Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Another Theory On The Loss Of USS Scorpion

Back in May, we discussed some of the theories about what caused the loss of USS Scorpion (SSN 589) in 1968. Several readers have sent me E-mail about a theory that's making the rounds of the Submarine Community that focuses on a straight hydrogen explosion in the battery being the proximate cause of the boat's loss. I'm trying to get permission to post the whole thing, so hopefully I'll have it up as an update to this post soon. In the meantime, here's a post from Strategy Page from last month that discusses the problems of ship maintenance during times of budget pressures.

Update 0945 19 August: Having gotten permission from the author, here's what has been going around:

[Begin quoted material]
6 August 2010

From: B. Rule, [address redacted]
To: VADM David J. Dorsett, Director of Naval Intelligence, Office of Naval Intelligence,
4251 Suitland Road, Washington, DC 20395-5720

Subj: Why the USS SCORPION (SSN-589) Was Lost on 22 May 1968

Ref: (a) Originator’s ltr of 14 Mar 2009
(b) SCORPION SAG Report: "EVALUATION OF DATA AND ARTIFACTS
RELATED TO THE USS SCORPION (SSN-589) (U)" of 29 June 1970,
prepared for presentation to the CNO SCORPION Technical Advisory Group by
the Structural Analysis Group: Peter Palermo, CAPT Harry Jackson, Robert
Price, et al.
(c) Originator’s ltr of 28 Oct 2009

Encl: (1) Enclosure (1) to Originator’s ltr of 14 March 2009

ASSESSMENT

The USS SCORPION was lost because hydrogen produced by the 65-ton, 126-cell TLX-53-A main storage battery exploded in two-stages one-half second apart at 18:20:44Z on 22 May 1968. These events, which did not breach the pressure-hull, prevented the crew from maintaining depth-control. As discussed by reference (a), the SCORPION pressure-hull collapsed at 18:42:34Z at a depth of 1530-feet. Noted times are actual event times on board SCORPION.

This assessment is NOT the generic attribution of the loss of a submarine to a battery-explosion advanced as a default explanation in the absence of any more likely construct. This assessment is based on (1), the results of examination and microscopic, spectrographic and X-ray diffraction analyses of recovered SCORPION battery material that confirm an explosion occurred, and (2), the July 2008 reanalysis of the SCORPION “precursor” acoustic signals that identified these signals as explosions contained within the SCORPION pressure-hull. Collectively, these findings indicate battery explosions were the initiating events responsible for the loss of SCORPION on 22 May 1968.

DISCUSSIONS: EXAMINATION AND METALLURGICAL ANALYSIS OF A RECOVERED SCORPION BATTERY COMPONENT

Section 7.1.3, page 7.2 of reference (b) states: (quote) ....the general battery damage is violent. The high velocity intrusion of pieces of the flash arrestor into both inside and outside surfaces of the retrieved plastisol cover attest to violence in the battery well. The damage to the terminal battery post coupled with the violent tearing of the plastisol covers indicates the possibility of a battery explosion. While it is possible that this damage could have been an after-effect of hull implosion, the SAG (Structural Analysis Group) feels that the intrusion of particles into the plastisol cover would have been much less severe had water been in the battery well at the time. (end quote)

Section 5.3.6, page 5.17 of reference (b) states: (quote) The battery installed in SCORPION was a TLX-53-A, manufactured by Gould-National Battery, Inc. Battery cell debris is in evidence over the entire debris field. Table 5-2, page 5.38 provides a list of the battery debris identified by the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard analysis team. (end quote) Comment: Table 5-2 notes damage from heat and melting. The presence of melting eliminates the possibility that such damage occurred as a result of pressure-hull collapse (implosion) because analysis of acoustic data discussed by Section IV of reference (c), confirms SCORPION was fully-flooded within 0.112-seconds of pressure-hull and bulkhead collapse; hence, the melting damage (and the battery explosion) had to have occurred within the still-intact SCORPION pressure-hull.

In consonance with this conclusion, Section 5.3.6, page 5.17 of reference (b) also states: (quote) the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Analysis Group reports that the available evidence indicates the battery probably exploded at some time before flooding of the battery well occurred. Review of Figure 5-13 indicates that the threads on the terminal posts were sheared off and there are no cover seal nuts remaining. This indicates that an explosion took place on the inside of the cells. The covers were completely blown off. Had the pressure been applied on the outside of the covers, the cover support flange on the terminal posts would have held pieces of the covers and it is expected that the cover seal nuts would have remained in place in at least some instances. ( end quote)

Further, Section 5.3.6c, page 5.18 of reference (b) states: (quote) The (battery cover) sample from SCORPION had been violently, but locally, torn, particularly at the location of the bus connection bolts and nuts. The deformation in this region appears to have started on the inside, or battery side of the cover. (end quote)

And finally, Section 5.3.6e, page 5.18 of reference (b) states: (quote) Some 20 equally small (nearly sub-visible) fragments of material were imbedded at high velocity in both the inside and outside of the sample. The trajectories of the fragments were essentially random, ranging from grazing to vertical incidence. Microscopic, spectrographic and X-ray diffraction analyses reveal that these fragments are identical in composition and structure to the alumina flasharrestors used on the batteries in SCORPION. (end quote)

DISCUSSIONS: SCORPION ACOUSTIC DATA

Enclosure (1) to reference (a), forwarded as enclosure (1) to this
letter, provides detailed discussions of four independent lines of
evidence that, collectively, established, for the first time, that the
two precursor acoustic events that occurred at 18:20:44Z, 21-minutes and
50-seconds before hull-collapse, were explosions from then unidentified
sources that werecontained within the SCORPION pressure-hull. The
energy yield of theseexplosive events, now assessed to have been
battery-associated, is estimated tohave been no more than about 20-lbs
of TNT each.

The July 2008 identification of the precursor acoustic events as
explosions contained within the SCORPION pressure-hull strongly supports
the battery explosion conclusion advanced by reference (b), i.e., the
acoustic data identifies the actual explosive events previously assumed
by the authors of reference (b), the SAG Report, to have occurred based
on the observed damage to a recovered battery component discussed above.

CONCLUSION

Collectively, the above information indicates the two acoustic events
thatoccurred 0.5-seconds apart at 18:20:44Z were produced by explosions
associated with the SCORPION TLX-53-A battery, and were the initiating
events responsible for the loss of SCORPION on 22 May 1968. Additional
information will be provided as developed.

B. Rule
Copy to (w/ encl):
COMSUBFOR

[End quoted material]
It's an interesting theory, with some evidence to back it up. Personally, I still go with the "TDU flooding caused a battery explosion" theory, based on no real data other than it makes sense that some evolution performed at PD could have been the cause -- why would the battery blow up then instead of any other time?

Mr. Rule also suggests that people interested in exploring further should look at his "1 star" reviews of SCORPION DOWN and RED NOVEMBER.

100 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's possible, but it would involve a long chain of simultaneously broken equipment and procedural violations for hydrogen to build up that high anywhere on the boat that would rival TMI-2. All posters below should be mindful of the NNPI restrictions when discussing this system.

8/18/2010 5:25 AM

 
Blogger a_former_elt_2jv said...

Permission from whom Joel?

Mr. Minnick??

8/18/2010 7:35 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There has been no mystery about what really happened since 1969; ongoing explanations protect the U.S. relationship with a certain country, sell books, and avoid thorny issues for the service.

The current explanation is among the most farfetched of the dozens to-date.

