USS Scorpion and John Phillip Sturgill

John Phillip Sturgill, son of Frank Givens Sturgill and Ruby Hartsoe

John Phillip Sturgill was my fathers cousin and was aboard the submarine the USS SCORPION. The reasons for the loss of USS Scorpion are not known.

Keel laid down by Electric Boat Division, General Dynamics Corp 20th of August 1958
Launched 29th of December 1959
Commissioned 29th of July 1960 with Cmr. Norman B Bessac in command
Lost with all hands 27th of May 1968

Assigned to SubRon5, SubDiv62, USS SCORPION (SSN-589) departed New London, Connecticut, on 24 August 1960 for a two-month deployment in European waters. During that period, she participated in exercises with units of the 6th Fleet and of other NATO navies. After returning to New England in late October, she trained along the eastern seaboard until May 1961; then crossed the Atlantic again for operations which took her into the summer. On 9 August, she returned to New London and, a month later, shifted to Norfolk, Virginia.

With Norfolk her home port for the remainder of her career, SCORPION specialized in the development of nuclear submarine warfare tactics. Varying her role from hunter to hunted, she participated in exercises which ranged along the Atlantic coast and in the Bermuda and Puerto Rican operating areas; then, from June 1963 to May 1964, she interrupted her operations for an overhaul in Charleston, South Carolina. Resuming duty off the eastern seaboard in late spring, she again interrupted that duty from 4 August to 8 October to make a transatlantic patrol. In the spring of 1965, she conducted a similar patrol.

During the late winter and early spring of 1966, and again in the fall, she was deployed for special operations. Following the completion of those assignments, her commanding officer received the Navy Commendation Medal for outstanding leadership, foresight, and professional skill. Other SCORPION officers and men were cited for meritorious achievement.

On 1 February 1967, SCORPION entered the Norfolk Naval Shipyard for another extended overhaul. In late October, she commenced refresher training and weapons system acceptance tests. Following type training out of Norfolk, she got underway on 15 February 1968 for a Mediterranean deployment. She operated with the 6th Fleet, into May, then headed west. On 21 May, she indicated her position to be about 50 miles south of the Azores. Six days later, she was reported overdue at Norfolk.

A search was initiated; but, on 2 June, SCORPION and all hands were declared, "presumed lost." Her name was stuck from the Navy List on 30 June 1968.
The search continued, however and, at the end of October, the Navy's oceanographic research ship, Mizar, located sections of SCORPION's hull in more than 10,000 feet of water about 400 miles southwest of the Azores. Subsequently, the Court of Inquiry was reconvened and other vessels, including the submersible, Trieste, were dispatched to the scene, but, despite the myriad of data and pictures collected and studied, the cause of the loss remains a mystery.

The submarine USS SCORPION (SSN-589) sank May 22, 1968 in more than 10,000 feet of water about 400 miles southwest of the Azores. SCORPION is in two major sections. The forward hull section including the torpedo room and most of the operations compartment is located in a trench that was formed by the impact of the hull section with the bottom. The sail is detached. The aft hull section including the reactor compartment and engine room is located in a separate trench that was formed by the impact of the hull section with the bottom. The aft section of the engine room is inserted forward into a larger diameter hull section in a manner similar to a telescope.

NUCLEAR WEAPONS: There were two Mark 45 ASTOR torpedoes with nuclear warheads aboard SCORPION when she was lost in 1968. The warheads were low-yield tactical nuclear weapons. The special nuclear material from the warheads has not been recovered.

The most likely scenario is that the plutonium and uranium core of these weapons has corroded to a heavy, insoluble material soon after the sinking and remains at or close to its original location inside the torpedo room of the submarine. If the corroded materials were released outside the submarine, their large specific gravity and insolubility would cause them to settle in the sediment.

