing ballast tanks (even with SUBSAFE emergency blow modifications) may not save a boat if the flooding goes unchecked for very long. (Because of this, another SUBSAFE modification allowed the engineering officer of the watch to rapidly shut all hull valves in a matter of seconds in the event of flooding.) -- A. B.

inclusion of officers and enlisted names[edit]

I question whether or not the inclusion of the names of the sailors aboard the ship when it sank is really a good thing for this article. Is this encyclopedic information? Does it add to the article? I would like to remind everyone that wikipedia is not a memorial. While I am interested in such topics as this one, I just want to make sure that this article maintains a neutral point of view. What does everyone else think? -- malo (tlk) (cntrbtns) 06:09, 24 May 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I can see your point -- it makes the article longer. On the other hand, I'm against removing this information from the Wikipedia.
Articles can be too big, but the Wikipedia can never be too big (well almost never -- there are some limits). Wikipedia accommodates its ever-expanding accretion of information by splitting articles off into smaller articles. Perhaps one approach would be to put this list on a separate article linked to this one. It could also include a list of the memorials to the Thresher (buildings named after crew, etc.). The fact is that the loss of the Thresher had a big impact on the American people when lost in 1963 -- as big as the loss of the space shuttle Challenger in 1986 and bigger than the loss of the space shuttle Columbia in 2003. The names of these men and their stories were plastered all over the newspapers for months as was the aftermath of the accident. It wasn't until the Kennedy assassination that the Thresher disaster faded from the national zeitgeist. I remember the news bulletins, programming interruptions and lowered flags from my childhood.
By the way, a brief discussion of the accident's significant impact on the American public should probably be included when someone has time to research it and write it up.--A. B. 16:50, 24 May 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

As I realize that this page is not intended to be a memorial, as being a granddaughter of Donald E. Wise, it does make me feel better to know that when talking about the USS Thresher disaster the officers are as important to readers as the ship they were on.KeriDBeri (talk) 04:28, 13 November 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Make a separate article for all personnel !! (move it, don't delete). All Personnel, officers, enlisted, DoD Civilian employees, and civilian contractors. Yes, it is not adding high value to the article. This drove the creation of the SUBSAFE program, At work Today I read an e-mail from flag rank (Admiral) of this being the 50th anniversary of this event(it listed all personnel) . How do you get this article to appear on Wikipedia Main page, in the on this date in history section? - "brief discussion of the accident's significant impact on the American public should probably be included" great idea, but too long ago in history, and probably to hard to put into an official Wikipedia article - better expressed more informally on talk pages to convey the tone necessary. Wfoj2 (talk) 23:52, 9 April 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I wonder if you realized that this was 4 year old issue? Anyway, I think a book or memorial would be a more typical place for the list to appear. Listing a few of the more prominent people's names would be incidental and normal. Listing everyone would be extraordinary. There are a number of submarine loss articles in Wikipedia, but there aren't any that purposely name every individual who died. I like to saw logs! (talk) 17:58, 11 April 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Soviet Scalar EM Weapon Lunacy[edit]

I rolled back an attempt to add the "Thresher was deliberately sunk by the Soviet Scalar Electromagnetic Weapon" lunacy. I am quite familiar with that particular conspiracy theory, as my dad was an earnest proponent of it. It can be summarized as "the Soviets could (can? [cue ominous music]) use buzzwords to cast magic spells," and there is no evidence whatsoever to support it.

I would support the creation of an article describing the fantasized Soviet Scalar Electromagnetic Weapon, and perhaps even a mention in this article that a dozen or so, um, er induhviduals believe that Thresher was sunk by it, but I oppose any attempt to present such as claim as a fact, or even as a serious conjecture. ➥the Epopt 18:27, 9 August 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

nine hundred north[edit]


i'm on my way writing the german article into featured status. One question occured to me: is there any point i don't unterstand with the last garbled message "nine hundred north" (if it was exaclty like that)? Any hidden reference to test or crush depth i dont see? Thanks, --schlendrian •λ• 19:00, 20 September 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]


They were reporting depth in relation to test depth, so 900 North meaning roughly 2200ft. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 240B:11:5080:8200:5C93:FE15:7328:A332 (talk) 12:27, 11 September 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Could have saved the Thresher?[edit]

Mr. McCoole's oft-repeated claim that he would not have closed the Main Steam stops, and thus kept main propulsion avalable, does not stand up for two reasons.

1. The S5W plant had a three position switch in Maneuvering that controlled the stops. Until procedures were revised following Thresher's loss, the switch was kept in "Auto" which means the stops would close automatically on a reactor scram, too quickly for an operator to prevent. Keeping this switch in Manual, so they didn't automatically close was one of the post-Thresher changes.

2. As the MPA, Mr. McCoole was responsible for training his people. There's no reason to believe they acted contrary to his training, and no reason to believe he would have done any different.

