Item description for Loss of the Uss Thresher by John O. Pastore...
Loss of the Uss Thresher by John O. Pastore
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9.2" Width: 6.08" Height: 0.52" Weight: 0.7 lbs.
Publisher Government Reprints Press
ISBN 1931641935 ISBN13 9781931641937
Availability 102 units. Availability accurate as of Oct 23, 2016 04:14.
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Classified Matter Deleted Nov 13, 2003
The USS Thresher (SSN 593) sank off the East coast of the United States on April 10, 1963, while conducting a series of test dives after a lengthy and problematic retrofit in the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
This book is a copy of the unclassified version of the executive summary of testimony before the Congressional Joint Committee on Atomic Energy under Senator John O. Pastore. The transcripts are fascinating reading for serious students of naval history or (especially) systems safety (my particular interest). Though the hearings were held in 1963 and 1964, there are many sections which are annotated 'Classified Matter Deleted.' In all likelihood some of this information could be recovered now with an FOIA request, I suspect. Despite the classified editing the main points are unmistakable.
The study eventually faulted then accepted construction and inspection techniques for the loss of the Thresher (as did the Navy's separate investigation), particularly focusing on the inadequacy of using silver brazed (vs. welded, which was more complex and expensive) joints in high pressure salt water piping systems. Also believed to be directly causal was the air deballasting system, which was found to not have been adequately tested, and in testing on sister ship SSN 606, USS Tinosa was, in fact, found to be faulty. Specifically due to pressure and (therefore) temperature differentials in the system, upon a max effort blow the filter screens would develop ice on them, restricting air flow and therefore the ability of the sub to surface rapidly in an emergency. Admiral William Brockett discusses this so called 'critical flow situation' and freezeup issues at great length. Also discussed in great detail is the propensity of the then revolutionary HY-80 steel to crack at welds, and it's use in submarine hull construction. Admiral Rickover testifies regarding extra precautions taken in the nuclear plant section of the sub, and in personnel system shortcomings in the Navy and shipyards in which top management and leadership changes frequently (unfortunately, this is still an issue in the military 40 years later).
All in all, this is a very useful document for safety professionals, which is why I gave it 5 stars, but be forewarned, it is not light reading and is very technical in nature. From the investigation on the loss of the Thresher, many improvements were made in the nuclear subs of the US Navy. Since Thresher only one more US sub sank (The USS Scorpion, SSN 589, off the Azores in 1968). The goal of safety professionals and committees such as this is reducing future casualties, and in this case I believe the Navy and this committee stepped up to the plate with excellent results.