Defense Media Network

Newest Defense Media Network Promotion

USS Thresher (SSN 593) Legacy Lives on in Congressional Resolution

When the USS Thresher (SSN 593) was lost at sea on April 10, 1963, she became the world’s worst submarine disaster, a position the event still holds today. The Thresher was also the first U.S. Navy nuclear-powered submarine to be lost. The accident took the lives of 112 Navy crew members (16 officers, 86 sailors) and 17 civilian technicians. That the causes of the catastrophic accident are still debated shows that the fate of the Thresher and those aboard the submarine are still remembered today. That memory is especially strong in New Hampshire, where many of the workers who built the Thresher lived and worked at the nearby Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

“We must honor the legacy of those who lost their lives on the USS Thresher, and continue to recognize the excellent work that the men and women of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard do to help keep our nation safe”

Which is why on the 51st anniversary of the Thresher accident, which sank approximately 200 miles off the coast of Cape Cod, Mass., Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-N.H.) authored a resolution that was passed by the House Armed Services Committee on May 8. The resolution recognizes the anniversary. “We must honor the legacy of those who lost their lives on the USS Thresher, and continue to recognize the excellent work that the men and women of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard do to help keep our nation safe,” Shea-Porter said in a statement. Besides being constructed at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, the Thresher was based there at the time of the accident.

USS Thresher (SSN 593)

The Thresher is launched at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Maine, July 9, 1960. U.S. Navy photo

The text of the resolution states that the House of Representatives, “recognizes the 51st anniversary of the sinking of USS Thresher; remembers with profound sorrow the loss of USS Thresher and her gallant crew of sailors and civilians on April 10, 1963; and expresses its deepest gratitude to all submariners on ‘eternal patrol,’ who are forever bound together by dedicated and honorable service to the United States of America.”

The House of Representatives, “recognizes the 51st anniversary of the sinking of USS Thresher; remembers with profound sorrow the loss of USS Thresher and her gallant crew of sailors and civilians on April 10, 1963; and expresses its deepest gratitude to all submariners on ‘eternal patrol,’ who are forever bound together by dedicated and honorable service to the United States of America.”

Despite the brief service life of the Thresher, commissioned Aug, 3, 1961, that today’s submarines have such a track record for safety can be traced directly back to the loss of the Thresher. New regulations designed to ensure the safety of submarines were enacted in the wake of the accident. These regulations were established under the Submarine Safety and Quality Assurance program (SUBSAFE). Since SUBSAFE, only one U.S. nuclear-powered submarine has been lost, the USS Scorpion (SSN 589). The Scorpion was not certified as SUBSAFE.

USS Thresher (SSN 593)

Officer and crew of the USS Thresher (SSN 593) salute the colors aboard the Thresher during her commissioning ceremony, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Maine, Aug. 3, 1961. Lessons learned from the Thresher disaster were applied to form the U.S. Navy’s Submarine Safety and Quality Assurance program (SUBSAFE). U.S. Navy photo

Though the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard is located in Kittery, Me., it is connected to Portsmouth, N.H. via a bridge. Shea-Porter’s district encompasses Portsmouth. A previous target for Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) in 2005, the shipyard was narrowly spared a closure. Shea-Porter’s resolution, besides being good election year politics, serves as reminder of the continuing legacy of those who died aboard the Thresher.

By

Steven Hoarn is the Editor/Photo Editor for Defense Media Network. He is a graduate of...