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USS Scorpion - theories to what may have caused her sinking.

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  • USS Scorpion - theories to what may have caused her sinking.

    While discussion USS Thresher in another thread, the fate of USS Scorpion came up. So I feel it might be best to start a fresh thread in order not to detract from the original topic too much. T. A. Gardener put forward one popular theory that has been doing the rounds in the navy... https://forums.armchairgeneral.com/f...25#post5137425

    There isn't a correct answer for this accident, but some clues rule out certain theories.

    After the USS Thresher accident, the US navy launched SUBSAFE, an inspection program to assure optimum quality of the submarines in service. Since then, no sub within that program has been lost. USS Scorpion sank in 1968, but was not SUBSAFE certified... although, ironically, she was on her way home to go into dry dock. She had 277 items that needs attending to, with the main issues being water integrity in both ends of the boat. She was commonly called USS Scrap Iron because she was riddled with issues, refits and overhauls constantly delayed and put back in order to fill in the navy's schedules.
    Last edited by Achtung Baby; 28 Aug 19, 03:10.
    "In modern war... you will die like a dog for no good reason."
    Ernest Hemingway.

    In english "silence" means yelling louder than everyone else.

  • #2
    Probably one of the more popular theories was made by Dr. JohnP. Craven, suggesting that a loaded Mk 37 torpedo performed a "hot run". This is where the torpedo started up, and the procedure was to eject the torpedo, or allow it to run while in the tube... but after so many revolutions of the propellor, it arms itself. The USS Thresher had a history of two Mk 37 hot runs, one of her training torpedoes actually turned around and locked in on her... but because there was no warhead onboard, it resulted in no damage. The other time it was due to human error, but was safely ejected from the sub. Many US subs experienced this problem.

    But the photos and evidence brought up from the wreck don't add any credence to that theory, nor did any of the official inquirers come to that conclusion.
    Last edited by Achtung Baby; 28 Aug 19, 07:07.
    "In modern war... you will die like a dog for no good reason."
    Ernest Hemingway.

    In english "silence" means yelling louder than everyone else.

    Comment


    • #3
      Here is rudder and stern plane, the force of 11,000 feet of water pressure is squeezing the steel on the stern plane against the ribbing.

      images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQ2_zBA6iQNopUZJJ_AxpFue3--mLHeRzRz0pqQlCh8g7TrUvBh.jpg

      What is interesting here(pic below) is notice how everything on the sail is raised, the periscope, the radio antenna and the radar. The sub was in transit back to the states and the procedure at the time was to maintain electronic silence. During this time, nine messages were transmitted to the sub, no replies were received. But because she was still under electronic silence, that's of no surprise to anyone. But it appears here in the photo, she was listening... and it was around this time she also met her demise. I have read that it was common practice to surface twice a day to receive incoming messages.

      sail_scorpion.jpg
      Last edited by Achtung Baby; 28 Aug 19, 07:38.
      "In modern war... you will die like a dog for no good reason."
      Ernest Hemingway.

      In english "silence" means yelling louder than everyone else.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
        There's already extant video and photographic evidence of the Thresher's wreckage and that of Scorpion available for viewing. Scorpion flooded out well before reaching crush depth while Thresher imploded and as torn into little bits.



        Thresher wreckage:





        It's pretty clear the Thresher was torn to little pieces by the implosion.

        Scorpion wreckage:





        Scorpion didn't implode, indicating that the sub was full of water and pressure had equalized before reaching crush depth.
        The idea that Scorpion didnít implode doesnít stand up, in fact it was an implosion later on that broke her up in several pieces. This implosion happened while she was going down to the bottom and reached crush depth.
        "In modern war... you will die like a dog for no good reason."
        Ernest Hemingway.

        In english "silence" means yelling louder than everyone else.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Achtung Baby View Post
          The idea that Scorpion didnít implode doesnít stand up, in fact it was an implosion later on that broke her up in several pieces. This implosion happened while she was going down to the bottom and reached crush depth.
          But, a lot more of Scorpion was intact, whereas Thresher is literally little bits scattered over a wide area.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post

            But, a lot more of Scorpion was intact, whereas Thresher is literally little bits scattered over a wide area.
            But no evidence of an internal explosion was found.
            Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Who is watching the watchers?

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Mountain Man View Post

              But no evidence of an internal explosion was found.
              A battery fire in the torpedo room from a Mk 37 would have been enough. If it wasn't controlled in time, or spread, it'd do the sub in. This was postulated as one of the more plausible scenarios in the publicly released material.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post

                A battery fire in the torpedo room from a Mk 37 would have been enough. If it wasn't controlled in time, or spread, it'd do the sub in. This was postulated as one of the more plausible scenarios in the publicly released material.
                Certainly possible, but a long way from an exploding rogue torpedo.

