USS-THRESHER-SSN593-L ArchivesArchiver > USS-THRESHER-SSN593 > 2005-04 > 1113151066
From: "pat creel" <>
Subject: published Apr 9, 2005
Date: Sun, 10 Apr 2005 11:37:46 -0500
This is a printer friendly version of an article from www.fosters.com
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Article published Apr 9, 2005
USS Thresher: Long remembered, never forgotten
On Wednesday, April 10, 1963, the Seacoast fell silent as word spread that
the USS Thresher had gone down off the coast of New England.
The following day Adm. George W. Anderson, chief of Naval operations,
confirmed what everyone feared.
“Very reluctantly I have come to the conclusion that the Thresher has indeed
been lost,” the admiral announced at a press conference just over 24 hours
Tomorrow marks the 42nd anniversary of this tragic event that took the lives
of 129 men aboard the nuclear fast-attack submarine.
Despite the four decades and two years that have passed, memories of that
day remain vivid for some Seacoast area residents. Some headed for the
seashore in hopes of seeing something, of finding life, despite the fact the
Thresher went down 220 miles east of Boston.
Others prayed, while some just stood in shocked silence in front of radios
broadcasting the news.
The following day, newspapers started to tell the story of those lost with
the boat, whose keel was laid at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
“A five-year-old Somersworth youngster saw his father off to sea Tuesday for
the first time in his life,” read the April 11, 1963, issue of Foster’s
Daily Democrat, “as he watched the USS Thresher leave her berth at the
Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.”
Harold Lee Beal’s father was among those lost at sea. Daniel W. Beal Jr. was
31. He had been an electronics engineer assigned to the ill-fated trial run
of the Thresher.
He left a wife, Joan, and four children, all 10 or younger.
“Also missing,” continued Foster’s, “is Lt. Cmdr. John H. Billings of South
Berwick, an assistant planning and estimating superintendent at the Naval
Shipyard for the Thresher class submarine.”
Billings also left a wife, Dolores, and four young children.
What made the loss of the Thresher so significant and the pain so
long-lasting is that these people and the other 127 were neighbors and
friends. Even those on temporary assignment with the Thresher had been taken
into the hearts and homes of the Seacoast, much as boat crews that dock at
the shipyard still are today.
It took awhile for the Navy to determine what had happened.
“In company with USS Skylark (ASR-20),” reads an official compilation of
Navy reports, “Thresher put to sea on 10 April 1963 for deep-diving
exercises. In addition to her 16 officers and 96 enlisted men, the submarine
carried 17 civilian technicians to observe her performance during the
According to the Navy, “Fifteen minutes after reaching her assigned test
depth, the submarine communicated with Skylark [by] underwater telephone,
apprising the submarine rescue ship of difficulties. Garbled transmissions
indicated that — far below the surface — things were going wrong. Suddenly,
listeners in Skylark heard a noise ‘like air rushing into an air tank,’ —
Efforts to re-establish contact with Thresher failed. Debris was later found
and photographs taken by a bathyscaph “proved that the boat had broken up,
taking all hands on board to their deaths in 1,400 fathoms of water
(approximately 8,500 feet), some 220 miles east of Boston.”
After a Court of Inquiry, the Navy determine the Thresher “probably sunk due
to a piping failure, subsequent loss of power and inability to blow ballast
tanks rapidly enough to avoid sinking.”
“Over the next several years,” continues the report, “a massive program was
undertaken to correct design and construction problems on the Navy’s
existing nuclear submarines ... Following completion of this ‘SubSafe’
effort, the Navy has suffered no further losses of the kind that so
tragically ended Thresher’s brief service career.”
Today, the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard will host the 42nd USS Thresher
Memorial Service. Regardless of where you are at 1300 hours (1 p.m.), take a
moment to bow your head in memory of those lost at sea on April 10, 1963,
and their eternal voyage.
On the net:
|published Apr 9, 2005 by "pat creel" <>|