USS Thresher (SSN-593): Selected Documents in the Navy Department Library

USS Thresher


USS THRESHER (SSN 593) brochure cover; Vis Tacita [Silent Strength].


THE CAPTAIN

Lieutenant Commander John W. Harvey, USN Thresher’s second Commanding Officer, was born on September 4, 1927, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Manning J. Harvey. He was raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and attended Frankford High School and the University of Pennsylvania prior to entering the United States Naval Academy. He graduated from the Academy in 1950.

Before entering the submarine service, he served for a year in the aircraft carrier Coral Sea. From January 1952 to June 1953, he served aboard the submarine Sea Robin. He then commenced Atomic Energy Commission training for duty aboard the USS Nautilus and served on that first nuclear submarine for 38 months.

Lieutenant Commander Harvey’s next tour of duty was as Chief Engineer of the Tullibee nuclear reactor prototype and later as commissioning Engineer Officer of the USS Tullibee herself.

In June 1961, he reported to the USS Sea Dragon for duty as Executive Officer. In the summer of 1962, he participated in Sea Dragon's polar rendezvous with Skate.

Lieutenant Commander Harvey relieved Thresher’s first Commanding Officer, Commander Dean L. Axene, USN, on January 18, 1963.

Lieutenant Commander John W. Harvey.


SS 200

The (SSN 593) is the second United States submarine to bear the name Thresher. The first Thresher (SS 200) was built by Electric Boat Company in Groton, Connecticut. She was commissioned August 27, 1940 with Lieutenant Commander W.L. Anderson, USN as her fist Commanding Officer. On December 7, 1941 Thresher was retuning from a practice war patrol which, from the moment of the attack Pearl Harbor, became her first actual war patrol. Thresher was awarded the Navy Unit Citation for her extraordinary accomplishments on her thirteenth war patrol. On this patrol, under the command of Commander Duncan C. McMillan, she made contact with four Japanese merchant vessels and two Japanese destroyers in the confined waters of the Luzon Strait area. As a result of there relentless attacks, the entire convoy was destroyed. In the course of her fifteen war patrols she sank 17 enemy vessels totaling 66,172 tons and damaged twelve additional ships which amounted to about 80,000 tons temporarily put out of commission. On July 12, 1946 Thresher was decommissioned at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and December 23, 1947 was stricken from the U.S. Naval vessel listing after a distinguished career.

USS THRESHER (SS-200).


Thresher Shark

USS Thresher (SSN 593) is named for a shark of the family Alopias. Known scientifically as Alopias Vulpinus (Bonnaterre), the thresher is easy to recognize because its tail is longer than the combined length of its head and body, and the first dorsal fin does not extend backward to the pelvic fin. The thresher derives its name from the supposed habit of using its tail to beat the water in a compact school of fish, stunning some of the fish and eating injured ones. Harmless to man, the maximum length of the thresher shark is more than 20 feet.


Many advances have been made in the science of controlling a submarine underwater, most of which have been incorporated in Thresher. The ship, for example, can be controlled both on course and in depth by a single man. An automatic feature is also included in the control system which keeps the ship at the ordered depth and course.

Living conditions aboard Thresher have been designed for the entire crew to live comfortably while totally submerged for periods of tme greater than 30 days. The ship is equipped with an air conditioning system, carbon dioxide scrubbers, carbon mono-oxide-hydrogen burners, electrostatic precipitators and oxygen storage flasks to maintain the ship’s atmosphere healthful during extended periods of submergence. Because of its importance to the normal functioning of both men and equipment, the atmosphere is monitored continuously while submerged.

Thresher is outfitted with the latest sonar equipment which has greatly increased detection abilities. To increase this advantage further and minimize the chance of detection by unfriendly ships many design features have been incorporated in Thresher to increase her quietness. Another significant advancement in this ship is her ability to cruise the ocean at greater depths than all previous submarines. Thresher is also equipped with the latest fire control equipment which has semiautomatic loading and firing capabilities for the most recently designed submarine weapons.