H.A. Joyce, Jr (fmr MM1(ss) 1971-1980, and son of ETC(SS) H.A. Joyce, plankowner and RC Div. Chief, USS Thresher, pre-comm thru 04/08/63)

Regarding 1. Before we dismiss Lt. McCoole as a liar or victim of memory deluded by wishful thinking, perhaps there's an intermediate position. Your critique assumes that the stop switch was on "Auto" at the time of the SCRAM because this is what Navy procedure called for. I gather there was no lock out in place that would have prevented McCoole from moving the switch to manual at his discretion. Wouldn't a sub at or near test depth, especially with depleted batteries, present an intelligent time for an experienced Reactor Control Officer to do so? The fact that Rickover thought of it after the fact and changed policy doesn't mean somebody(s) in the fleet didn't think of and implement it first. In fact, the line from the article "Nothing enraged Rickover more than this argument. Common sense, he argued, would prove this to be untrue." suggests that just such a scenario was very much the case. I doubt the history of the Navy has no instances where experienced officers deviated from standard procedure.
Regarding 2., As to training, would Lt. McCoole finish imparting all of his knowledge to his subordinate the moment he boarded, or a day, week or months later? More importantly, training and experience overlap somewhat but are hardly the same thing. Lt. McCoole stated that he had more experience, not training, than his subordinate. Surely you aren't suggesting that training held equal, experience is irrelevant in a combat team, and is not prized because it results in better choices and performance in difficult circumstances.

Mark Davis, Saw a submarine once.

WarQuestions 00:36, 4 October 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Speaking of batteries, the article says "The logical action at this point would have been for Harvey to order propulsion shifted to a battery-powered backup system." and then just carries on. User WarQuestions stats above that the batteries were depleted. Can anybody shed more light into this? The nuclear power plant should both keep the sub running by itself, and probably recharge the batteries, even when submerged, right? So, why could Tresher not use her batteries for propulsion? If they were depleted, then again, why? thestor (talk) 18:52, 21 September 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

As far as I've read, the batteries were not depleted before the fatal dive - that would probably have been a "no-go" item. The batteries were known to be finicky, however.

There are two points here -

First, a submarine equipped with a reactor has immediate problems when the reactor is shut down unexpectedly. Certain equipment has to be kept running, including lube oil and hydraulic pumps, and the pumps that move water through the reactor itself. Following a SCRAM the electrical loads shift to the battery, which is smaller than that carried on conventional submarines. Normal procedure would be to rise to periscope depth, and, if the reactor could not be restarted promptly, to begin snorkling so that the diesel engine could be started. This in turn would supply power to the ship until the reactor could once again be started. The battery was small enough that it would be depleted rapidly without the reactor or the diesel running.

Second, at test depth where Thresher's problems began, Captain Harvey would certainly have ordered a "switch to EPM" (the emergency propulsion motor) following a SCRAM. However, the EPM was for emergencies only, and didn't have enough horsepower to propel Thresher back to a safe depth. Thresher was probably neutrally buoyant at that part of the dive; flooding in the engine room would certainly have made the ship increasingly negatively buoyant, a further obstacle for the EPM to overcome. It's also possible that the EPM itself failed - there were reports that at great depths, the EPM would bind up because of insufficient clearance, made worse by the compression of the hull at 1,300 feet. Or it could have been rendered useless by the electrical short-circuits caused by the flooding.

It's said that engineering disasters follow a "three-legged stool" model - three things have to go wrong for tragedy to strike. In this case we have a (supposedly minor) flooding casualty, which caused a reactor SCRAM, followed by blockage of the air lines between the air banks and the ballast tanks due to freezing moisture caused by the emergency blow. (talk) 20:10, 4 January 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Spontaneous reactor re-starts after SCRAM[edit]

I've edited the last half of the sentence

"This was done to prevent an over-rapid cooldown of the reactor, which could actually restart spontaneously and go out of control if the core was cooled too quickly."

to read

"This was done to prevent an over-rapid cool-down of the reactor."

I'm not aware of any data reporting a reactor restart following a scram. When scrammed, the safety rods are totally in and there is no way fissioning could restart because the rods overwhelmingly absorb all neutrons buzzing around. That is precisely what they are designed for - to absolutely prevent a chain reaction under any circumstances.

Mark Davis

WarQuestions 20:34, 4 October 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I'll leave the edit intact, but...

Even when the control rods are fully re-inserted following reactor criticality, fission is only attenuated. The rods do not "absorb all neutrons buzzing around", they only attenuate neutron flux to well below the point of criticality. The reactor continues producing decay heat, albeit at a fractional rate, for some time following a SCRAM. It's not as simple as snapping a switch, it's more like your car rolling to a gradual stop after you take your foot off the gas, or switch off the ignition. That's part of the reason that post-SCRAM loads on the battery are so high - the main coolant pumps have to continue running.

If the temperature of the reactor coolant is lowered quickly enough (as it could be if steam were withdrawn from the secondary side for many minutes in an attempt to drive the ship to the surface), then the cooler, denser coolant would trap more free neutrons, causing reactor power levels to rise dangerously, even with the rods inserted. This is known as a "cold water accident" and it's particularly nasty because it can happen quickly and is nearly impossible to control. This is no doubt why the main-steam-stop switch would have an "auto" setting (though it's placement in auto or manual on Thresher will never be known), to keep the heat in the primary system.