                Question is, was all of the relevant information released? And if not, why not?
                Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Who is watching the watchers?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Mountain Man View Post

                  Certainly possible, but a long way from an exploding rogue torpedo.

                  Question is, was all of the relevant information released? And if not, why not?
                  I sincerely doubt it. First, anything to do with the nuclear power plant (eg., back half of the sub) is classified. There were two Mk 45 nuclear torpedoes aboard too. Those are classified. The Navy still maintains control of the wreck and even visits it on a regular, if occasional, basis to check on radiation leaking and see if anyone's tried to tamper with it.
                  So, I think the official people know way more than they've told us about it.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post

                    But, a lot more of Scorpion was intact, whereas Thresher is literally little bits scattered over a wide area.
                    Scorpion was most likely at periscope depth, and one of the more plausible theories reinforces that idea. Whereas the Thresher was already near her crush depth, and imploded below that point. Does that makes some difference? I cannot say.
                    Why they broke up differently is anyones guess, but both were equally catastrophic in nature.
                    "In modern war... you will die like a dog for no good reason."
                    Ernest Hemingway.

                    In english "silence" means yelling louder than everyone else.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Mountain Man View Post

                      But no evidence of an internal explosion was found.
                      There was evidence of internal explosions... two small explosions in fact.
                      Last edited by Achtung Baby; 30 Aug 19, 06:06.
                      "In modern war... you will die like a dog for no good reason."
                      Ernest Hemingway.

                      In english "silence" means yelling louder than everyone else.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post

                        A battery fire in the torpedo room from a Mk 37 would have been enough. If it wasn't controlled in time, or spread, it'd do the sub in. This was postulated as one of the more plausible scenarios in the publicly released material.
                        Plausible, but some points indicate the sub was near the surface at the time of the two initial explosions. If she was near the surface and there was a fire or explosion in the torpedo room, she could've been able to surface or at the very least perform an emergency blow.
                        And she was conservatively following a depth limitation of 150 metres due to post Thresher certification. EDIT; I have doubts about that source being correct.

                        It was routine to remove the detonators from the Mk 37 before entering port, and some theories were suggesting that may have caused the first event. Highly unlikely, but the fact that procedure was routine out only added to the speculation.
                        Last edited by Achtung Baby; 30 Aug 19, 04:41.
                        "In modern war... you will die like a dog for no good reason."
                        Ernest Hemingway.

                        In english "silence" means yelling louder than everyone else.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Been reading the official navy report and it's easy to see why different stories and theories arise when confronted with the redacted sections. There are strong hints that the sub was in shallow water in the report, which explains why all the antennas and periscope were extended. Her transit depth was usually less than 300 feet.
                          They feel the forward compartments were already flooded prior to crush depth. And her depth was limited due to the lack of SUBSAFE certification and her existing faults. The initial event caused flooding that no sub could survive, and it appears her interim(pre SUBSAFE) EMBT(emergency ballast tank blow) was evaluated as unsuitable for service and made inoperable, tagged out in other words. Her normal main ballast tank blow system appeared to be fine. The navy felt the emergency blow wasn't an issue considering the sub had to operate at a restricted depth.

                          USS Sargo SSN-583 had two Mk 37 torpedoes detonate while she was in port, the pressure hull wasn't ruptured but I'm not convinced that's a fair comparison.

                          I'm also getting a more detailed book about the sub from a well renowned expert and look forward to reading his analysis.

                          https://www.jag.navy.mil/library/inv...20MAY%2068.pdf
                          Last edited by Achtung Baby; 30 Aug 19, 04:41.
                          "In modern war... you will die like a dog for no good reason."
                          Ernest Hemingway.

                          In english "silence" means yelling louder than everyone else.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            One interesting thing though, in March 1969 the US navy revamped procedures for main battery ventilation... and one rear admiral admitted that in 1968, many nuclear powered subs were still initiating "Condition Baker" when coming up to periscope depth... an old procedure from diesel boat days.
                            I'm not suggesting the navy knew what destroyed USS Scorpion, but it appears they were smart enough to avoid that scenario in the future. And this may well have been USS Scorpion's demise...
                            Last edited by Achtung Baby; 30 Aug 19, 04:43.
                            "In modern war... you will die like a dog for no good reason."
                            Ernest Hemingway.

                            In english "silence" means yelling louder than everyone else.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Finally got hold of the book, far more detailed than I expected but that is what I was hoping for. One thing I have gleaned from it so far is that from all the hydrophone recordings, that all point to the USS Scorpion transiting home with no deviation from that course. If she was avoiding torpedoes or another sub the hydrophones would have picked up the change due to the longer return signal. The signal was consistent with a sub going in just one direction... straight down.

                              Last edited by Achtung Baby; 09 Sep 19, 06:28.
                              "In modern war... you will die like a dog for no good reason."
                              Ernest Hemingway.

                              In english "silence" means yelling louder than everyone else.

                              Comment

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