- Attendee

8/18/2010 8:42 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No mystery huh, then why bother posting if you think this talk is some kind of conspiracy. Lax maintenance over time could account a buildup of hydrogen. Really how much hydrogen does it take to start a chain reaction that could disrupt equipment and devices in the battery compartment causing more hydrogen to be released. What were the ventilation conditions at the time? Dont presume to know unless you were there at the time.

8/18/2010 10:16 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon @ 10:16 AM

"...some kind of conspiracy."

Who said conspiracy (besides you)?

National security is just that! Care to guess how many topics currently fall under national security for submarines alone?

Multiply every U.S. submarine ever commissioned by 1 and you are just getting started.

8/18/2010 10:23 AM

 
Blogger Steve Harkonnen said...

So...I guess that a hydrogen explosion from a battery would cause the entire sail to rip right from the hull with a huge bite mark in the aft portion (photographic evidence even shows this bite).

I think it was a very hungry great white shark that sunk the Scorpion.

No, honestly, I think the Russians sank that submarine and it was sunk by a "Hormone" helicopter.

8/18/2010 3:28 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Submarine battery explosions were not all that uncommon in years past. Classic case was on Pomodon SS-486 in the yard at Hunters Point in mid 50's. Battery ventilation was not lined up correctly for an equalizer and the forward battery suffered a BIG H2 explosion and fire which destroyed the forward battery compartment. The first explosion was followed by two more. five men were killed. EN2(SS) Pat Tallidino who received the Navy and Marine corps medal for his attempts to rescue injured sailors told me that the deck over the forward battery well was blown up to the pressure hull and the wardroom, staterooms, and goat locker were completely destroyed.

A review of the Cochino SS-345 loss off of Norway in 1949 was due to salt water from the after battery compartment bilges getting into the electrical switches during rough weather causing a short circuit allowing reverse current to flow releasing huge amounts of H2 and starting an electrical fire and experincing several H2 explosions. the boat was lost although all hands were saved except for a civilian technician. However rescue boat Tusk lost six men during the rescue attempt.

From my own personal experience on SS-580 in 1970, our propulsion batteries were gassing so heavily during battery charges that hydrogen burners were installed in the engine room to ooperate during battery charges. If the fix had not worked we would not have deployed to WesPac. The boat was literally a wreck at that time. We lost one of three diesel engines permanently during the WesPac, snorkel defuser plate was missing, battery gassing,etc. when we finally got back to PH seven months later we came in on one engine.

Given the material condition of many of our older boats, with the well documented Scorpion's deficiencies being an excellent example, during the 60's due to deferred maintenance and repair, it's a wonder we didn't lose any more.

Having read the report of analysis of battery material recovered from the Scorpion wreck site I believe it may be the definative answer or as close as we will ever get. To my way of thinking it is a much more plausable answer than conspiracy theories that implicate the Soviets, or MK 37 torpedoes.

My two cents and keep a zero bubble.............

DBFTMC(SS)USNRET

8/18/2010 5:33 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

DBFTMC(SS),

"Submarine battery explosions were not all that uncommon in years past."

True, and there were some understandable reasons for it. Two battery compartments had been in use as early as 5 Oct 1918, when USS O-5 lost an officer trying to prevent an explosion in its after battery room.

Two battery compartments double the probability of an explosion in either.

Not aware of any battery explosions on USS nuclear subs, which had one battery compartment, as far as I am aware. Designs and safeguards for the Ns, including Scorpion, were decidedly better.

8/18/2010 8:51 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What happens to a submarine's battery when it is immersed in seawater? It will suffer serious damage as the initiator or as a result of sinking, right?

8/19/2010 12:50 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There must have been credible evidence to support this theory as early as 1971. I was on patrol on the 654 boat when a message was received ordering the battery exhaust fan to be run on high speed at all times. I can't believe that anyone in the chain would jeopardize the position of the sea leg of the "triad" based on a hunch.

8/19/2010 3:25 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon @ 3:25 AM
"I can't believe that anyone in the chain would jeopardize the position of the sea leg of the 'triad' based on a hunch."

You make half of an excellent point. You cannot discuss this of course, but the battery exhaust fan order was obviously neither permanent nor fleetwide.

8/19/2010 7:36 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A lot of development can happen in 39 years. Consider that the Albacore (SS-569) once had a high-capacity silver-zinc battery, and fwd and aft batteries.

Linsu

8/19/2010 7:41 AM

 
Blogger Don the Baptist said...

Okay, interesting. As a layman, my knowledge is limited, but isn't the battery well in a Skipjack located in the Operations compartment? Why was Ops imploded if the explosion happened there, yet the forward compartment is left intact, with the weapons shipping hatch blown open from inside? These two facts don't square with a hydrogen/battery casualty from my understanding.

8/19/2010 8:47 AM

 
Anonymous YNC(SS), USN, Retired said...

Quote - Don the Baptist said...
Okay, interesting. As a layman, my knowledge is limited, but isn't the battery well in a Skipjack located in the Operations compartment? Why was Ops imploded if the explosion happened there, yet the forward compartment is left intact, with the weapons shipping hatch blown open from inside? These two facts don't square with a hydrogen/battery casualty from my understanding. - END QUOTE

It is likely that an explosion in the battery well was not enough to rupture the hull, but was severe enough to cause significant damage and play &%## in the Operations Compartment, and preventing the Ship's Control Party from maintaining depth control. With a loss of depth control the ship could have had a depth excursion beyond collapse depth, at which point the hull imploded. Just a thought from an old SSN-590 (qualified COW) guy. Hope that conjecture didn't break any rules.

8/19/2010 9:50 AM

 
Anonymous Carl said...

The TDU theory should be testable based on the forensic evidence. Another piece of information that would be interesting, since the analysis in the letter provided relies on assumption, is what the Thresher's battery debris looked like. Basically, the letter assumes that the embedded debris could not have come from the force of the implosion. Since it's known the Thresher didn't suffer from a battery explosion and the Thresher battery compartment saw only implosive forces, the theory that the Scorpion battery debris was due to an internal battery explosion is testable.

8/19/2010 10:11 AM

 
Blogger Don the Baptist said...

Thanks COW; like I said, layman.

8/19/2010 10:25 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

An interesting read but certainly not the root cause. The basic tool of root cause analysis is the "5 Whys?" Ask why something happened until you get to an answer that is something beyond your control, typically 5 times, to find the root cause. In this case,
Why did SCORPION sink? Because the battery exploded
Why did the battery explode? Becasue the TDU failed
Why did the TDU fail....

Also, if the ops compartment imploded then it was not flooded at crush depth. My time was on boats with the TDU in the ops compartment so this doesn't square, but I'm not familiar with SCORPION's layout.

Similarly, if the forward compartment was intact at crush depth then it had to be flooded. How does a battery explosion that doesn't breach the pressure cause the forward compartment to flood?

On a side note; 0.112 seconds to flood at crush depth! OUCH

th

8/19/2010 1:53 PM

 
Anonymous YNC(SS), USN, Retired said...

Quote - main storage battery exploded in two-stages one-half second apart at 18:20:44Z on 22 May 1968.- End Quote

There has been some discussion about the TDU. I did not come into the Submarine Force until 1974, and
have no knowledge of when TDU operations were usually conducted. That said, I do not recall ever conducting TDU operations during daylight hours. That may only coincidental to my service though. Usually it seemed like just before or just after mid-watch relieved. I do remember though, when I was on the phones with the Aux and talking him through each step, that I was always very aware of the ten-inch hole in the bottom of the boat.

