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Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017

Grey Lady Down

Posted Friday, November 6, 2009, at 8:04 PM

It was a chilly Wednesday morning, April 10th, 1963, when Captain John Harvey surfaced the USS Thresher. The submarine, the most advanced American submarine at the time, and fresh from a major overhaul, was ready for sea trials. The 129 Officers, crew and civilian personnel were anxious to put Thresher through her paces.

At 0635 hours, Thresher surfaces and makes radio contact with the Submarine rescue ship, USS Skylark. Thresher signals that she is ready to begin deep diving drills. The Thresher was to test her maximum operating depth of 1300 feet, and 220 miles off of Cape Cod, the Thresher began her descent in water almost two miles deep.

The decent began in stages, first at 150 feet, then 300 feet, and so forth. At 0809 hours the Thresher radios to Skylark that she has reached "half test depth", 650 feet.

Then trouble. From years of investigations, it was decided that Thresher sprang a leak, most likely a pipe joint in engine room gave way. The resulting spray, (at nearly 650 psi) short circuited the electronics in the engine compartment, the reactor shut down and the Thresher lost power. The Skylark received a message from Thresher at 0907, indicating there was a minor problem, and that the Thresher would "blow ballast".

The great sub rose slightly when the crew tried to blow ballast, but with no power, she slipped deeper and deeper in the water. Aboard the Skylark, the stunned crew heard the mammoth submarine implode, and rip apart as she sunk below crush depth, killing all 129 souls aboard.

The Thresher disaster came at a difficult time in the cold war. Russian submarines were being positioned off the east coast of the United States, and the Thresher was to be the model of great American submarines that would thwart the Soviet threat.

James L. McVoy, former submariner and now the editor of the Naval Engineering Journal, thinks the Thresher may have been the victim of many mistakes. "The navy's ability to design subs that could attain great depths and speeds...,was ahead of its ability to cope with the conditions far below the surface." Captain McVoy further stated that, When the Navy tried to determine the cause of Thresher's loss we found so many things..."

The Navy stepped up the intensity of effort to build the right kind of submarine, in fact, the USA has only suffered one other submarine disaster since, in May 1968, the Scorpion sank after a torpedo exploded aboard ship, with 99 sailors loosing their lives.

This disaster and the huge loss of life spurred the Navy to do great things in underwater technology.

Our history, real American history, is chalked full of stories of sacrifice, heroism, and determination. This is the type of history that should be taught in schools, instead of the 'America sucks' history taught today in allot of schools.

Find out for yourself. Ask your average high school student, or even a college student, if they have ever heard of The Thresher, or The Battle of the Bulge, or Audie Murphy, or if they even know is what war the battle of Iwo Jima took place. Ask 'em if they know the history behind the USS Missouri, or if they know anything about Omar Bradley or George Patton. I think all you'll find is allot of blank looks. They probably will be able to tell you that Columbus was a creep, or that America is a racist country. Unfortunately, that is much of what is being taught nowadays by allot of whack ado history teachers.

I bring up the story of the Thresher to remind all of us, that many people through-out our history, have given their lives for this great country. It is not only for my children and grand children that I speak out against the radical Obama Administration. I remember the sacrifices of many a brave soul, who died for all of us, more than I remember our faults or our mistakes.

Every one, every country, has faults, and has made mistakes. I choose to look at America through the lens of The Thresher, the passengers aboard Flight 93, the men who took Iwo Jima, or a nineteen year old Audie Murphy in North Africa.

That is the America I love. In the name of heroes such as these, I say God Bless America.

My dad and my son - both Navy men, so let me add, God Bless the United States Navy.

Showing comments in chronological order
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Thank you for telling others of this sacrifice. My Grandfather gave his life on the Thresher. What really makes him a hero, along with all the other men on the ship, is that they all would have taken that journey even if they knew what was to happen. They did it for the country, The United States of America, so that we could all be safe. I absolutely agree with you that children are not being taught the events and people that made and make this country truely great. It is up to us, the citizens, to pass on our knowledge, the truth, of what this country is all about.

