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USS Thresher (SSN-593)

A bow view of USS Thresher at sea.
A bow view of the nuclear submarine Thresher (SSN-593), 24 July 1961. (USN 1057645)

The second Thresher (SSN-593) was laid down on 28 May 1958 by the Portsmouth (NH) Naval Shipyard, launched on 9 July 1960, sponsored by Mrs. Frederick B. Warder, and commissioned on 3 August 1961, Commander Dean W. Axene in command. Following trials, the nuclear attack submarine took part in Nuclear Submarine Exercise (NUSUBEX) 3-61 off the northeastern coast of the United States from 18 to 24 September 1961.

In company with Skylark (ASR-20), Thresher put to sea on 10 April 1963 for deep-diving exercises. In addition to her 16 officers and 96 enlisted men, the submarine carried 17 civilian technicians. Fifteen minutes after reaching her assigned test depth, the submarine communicated with Skylark by underwater telephone, apprizing the submarine rescue ship of difficulties. Listeners in Skylark heard a noise “like air rushing into an air tank”─ then, silence.

Efforts to reestablish contact with Thresher failed, and a search group was formed in an attempt to locate the submarine. Rescue ship Recovery (ASR-43) subsequently recovered bits of debris, including gloves and bits of internal insulation. Photographs taken by Bathyscaph Trieste proved that the submarine had broken up, taking all hands on board to their deaths. Thresher was officially declared lost in April 1963.

Further Reading

USS Thresher – List of personnel lost

USS Thresher (SSN-593) – Selected Documents in the Navy Department Library
(including USS Thresher brochure, In Memoriam brochure, DoD News Releases, envelope with Thresher 10th anniversary postmark)

Records of the Chief of Information Relating to USS Scorpion and USS Thresher, 1960s-1993

USS Springfield Conducts Burial at Sea, Reuniting a Sailor with Lost Shipmates

U.S. Navy Submarines Losses, Selected Accidents, and Selected Incidents of Damage Resulting from Enemy Action, Chronological

Casualties: U.S. Navy and Marine Corps Personnel Killed and Injured in Selected Accidents and Other Incidents Not Directly the Result of Enemy Action

Blog Posts

April 10, 1963: Search for the USS Thresher

USS Thresher (SSN-593) 3 August 1961 – 10 April 1963

Bathyscaphe Trieste Overcomes the Challenge of the Deep

**** Click on the images below for download and summary********

Photo #: NH 97554 USS Thresher (SSN-593)
Mrs. Frederick B. Warder christens the submarine, during launching ceremonies at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Kittery, Maine, 9 July 1960. (NH 97554)

Photo #: NH 97552 USS Thresher (SSN-593)
Entering the water for the first time, during launching ceremonies at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Kittery, Maine, 9 July 1960. (NH 97552)

Loss of USS THRESHER (SSN -593)
Loss of USS Thresher (SSN-593), painting by A. L. Karafylakis. (NH 86731-KN)

Photo #: NH 97563 Wreck of USS Thresher (SSN-593)
An external portion of a sonar dome. (NH-97563)

Photo #: NH 96800 U.S. Navy Bathyscaphe Trieste (1958-1963)
U.S. Navy Bathyscaphe Trieste (1958-1963). (NH 96800)

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. (NH 97550)

Photo #: NH 97551 USS Thresher (SSN-593)
Starboard quarter view, taken while the submarine was underway on 30 April 1961. (NH 97551)

Photo #: NH 97560 Wreck of USS Thresher (SSN-593)
Mosaic of Thresher 's sail. (NH-97560)

Photo #: NH 97564 Wreck of USS Thresher (SSN-593)
A fragment of the anchor from USS Thresher, located near the wreckage. (NH-97564)

Photo #: NH 97565 Wreck of USS Thresher (SSN-593)
Rockwool thermal insulation, photographed 24 August, during the Bathyscaph Trieste's second series of dives some 220 miles east of Cape Cod where USS Thresher sank 10 April. (NH 97565)

Photo #: NH 97558 Wreck of USS Thresher (SSN-593)
Draft markings on the topside rudder of Thresher . (NH 97558)

Photo #: NH 97555 Loss of USS Thresher (SSN-593), April 1963
Navy ships circle in the vicinity of the site of Thresher's sinking, 15 April 1963, five days after her loss. (NH 97555)

Photo #: NH 97566 Wreck of USS Thresher (SSN-593)
Photographs taken by Conrad, Lamont Laboratory's research ship, on 14 June 1963, in USS Thresher search area. An air bottle similar to that carried aboard Navy ships. (NH 97566)

Photo #: NH 91424-KN Insignia: USS Thresher (SSN-593)
USS Thresher (SSN-593) emblem adopted in 1960 and received in October of that year. (#NH 91424-KN)

Photo #: NH 97553 USS Thresher (SSN-593)
Bow view of the submarine on the greased building ways, as workmen prepare for her launching at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Kittery, Maine, 9 July 1960. (NH 97553)

Cut-away sketch of this class submarine, detailing some of its special features. Drawn circa 1963. (NH 82318)

Photo #: NH 97559 Wreck of USS Thresher (SSN-593)
Starboard side of USS Thresher ’s sail with portions of the hull number '593' visible. (NH 97559)

Photo #: NH 97543 USS Thresher (SSN-593)
Artwork by Hultberg, circa 1960. (NH 97543)

Photo #: NH 97547 USS Thresher (SSN-593)
Port bow aerial view, taken while the submarine was underway on 30 April 1961. (NH 97547)

Photo #: NH 97568 Wreck of USS Thresher (SSN-593)
Parts of a battery recovered by the Navy's Bathyscaph Trieste. (NH-97568)

Photo #: NH 97562 Wreck of USS Thresher (SSN-593)
Sonar Dome A section of a sonar dome from the bow of a Thresher-class submarine, photographed 24 August during the second series of dives by the Bathyscaph Trieste. (NH 97562)

Photo #: NH 97556 Loss of USS Thresher (SSN-593), April 1963
Debris on the ocean floor 8,400 feet below the surface may be a clue to the final resting place of the nuclear submarine USS Thresher (NH 97556)

Photo #: NH 97570 Wreck of USS Thresher (SSN-593)
This brass pipe, with the inscription: 'JO 10 ... 3-O-5091-05; DM 263-109-61; PL-1862791 PC.75; 1.050 Brass Pipe; 593 Boat', was recovered by the Bathyscaph Trieste during the second series of dives in the search for USS Thresher . (NH 97570)

Photo #: NH 97569 Wreck of USS Thresher (SSN-593)
Three of fifteen packages of neoprene 'O' rings recovered by drag lines from the Lamont Laboratories oceanographic research ship Conrad in the area of prime interest in the search for the nuclear submarine Thresher . (NH 97569)

Photo #: NH 97561 Wreck of USS Thresher (SSN-593)
High-pressure air flask and other debris on the ocean floor in the vicinity of USS Thresher. (NH-97561)

Photo #: NH 97557 Wreck of USS Thresher (SSN-593)
Overhead view of Thresher's upper rudder, photographed from a deep-sea vehicle deployed from USNS Mizar (T-AGOR-11). (NH 97557)

Published: Fri Feb 08 15:48:23 EST 2019