DisastersSubmarines Disasters

USS Thresher Submarine Disaster

The second USS Thresher (SSN-593) was the lead boat of her class of nuclear-powered attack submarines in the United States Navy. She was the U.S. Navy's second submarine to be named after the thresher shark.

On 10 April 1963, Thresher sank during deep-diving tests about 220 miles (350 km) east of Boston, Massachusetts, killing all 129 crew and shipyard personnel aboard in the deadliest submarine disaster ever. Her loss was a watershed for the U.S. Navy, leading to the implementation of a rigorous submarine safety program known as SUBSAFE. The first nuclear submarine lost at sea, Thresher was also the first of only two submarines that killed more than 100 people aboard; the other was the Russian Kursk, which sank with 118 aboard in 2000.

USS Thresher Submarine Disaster
At the time she was built, Thresher was the fastest and quietest submarine in the world. She was also considered the most advanced weapons system of her day. Created specifically to find and destroy Soviet submarines, the ship boasted a new sonar system whose passive and active modes could detect other vessels at greater range, and she was intended to launch the U.S. Navy's newest anti-submarine missile, the SUBROC. Shortly after her loss, the Commander of Submarine Force Atlantic wrote in the March 1964 issue of the U.S. Naval Institute's monthly journal Proceedings that "the Navy had depended upon this performance to the extent that it had asked for and received authority to build 14 of these ships, as well as an additional 11 submarines with very much the same characteristics. This was the first time since World War II that we had considered our design sufficiently advanced to embark upon construction of a large class of general-purpose attack submarines."

Following Navy tradition, this class of subs was originally named Thresher after the lead boat. When Thresher was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 16 April 1963, the class name was changed to that of the second boat, Permit, and Thresher is now officially referred to as a Permit-class submarine. Having been "lost at sea," Thresher was not decommissioned by the U.S. Navy and remains on "Eternal Patrol". More details