Admiral Rickover later changed the post-SCRAM procedure to allow steam to be withdrawn in limited quantities, to allow the limited use of the main propulsion system for an emergency such as this.

--Mike Chapman

Mr. Chapman, that's just silly. Rods don't just "slow down" fission, they make it negligeable. When fully inserted they drive the reactor sub-critical. I think you are confusing decay heat generation, which doesn't go away immedeately, with the concept of criticality. Reactors are designed so that, with all rods inserted, they will remain sub-critical under all forseeable conditions, even if other components fail. The REAL concern is that a rapid cooldown induced by drawing off steam after the reactor is scrammed will cause excessive cooldown, lowering both primary and, most importantly, secondary temperature. As secondary temperature lowers, steam pressure lowers. If it gets low enough, things stop working. So, once you restart the reactor, before you can get going again you have to heat up. And you can't do that instantaneously. Under most circumstances that Rickover and the S5W designers forsaw, they probably figured that the time savings from not having to heat up the plant coupled with the reduced thermal stresses outweighed the benefit of shaving a few minutes off recovery time by leaving the steam stops open. Sonlee (talk) 23:05, 4 June 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

===In my Navy nuclear training in the 60s we were told that the interlocks that shut the main steam stops automatically upon reactor scram, and the follow-up procedures for restarting the reactor were specifically designed to avoid a “cold water accident.’’ The dangerous scenario could conceivably happen if continued withdrawal of steam after scram cooled down the coolant such that there was a considerable temperature difference between the hot water in the reactor and the cooler water in the coolant piping, then when the reactor operator is restarting the reactor to recover from the scram by shimming out control rods, reaching critically or near critically, then if a slug of cold coolant is pumped into the reactor, it might cause a “cold water accident.” Although this would be an unlikely stupid procedure, the precautions were probably put in place because the consequences were unacceptable. Obviously, under Rickover’s orders after the loss of Thresher, the NR people created a procedure to allow continued withdrawal of steam for a limited period, with restart procedures that would preclude injecting a slug of cold water.Tvbanfield (talk) 18:58, 9 April 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

1.7MB Animated .gif file[edit]

I think having an image that size on the page is a usability issue. It slows rendering and can freeze browsers. It's a very nice illustration of what happened, but I'm not sure it's worth the trouble. Maybe someone with more technical skill than I have could make the file smaller? If not, and if nobody comes up with a compelling reason to keep the file I might edit it out in a few days. (talk) 06:38, 6 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

What are you talking about? The animation sequence is beautiful, and we all should be honored that someone took time out of their day to make such an animation sequence that graphically explains the events. If you can point me to evidence of how it hinders usability, then maybe we can link to the graphic externally instead of actually showing the graphic on the thresher page, but I have an old computer, and it works fine for me. Does anyone else have any issues with it? Azoreg (talk) 00:27, 12 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It presumably took a fair amount of effort, and I doubt anyone is prepared to remove it, but it looks amateurish, and it has issues. The animation loops, but there's no indication of when it is supposed to start and end; there's no clear timeline throughout the video to explain the chronology - it needs a time clock in the corner (the text-only chronology is a lot easier to understand). There is some text to explain the failure of the vales, but the rest of the action is not narrated, which gives the impression that the frozen valves were the only event that took place - the video doesn't even explain that the reactor fails, or why (perhaps we're supposed to intuit this from the stopped props). Did the submarine really drop like a stone, as portrayed in the video? I understand the desire not to offend people, but it needs to show the submarine imploding, if only with abstract graphics. -Ashley Pomeroy (talk) 20:22, 14 March 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

This article requires redirects to[edit]

This article cannot be reached by typing "Tresher" nor "USS Tresher" in the search bar. Could someone make approbiate redirects? I lack the necessary user level. thestor (talk) 18:45, 21 September 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Perhaps if you spelled it correctly. THRESHER not TRESHER —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:14, 27 November 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Compressed air pressure ?[edit]

The "tubes obstructed with ice" version always left me with a doubt "how the hiss was possible then ?". One of Russian article tells that investigation committee figured out, that compression air pressure was someday calculated for diesel submarines, and was not updated when nuclear submarines been designed for greater depths, hence the greater water pressure. The implication was that after power loss, either air pressure or tubes walls were not enough to counter external water pressure and lacking active powered equipment they just could not blow the water out. This article, to me, lacks the info about committee findings, versions and arguments against them. Of particular interest could be, what was the air pressure kept at submarine and how it compares to water pressure in the tanks. (talk) 18:45, 22 September 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Further Reading Addition[edit]

I've found a book compiled by the U.S. Navy in memorial to the Thresher and her crew. While this book contains little information on the sinking of the Thresher, I believe that it may be of interest to add it to a "Further Reading" section. It contains bios on all crew members, a copy of the eulogy shared at the memorial service, and written condolances from various Navy officers and dignitaries.

U.S. Atlantic Fleet. Staff , Deputy Commander Submarine Force. (1964) United States Ship Thresher (SSN 593): In memoriam April 10, 1963. U.S. Navy Atlantic Fleet. No Available ISBN.