8/19/2010 3:47 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting hypothesis that ignores crew discipline.

How did a nuclear sub's battery spontaneously explode (without warning), and if there had been warnings why were they inadequate for corrective actions to preclude an initial explosion?

While anything is possible, this supposition is dismissive of crew discipline. At the time of Scorpion's loss, every sub had morale issues, but professionalism on submarines still ruled the day.

Linsu

8/19/2010 5:24 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i'm just wondering about the 2 rumored nuke-tipped SubRocs that are rumored to still be down there.

8/19/2010 6:10 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon @ 6:10 PM
You have no clue, which is what is intended.

Linsu

8/19/2010 7:20 PM

 
Blogger MT1(SS)WidgetHead said...

"i'm just wondering about the 2 rumored nuke-tipped SubRocs that are rumored to still be down there."

You're bullshitting me right? We're gonna allow some other entity to secure a pair of some of our most nastiest toys? You really feel we would let that happen?

Please keep in mind that not everything you read on Wiki and in Tom Clancy's novels is true and a 100% accurate. Where & what other sources are you getting this shit?

8/20/2010 12:50 AM

 
Blogger Steve Harkonnen said...

Just have to ask and wonder:

Why are you all avoiding speculation that the Scorpion was probably sunk by the Russians?

8/20/2010 7:43 AM

 
Blogger wtfdnucsailor said...

Scorpion had a terrible acccident. She was not sunk by an Russian action.

8/20/2010 8:43 AM

 
Blogger Steve Harkonnen said...

But weren't Soviet assets nearby her last known location? Not disagreeing with you, but there's ample evidence on the aft end of her sail to prove that it didn't just "snap off" on impact on the sea floor. I also don't buy the story about the exhaust port either.

8/20/2010 9:25 AM

 
Blogger tennvol said...

No credible person who has viewed the physical evidence believes that an external explosion occurred.

Also, this reference did not imply that a battery explosion occurred spontaneously, nor that there were not other contributing factors. It states that the physical evidence is consistent with a battery explosion.

8/20/2010 12:15 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

tennvol,

"... did not imply that a battery explosion occurred spontaneously, nor that there were not other contributing factors."

To suggest a non-spontaneous battery explosion and go no further leaves open a possibility of sabotage. In no way, shape, or form has any "credible person who has viewed the physical evidence"
suggested that, much less left open the possibilty.

Nonsense!

Linsu

8/20/2010 12:45 PM

 
Anonymous Carl said...

Sabotage?!? Oh, come on. Crew error compounded by mechanical / electrical malfunction is a lot more likely in leading to a battery explosion. By what evidence is sabotage even credible?

An external attack is not consistent with all the data (e.g., the explosion sound signatures).

The challenge is that the evidence for crew error and even more detail on any mechanical / electrical malfunction is either lost or unobtainable without pulling up the whole wreckage.

8/20/2010 3:23 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Served on a 588 class from 72-76 and the battery theory just does not make sense to me unless it disabled everyone on the ship. Note that letter claims roughly 22 minutes from explosion to implosion.

There are factors related to SubSaf retrofit on the Scorpion that I don’t know as well when some Nuc OP’s were changed regarding restarts. Having said that…

I'm betting that backup systems for rudder and stern were already in place in ER before SubSafe and I believe that Scorpion had at least a partial upgrade so emergency blow may have been in place. I believe that normal rudder and plane controls also had both electrical and hydraulic modes. Given the amount of time stated, it certainly seems likely that a few crew members could have regained depth control!

If you don’t have flooding and you lose the DC bus but propulsion is still up and you still have air in the tanks to blow MBT, all I can say why can’t you regain depth control in 22 minutes?

Flooding via the TDU? Maybe…but the damage to Ops and the sail look awfully suspicious to me.

Old Chief from the Dark Ages
Jerry

8/20/2010 4:19 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Carl,

Then, please name at least one crew error you believe could have been responsible: - Note: smoking in the battery well would have been extremely unlikely, dude!

Jerry,
Your facts are sound, but may be wasted on some of these binary logic, push-button sailors.

Linsu

8/20/2010 5:05 PM

 
Blogger DDM said...

Battery procedures have evolved over time. After the Bonefish fire, the spec on battery grounds went from 50K to 200K. Nothing sinsiter happened there, but the Navy reacted to what was seen as a root cause. That guidance was later rescinded.

Here's a theory: the material condition of the battery was poor and a cell needed to be jumpered. Perhaps cells got shorted during the maintenance and started a chain of events that resulted in a battery explosion. I've seen what happens when you short across 30 cells in a battery well. The energy released is quite impressive. If they had ground and/or gassing problems a battery explosion is plausible. NSTM 223 has guidance that says the battery has enough energy to blow a submarine 100 yards out of the water (or something like that).

8/20/2010 5:29 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

DDM,

Good facts. Let's consider the rest, however:

USS Bonefish (SS-582) was the last Atlantic fleet diesel sub.

In 1988 (20 years after Scorpion's loss), seawater leaked into buses in Bonefish's battery supply cableway. Arcing caused explosion and fire with temperatures in the battery spaces reaching 1,200° Fahrenheit. The intense heat melted crew members' shoe soles in spaces above (evidence absent in Scorpion).

At 1615 a low ground on forward battery was reported. The XO stated, "A low ground in the diesel submarine business is not terribly unusual and there are stablished, effective procedures for dealing with them."

Results of Bonefish's 1984, post-overhaul, 12 PSI battery well air tightness tests had been ignored/waived (try that on a nuclear sub).

Insulation damage due to long-term saltwater exposure allowed cables to tragically short.

Saltwater had been leaking invisibly through TDU due to improper or incomplete IMA maintenance.

Linsu

8/20/2010 6:14 PM

 
Anonymous YNC(SS), USN, Retired said...

Quote - Saltwater had been leaking invisibly through TDU due to improper or incomplete IMA maintenance.

Linsu - End Quote

Ah, and another country heard from. In which case SCORPION was not necessarily conducting TDU operations at the time of the casualty. No idea about the cableway/TDU seawater proximity, but I just have a problem with TDU operations at that early hour in the late afternoon.

8/20/2010 6:51 PM

 
Blogger tmcs(ss) retired said...

Served 2 boats of this class 69-75. TMC,COW,DOW,COB.
Batttery chg. in progress, watch personell get ditracted in some way, H2 build-up, ignition, BANG! 40lbs. TNT would destroy the ops. cpt. The explosion would kill out-right or imobilize 3/4 of the crew and ships control party. Overpressure, smoke, gas, fire may have taken out the entire crew??
When the Ops. Cpt. imploded at CD it would have distorted, mangled, and dislodged the sail(see Thresher). Torp. RM. could have stayed intact with hatches blown of from Ops. Cpt. implosion. Have seen H2 levels above safe readings several times. We were lucky.

8/20/2010 10:16 PM

 
Anonymous JIH said...

There is nothing in this explanation that could not have occurred. And although I don't like to speak ill of the dead, the SCORPION crew were just as human and fallible as other crews on more recent submarines like HARTFORD, GREENEVILLE, SAN FRANCISCO, NEWPORT NEWS, OKLAHOMA CITY, GUITARRO, and BONEFISH (just to name a few). Most of us have seen at least one not-very-competent EM who didn't start the battery charge the right way or took shortcuts with maintenance or didn't pay enough attention to hydrogen levels. We'll never know who was doing what when the ship sank, but if everyone had been on their A-game, no matter what happened, then we probably woudn't be writing all these posts. Even the best crews make mistakes. Whatever happened on board SCORPION could have overwhelmed their ability to respond, as the COB who wrote above noted.