Keel Laid...May 28, 1958; Length...over 275 feet: Launched...July 9, 1960; Width...over 30 feet; Commissioned...August 3, 1961; Displacement Surfaced...about 3,700 tons; Displacement Submerged...about 43,000 tons; Speed Submerged...over 20 knots. Sections of the submarine diagram: after escape trunk, tunnel, fan room, forward escape trunk, sonar equipment room, diesel generating room, crew quarters, wardroom officers staterooms crews mess, nucleonics room, air regenerating room, sonar room, reactor compartment, machinery space, & engine room.

Keel Laid…May 28, 1958; Length…over 275 feet: Launched…July 9, 1960; Width…over 30 feet; Commissioned …August 3, 1961; Displacement Surfaced…about 3700 tons; Displacement Submerged…about 43000 tons; Speed Submerged…over 20 knots.

Sections of the submarine diagram: after escape trunk, tunnel, fan room, forward escape trunk, sonar equipment room, diesel generating room, crew quarters, wardroom officers staterooms crews mess, nucleonics room, air regenerating room, sonar room, reactor compartment, machinery space, engine room.


USS THRESHER (SSN 593)

“Silent Strength”
USS THRESHER (SSN 593).

USS Thresher (SSN 593), is the lead ship of the world’s most advanced class of nuclear submarines. Thresher, which is similar in construction to other recent submarines, has a Westinghouse S5W reactor plant, a single propeller driven by a geared turbine and an ALBACORE teardrop-shaped hull. However, with her “built in” silent quality, she is one of the most effective anti-submarine weapons in the Navy arsenal. She has the ability to operate deeper as well as more silently than her predecessors, thus making her detection extremely difficult. The advanced sonar board is the most comprehensive detection system ever devised for underwater craft. She is equipped to fire the Navy’s newest submarine weapons.

Thresher was sponsored by Mrs. Frederick B. Warder who christened the ship in a unique bow first launching on July 9, 1960, at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.



In Memoriam

In Memoriam of USS THRESHER.

THOSE GALLANT MEN, MILITARY AND CIVILIAN, WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES IN SERVICE FOR THEIR COUNTRY IN THE U.S.S THRESHER (SS(N) 593) 10 APRIL 1963

MEMORIAL SERVICE


NATIONAL ANTHEM ... First Naval District Band

INTRODUCTION ... CDR Karl G. Peterson CHC USN

INVOCATION ... CDR Karl G. Peterson CHC USN

HISTORY OF USS THERSHER ... LCDR Asa W. Jones CHC USN

OLD TESTAMENT READING AND PRAYER ... Rabbi Abraham Jacobson Auxiliary Chaplin, Jewish Welfare Board