Ethan McHenry (talk) 04:13, 3 February 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Implosion depth discrepancy[edit]

The current article the Sinking section paragraph #6 mentions "Thresher likely imploded at a depth of 1,300–2,000 ft (400–610 m)." Later Bruce Rule's analysis is quoted as saying "With an estimated average sink-rate of about 130 feet per minute, its pressure-hull collapsed at 09:18:24 at an estimated depth of about 2,400 feet, more than 400 feet below her designed collapse depth."

Can someone clear this up? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Monzagorilla (talkcontribs) 00:28, 11 July 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Rewrote Bruce Rule theory[edit]

So I read the Navy Times article by Bruce Rule, then I came to this article and found that Rule's thesis wasn't separated out but was just kind of pasted in under the time sequence, and did not adequately explain Rule's theory and how much it differs from the official Navy theory. For one thing, the article as I found it did not explain that Rule rejects flooding as a cause and says that the ship was intact up until it imploded. I created a new section for the Rule analysis and I tried to reduce word cruft while including the fundamental information about Rule's theory. Since AFAIK the official Navy theory is still the "flooding from a silver brazed joint" conclusion from 50 years ago, I took care to describe Rule's theory as Rule's theory and not the official facts. Vidor (talk) 23:02, 25 October 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Serious problem with the Bruce Rule Theory[edit]

This article by Bruce Rule and Norman Polmar challenges the position of the U.S. Navy and the Navy Court of Inquiry that THRESHER sank probably due to a failure of sea water piping, probably in the engine room. I have no problem with such challenges, but they need to be complete. This article however has a serious omission. The authors conclude that there was no failure of sea water piping and no flooding for any other reason. Absent any flooding, they offer no explanation why THRESHER lost depth control and sank. It is hard to accept that THRESHER would have been so negatively buoyant that she would have sunk, because submariners keep their subs neutrally buoyant. They do so religiously because their lives depend on it. This would have been especially true during the disciplined procedures of test dive operations. The information in the article based on SOSUS acoustics records is very important and, coming from Bruce Rule, a SOSUS expert with 40+ years of experience, it is very credible. However the conclusion that there was no flooding is not credible without some explanation why THRESHER lost depth control. Without propulsion THRESHER would have remained at the depth she was. She would not sink rapidly. In the Control Room, if they found they were somewhat heavy, the procedure would be to pump water to sea from the trim tanks using power from the battery, thus achieving enough negative buoyancy to return to the surface. The conclusion that there was no flooding is not credible. At the end of the section on the Bruce Rule Theory, there should be a statement that critics of this theory can not accept the conclusion that there was no flooding without some explanation why THRESHER lost depth control.Tvbanfield (talk) 16:27, 11 January 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Well, a week ago someone edited the article, putting more emphasis on Bruce Rule's theory, casting further doubt on the official inquiry's theory, and pointing out that an ex-submariner is suing the Navy under the Freedom of Information Act to declassify more information about the disaster. So I think the above statement warrants a rebuttal, even if five and a half years late.
I want to make clear that I am not a submarine expert; in fact I have no connection to submarines or the U.S. Navy whatsoever other than my own intellectual interest. However, once I learned about Bruce Rule's theory, it did seem more plausible to me than the official explanation, especially after reading Bruce Rule's more recent writings on USS Thresher and other related topics. Most of these writings I have found on the message board of the IUSS*CAESAR Alumni Association, an organization of former personnel of the Integrated Undersea Surveillance System (IUSS), SOSUS's descendant. Bruce Rule contributes to the board frequently, and the board actually has a page full of links to some of his more substantial postings.
When Bruce first announced his theory, he did seem to avoid mentioning Thresher′s buoyancy before the accident, for whatever reason. That's no longer the case: he has since said explicitly that Thresher wasn't practicing rigorous buoyancy control, but was relying on her propulsion to maintain depth control during the test dives. In a posting on January 3, 2017 titled "After Six Years, Dropping the Other Shoe", he claimed:
"The event lurked in my mind because - in 2009 - refined analysis of the collapse signal confirmed the event had occurred at a depth of 2400-feet and there had been no prior flooding - contrary to the COI [Court of Inquiry] assertion that flooding had occurred at test-depth (1300-feet) and was the cause of the disaster, conclusions already posted on this site.
That refined analysis also confirmed THRESHER was heavy at test-depth (out of trim). She sank 1100-feet in 9.5 minutes for an average sink-rate of 120 feet a minute when there had been no flooding. The only possible explanation for that extraordinary sink-rate with no flooding was failure to adjust trim for hull compression with depth. If you don't pump enough water overboard to compensate for volume lost because of hull compression with depth, you effectively gain 1000 pounds for every 100 feet of increased depth."
Unfortunately, because of how the message board is run, I don't think I'm supposed to link to Rule's posting directly. To read it, access the message board through the first page linked above, then perform a search for the exact phrase "After Six Years, Dropping the Other Shoe", with capitalization and punctuation but without quotes.
Retired USN Captain James B. Bryant, the same man who has filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Navy to declassify the inquiry, made a similar claim in somewhat more detail in the article "Declassify the Thresher Data" in the July 2018 issue of Proceedings:
"Rickover reported to Congress on the sub’s inadequate MBT [main ballast tank] blow capacity. By design, new submarine classes relied on nuclear propulsion to surface in case of emergency, rather than on the MBT blow system. On the Thresher, the MBTs were made smaller to increase speed, which reduced reserve buoyancy and the effectiveness of the MBT blow. Crews became complacent about being negatively buoyant."
"Excessive leakage from multiple sources would not cause high-pressure streams of water, although it could make the Thresher negatively buoyant. A Thresher-class submarine gets 1,000 pounds heavier for every 100-foot increase in depth, as hull compression reduces ship volume. If variable ballast was not pumped to sea to compensate, and with normal increases in weight, such as sanitary tanks filling, the Thresher might have reached test depth at least 12,000 pounds heavy. This is consistent with testimony that neutral buoyancy was no longer a priority with reliable nuclear propulsion."
I was curious about Bryant's claims that "crews became complacent about being negatively buoyant and that "neutral buoyancy was no longer a priority". Those were cited to portions of an earlier document, "Effects of the USS Thresher Disaster upon Submarine Safety and Deep-Submergence Capabilities in the United States Navy", a 1987 MA thesis by Philip Martin Callaghan for Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech). The cited passages (pages 31-32 of the PDF file, or pages 25–26 of the printed document) state:
"The Thresher′s loss also affected the training of nuclear submarine personnel. Soon after the disaster, the Chief of Naval Operations directed the submarine training community to provide future submariners with flooding and plane casualty simulations. As far as at-sea operations were concerned, one of the most significant shifts in training philosophy was the emphasis placed on the need to maintain a positive trim on board nuclear submarines when submerged. To "maintain a positive trim" means to retain enough buoyancy within the submarine's hull to ensure the ship stays lighter than the surrounding water pressure. Under such conditions, a submarine would not sink if it suddenly lost propulsion."
"The nuclear submarine community had not been overly concerned about keeping a positive trim in their boats. They had become accustomed to the luxury of nuclear power and knew they could surface from any depth by simply increasing power and riding to the surface on their diving planes. Operating with a ship's hull heavier than the surrounding water pressure was not nearly as dangerous a practice as it was with diesel-powered submarines that ran underwater on limited battery power. Thus it was not uncommon to operate nuclear submarines underwater with negative buoyancy; the events of April 10, 1963 abruptly changed such an attitude."
Callaghan goes on to explain why the former attitude, although it still proved to be misguided, wasn't as blatantly cavalier as it may sound to modern readers. Submariners were confident (too much so, it turned out) that the nuclear plant could be relied upon, and there was also a feeling, during the fierce conflict of the Cold War, that a sub should be made as combat-effective as possible. Crew safety came second—after all, the crew's job put them inherently in harm's way.
It seems that submariners were not as religious about buoyancy maintainance as they are today; no doubt the fate of the Thresher helped change those attitudes. --Colin Douglas Howell (talk) 09:40, 4 August 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]