And it's important to remember that some procedures were different in 1968. RADM Oliver, in his book LEAD ON!, discusses how boats used to shut all ventilation valves and watertight doors during battery charges, instead of maximizing battery exhaust like we now do ... because that was how charges had been conducted on older diesel boats (in fact, he discussed this as a possible reason for SCORPION's loss in the book).

Additionally, SCORPION didn't have all of the SUBSAFE modifications -- when she sank, she was the only SSN in LANTFLT not SUBSAFE certified and her EMBT blow system was tagged out (there are more details about this in Stephen Johnson's well-researched SILENT STEEL, which dispassionately looks at many of the possible scenarios and assesses their likelihood). In some ways, applying the way we do things today (42 years later) to SCORPION would be like a nuc on board a STURGEON talking about a reactor start-up to a S-boat sailor. Perhaps not as much has changed, but there's still some important differences.

I hope that the Navy's leadership will follow up on Mr. Rule's research and perform another investigation of the SCORPION wreck with the latest in undersea technology (which has also advanced quite a bit since the last visit to the site in the 1980s). It's worth giving the family members still alive some sort of closure, even a half-century later.

8/21/2010 8:49 AM

 
Anonymous Carl said...

Linsu - Others have pointed out several things that could easily go wrong. In addition, the Bonefish incident continued to establish that things can go wrong with batteries.

It does take multiple, compounding problems which is why the accidents are relatively rare. But they do happen.

I can think of several issues that could have compounded including H2 detection equipment out of service or otherwise not working. And there are failure modes that could result in the failure not being readily detected. Add that to an equalizing charge, a personnel error and things can be horribly wrong.

8/21/2010 10:17 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

JIH, Carl

All submariners were very well-acquainted with the H2 hazards of battery charges. No one took shortcuts, relied on faulty measurements, or got distracted from his important job.

It seems conveniently dismissive to blame Scorpion's all-volunteer, deceased crew. -- Why?

If you read the facts provided at (e.g. ref. 8/20/2010 6:14 PM) relative to Bonefish you would note stark differences between nuclear boats then and obsolescent diesels:

Bonefish went through an overhaul with a defficiency that ultimately lead to the battery explosion (long-term salt water gegradation of cable insulation); Rickover would never let that happen to one of his nuc boats.

Did you think the Bonefish had been charging its battery at the time of the explosion? No charge had even been in progress.

Again, Scorpion has been the only nuc boat ever to have had such a battery event, and it is only hypothesized.

Surely the speed of sound through various layers, salinity and temperatures casts more doubt on the precise times of Scorpion's implosive/explosive events over those distances as some have cast upon the crew.

- Linsu (Long Island -Norfolk State University) Qualified U.S. submariner

8/21/2010 5:19 PM

 
Anonymous JIH said...

Linsu:

I must respectfully disagree with some of your facts and assertions.

Regarding BONEFISH, a battery charge had actually been in progress from 1515 to 1537 on 24 Apr 1988, when the charge was secured in order to conduct ground isolation, which was localized to the submarine's forward battery. At that point, electricians discovered leakage in the battery and informed the chain-of-command. Ten minutes later, at 1631, electricians saw the fire start while they were in the well trying to clean up the well. This was less than an hour after the charge was secured. I am looking at pp. 12-14 in the declassified and redacted BONEFISH Investigation (dtd 25 Jun 1988), which I am not sure is available on-line.

As for SCORPION and overhauls, it's worth noting that in order to minimize SCORPION's stay in the Norfolk Naval Shipyard during her 1967 overhaul, certain work was deferred, including SCORPION's SUBSAFE upgrade. Both COMSUBRON SIX and COMSUBLANT recommended this deferral, noting that SUBSAFE work might require a 2-year overhaul, instead of the 8 months that allow SCORPION to continue meeting "fleet requirements". NAVSHIPS and the CNO approved this deferral of SUBSAFE work on 17 June 1966. This not only shortened the overhaul but also meant it was much cheaper -- only $3.3 million vice $19.6 million spent at the same time on SCORPION's sister ship, SNOOK. Consequently, SCORPION was the only SUBLANT SSN not certified for SUBSAFE and her EMBT blow system was OOC. Sadly, even for nuclear submarines, overhauls were not sacrosanct. You can see more details about this in Johnson's SILENT STEEL, pp. 178-195.

I don't think anyone is trying to "blame" SCORPION's crew, but whatever happened probably involved some degree of human error, as well as some sort of material casualty. Every boat has its fair share of $&@*bags, and SCORPION would have had a few as well, and who knows how that may or may not have contributed to the disaster. Regrettably some people take shortcuts in this business --divisions that sign off for PMS not actually performed, watchstanders who gundeck logs, and people who forge signatures in their qual cards. These things happen to many submarines. If you haven't seen it yet, you're lucky.

I don't know enough about acoustics to understand everything that Mr. Rule figured out in his analysis (this analysis follows up two memos with more detailed acoustic research information he sent to COMSUBFOR last year). I do know that he is a technical expert, having been "for 42 years the lead acoustic analyst at the Office of Naval Intelligence, [and] wrote the position paper that remains the Navy's official assessment of the dynamic and acoustic characteristics of submarine bulkhead and pressure hull collapse events."

JIH (also a qualified USN submariner)

8/21/2010 7:42 PM

 
Anonymous YNC(SS), USN, Retired said...

Alas, I also subscribe to Mr. Rule's analysis. It happened. I noted on SCULPIN (SSN 590) the H2 meter at the aft end of the BCP. TMC(SS) said it all in my estimation. RIP brothers.

8/21/2010 8:15 PM

 
Anonymous PortTackStart said...

NSTM 223 has guidance that says the battery has enough energy to blow a submarine 100 yards out of the water (or something like that).

So there I was, in port, standing EDO starting on my midnight paperwork. Me and the SRO got into a discussion regarding that very fact.

We crunched some numbers and it turns out that if you convert all the chemical PE in the battery to KE in a single impulsive moment (neglecting air friction), a person will exceed escape velocity...as in, start orbiting the sun. Of course, he would be squashed flat by the G force...and die of asphyxiation, hypothermia, and/or the bends. I think we also convinced ourselves a sub would reach LEO, but that might have been my initial guess and not what we actually determined.

8/21/2010 10:45 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

JIH,

Thank you for the reference (still available online). I stand corrected by the Bonefish Investigation in that the battery charge had been recently secured; no H2-fed explosion occurred; and [#62., p13] human error delayed accurate localization of the initial ground fault (on nuclear subs ground fault localization is performed by nuclear trained watchstanders, however).

I stand by the pertinent facts asserted earlier: Bonefish was a diesel class sub with two battery compartments; Bonefish had NOT been charging its battery at the fire's onset.

Additionally, the board suspected the severity of saltwater-caused electrical flash was enhanced by hydraulic fluid and pressurized air to become a class-A fire. Fan F4 had not been secured for fire fighting and a compressed air line in proximity to the fire had also leaked.

Significant deficiencies (i.e. waiver of Bonefish's failed 12-PSI battery compartment test in post 1984 overhaul) had been ignored for 4 years on Bonefish.

There is not a single (public) example of a nuclear sub where such a deficiency has been tolerated and proved fatal. As we know, Thresher represented a tragic, lead-ship learning experience, rather than waiver of any known deficiencies.

Again, the latest speculation on cause of Scorpion's loss has been without precedent or repetition in U.S. nuclear subs.

