Naval History and Heritage Command

National Museum of the U.S. Navy

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USS Thresher (SSN-593)

USS Thresher (SSN-593) was the lead nuclear-submarine attack submarine of her class and was commissioned on August 3, 1961, at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Kittery, Maine.   Following commissioning, she completed trials in the Atlantic and Caribbean areas testing her new technological systems and weapons.   On April 10, 1963, following overhaul, Thresher began deep-diving tests, along with USS Skylark (ASR-20), about 220 miles east of Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  As the tests proceeded, Skylark received garbled communications from her which eventually stopped.   It became apparent she had sunk taking the lives of the 129 officers, crewmen, and civilian technicians.    Thresher's remains were located about 8,400 feet below the surface on the sea floor by the bathyscaphe Trieste, aided by USS Mizar (AK-272) and other ships.   After a review of evidence, the Court of Inquiry determined she had probably sunk due to a piping failure, subsequent loss of power and the inability to blow ballast tanks rapidly enough to avoid sinking. A model and photographic display onThresher can be seen in the Undersea Exploration exhibit area in Bldg. 76 of our museum.    

The NHHC Navy Library has selected documents pertaining to the loss of Thresher, please click here

Image:  NH 97549:   USS Thresher (SSN-593), port broadside view while underway, April 30,  1961.  Photographed by J.L. Snell.  NHHC Photograph Collection.