@Andy Dingley, I agree that the British English term "sponsored" is a specific term with a specific meaning. In the WP article on the subject, "sponsored" appears to be conflated with the US term "christened" (have a look). I therefore felt it appropriate to change "sponsored" to "christened," given that the article is about a US submarine. In the US, we don't "sponsor" ships, other than, perhaps, in commercial sponsorship. Is it not the case that articles about specifically US subjects "usually should" be written in US English? Otherwise, we might have WP articles about the Ford Edsel referring to its boot and bonnet.--Quisqualis (talk) 03:41, 26 June 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Photography Link[edit]

"Sea bottom photography of the wreck site taken in summer 1963 can be seen at the official US Navy history website.[1]"

I removed this sentence from the "Search and recovery" section, but it was reverted. The fact that the images are available on a certain website doesn't pertain to the narrative of the event, and its only purpose is to direct the reader to an external site for more information. My opinion is that this should be placed as a link under "Further reading" or "External links". Dlthewave (talk) 15:28, 30 July 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]

So place it under External links. But that's different from simply deleting it.
Or possibly upload them here? If they're US Navy images then they could be under a free licence. Andy Dingley (talk) 17:40, 30 July 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]


  1. ^ "Loss of USS Thresher".

Phil Ochs song[edit]

I came to this page via Phil Ochs song, "The Thresher" from his album All the News That's Fit to Sing. Phil Ochs was notoriously anti-war, and his line of "can't you see the wrong? She was a death ship all along, died before she had a chance to kill" reflects that, but what do folks think about adding mention of this to the Memorials section? --Dhraakellian (talk) 02:18, 11 July 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

no need to be at 1000 depth[edit]

1 without proof it was safe 2 for any tactical situation

just like the challenger - managers thought they knew best — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:09, 3 October 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The story related re: LCDR "final transmission" is false for several reasons.[edit]

The story related re: LCDR "final transmission" is false for several reasons.