The same cannot be said for nuclear subs of other navies.

While I strongly doubt this latest cover story will endure any longer than others have, I can appreciate its current appeal.

Linsu

8/22/2010 12:25 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those that need a Scorpion conspiracy theory, by all means,go for it. May the lost crew rest in peace.

DBFTMC(SS)USNRET

8/22/2010 1:50 PM

 
Anonymous JIH said...

Linsu:

We will have to agree to disagree. As I don't believe in conspiracy theories, I'm not going to engage about "cover stories".

To be clear, I respect all personnel on our submarines -- they are the reason to go to work everyday. But I also accept that personnel are fallible (and in few cases, negligent). Plenty of posters above, who served on board SKIPJACK-class submarines during the same time period, all noted seeing unacceptable hydrogen levels on different submarines. Even the best people make mistakes, and nuclear-trained watchstanders are no exception, which becomes pretty clear when you have to attend enough critiques fore and aft.

I agree that BONEFISH's fire was not caused by hydrogen from a battery charge, but I think it's emblematic of what a battery explosion and fire would have been like on board SCORPION, possibly overwhelming the crew's ability to respond before surfacing the ship.

It's interesting that you bring up THRESHER. The Court of Inquiry concluded that the sinking possibly stemmed from flooding, possibly from a sil-brazed joint (which had occurred on other submarines, such as BARBEL). As a consequence, sil-brazing was eliminated from U.S. SSNs. But even before her sinking, the Navy and THRESHER's leadership knew that there was issues with the sil-brazed joints on board THRESHER. The shipyard used ultrasonic testing on 145 of her sil-brazed joints and found that 13.5% of those were defective. The shipyard and the ship's first CO, however, suspended further ultrasonic testing in order to meet THRESHER's availability date, despite the fact that there were over 3,000 sil-brazed joints.

I'm not sure how many overhauls you've been through. I don't claim to be an expert or a hardened shipyard veteran (thank heavnes) but some of the work that's done by some shipyard workers (nuc code and otherwise) is simply scary -- when caught.

Given the present budget crunch, I doubt that there will be any follow-up to Mr. Rule's research. I will continue to hope that additional investigation may turn up evidence that either proves or disproves Mr. Rule's theory.

8/22/2010 1:53 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

JIH,
Did you seve during Rickover's regime, or not? By the tone of your reasoning I suspect strongly the latter.

Be very, very careful how you choose to answer.

Linsu

8/22/2010 7:39 PM

 
Blogger Vigilis said...

JIH,

Linsu asks a valid and very pertinent question, IMHO. Your answer will be much appreciated.

Vigilis

8/22/2010 7:50 PM

 
Anonymous JIH said...

Linsu:

I didn't serve in the Rickover Navy.

I don't pretend to have whatever experience you've had. But at the same time, I'm not sure your experience meshes with some of recollections that have been posted above either. And I don't think the NRTB wouldn't be quite so big if the Rickover Navy hadn't had its issues too.

I have given you my reasons for being willing to believe Mr. Rule's theory: people are fallible, procedures were different, and this analysis is by a technical expert. I think it deserves greater investigation.

If you are now going to attack my credibility because I wasn't there, then so be it -- I simply will no longer respond. But it seems to ignore the comments of many people above who were around and did serve in SKIPJACK-class subs during that time period. If you are going to continue your commentary, you will probably have to provide your own experiences and background to support yourself.

Good day, sir.

8/22/2010 8:00 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

JIH,

I consider you a totally rationale and credible submariner. There is no need for you to resort to defense of your credibility.

However, by your own admission, you are at least a significant era removed from the event under discussion.

You alone, {not the few - and all anonymous] people above who were around and did serve in SKIPJACK-class subs during that time period" have elected to represent the latest non-"conspiracy theory".

Think on it carefully. Your ongoing credibility depends upon this latest B.S.. This theory too, will pass.

Linsu

8/22/2010 8:24 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

JIH,

"...you will probably have to provide your own experiences and background to support yourself."

BTW, I have a letter signed by Rickover. You first.

Linsu

8/22/2010 9:02 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

RE: No idea about the cableway/TDU seawater proximity, but I just have a problem with TDU operations at that early hour in the late afternoon.

If memory serves - the TDU was a few feet aft of the battery well outboard of the goat locker. My recollection on the cable run is that was about the mess deck level and then made a 90 to go into the well

As far as TDU ops, why does 1800Z seems funny?

Old Chief from the dark ages
Jerry

8/23/2010 12:05 AM

 
Anonymous JIH said...

Linsu wrote: "You alone, {not the few - and all anonymous] people above who were around and did serve in SKIPJACK-class subs during that time period" have elected to represent the latest non-"conspiracy theory"."

This seems to ignore TMCS(SS) (former COB, DOOW, and COW on 585s) [8/20/2010 10:16 PM] and
YNC(SS) (former COW on 590) [8/19/2010 9:50 AM and 8/21/2010 8:15 PM], who at the very least said that this theory was possible and that they had seen hydrogen levels above the limit on occasion. It also ignores that RADM Oliver had already brought up this theory in his LEAD ON! (pp. 62-65) and he certainly served on a number of a nuclear subs in that era.

Consequently, if what he says has more credence than the people above, then he has to explain why.

I've already said that I wasn't from the time period. All I've done is read the Court of Inquiry and other available and possibly pertinent investigations (like the BONEFISH investigation), as well as books and interviews by submariners from that era. I don't pretend to be an expert on 585s or what things were like.

Maybe it's bogus, and maybe it's not, but this theory is worth further investigation at the wreck site in order to try and prove it one way or the other.

8/23/2010 4:19 AM

 
Blogger Rubber Ducky said...

http://www.jag.navy.mil/library/jagman_investigations.htm (1988)

http://www.chaoticsynapticactivity.com/images/military_pics/LCDR_LeStrange_Bonefish_Chronology.pdf

8/23/2010 5:47 AM

 
Blogger Rubber Ducky said...

http://www.jag.navy.mil/library/jagman_investigations.htm (1968)

8/23/2010 5:50 AM

 
Anonymous YNC(SS), USN, Retired said...

Quote - As far as TDU ops, why does 1800Z seems funny?

Old Chief from the dark ages
Jerry - End Quote

Hi,

Understand I reported to 590 as a nonqual YNC in 1974 with 15 years in as a skimmer. Ignorant of how/when things happened before my arrival. That said, the first internal explosions are said to occur at or about 1822Z or thereabouts. SCORPION was in eastern Atlantic, that puts them within a couple hours of Zulu time zone. I would say the evening meal was still going on, or just finished. I would think that they would at least wait until cleanup was done and all the trash was ready to go. That aside, I just don't recall ever on SCULPIN and later boat; DRUM (SSN 677) shooting the GDU during daylight hours. 1800Z in the eastern Atlantic in May is broad daylight and will be for a few mor hours. That's why it seemed odd; maybe things were different in SUBLANT from SUBPAC where I served. Or, maybe, as I previously stated that it was a coincidence that that's how it was when I was there.

8/23/2010 7:02 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

quote: JIH,
Did you seve during Rickover's regime, or not? By the tone of your reasoning I suspect strongly the latter.

Be very, very careful how you choose to answer. unquote

What does he have to be very careful how he chooses his answer? He either did or didn't server then. There is no reason to think this poster is a liar. IMHO, he is contributing much to this discussion.

No matter what caused the sinking of the Scorpion, and we may never know for sure, I still wonder if the sub safe had been done on them instead of deferred, would they have had a chance. I believe that senior navy leadership should bear some responisblity on this.