HYMN “Abide With Me” ... Navy Sea Chanters

NEW TESTAMENT READING ... LCDR Kevin J. Keaney CHC USN

PRAYER ... CAPT Frank McGann CHC USN, First Naval District Chaplin

ADDRESS ... RADM J. Floyd Dreith CHC USN, Director, Chaplain’s Division

NAVY HYMN “Eternal Father” ... Navy Sea Chanters

BLESSING OF WREATH ... Three Chaplains

FIRING SQUAD ... U.S. Marine Barracks

TAPS ... Bugler - First Naval District Band


PERSONNEL WHO PERISHED IN THE LOSS OF THRESHER ON 10 APRIL1963

Abrams, Fred P., Civilian Employee, Production Department, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
Allen, Philip H., LCDR, USN, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
Arsenault, Tilmon J., ENCA (SS)-P2, USN.
Babcock, Ronald C., LTJG, USN.
Bain, Ronald E., EN2 (SS)-P2, USN.
Beal, Daniel W., Jr., Civilian Employee, Combat Systems Division, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
Bell, John E., MMI-P2, USN.
Biederman, Robert D., LT, USN, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
Billings, John H., LCDR, USN, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
Bobbitt, Edgar S., EM2 (SS)-P2, USN.
Boster, Gerald C., EM3 (SS)-P1, USN.
Bracey, George (n), 5D3 (SS), USN.
Brann, Richard P., EN2 (SS)-P2, USN.
Carkoski, Richard 3., EN2 (SS), USN.
Carmody, Patrick W., 5K2, USN.
Cayey, Steven G., TM2 (SS), USN.
Charron, Robert E., Civilian Employee, Design Division, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
Christiansen, Edward (n), SN (SS), USN.
Claussen, Larry W., EM2 (SS)-P2, USN.
Clements, Thomas E., ETR3 (SS), USN.
Collier, Merrill F., LT, USN.
Corcoran, Kenneth R., Contractor's Representative, Sperry Corp.
Critchley, Kenneth J., Civilian Employee, Production Department, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
Cummings, Francis M., SOS2 (SS), USN.
Currier, Paul C., Civilian Employee, Production Department, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
Dabruzzi, Samuel J., ETN2 (SS), USN.
Davison, Clyde E., III, ETR3-P1, USN.
Day, Donald C., EN3 (SS), USN.
Denny, Roy O., Jr., EM1 (SS)-P2, USN.
Des Jardins, Richard R., Civilian Employee, Combat Systems Division, Portsmouth Naval
Di Nola, Michael 3., LCDR, USN.
DiBella, Peter J., SN, USN.
Dineen, George J., Civilian Employee, Production Department, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
Dundas, Don R., ETN2 (SS), USN.
Dyer, Troy E., ET1 (SS)-P1, USN.
Fisher, Richard K., Civilian Employee, Design Division, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
Forni, Ellwood H., SOCA (SS)-P1, USN.
Foti, Raymond P., ET1 (SS), USN.
Freeman, Larry W., FTM2 (SS), USN.
Fusco, Gregory J., EM2 (SS)-P2, USN.
Gallant, Andrew J., Jr., HMC (SS), USN.
Garcia, Napoleon T., SD1 (SS), USN.
Garner, John E., YNSN (SS), USN.
Garner, Pat M., LCDR, USN.
Gaynor, Robert W., EN2 (SS), USN.
Gosnell, Robert H., SA (SS), USNR.
Grafton, John G., LTJG, USN.
Graham, William E., SOC (SS)-Pl, USN.
Guerette, Paul A., Civilian Employee, Design Division, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
Gunter, Aaron J., QM1 (SS), USN.
Hall, Richard C., ETR2 (SS)-P2, USN.
Harvey, John W., LCDR, USN. (Commanding Officer of Thresher)