  1. VLF is practically unusable at depths greater than 20 meters (depending upon many factors such as salinity, temperature, etc).
  2. Even if a recorded message were sent via buoy (don't think Thresher class boats had this capability) it certainly would not be of that content. Not with anyone I've ever known in the U.S. Navy at least.
  3. As previously mentioned all officers would be at stations and the XO would likely be where needed most, aft where the main seals likely were leaking torrents during her terminal descent. That or overseeing sealing engineering aft off.
  4. Last, no Naval Officer would be "afraid" of that admission. Just look at the officers on the bridge when TWA 800 went down in the Atlantic. The officers who believed they saw surface to air missles launched from nearby put their names to those claims. That certainly was far more controversial than a silly "final transmission" from U.S.S Thresher.

God rest the men who crewed these boats and did not return to port, may their memory not be forgotten.

U.S.S. Thresher U.S.S. Scorpion — Preceding unsigned comment added by Badgenes (talkcontribs) 07:55, 23 April 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Unsourced commentaries regarding battery back-up and cause of sinking[edit]

Hello all- First, I have no special expertise in the subject of this article. Last week I reverted a couple edits I viewed as problematic, one a commentary that makes a presumption not presented in the article: It is unclear why the battery powered backup propulsion system was not activated., the other a commentary with obvious sentence structure problems: This explanation does not explain the cause of the sinking, as well as if or why the ship was negatively buoyant at the time of the SCRAM. I see no discussion or statement in the article asserting that the battery-powered system was not activated. I would say that both commentaries go contrary to WP:NOTESSAY and WP:CITE. These changes were made by a new editor, EasyBeginning, who has since undone my reverts twice, with no attempt to address the concerns I made in my edit summaries and on the user's talkpage other than to state that the points have been discussed extensively here. Below are the diffs for the two edits. I think it might be helpful if other editors interested in the article, ideally with some knowledge of the topic, were to weigh in. Thanks in advance for any input. The edits in question:

Eric talk 15:55, 5 July 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"I see no discussion or statement in the article asserting that the battery-powered system was not activated". The article (and the talk section "Batteries") says: "The logical action at this point would have been for Harvey to order propulsion shifted to a battery-powered backup system.". Seeing that the sub sank, it is fair to assume that the battery powered system was either never activated or malfunctioned. Hence why it is "unclear" as it stands.
The second edit, which is discussed in the talk section "Serious problem with the Bruce Rule Theory" points out that the theory presented in the "Alternative theory of the sinking: electrical failure", does not provide an explanation as to why the sub would sink given the circumstances presented. I.e, if there's no flooding of the hull, why the negative buoyancy? EasyBeginning (talk) 09:18, 11 July 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
See above in this . To make it easy copied and emphasized:
When Bruce first announced his theory, he did seem to avoid mentioning Thresher′s buoyancy before the accident, for whatever reason. That's no longer the case: he has since said explicitly that Thresher wasn't practicing rigorous buoyancy control, but was relying on her propulsion to maintain depth control during the test dives. In a posting on January 3, 2017 titled "After Six Years, Dropping the Other Shoe", he claimed:
"The event lurked in my mind because - in 2009 - refined analysis of the collapse signal confirmed the event had occurred at a depth of 2400-feet and there had been no prior flooding - contrary to the COI [Court of Inquiry] assertion that flooding had occurred at test-depth (1300-feet) and was the cause of the disaster, conclusions already posted on this site.
That refined analysis also confirmed THRESHER was heavy at test-depth (out of trim). She sank 1100-feet in 9.5 minutes for an average sink-rate of 120 feet a minute when there had been no flooding. The only possible explanation for that extraordinary sink-rate with no flooding was failure to adjust trim for hull compression with depth. If you don't pump enough water overboard to compensate for volume lost because of hull compression with depth, you effectively gain 1000 pounds for every 100 feet of increased depth."
I am not going to do a fully cited tutorial, but one of the outcomes of this disaster was considerably more attention to buoyancy control independent of relying on the propulsion and planes that was practiced before the nuclear plants. The IUSS/CAESAR Alumni site is a place to start looking at Rule's discussions and a bit about SOSUS not shrouded by a lot of speculation that took place before declassification. The Commentaries of Bruce Rule contain the subject discussions and much more. Information and Security Issues Associated with the Loss of the USS THRESHER is one. Again, without doing a tutorial, the LOFAR analysis gives a great deal of information about events on any submarine held as a contact. The acoustic signatures of explosive events, collapse events and hull breaches, even a small "leak" at those depths that turn them into extreme pressure jets is pretty evident, particularly in post event analysis. Since LOFAR is time/frequency analysis one can extract a great deal of precise information about events. See Rule's discussion of "Bubble-pulse acoustic energy is produced by the pressure induced oscillations (alternate expansion/contraction cycles) of an air cavity (bubble)" in Acoustic Detections of the Loss of the GOLF II Class Soviet SSB K-129. Refined Exploitation of Time-Difference Analyses discusses such analysis. As I said in reverting one of your edits, your puzzlement about "if there's no flooding of the hull, why the negative buoyancy?" is not a "reliable source" here. Most without some direct experience with ocean pressures have a hard time conceiving the compression even on a "pressure hull" that takes place. The discussions on creation of that bubble-pulse gives a hint. Get a cite from a puzzled "reliable source" (a bit difficult since "how" is a matter of physics). Palmeira (talk) 12:16, 11 July 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
PS: I've been thinking of my comment about people having a difficult time conceiving of pressures at those depths — and those aren't all that deep! A submarine pressure hull seems a mighty and "solid" thing. Yet consider water pressure can cause effective loss of 1,000 pounds, half a ton, of displaced water every 100 feet deeper due to simple loss of volume for that pressure hull. In going down its own length this sub would become almost a ton and a half "heavy" purely due to the water squeezing that pressure hull into a smaller thing. Then at crush depth it implodes, and there are bubble pulses that can be "heard" an ocean away. Palmeira (talk) 22:01, 11 July 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Department of Navy Releases Records Related to Loss of USS Thresher[edit]

