USS Thresher (SSN-593), 1961-1963



USS Thresher, lead ship of a class of 3700-ton nuclear-powered attack submarines, was built at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Kittery, Maine. Commissioned in August 1961, she conducted lengthy trials in the western Atlantic and Caribbean areas in 1961 and 1962, providing a thorough evaluation of her many new technological features and weapons. After the completion of these test operations, Thresher returned to her builders for overhaul.

On 10 April 1963, after the completion of this work, Thresher began post-overhaul trials. Accompanied by the submarine rescue ship Skylark (ASR-20), she transited to an area some 220 miles east of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and started deep-diving tests. As these proceeded, garbled communications were received by Skylark, indicating trouble aboard the submarine. It gradually became apparent that she had sunk, taking the lives of 129 officers, crewmen and civilian technicians.

After an extensive underwater search utilizing the bathyscaph Trieste, oceanographic ship Mizar, and other ships, Thresher's shattered remains were located on the sea floor, some 8400 feet below the surface. Deep sea photography, recovered artifacts and an evaluation of her design and operations permitted a Court of Inquiry to determine that she had probably sunk due to a piping failure, subsequent loss of power and inability to blow ballast tanks rapidly enough to avoid sinking. Over the next several years, a massive program was undertaken to correct design and construction problems on the Navy's existing nuclear submarines, and on those under construction and in planning. Following completion of this "SubSafe" effort, the Navy has suffered no further losses of the kind that so tragically ended Thresher's brief service career.

Additional images of USS Thresher



Click photograph for a larger image.

Photo #: NH 97547

USS Thresher (SSN-593)


Port bow aerial view, taken while the submarine was underway on 30 April 1961.
Photographed by J.L. Snell.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the NHHC.

Online Image: 86KB; 740 x 615 pixels

 
Photo #: NH 97548

USS Thresher (SSN-593)


Starboard broadside view, taken while the submarine was underway on 30 April 1961.
Photographed by J.L. Snell.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the NHHC.

Online Image: 81KB; 740 x 605 pixels

 
Photo #: NH 97549

USS Thresher (SSN-593)


Port broadside view, taken while the submarine was underway on 30 April 1961.
Photographed by J.L. Snell.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the NHHC.

Online Image: 91KB; 740 x 605 pixels

 
Photo #: NH 97550

USS Thresher (SSN-593)


Port broadside view, taken while the submarine was underway with water surging over her bow, 30 April 1961.
Photographed by J.L. Snell.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the NHHC.

Online Image: 83KB; 740 x 600 pixels

 
Photo #: NH 97551

USS Thresher (SSN-593)


Starboard quarter view, taken while the submarine was underway on 30 April 1961.
Photographed by J.L. Snell.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the NHHC.

Online Image: 88KB; 740 x 600 pixels

 
Photo #: NH 97544

USS Thresher (SSN-593)


Starboard bow view, taken at sea on 24 July 1961.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the NHHC.

Online Image: 61KB; 740 x 590 pixels

 
Photo #: NH 97545

USS Thresher (SSN-593)


Bow-on view, taken at sea on 24 July 1961.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the NHHC.

Online Image: 79KB; 595 x 765 pixels

 
Photo #: NH 97546

USS Thresher (SSN-593)


Stern-on view, taken at sea on 24 July 1961.
Note upper rudder in the foreground, with draft markings painted on its side and navigation light at its top.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the NHHC.

Online Image: 86KB; 585 x 765 pixels

 
Photo #: NH 82320

USS Thresher (SSN-593)


Underway on the surface, circa 1961-63.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the NHHC.

Online Image: 140KB; 740 x 625 pixels

 



For higher resolution images see: Obtaining Photographic Reproductions





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