And yes, I did server during the Rickover years, not as a nuke, but as an enlisted on Polaris subs. And no, I am not pretending to be any sort of expert on this, or any other submarine, for that matter.

I am just enjoying reading the diverse postings.

Lastly, I agree with DBFTMC(SS)USNRET. May they rest in piece.

8/23/2010 7:27 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Apologies for the poor spelling in my above post.

8/23/2010 7:41 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon @ 7:27 AM

What I actually said:
"Think on it carefully. Your ongoing credibility depends upon this latest B.S.. This theory too, will pass."

What YOU said I said:
quote: ...Be very, very careful how you choose to answer. unquote

Putting words in someone's mouth may be something political activists do habitually do, but if you look around at all the comments, no one else on this blog is.

Linsu

8/23/2010 9:38 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

JIH

"Maybe it's bogus, and maybe it's not, but this theory is worth further investigation at the wreck site in order to try and prove it one way or the other."

100% agreed!

Linsu

8/23/2010 9:42 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Linsu,

Again, I just copy and paste waht you actually did post in your post of 8/22/2010 7:39 PM No one put words in your mouth. It is "exactly" what was posted.


JIH,
Did you seve during Rickover's regime, or not? By the tone of your reasoning I suspect strongly the latter.

Be very, very careful how you
choose to answer.

Linsu


Was someone else posting as you there? Why does he have to be very, very careful how he chooses to answer?

8/23/2010 10:19 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Linsu,

the guy was quoting your comment from 8/22/2010 7:39 PM.

Chill dude...

8/23/2010 10:28 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

RE: YNC(SS), USN, Retired

I was on Snook and it was common to shoot garbage during meal time. (For those who don't know, the TDU was in the galley.) Between venting sanitaries and shooting garbage, you could pick your smell of the day for the meal. The joke was "garbage in - garbage out".

My recollection is that TDU ops were either at the evening meal or midrats during local ops or transits but that’s going back 30 plus years so… BTW, I was a NUC so I will bow to a COW’s recall.

Old Chief from the dark ages
Jerry

8/23/2010 10:31 AM

 
Anonymous YNC(SS), USN, Retired said...

Hi Jerry,

Midrats, maybe that's why the time is so memorable to me. I mostly remember being offgoing from the 18-24, or oncoming midwatch; although always in three section on both boats. Rig for black in control, ventilate, shoot the GDU, pump & blow sanitaries, air charge, top off flushing water. Sometimes finish before relief by midwatch, sometimes start after relieving. Mostly remember forenoon watch as shipwide drills, afternoon watch engineering drills that frequently migrated to shipwide activities.

It does occur to me that 589 may have had stuff saved from being in the Med or something, and wanted to get housekeeping done, then skedaddle for home.

I've gotta go mow the lawn.

8/23/2010 10:41 AM

 
Anonymous Carl said...

Linsu ...

"There is not a single (public) example of a nuclear sub where such a deficiency has been tolerated and proved fatal."

First, such examples don't need to be public nor fatal for them to be there. To dismiss out of hand the potential for human error because you don't think they would is completely against every root cause analysis methodology that exists.

Having been in the Rickover Navy, I thoroughly admit and am proud of high standards. But to think that human error does not occur is burying ones head in the sand.

The challenge is that at this point the evidence is likely unavailable forever.

The SCORPION crew gave the ultimate sacrifice in the cold war and they deserve our respect, and the survivors of the crew deserve our sympathy. This respect and sympathy also deserve unbiased evaluation of the evidence. The evidence provided the other day points to a battery casualty. And battery casualties don't happen spontaneously. Major accidents don't happen because of a single, isolated failure. There are always organizational and programmatic failures that contributed to the result. Human errors also play a role in pretty much every disaster.

To say that this is not true dismisses the sacrifice made by those who suffer from those disasters.

8/23/2010 7:40 PM

 
Anonymous YNC(SS), USN, Retired said...

Carl, thank you. I do not desire to be forceful in this tragic event. You have said a lot that needs saying. In Viet Nam while assigned to an Army unit several of my friends were lost in combat. Nothing we can say will change that. It happened. Likewise in the Submarine Force we have lost brothers of the Dolphin. The tragic loss of SCORPION a recent example. We don't want to fault an individual, but it did happen, and they are gone. I know we can move on from this event. Each of us, I am sure, have our own opinion of what may have, or did, happen. I do subscribe to Mr. Rule's report and findings.

8/23/2010 8:29 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Carl,

"First, such examples don't need to be public nor fatal for them to be there."

This forum has breached near misses and allusions of every description except those connected with our hallowed SSBNs. When push came to shove, Bonefish was proffered as a precedent. The investigatory report, however, illustrated quite the opposite.

Without intending to do so, you seem to be saying (verbatim in some cases - e.g. "battery casualties don't happen spontaneously") exactly what I stated above.

I do not subscribe to the casual conclusion that "at this point the evidence is likely unavailable forever."

Think on it carefully. Mr. Rule's speculation (that a battery casualty occurred) is only the latest scenario in a long series. Whyever must it be the last?

Please do not blame Scorpion's crew for human error because it is universal in your mind. That is being dismissive out-of-hand, because you do not know, you are guessing.

As you well know, submarines have redundancies, qualification procedures and discipline to minimize the effect of human error, which, though minimal can easily be catastrophic. I and fellow crew survived loss of depth control (when deep), due to all of the aforementioned factors.

As far as I can reckon, we were average submariners on one of Rickover's nuclear vessels with one of his hand-picked C.O.s

Since Scorpion's crew was not as fortunate, attributing unsubstantiated human error to any of them is both dismissive and a disservice, IMHO.

Linus

8/23/2010 10:32 PM

 
Anonymous knownukes said...

Why is serving under Rickover a qualifying point? As I recall, the only nuclear subs lost by the USN were during the pinnacle of Rickover's reign.

8/24/2010 8:15 AM

 
Blogger Vigilis said...

Knownukes,

"As I recall, the only nuclear subs lost by the USN were during the pinnacle of Rickover's reign."

May I remind that the number of nuc boats (and classes built) has been far fewer in the last six years than it had been during Rickover's reign?

Take a look at the number of submarine smashups, relieved COs and shipyard errors over the past 6years and perhaps you will even be able to approach a correct answer to your own question. Just a thought.

Vigilis

8/24/2010 9:08 AM

 
Anonymous Mr. Limpet said...

Back on topic...

Thanks to the posting by the Duck, I've taken the time to read the JAGMAN report on Scorpion's loss.

Quite a few facts and opinions are contained therein; I'd encourage anyone who's seriously interested in Scorpion's demise to read the full report. Daydreamers and jerkoffs (not to name any names), may, of course, continue to offer opinions without the benefit of real, investigative facts.

Speaking as an 80's-era SSN Eng with plenty of exposure to the now age-old story, the most compelling and interesting thing to me in the entire report was this simple but powerful statement of opinion:

"12. That acoustic event number one was most probably an explosion of large charge weight exernal to the pressure hull."

Without using the term, what they're referring to is a limpet mine.

Unlike any number of conspiracy theorists, landlubbers and skimmers, I personally give pretty much zero chance to the bad guys (Soviets) *finding* -- much less shooting and sinking -- a U.S. SSN in the open ocean. Anyone with real, direct experience against skimmers and helos in ASW ops likely has the same opinion (YMMV).

But the limpet mine theory, IMHO, would pass muster.

