Ill-fated American nuclear submarine that sank 650km southwest of the Azores on 22 May 1968, with a loss of all crew. It took five months to locate the wreckage, in water 2 miles deep. Initial investigations suggested a "hot-running" torpedo had accidentally armed itself and exploded, leading to the sinking. Later investigation revealed no torpedo damage, and the actual cause of the sinking is uncertain. What is now known differs significantly from the "official" version of events:

  • The Scorpion was not on a routine mission but was on a top secret mission to spy on a group of Soviet ships, including a Soviet nuclear submarine.
  • The Soviets had access to the top secret codes the Scorpion used to receive its orders, thanks to the spy John Walker
  • Soviet officials state that Soviet and American Navy officials agreed to never discuss the incident or the earlier sinking of Soviet sub K-129

Some people believe that the initial explanation was a coverup, and that
the Soviets knew the Scorpion was coming and sank it in revenge for the K-129 sinking. Others think that the Scorpion may have in fact collided with a Soviet vessel. Evidence declassified in 1993 seems to support the "enemy action" hypothesis.

SSN-589

Only two nuclear powered US submarines have been unintentionally sunk. The other is the USS Thresher (SSN-593).

She was a 3500ton Skipjack class fast attack submarine comissioned in July 1960 and built in Groton, CT by the General Dynamics Corporation, Electric Boat Division.

Assigned to the Atlantic Fleet, she made several European tours before settling into a schedule of war games to develop tactics for the Skipjack class submarines. Following an overhaul in 1967 she was again placed on Mediteranean deployment in 1968.

On return to Norfolk something catastrophic occurred 22MAY1968 and all hands were lost. What that "something" happens to be has not yet been conclusively determined. Current data generally favors the "hot-running" torpedo hypothesis, with the torpedo exploding either within the tube or being launched and turning on the nearest target in the vicinity- the Scorpion.

A secondary hypothesis, based on the lack of any identifiable debris from torpedo room equipment in the wreckage and the manner in which the sail separated from the hull, suggests that the initial casualty was a hydrogen explosion resulting from an improperly isolated vent valve on the battery compartment.

While the ship carried two tactical nuclear torpedoes and was nuclear powered, continued monitoring has not revealed any evidence of contamination at the site.

Crew:

  • Officers
  • Slattery, Francis Atwood (CDR, CO); Lloyd, David Bennett (LTCDR, XO); Stephens, Daniel Peter (LTCDR); Burke, John Patrick (LT); Farrin, George Patrick (LT); Flesch, Robert Walter (LT); Harwi, William Clarke (LT); Lamberth, Charles Lee (LT); Forrester, James Walter, JR (LTJG); Odening, Michael Anthony (LTJG); Smith, Laughton Douglas (LTJG); Sweet, John Charles (LTJG)
  • Chief Petty Officers
  • Bishop, Walter William (TMC, COB); Bryan, Robert Eugene (MMC (SS)); Denney, Garlin Ray (RMC (SS)); Johnson, Robert (RMCS (SS)); Kerntke, Richard Allen (MMCS (SS)); Mazzuchi, Frank Patsy (QMCS (SS)); Peterson, Daniel Christopher (EMC (SS)); Saville, Lynn Thompson (HMC (SS)); Smith, George Elmer, Jr. (ETC (SS)); Weinbeck, Leo Williazm (YNCS (SS)); Wells, James Mitchell (MMC (SS))
  • Enlisted Crew
  • Allen, Keith Alexander Martin (FTG3 (SS)); Amtower, Thomas Edward (IC2); Annable, George Gile (MM2); Barr, Joseph Anthony, Jr. (FN (SS)); Bailey, Michael Jon (RM2 (SS)); Blake, Michael Reid (IC3); Blocker, Robert Harold (MM1 (SS)); Brocker, Kenneth Ray (MM2 (SS)); Brueggeman, James Kenneth (MM1 (SS)); Burns, Daniel Paul, Jr. (RMSN); Byers, Ronald Lee (IC2 (SS)); Campbell, Douglas Leroy (MM2 (SS)); Cardullo, Samuel "J." (MM3 (SS)); Carey, Francis King (MM2 (SS)); Carpenter, Gary James (SN); Chandler, Robert Lee (MM1 (SS)); Christiansen, Mark Helton (MM1 (SS)); Constantino, Romeo (SD1 (SS)); Cowan, Robert James (MM1 (SS)); Cross, Joseph (SD1 (SS)); Dunn, Michael Edward (FA); Engelhart, Richard Philip (ETR2); Fennick, William Ralph (FTGSN); Foli, Vernon Mark (IC3 (SS)); Frank, Ronald Anthony (SN); Gibson, Michael David (CSSN (SS)); Gleason, Steven Dean (IC2); Henry, Micheal Edward (STS2 (SS)); Hess, Larry Leroy (SK1 (SS)); Hogeland, Richard Curtis (ETR1 (SS)); Houge, John Richard (MM1 (SS)); Huber, Ralph Robert (EM2); Huckelberry, Harry David (TM2 (SS)); Johnson, John Frank (EM3); Johnson, Steven Leroy (IC3 (SS)); Johnston, Julius III (QM2 (SS)); Kahanek, Patrick Charles (FN); Karmasek, Donald Terry (TM2 (SS)); Kipp, Rodney Joseph (ETR3 (SS)); Knapp, Dennis Charles (MM3); Lanier, Max Franklin (MM1 (SS)); Livingston, John Weichert (ET1 (SS)); Martin, Kenneth Robert (ETN2); McGuire, Michael Lee (ET1 (SS)); Miksad, Steven Charles (TMSN); Miller, Joseph Francis, Jr. (TMSN); Mobley, Cecil Frederick (MM2 (SS)); Morrison, Raymond Dale (QM1 (SS)); Pferrer, Dennis Paul (QM3 (SS)); Psopisil, Gerald Stanley (EM1 (SS)); Powell, Donald Richard (IC3); Ray, Earl Lester, Jr. (MM2); Santana, Jorge Luis (CS1 (SS)); Schaffer, Richard George (ETN2 (SS)); Schoonover, William Newman (SN); Seifert, Phillip Allan (SN); Smith, Robert Bernard (MM2 (SS)); Snapp, Harold Robert Jr. (ST1 (SS)); Stephens, Joel Candler (ETM2 (SS)); Stone, David Burton (MM2 (SS)); Sturgill, John Phillip (EM2); Summers, Richard Norman (YN3); Sweeney, John Driscoll, Jr. (TMSN); Tindol, James Frank, III (ETM2 (SS)); Veerhusen, Johnny Gerald (CSSN); Violeiti, Robert Paul (TM3); Voss, Ronald James (ST3); Wallace, John Michael (FTG1 (SS)); Watkins, Joel Kurt (MM1 (SS)); Watson, Robert Westley (MMFN); Webb, James Edwin (TM2); Williams, Ronald Richard (SN); Willis, Robert Alan (MM3); Wright, Virgil Alexander III (IC1 (SS)); Yarsbrough, Donald Howard (TM1 (SS)); Young, Clarence Otto, Jr. (ETR2 (SS));

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