Monday, October 28, 2013

Military Monday ~ Presumed Lost at Sea

Photo courtesy
Public domain photo from history.navy.mil - Photo #: NH 97214
USS Scorpion (SSN-589)
Photographed on 22 August 1960, off New London, Connecticut
Official U.S. Navy Photograph - Naval Historical Center

Recently I discovered my husband's 6th cousin 1x removed, Ralph Robert Huber was one of the 99 man crew aboard the submarine USS Scorpion. The submarine failed to return to Newport News, Virginia as scheduled on May 27, 1968. After an extensive search the crew was declared "presumed lost" on June 05, 1968. The submarine was later discovered, October, 1968 off the Azores about two miles below the ocean's surface.

Further research into the incident has proven to be very interesting. At the time there were many theories floated as to cause. The following information is taken from Wikipedia:

At the time of her sinking, there were 99 crewmen aboard Scorpion. The boat contained a treasure-trove of highly sophisticated spy gear and spy manuals, two nuclear-tipped torpedoes, and a nuclear propulsion system. The best available evidence indicates that Scorpion sank in the Atlantic Ocean on 22 May 1968 at approximately 1844Z while in transit across the Atlantic Ocean from Gibraltar to her home port at Norfolk, Virginia.

Several hypotheses about the cause of the loss have been advanced. Some have suggested that hostile action by a Soviet submarine caused Scorpion's loss (see discussion of Offley's "Scorpion Down," below). Shortly after her sinking, the Navy assembled a Court of Inquiry to investigate the incident and to publish a report about the likely causes for the sinking. The court was presided over by Vice Admiral Bernard Austin who presided over the inquiry into the loss of Thresher. The panel's conclusions, first printed in 1968, were largely classified. At the time, the Navy quoted frequently from a portion of the 1968 report that said no one is likely ever to "conclusively" determine the cause of the loss. The Clinton Administration declassified most of this report in 1993, and it was then that the public first learned that the panel considered that a possible cause of the malfunction was one of Scorpion's own torpedoes. (The panel qualified its opinion saying the evidence it had available could not lead to a conclusive finding about the cause of her sinking.) However, the Court of Inquiry did not reconvene after the 1969 Phase II investigation, and did not take testimony from a group of submarine designers, engineers and physicists who spent nearly a year evaluating the data.


Information about the USS Scorpion can be found on the following websites:

History.com - The USS Scorpion Buried at Sea

Wikipedia - USS Scorpion (SSN-589)

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