According to the JAGMAN investigation, Scorpion spent time in Rota, Taranto, Augusta Bay and Naples (twice) during her Med run. Aside from the fact that you'd be swimming in sewage, how hard would it be in that era to attach a limpet mine to a submarine in Naples? IMHO, not all that hard...nor would it be very detectable once underway.

The only thing that stretches the credibility of the limpet mine theory for Scorpion's loss is the fact that three weeks went by between her last port call on April 28th and the loss of the boat and her gallant crew, most likely on May 22nd. Limpet mine detonations are set by timer, but why wait three weeks? Just to make cause & effect less apparent? Possibly.

Notably, "Annex A," which is referenced during the discussion of the (remote and limpdick w.r.t. ASW) Soviet forces in the area, is not included in the report. Not seeing this as a huge smoking gun...just saying that we don't know what we don't know.

8/25/2010 12:12 AM

 
Anonymous Mr. Limpet said...

Back on topic...

Thanks to the posting by the Duck, I've taken the time to read the JAGMAN report on Scorpion's loss.

Quite a few facts and opinions are contained therein; I'd encourage anyone who's seriously interested in Scorpion's demise to read the full report. Daydreamers and jerkoffs (not to name any names), may, of course, continue to offer opinions without the benefit of real, investigative facts.

Speaking as an 80's-era SSN Eng with plenty of exposure to the now age-old story, the most compelling and interesting thing to me in the entire report was this simple but powerful statement of opinion:

"12. That acoustic event number one was most probably an explosion of large charge weight exernal to the pressure hull."

Without using the term, what they're referring to is a limpet mine.

Unlike any number of conspiracy theorists, landlubbers and skimmers, I personally give pretty much zero chance to the bad guys (Soviets) *finding* -- much less shooting and sinking -- a U.S. SSN in the open ocean. Anyone with real, direct experience against skimmers and helos in ASW ops likely has the same opinion (YMMV).

But the limpet mine theory, IMHO, would pass muster.

According to the JAGMAN investigation, Scorpion spent time in Rota, Taranto, Augusta Bay and Naples (twice) during her Med run. Aside from the fact that you'd be swimming in sewage, how hard would it be in that era to attach a limpet mine to a submarine in Naples? IMHO, not all that hard...nor would it be very detectable once underway.

The only thing that stretches the credibility of the limpet mine theory for Scorpion's loss is the fact that three weeks went by between her last port call on April 28th and the loss of the boat and her gallant crew, most likely on May 22nd. Limpet mine detonations are set by timer, but why wait three weeks? Just to make cause & effect less apparent? Possibly.

Notably, "Annex A," which is referenced during the discussion of the (remote and limpdick w.r.t. ASW) Soviet forces in the area, is not included in the report. Not seeing this as a huge smoking gun...just saying that we don't know what we don't know.

8/25/2010 12:12 AM

 
Anonymous Mr. Limpet said...

Back on topic...

Thanks to the posting by the Duck, I've taken the time to read the JAGMAN report on Scorpion's loss.

Quite a few facts and opinions are contained therein; I'd encourage anyone who's seriously interested in Scorpion's demise to read the full report. Daydreamers and jerkoffs (not to name any names), may, of course, continue to offer opinions without the benefit of real, investigative facts.

Speaking as an 80's-era SSN Eng with plenty of exposure to the now age-old story, the most compelling and interesting thing to me in the entire report was this simple but powerful statement of opinion:

"12. That acoustic event number one was most probably an explosion of large charge weight exernal to the pressure hull."

Without using the term, what they're referring to is a limpet mine.

Unlike any number of conspiracy theorists, landlubbers and skimmers, I personally give pretty much zero chance to the bad guys (Soviets) *finding* -- much less shooting and sinking -- a U.S. SSN in the open ocean. Anyone with real, direct experience against skimmers and helos in ASW ops likely has the same opinion (YMMV).

But the limpet mine theory, IMHO, would pass muster.

According to the JAGMAN investigation, Scorpion spent time in Rota, Taranto, Augusta Bay and Naples (twice) during her Med run. Aside from the fact that you'd be swimming in sewage, how hard would it be in that era to attach a limpet mine to a submarine in Naples? IMHO, not all that hard...nor would it be very detectable once underway.

The only thing that stretches the credibility of the limpet mine theory for Scorpion's loss is the fact that three weeks went by between her last port call on April 28th and the loss of the boat and her gallant crew, most likely on May 22nd. Limpet mine detonations are set by timer, but why wait three weeks? Just to make cause & effect less apparent? Possibly.

Notably, "Annex A," which is referenced during the discussion of the (remote and limpdick w.r.t. ASW) Soviet forces in the area, is not included in the report. Not seeing this as a huge smoking gun...just saying that we don't know what we don't know.

8/25/2010 12:12 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Limpet,

Very good, if repetitious and perhaps a bit too revealing.

In Cold War times (Rickover's days) our divers would do hull inspections in connection with foreign ports. From what you seem to say, one of the dividends from the end of the Cold War was dropping such inspections (and no doubt the divers).

Excuse me for being somewhat incredulous.

Linsu

8/25/2010 8:18 AM

 
Anonymous Mr. Limpet said...

@(so-called) Linsu:

Your choice regarding incredulity...but you may have missed the key phrase "in that era" in my observations of the JAGMAN's public record.

With the whiz-bang technology evidenced in the Virginia class, I - for one - would like to believe that the placement of a limpet mine on one of today's boats would be no small feat to accomplish, and likely lethal to the one who might attempt such a thing.

Detecting and dealing with hostile divers in a very unkind way is not difficult with current technology.

8/25/2010 9:53 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@ so-called Mr. Limpet,

"Detecting and dealing with hostile divers in a very unkind way is not difficult with current technology."

Back on topic...

The USS Scorpion was lost in during the Cold War in 1968, when nuclear hull inspections were de rigeur.

Please explain to readers, then, how it would have been attached in the first place.

Linus

8/25/2010 10:36 AM

 
Anonymous Mr. Limpet said...

@ Linus:

Naples harbor -- nothing personal, as I love Italy -- is a literal shithole. You can't see your hand in front of your face when diving there, which makes viewing of even the turds and dead sheep floating by a difficult thing.

That works both ways of course when it comes to diving ops (hostile and otherwise), but hide & seek would favor the one hiding something under those circumstances.

8/25/2010 10:44 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@ Limpet,

Right, the harbor was too polluted for navy divers to conduct their inspection effectively.

Definitely not buying that news bite.

Linus

8/25/2010 10:59 AM

 
Anonymous Mr. Limpet said...

As you wish, Linus. But I suggest you get out more often. It's immediately apparent that you've never been to Naples, nor been involved in a submarine hull survey there.

8/25/2010 11:01 AM

 
Blogger robbie said...

"Naples harbor -- nothing personal, as I love Italy -- is a literal shithole. You can't see your hand in front of your face when diving there, which makes viewing of even the turds and dead sheep floating by a difficult thing."

When the 637 boat was there in '78, the Doc told us "you fall overboard here (Naples harbor), stand-by for all kinds of hepatitis shots along with anything else I can pump in you to
keep you from getting sick."

I'd rather take a swim in the East River in NYC than Naples Harbor.

8/25/2010 3:06 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Limpet, Robbie

In 1983, the United States Environmental Protection Agency declared a 200 mile stretch of the Hudson river to New York City a Superfund site.

Pollution issues affecting the river include: accidental sewage discharges, urban runoff, heavy metals, furans, dioxin, pesticides, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).[34]

Every year, nearly 27 billion gallons of untreated raw sewage enters New York City’s waterways through events called Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs).