Hayes, Norman T., EM1-P1, USN.
Heiser, Laird G., MM1-P2, USN.
Helsius, Marvin T., MM2, USN.
Henry, James J., Jr., LTJG, USN.
Hewitt, Leonard H., EMCA (SS), USN.
Hoague Joseph H., TM2 (SS), USN.
Hodge, James P., EM2, USN.
Hudson. John F., EN2 (SS), USN.
Inglis, John P., FN, USNR.
Jaquay, Maurice F., Contractor's Representative, Raytheon Corp.
Johnson Edward A., ENCA (SS), USN.
Johnson, Richard L., RMSA, USN.
Johnson, Robert E., TMC (SS)-P1, USN.
Johnson, Thomas B., ET1 (SS)-P2, USN.
Johnson. Brawner G., FTG1 (SS)-P2, USN.
Jones, Richard W., EM2 (SS), USN.
Kaluza, Edmund J., Jr., SOS2 (SS)-P1, USN.
Kantz, Thomas C., ETR2 (SS), USN.
Kearney, Robert D., MM3, USN.
Keiler, Ronald D., IC2 (SS)-P2, USN.
Keuster, Donald W., Contractor's Representative, Sperry Corp.
Kiesecker, George J., MM2 (SS)-P2, USN.
Klier, Billy M., EN1 (SS) P2, USN.
Krag, Robert L., LCDR, USN, Staff, Deputy Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet.
Kroner, George R., CS3, USN.
Lanouette, Norman G., QM1 (SS), USN.
Lavoie, Wayne W., YN1 (SS), USN.
Lyman, John S., Jr., LCDR, USN.
Mabry, Templeman N., Jr., EN2 (SS)-P2, USN.
Malinski, Frank J., LTJG, USN.
Mann, Richard H., Jr., IC2 (SS), USN.
Marullo, Julius F., Jr., QM1 (SS), USN.
McClelland, Douglas R., EM2 (SS), USN.
McCord, Donald J., MM1 (SS)-P2 USN.
McDonough, Karl P., TM3 (SS), USN.
Middleton, Sidney L., MM1 (SS)-P2, USN.
Moreau, Henry C., Civilian Employee, Production Department, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
Muise, Ronald A., CS2, USN.
Musselwliite, James A., ETN2 (SS)-P2, USN.
Nault, Donald E., CS1 (SS), USN.
Noonis, Walter J., RMC (SS), USN.
Norris, John D., ET1 (SS)-P2, USN.
Oetting. Chesley C., EM2-P2, USN.
Palmer, Franklin J., Civilian Employee, Production Department, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
Parsons, Guy C., Jr., LTJG, USN.
Pennington, Roscoe C., EMCA (SS)-P2, USN.
Peters, James G., EMCS-P2. USN.
Phillippi. James F., SOS2 (SS), USN.
Philput. Dan A., EN2 (SS)-P2, USN.
Podwell, Richard (n), MM2-P2, USN.
Prescott, Robert D., Civilian Employee, Design Division, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Shipyard.
Regan, John S., MM1 (SS)-P2, USN.
Ritchie, James P., RM2, USN.
Robison, Pervis (n), Jr., SN, USN.
Rountree, Glenn A., QM2 (SS), USN.
Rushetski, Anthony A., ETN2, USN.
Schiewe, James M., EM1 (SS)-P2, USN.
Shafer, Benjamin N., EMCM (SS)-P2, USN.
Shafer, John D., EMCS (SS)-P2, USN.
Shimko, Joseph T., MM1-P2, USN.
Shotwell, Burnett M., ETRSN, USN.
Sinnett. Alan D., FTG2 (SS),USN.
Smarz, John (n), Jr., LT, USN.
Smith, William H., Jr., BT1-P2, USN.
Snider, James L., MM1, USN.
Solomon, Ronald H., EM1-P2, USN.
Stadtmuller, Donald T., Contractor's Representative, Sperry Corp.
Steinel, Robert E., SO1 (SS)-P1, USN.
Van Pelt, Rodger E., IC1 (SS)-P2, USN.
Walski, Joseph A., RMl (55)-P1, USN.
Wasel, David A., RMSN, USN.
Whitten, Laurence E., Civilian Employee, Combat Systems Division, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
Wiggins, Charles L., FTG1-P2, USN.
Wiley, John J., LTJG, USN.
Wise, Donald E., MMCA (SS)-P2, USN.
Wolfe, Ronald E., QMSN (SS),USN.
Zweifel, Jay H., EM2-P1, USN.