ENVIRONMENTAL MONITORING: Comprehensive deep ocean radiological monitoring operations were conducted in August and September 1986 at the SCORPION site. The SCORPION site had been previously monitored in 1968 and 1979 and none of the samples obtained showed any evidence of release of radioactivity from the reactor fuel elements. Very low concentrations of cobalt 60 in the form of corrosion products from SCORPION piping systems were detected in sediment. Cobalt 60 is the predominant activated corrosion product found in the reactor coolant piping system on U.S. nuclear powered warships. Therefore, it was the primary radio-nuclide released when the coolant piping system aboard SCORPION was breached. The conclusion of the earlier surveys was that SCORPION had not had a significant effect on the radioactivity in the environment. The purpose of the monitoring in 1986 was to identify whether radiological conditions had changed and to demonstrate the use of improved sampling and navigation equipment deployed from both a surface ship and a deep ocean submersible.

The 1986 survey confirmed the conclusion of earlier surveys. Fission products were not detected above concentrations typical of world wide fallout levels in sediment, water, or marine life samples. Thus, there continues to be no evidence of release of radioactivity from the reactor fuel elements. Cobalt 60 concentrations in the sediment were generally lower than those found in 1979 as would be expected due to radioactive decay. No cobalt 60 was detected in the large number of fish and other marine life specimens or in undisturbed water samples collected at the SCORPION site. This confirmed that cobalt 60 in the form of insoluble corrosion products is not concentrated in the deep sea food chain.

The maximum cobalt 60 concentration detected in the sediment was 1.16 pCi/gm and most samples contained much less. This is over a factor of ten lower that the concentration of naturally occurring radioactivity in sediment. For perspective, if a person's entire diet contained cobalt 60 at the maximum concentration detected in the sediment in the vicinity of the SCORPION site, that person would receive less than ten percent of the radiation exposure received from natural background radioactivity.

SPECIAL ENVIRONMENTAL MONITORING FOR SPECIAL NUCLEAR MATERIAL: Sediment, water, and marine life were analyzed for plutonium isotopes using very sensitive mass spectrometry techniques. The concentrations of total plutonium were not significantly different than the background concentrations due to fallout from past atmospheric nuclear weapons testing. Additional discussion is found in the SCORPION site environmental monitoring report.

The 1986 survey results confirm that the SCORPION has not had a significant effect on the radioactivity in the environment. The reactors used in all U.S. Naval submarines and surface ships are designed to minimize potential hazards to the environment even under the most severe casualty conditions such as the actual sinking of the ship. First, the reactor core is so designed that it is physically impossible for it to explode like a bomb. Second, the reactor fuel elements are made of materials that are extremely corrosion resistant, even in sea water. The reactor core could remain submerged in sea water for centuries without releases of fission products while the radioactivity decays, since the protective cladding on the fuel elements corrodes only a few millionths of an inch per year. Thus, in the event of a serious accident where the reactor is completely submerged in sea water, the fuel elements will remain intact for an indefinite period of time, and the radioactive material contained in these fuel elements should not be released. The maximum rate of release and dispersal of the radioactivity in the ocean, even if the protective cladding on the fuel were destroyed, would be so low as to be insignificant.

Radioactive material could be released from this type of reactor only if the fuel elements were actually to melt and, in addition, the high-strength, all-welded reactor system boundary were to rupture. The reactor's many protective devices and inherent self-regulating features are designed to prevent any melting of the fuel elements. Flooding of a reactor with sea water furnishes additional cooling for the fuel elements and so provides added protection against the release of radioactive fission products.

A report of the 1986 environmental monitoring expedition to the SCORPION site provides details of the environmental sampling of sediment, water and marine life to ascertain whether SCORPION has had a significant effect on the deep ocean environment. It also explains in detail the methodology for conducting deep sea monitoring at the SCORPION site from both surface vessels and submersibles.