-- Posted by grandaughter of a hero on Sat, Nov 7, 2009, at 9:39 AM

Grandaughter, I wasn't born yet when the Thresher went down. I don't think I ever heard about it in school. We are glad to know about it now, and hubby and I are proud of the sacrifices people like your grandfather made for America. Thank you Sam for reminding us.

-- Posted by CandyKilroy on Sat, Nov 7, 2009, at 9:57 AM

Proud to know you. A complete roster of the crew of the Thresher is:


other great links for The Thresher are:




-- Posted by sameldridge on Sat, Nov 7, 2009, at 2:32 PM


Great story. And I do agree with you to a certain extent. But point blank, American students don't know about any history, negative or positive. History isn't even on standardized testing.

-- Posted by mccookreader on Sat, Nov 7, 2009, at 2:58 PM


One huge problem.

Conservatively-oriented voters refuse to approve costs for 320 day school years, longer school days with just "one more class" for needed subjects.

With today's math and science demands, short school days and too-short school years -- There aren't enough high school hours for complete history, English, four years of a foreign language, four years of math beyond basic algebra.

If every S.W. Nebraska student graduated with full grounding in math and science, an UNDERSTANDING of history [Not just rote memory recall of dates, places and one or two names], and for those planning strong two-year vocational courses, business management and accounting.

Every student today needs two years of computer keyboard typing and computer operation.

That's at least three hours weekly. Instead of one year of U.S. history and one year of World History in the better schools -- two years of U.S. history and two years of world history, including Africa, Asia, South America and Mexico and Canada.

How many Gazette readers know the roles of Huerta, Juarez, Obregon, Zapata, the elder Calderon of the 1930s? How many know the role of the U.S. State Department brokering special deals for U.S. interests -- John D. Rockefeller, Anaconda Copper, Phelps-Dodge, etc.?

-- Posted by HerndonHank on Sat, Nov 7, 2009, at 6:14 PM

The bill won't pass the Senate. They don't want to get voted out of office.

-- Posted by marcus elvis erogenous on Sun, Nov 8, 2009, at 9:15 AM

Sam, Thanks for the info on the Thresher. Like you said, most of the high school and college students today don't have a clue about REAL American history. All they know about is revisionist history. It's about time people wake up and get in a position to replace these socialist educators with real patriots. Some of the college students in this country can't even find the USA on a map!! Ask them who Dwight Eisenhower or Douglas MacArthur were and they look at you like you're from Mars.

-- Posted by marcus elvis erogenous on Sun, Nov 8, 2009, at 9:23 AM

Great reminder, Sam, of real heros. Thanks

-- Posted by shaarhues on Thu, Nov 12, 2009, at 11:53 AM

Thanks for the right reminder Sam. It doesn't take a war for our veterans to be in 'Harm's way.' Peace time training, can often be as if not more hazardous than war time action.

No one, who rides beneath the waves, Submariners, consider themselves hero's, more blessed than anything. We worked with some of the most intelligent, hard working, hard playing people known to man. They are, like all others who serve, capable of 500% concentration, when the going gets tough. I was honored to serve with many of that ilk, in submarines, and other capacity. Thresher is but one example of what those who serve face, whatever branch, we all serve.

Thanks again, and may the Thresher Souls all rest with Messiah, Jesus, through Eternity, as all those others not remembered in such glorious memory, but just as important. Arley Steinhour

-- Posted by Navyblue on Fri, Nov 13, 2009, at 12:07 AM

Thank you for a good read. I had four brothers that fought in the BIG war and even though I was the youngest in my family I am the only survivor.One went down with his plane after orderng his crew out-the other is buried in Italy and a third died in the Vets hospital in Seattle.I guess it depends on your life experience how much you love our great country. Keep up the good work.

-- Posted by Altamae 7 on Sat, Nov 21, 2009, at 11:05 AM

Altamae, a very big Thanks for telling us about the heroes in your family. I am thankful to God for every one of them.

-- Posted by CandyKilroy on Sun, Nov 22, 2009, at 3:24 PM

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