News Releases

News Release; April 10, 1963; NO. 509-63.


NEWS RELEASE PLEASE NOTE DATE

DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, OFFICE OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS, Washington 25, D.C.

8:00 P.M. (EST) No. 509-63 April 10, 1963 Oxford 76161

Statement by Admiral George W. Anderson, Chief, Naval Operations at the Pentagon, Wednesday, April 10, 1963, 8:00 p.m., on USS Thresher.

The next of kin of the crew of the nuclear submarine USS Thresher (SNN-593) are being notified that the ship is overdue and presumed missing.

The Thresher had been conducting routine test some 220 miles east of Boston. The submarine rescue vessel USS Skylark was accompanying the Thresher. This procedure is normal for submarine tests and trials following an overhaul.

Skylark reported that Thresher has not communicated as scheduled since beginning deep dive tests shortly after 9 A.M. (EST) this morning.

While there is a possibility that the nuclear submarine has not reported her position due to a communication failure, a search was immediately commenced by the Navy in accordance with emergency proceedings for such situations.

Navy ships, aircraft and other submarines are searching the area where the Thresher was last reported. They are encountering cloudy weather with winds of from 25 to 40 knots and seas of from 5 to 9 feet. Such conditions would make it difficult for the on-scene search units to sight the overdue submarine even though it were on the surface and unable to transmit a position report by radio communications.

The location of the Threhser from her last report was given as 41.44 North and 64.57 W. The depth of water at this location is approximately 8400 feet (1400 fathoms). Merchant ships in this area have been requested to keep a sharp lookout for the submarine in addition to the maximum effort being made by the Navy.

Additional reports on the progress of the search will be made by the Navy. Names and addresses of the members of the crew will be released after all next of kin have been notified that the ship is overdue.

-END-



News Release; April 11, 1963; NO. 510-63.


NEWS RELEASE PLEASE NOTE DATE

DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, OFFICE OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS, Washington 25, D.C.

6:20 A.M.(EST) No. 510-63

April 11, 1963 Oxford 76161

Amplifying Information released 6:20 AM EST, April 11, 1963 re USS Thresher

During the night, five additional ships arrived on the scene to assist Skylark and Recovery in search operations for the nuclear-powered submarine Thresher. These ships include the destroyers W. L. Lind and Yarnell, the submarine Sea Owl, the nuclear-powered submarine Sea Wolf, and the frigate Norfolk.

Commanding the search operation at this time is Captain Frank Andrews, Commander Submarine Development Group 2, embarked in USS Norfolk.

Six other ships, including the destroyers Blandy, S.B. Roberts, Warrington, and The Sullivans, and the submarine rescue vessel Sunbird and the oceanographic survey ship Atlantis II are expected to arrive before noon today. In addition, the fleet oiler Waccamaw is enroute to provide fuel for ships participating in the search.

Rear Admiral Lawson P. Ramage, Deputy Commander of the Atlantic Fleet Submarine Force, will assume command of the search force upon his arrival at the scene in USS Blandy at about 9:30AM EST today.

-END-



News Release; April 11, 1963; NO. 514-63.


NEWS RELEASE PLEASE NOTE DATE

DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, OFFICE OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS, Washington 25, D.C.

IMMEDIATE RELEASE April 11, 1963 No. 514-63 OXford 76161

FOR THE PRESS:

The following message was transmitted at 11:04 A.M. (EST) yesterday by USS Skylark, the submarine rescue vessel which was accompanying USS Thresher during her test dive:

“UNABLE TO COMMUNICATE WITH THRESHER SINCE 9:17 A.M. (EST). HAVE BEEN CALLING BY UQC VOICE AND CW QRB CW EVERY MINUTE EXPLOSIVE SIGNALS EVERY 10 MINS WITH NO SUCCESS. LAST TRANSMISSION RECD WAS GARBLED, INDICATED THRESHER WAS APPROACHING TEST DEPTH. MY PRESENT POSITION 41-43N 64-57W CONDUCTING EXPANDING SEARCH.”

The message from Thresher to Skylark was of a routine nature and indicated no distress. It is not unusual for communications between submarines and surface ships to be garbled due to varying sea conditions.

-END-



News Release; April 12, 1963; NO. 515-63.


NEWS RELEASE PLEASE NOTE DATE

DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, OFFICE OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS, Washington 25, D.C.

No.515-63

IMMEDIATE RELEASE April 12, 1963 OXford 76161

Secretary of the Navy, Fred Korth, after a flying trip to confer with Submarine Force Officers in New London, and with Admiral Ramage at the scene of the Thresher search, returned to Washington tonight and issued an official declaration that the Thresher and all on board are lost.

At the same time, Secretary Korth ordered that all naval installations display the national ensign at half mast from tomorrow morning until sunset on Monday, April 15.

In making his official declaration of the loss, Secretary Korth expressed a fervent hope that the rumors and speculation which have already begun will cease, providing the bereaved families a more stable climate in which to compose themselves and endure their grief.