--Josephearlhebert (talk) 21:36, 24 September 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Rickover quote from court[edit]

Hi, while adding a couple references from Rickover and the Nuclear Navy[1] I saw a good quote on page 85 from Rickover early in the court inquiry, but I'm not sure how or if it should be included. Either way some might appreciate it --

I believe the loss of the THRESHER should not be viewed solely as the result of failure of a specific braze, weld, system or component, but rather should be considered a consequence of the philosophy of design, construction and inspection, that has been permitted in our naval shipbuilding programs. I think it is important that we re-evaluate our present practices where, in the desire to make advancements, we may have forsaken the fundamentals of good engineering. - Rickover, 29 April 1963

Strangerpete (talk) 21:02, 25 November 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]


  1. ^ Duncan, Francis (1990). Rickover and the nuclear navy : the discipline of technology. Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press. p. 85. ISBN 0-87021-236-2. OCLC 20295876.

Submarines lost with more than 100 aboard[edit]

The Japanese submarine I-52 (1942) was sunk with 112 men aboard, according to our article. J S Ayer (talk) 17:27, 1 April 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I just took a peek to see if I could quickly add it here, but sources over there are scant without the books; in addition I noticed the info box says 94 officers + 18 civilians, but the 'Fatal Voyage' section says there were 14 technicians (not clear if civilian or mil), and later picked up 2 german military. Only accounting for 16 there, and no clear citation for the 94 officers either, I think that article needs a little clean up before considering those numbers over here Strangerpete (talk) 17:59, 1 April 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"37 Pings"[edit]

I'm not entirely certain where it would fit, but a former Submariner, "jiveturkey" on youtube discusses the recently released report, and notes that between the first moments of the sinking, and two days after it; the Navy received no less than 37 pings from Thresher's active Sonar and some communication that points to crew being alive on the bottom; in contrary to the sudden implosion and breaking up theory.

