Popular Mechanics magazine published an article, which revealed the cause of the disaster that led to the sinking of the US Navy’s nuclear submarine USS Thresher (SSN-593) in 1963.

During the Cold War period, with the dense military activities of the two sides, serious incidents such as the downing of a nuclear bomber or the sinking of an atomic submarine were not too rare.

The cause of the disaster for the US nuclear submarine USS Thresher in 1963 was a combination of many unfavorable factors. Among them are mainly technical problems on the ship, as well as the lack of skilled crew to quickly eliminate arising problems.

The above conclusion was made by many military experts after they had fully analyzed the declassified US Navy documents related to the tragedy, Popular Mechanics magazine emphasized.

As mentioned, the publication of the 1,700-page report originated with a retired US Navy officer named Jim Brian, who won a court case against his former superior.

The people involved made the initial decision in 2020, which stipulates that 300 pages of documents will be released, and by this point, most of the secrets have been made public in the end.

USS Thresher is the lead ship of the class of attack submarines of the same name. Built in response to the introduction of the first nuclear submarines in the Soviet Union, it differs from its predecessors in high speed and greater diving depth.

On April 9, 1963, the submarine was located 220 miles east of Cape Cod (a strip of land in the Northeastern United States). The crew went out to sea and conducted a deep dive on the seabed to test the strength of the hull at extreme depths.

After a while, the officers received a message about the difficulties that had occurred, but soon after the connection was lost, the ship never surfaced and all 129 crew members were killed.

According to experts, leaders of the US Navy hastily put submarines for testing, while not all systems have been fully tested and the crew has not had time to prepare carefully.

Meanwhile, the research team still expressed confidence in the reliability of the onboard systems, because this was an extremely modern submarine, even the world’s top at the time of the accident.

In the end, it was concluded that an improperly welded pipe broke on the ship, leading to a leak and ultimately causing disaster. The crew was unable to reach the position to prevent water from entering, while the ballast tanks were not functioning properly.

Naval historian Normal Friedman believes that inadequate training exacerbated the problems, as the crew couldn’t react quickly enough to save the ship.

The incident with the USS Thresher resulted in a change. After this disaster, the US Navy created SUBSAFE – a program to ensure the safe operation of submarines.


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