“In this connection,” he said, “I have the unequivocal assurance of all those in a position to know, including the Chief of the Bureau of Ships, the Commander, Submarines Atlantic and the Search and Rescue Commander on the scene that, in waters of this depth, there is absolutely no possibility that there might be survivors.”

-END-



News Release; April 12, 1963; NO. 516-63.


NEWS RELEASE PLEASE NOTE DATE

DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, OFFICE OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS, Washington 25, D.C.

NO. 516-63
IMMEDIATE RELEASE April 12, 1963 OXford 76161

The following statement has been made by Admiral George W. Anderson, Chief of Naval Operations:

Inevitably, in the wake of such a major tragedy as that involving Thresher, rumors arise as to the physical ability of the ship, aircraft, or other vehicle concerned to carry out a particular mission. Such has been true in this particular case. To dispel them in my own mind, I have personally checked with the commanding officer of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Rear Admiral Charles J. Palmer, and have been assured by him that the commanding officer of Thresher, prior to going to sea, was completely satisfied with his ship in all respects. I also learned that the proposed diving routine which was to be followed on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week by Thresher, although in accordance with routine Submarine Force Atlantic Fleet doctrine, had personally been approved by the commanding officer himself. There was no hint of any concern on the part of the officers, crew, or civilians about the seaworthiness of this fine ship.

It should be remembered that a Court of Inquiry has been convened with Vice Admiral B. L. Austin as President to ascertain to the best of its ability the facts attendant to this most tragic happening, and to delve thoroughly and meticulously into all aspects of operations, overhaul, and other relate factors.

(END)



News Release; April 15, 1963; NO. 527-63.


NEWS RELEASE PLEASE NOTE DATE

DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, OFFICE OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS, Washington 25, D.C.

FOR THE PRESS: April 15, 1963 NO. 527-63 OXford 53176
53201

STATEMENT BY SECRETARY OF DEFENSE McNAMARA FOR THE MEMORIAL SERVICES FOR THE THRESHER

Today the entire nation and the people of the free world as well mourn the brave men of the Thresher. The sorrow in our hearts is symbolized by this memorial service.

Only those whose loved ones gave their lives can feel the deep sense of personal loss. But that does not preclude us in the Defense Department from our own feeling of grief.

The bereaved families may take some measure of comfort from knowing that their men died serving their country. The world will continue to live in freedom as long as men like these devote their lives to the highest service, on the land, in the air, on and under the sea.

-END-



Envelope

Postal cover with stamp cachat, in memoriam USS THRESHER, cancellation dated April 10, 1973; Naval base Portsmouth, NH. In memoriam of USS Thresher (SSN 593) 10th Anniversary; Cdr. John W. Harvey, Commanding; Lost at Sea on April 10, 1963; 41 degrees 44'N and 64 degrees 51'W; Homeported at Portsmouth, N.H.; U.S.S. America Chapter 71 USCS (Universal Ship Cancellation Society).

In memoriam of USS Thresher (SSN 593) 10th Anniversary; Cdr. John W. Harvey, Commanding; Lost at Sea on April 10, 1963; 41 degrees 44’N and 64 degrees 51’W; Homeported at Portsmouth, N.H.; U.S.S. America Chapter 71 USCS (Universal Ship Cancellation Society).


Related Resources:

Online Library of Selected Images: USS Thresher (SSN-593), 1961-1963.

History of USS Thresher (SSN-593).

Personnel Who Perished in the Loss of Thresher on 10 April 1963



Keel Laid...May 28, 1958; Length...over 275 feet: Launched...July 9, 1960; Width...over 30 feet; Commissioned...August 3, 1961; Displacement Surfaced...about 3,700 tons; Displacement Submerged...about 43,000 tons; Speed Submerged...over 20 knots. Sections of the submarine diagram: after escape trunk, tunnel, fan room, forward escape trunk, sonar equipment room, diesel generating room, crew quarters, wardroom officers staterooms crews mess, nucleonics room, air regenerating room, sonar room, reactor compartment, machinery space, & engine room.