Do you gentlemen realize that the pollution and turbidity has not impeded successful diving? Perhaps you will recall the recovery of the downed A320 (Flight 1549) from the Hudson River on January 17th of 2009.

"...stand-by for all kinds of hepatitis shots along with anything else I can pump in you to
keep you from getting sick."

The East River is just as bad, guys.


Linsu

8/25/2010 6:55 PM

 
Anonymous Mr. Limpet said...

"Linsu," you should have quit while you were only suspiciously incapable of discussing this.

You clearly have no knowledge whatsoever of either submarine hull surveys, or Naples harbor. Better to keep your mouth shut next time "...than to remove all doubt." Got that, non-qual?

Over...and out.

8/25/2010 7:18 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

bottkkk

8/25/2010 8:58 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The boats last stop was Rota. Divers were SOP there during that period. I think a mine would have holed the boat, flooding it, as would a torpedo hit. Flooded boat, no implosion of ops cpl. We need a WEE bit more info. in order to sort through the 15 theories and get it down to 1 or 2, then work from there.
LT CDR ROSS SAXON of Huston viewed the wreck on more than one occasion. Quote,"On our last dive we saw some things that suggested several more scenarios, but I can't talk about those".
It is about time the CDR steps up and tells what he knows, if he is still alive. What could they do to him now?
45 years is a long time for the families to wait for some closure.
RIP BROTHERS TMCS(SS)

8/25/2010 9:33 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The boat did not make a port call in Rota...just a perstrans.

Read the friggin' JAGMAN, folks.

There is just a 'wee' bit of info there.

8/25/2010 11:10 PM

 
Blogger Mike Mulligan said...

I did fall overboard drunk coming back from shore leave in Naples. I swimming around squiring water out of my mouth while they were calling out man overboard. There was a dead goat or dog swimming next to me, as the very angry CO told me yelling and spitting at me next morning. I can verify you get a bunch of shots after the CO pops his cork.

I swear, at 57 years old, I never got another cold in my life.

8/26/2010 5:21 AM

 
Anonymous knownukes said...

@vigilis: At the time of the Scorpion loss, there had been 72 nuclear submarines commissioned. Since Rickover retired, there have been 72 nuclear submarines commissioned.

You missed the point. Another poster was implying that those who served in the Rickover era would not have made mistakes resulting in the loss of a boat. I say that is a load of crap.

8/26/2010 6:48 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Knownukes,

Numbers seem to confuse you -
In 1968, no longer counting Scorpion or the Glennard Lipscom commissioned later that year, there were MORE THAN 60 SSNs alone!

Add to those the 41 SSBNs (11 of which had been commissioned since 1964) and the U.S. had MORE THAN 100 nuclear subs in commission under Rickover.

Check for yourself here

As you were, Knownukes!

8/26/2010 8:49 AM

 
Blogger Mike Mulligan said...

Knownukes...all that comes to mind hearing that word in ouch?


That be the USS Glenard P. Lipscomb (SSN 685)?

8/26/2010 10:33 AM

 
Anonymous At anchor in the Midwest said...

Off-topic: Looks like 50 general and admiral billets are going bye-bye.

Wonder if the fact that we now have more admirals than combatant vessels has anything to do with this?

8/26/2010 11:50 AM

 
Blogger Mike Mulligan said...

"Cutting military budgets is more complicated than fighting 10 wars"...mike mulligan

All budgets and priorities are immoral and unethical!

When I'd seen the magnitude of the budget cuts, the first thought that came to my mind was “emergent phenomena” You start banging around the cogs in these huge systems...a product emerges that can’t be explained by the components or insult to the systems?

Everyone ready for the surprise?

8/26/2010 12:09 PM

 
Blogger Mike Mulligan said...

To the one, all of our institutional catastrophes emerge from misplace budget cuts and priorities...emerge from scarce resources.

You know how to detect when a institutional catastrophe is getting ready to hit your unit or organization. It is a perfect predictor of a organizational hurricane approaching you.

It is the corruption of language and communication. It is like throwing your divan into a garbage dump...you can go recollect your divan from the garbage dump...but you are only going to find bits and pieces of the divan. A arm here, a leg there, but never recover the whole divan. A breakdown with a institution or organization ends in a catastrophe when the organization stops transmitting the object of the divan across the far flung components to the units on the bureaucracy, it only transmits bits and pieces of the object.


It is like everyone throwing their language into a garbage dump, and the bulldozer tramps over all our thoughts and perceptions?

8/26/2010 12:37 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@ Mr. Limpet said...

"Over...and out."

If you are not yet, you surely should be. Your tribe shows.

Linsu

8/26/2010 3:25 PM

 
Anonymous pc assclown said...

Holy Crap. The mulligan is back!!!

Makes me wonder if he ever really was away. Maybe we haven't heard from the idiot because he ate too much ice cream one spring evening and his brain froze. It's taken until late summer for it to thaw out enough for him to mount the keyboard again.

Too bad for us as his current blather makes even less sense than his previous ramblings.

Go away Mikey.....

8/26/2010 3:55 PM

 
Blogger Mike Mulligan said...

I forgot my google e-mail address and pass word? One day I awoke and it was just gone from my head.

I miss the good old days.

8/26/2010 4:05 PM

 
Blogger Old Salt said...

@YNC(SS), USN, Retired,

When were you on the Drum? I was there from '89-92.

Old Salt

8/26/2010 10:49 PM

 
Anonymous YNC(SS), USN, Retired said...

Quote - Old Salt said...
@YNC(SS), USN, Retired,

When were you on the Drum? I was there from '89-92.

Old Salt - End Quote

November 1982 - March 1987

8/27/2010 8:38 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

YNC(SS), USN, Retired said...
Quote - Old Salt said...
@YNC(SS), USN, Retired,

When were you on the Drum? I was there from '89-92.

Old Salt - End Quote

November 1982 - March 1987


Hmm, I was there wif bof utes - 10/86-10/90. I'm guessing Hetrick and Nimtz???

8/27/2010 7:37 PM

 
Anonymous YNC(SS), USN, Retired said...

Yes to the first. Don't know the name Nimtz. Talk KK7UO at ARRL dot NET.

8/27/2010 10:24 PM

 
Blogger Old Salt said...

Good guessing on me as well. My profile e-mail works great if you would like to drop me a line.

Old salt.

8/27/2010 11:15 PM

 
Anonymous Norman said...

No SubRocs on the SCORPION... just Mark 37 torpedoes and two Mark 45 ASTOR nuclear torpedoes.

Norman Polmar

6/18/2011 12:54 PM

 
Anonymous Gloria said...

This cannot work in fact, that is what I consider.

9/06/2012 10:30 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

About the scorpion loss:
My theroy is the Mark 46 torpedo battery that caused a low detenation in the front escape trunck causing the hatch to blow open, thereby flooding the forward section causing a chain of incidents includind the flooding of the storage batteries.
I did work at the place that manufactured those early batteries in 1965,and at lease 4 of these self-activated one on the production floor, three in an outside storage container,and one in the testing lab that severly injured an employee. I have seen these catch on fire and explode when no current is drawn from them.
I am now writing a book on this and other events that happened in my lifetime.
Thanks for looking
JRD

9/10/2012 9:06 AM

 
Anonymous dreynerson said...

No lassoe the shaft nutballs here I see. A new dive seems warranted...and declass of all records - we are nearing the 50 year point BTW.

12/27/2012 6:41 PM

 

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