Garbage and fully debunked. Palmeira (talk) 15:44, 29 July 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Unfortunately, the claims presented in this video contradict the vast weight of other evidence, based on a single crew report which was considered and disregarded by the original inquiry. The hypothesis presented would be physically impossible, as at the time USS Seawolf was searching, Thresher had imploded (resulting in near total destruction of all ship systems) with the loss of all hands days previously. The video is therefore not a reliable source (and in fact, the youtube channel it comes from is known in the submarine community for making false claims). SomeRandomUserGuy (talk) 12:48, 28 July 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Below I mention non experts in popular media without a clue as to ocean realities. Probably "lost" above is a response I made under "Unsourced commentaries regarding battery back-up and cause of sinking" regarding pressure hulls and implosions. Oh my! How could a sub become "heavy" without flooding? Read the "PS" about how a pressure hull shrinks and thus the vessel displaces significantly less. I find it a bit amusing that most of us surface critters, via space adventure literature and real views, have a pretty good idea of explosive decompression from one atmosphere to zero yet almost none about compression in a medium where, if my rule of thumb hasn't gotten confused, one atmosphere is added about every 10 m (33 ft). So, going suddenly — an understatement indeed — from roughly one surface atmosphere to what lies outside results in the bubble-pulse signal Bruce Rule notes is "exceeded by only two other human-associated events: the explosion of ammunition ships and nuclear events." Palmeira (talk) 15:44, 29 July 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I went ahead and looked for the documents that JiveTurkey was referencing. It does indeed seem that the US Navy is in the process of declassifying previously classified documents about the USS Thresher incident. I'm not a submarine expert, nor do I have much experience reading ships logs, but the documents that Jive is reading from do seem to be recently released. USNI News has them on their website and they posted that only a couple of weeks ago. Someone else will need to read through these documents to corroborate what Jive Turkey is saying, but it certainly seems like the narrative that is on this wikipedia page doesn't take into account any of the until-recently-classified documents that the US Navy is in the process of releasing. Further, other news outlets seem to be talking about it too. I'll post a couple of links. To whoever it is that was so quick to refute JiveTurkey, I'd encourage you to take a look. Like I said, my history expertise isn't ships logs nor submarines.
Popular Mechanics
Kodai Mamoru (talk) 00:46, 29 July 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The existence or authenticity of the Seawolf narrative in the most recent round of declassified releases has not been questioned. Rather the (incorrect) interpretation of said narrative is being questioned. There is no evidence, physical or acoustic, for any scenario other than the one that the Navy determined in the Court of Inquiry - that the Thresher imploded one minute after her last message to the Skylark. Although there are certainly questions to be asked as to why the Thresher sank (especially the possibility that it was an electrical failure and not a brazed pipe failure), there is no doubt in the minds of anyone who is well-informed on the subject that she sank at 09:18:24 on 10 April 1963.
The commentary of Aaron Amick (aka JiveTurkey or SubBrief) should not be taken seriously as he is not an expert on the Thresher sinking. His videos have a very poor reputation among the submarine community for their frequent inaccuracies. Jim Bryant, who was involved with getting the Navy to release these documents, has spoken out about the incorrect conclusions reached by Amick. Bruce Rule, who testified at the Thresher Court of Inquiry and knows more about the acoustic record of the Thresher disaster than anyone living or dead, has specifically refuted Amick's video:
Rule's writings on the Thresher should be taken as the most authoritative source on the matter:
Vepr157 (talk) 06:14, 29 July 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The constant insertion of what amounts to CT by people with little to zero expertise in the matter — or the reality of the ocean for that matter — needs to be strongly countered. The Seawolf blunder was ridiculous at the time and rather quickly exposed as interpreting surface search and other sounds as originating with the lost sub. Bruce Rule's discussion of what happens when a submarine implodes when it passes its crush depth is both merciful and brutal. The second paragraph of "Summary Assessment" in "Why the USS Scorpion (SSN 589) Was Lost 60 Years Ago" shows why:
Based on very high time-resolution analysis (0.002s) of a recording of the SCORPION collapse (implosion), we know that the compression phase of a collapse at great depth occurs - and complete - in 16 percent of the reciprocal of the bubble-pulse frequency (BPF).
The THRESHER BPF was 3.4 Hz, the reciprocal of which is 0.2941 times 16 percent is 0.047 seconds (0.047s) or 47 milliseconds (ms).
The minimum time in which a human becomes aware of an external event is 80-100ms under optimum conditions.
Bottom line: there was no sequential collapse of individual THRESHER compartments on a time scale discernible to those onboard who - although they must have known collapse was imminent - never knew it was occurring.
And from an earlier post on the IUSS/CAESAR Alumni Association message board the "merciful" part is explained in his comments about another know nothing popular press piece, "More Irresponsible Reporting of a Submarine Loss Event (THRESHER)" (the crap just keeps coming to sell stuff one supposes):
Examples: (1) The implosion of the USS THRESHER (SSN 593) at 09:18:24R on 10 April 1963 at a depth of 2400-feet created a 3.4 Hz bubble-pulse (BP) signal equal to the explosion of 22,500 lbs of TNT at that depth; (2) the energy of the implosion of the USS SCORPION (SSN 589) at a depth of 1530-feet at 18:20:44 GMT on 22 May 1968 created a BP of 4.46 Hz equal to the explosion of 13,200 lbs of TNT, and (3), the implosion of the Argentine (ARA) submarine SAN JUAN (S 42) at 1351 GMT on 15 Nov 2017 at a depth 1536-feet created a BP of 4.68 Hz equal to the explosion of 11,475 lbs of TNT
Bottom line if you will, these amateur, often mercenary entries, of popular media into sensation have, as noted by Rule and others, created pain and concern in the past for some survivors of those crews. Some parts of Wikipedia have an "anti expert" and "I read an article . . . (thus I am one)" tilt among some editors. That needs to be fought here in particular. Palmeira (talk) 15:10, 29 July 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
This - a note about the acoustic log from a ship which was later determined to be false readings - wouldn't be out of place in the article though. Trasz (talk) 23:49, 10 June 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Electrical Instabilities[edit]

Rule concludes that the primary cause of the sinking was a failure of the electrical bus that powered the main coolant pumps. According to Rule, SOSUS data indicates that after two minutes of electrical instability, the bus failed at 09:11 a.m., causing the main coolant pumps to trip off. This caused an immediate reactor scram, resulting in a loss of propulsion.

Has there been any proof that such electrical instability can happen in similar electrical buses? Tvbanfield (talk) 03:47, 24 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Reactor Officer[edit]

@EEng, it would be more appropriate for you to discuss your edit here rather than a very long comment to an edit. Why start an editing war over such a small point? Vepr157 (talk) 05:46, 8 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

There's no danger of an edit war if you don't continue to restore [1] the idiotic information that a crewmember was absent because, specifically, his wife had been injured in a "household accident", as if that could possibly be of any value to the reader whatsoever. It shows a complete failure to grasp what is and isn't appropriate expenditure on our part the reader's time and attention. All that matters was that he was absent. EEng 06:21, 8 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
That's just like your opinion, man. In 16 years and about 1,000 edits no one has deemed that sentence to be as exaggeratedly inappropriate as you deem it to be. Have you considered that one might wonder why the reactor officer was not on board that day? In the grand scheme of things this sentence being there or not is not a big deal, but the way you are bullying your way to it being removed is concerning. Vepr157 (talk) 06:56, 8 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]