99 Shipmates on Eternal Patrol in USS SCORPION (SSN-589)
Francis Atwood Slattery, CDR - (CO) 

Walter William Bishop, TMC - (COB) 

Keith A.M. Allen, FTG2 / Thomas Edward Amtower, IC2 / George Gile Annable, MM2 /
Joseph Anthony Barr, Jr., FN / Michael JonBailey, RM2 / Michael Reid Blake, IC3 / 
Robert Harold Blocker, MM1 / Kenneth Ray Brocker, MM2 / James Kenneth Brueggeman, MM1 / 
Robert Eugene Bryan, MMC / John Patrick Burke, LT / Daniel Paul Burns, Jr., RMSN /
Ronald Lee Byers, IC2 / Duglas Leroy Campbell, MM2 / Samuel Cardullo, MM2 /
Francis King Carey, MM2 / Gary James Carpenter, SN / Robert Lee Chandler, MM1 /
Mark Helton Christiansen, MM2 / Romeo Constantino, SD1 / Robert James Cowan, MM1 /
Joseph Cross, SD1 / Garlin Ray Denney, RMC / Michael Edward Dunn, FN /
Richard Philip Engelhart, ETR2 / George Patrick Farrin, LT / William Ralph Fennick, FTGSN /
Robert Walter Flesch, LT / Vernon Mark Foli, IC3 / James Walter Forrester, Jr., LTjg /
Ronald Anthony Frank, SN / Michael David Gibson, CSSN / Steven Dean Gleason, IC2 /
William Clarke Harwi, LT / Michael Edward Henry, STS2 / Larry Leroy Hess, SK1 /
Richard Curtis Hogeland, ET1 / John Richard Houge, MM1 / Ralph Robert Huber, EM2 /
Harry David Huckelberry, TM2 / John Frank Johnson, EM3 / Robert Johnson, RMCS /
Steven Leroy Johnson, IC3 / Julius Johnston, III, QM2 / Patrick Charles Kahanek, FN /
Donald Terry Karmasek, TM2 / Richard Allen Kerntke, MMCS / Rodney Joseph Kipp, ETR3 /
Dennis Charles Knapp, MM3 / Charles Lee Lamberth, LT / Max Franklin Lanier, MM1 /
John Weichert Livingston, ET1 / David Bennett Lloyd, LCDR / Kenneth Robert Martin, ETN2 /
Frank Patsy Mazzuchi, QMCS / Michael Lee McGuire, ET1 / Steven Charles Miksad, TM3 /
Joseph Francis Miller, Jr., TM3 / Cecil Frederick Mobley, MM2 / Raymond Dale Morrison, QM1 /
Michael Anthony Odening, LTjg / Daniel Christopher Petersen, EMC / Dennis Paul Pherrer, QM3 /
Gerald Stanley Pospisil, EM1 / Donald Richard Powell, IC3 / Earl Lester Ray, MM2 /
Jorge Louis Santana, CS1 / Lynn Thompson Saville, HMC / Richard George Schaffer, ETN2 /
William Newman Schoonover, SN / Phillip Allan Seifert, SN / George Elmer Smith, Jr., ETC /
Laughton Douglas Smith, LTjg / Robert Bernard Smith, MM2 / Harold Robert Snapp, Jr., ST1 /
Daniel Peter Stephens, LCDR / Joel Candler Stephens, ETN2 / David Burton Stone, MM2 /
John Phillip Sturgill, EM2 / Richard Norman Summers, YN3 / John Driscoll Sweeney, Jr., TMSN /
John Charles Sweet, LT / James Frank Tindol, III, ETN2 / Johnny Gerald Veerhusen, CSSN /
Robert Paul Violetti, TM3 / Ronald James Voss, STS3 / John Michael Wallace, FTG1 /
Joel Kurt Watkins, MM1 / Robert Westley Watson, MMFN / James Edwin Webb, MM2 /
Leo William Weinbeck, YNCS / James Mitchell Wells, MMC / Ronald Richard Williams, SN /
Robert Alan Willis, MM3 / Virgil Alexander Wright, III, IC1 / Donald HowardYarbrough, TM1 /
Clarence Otto Young, Jr., ETR2 

.... Sailors, Rest Your Oars! 

Compiled by SUBNET from U.S. Navy press releases


HEADLINE Sub sank in 1968 after skimpy last overhaul/USS Scorpion was lost with all on board
 NOTES Copyright 1995, Houston Chronicle.

Unable to maintain its nuclear submarines during Cold War-era Soviet naval expansion, the U.S. Navy drastically reduced the USS Scorpion's overhaul work before the submarine's mysterious sinking with 99 crewmen.
At the time, Navy officers were concerned about ````acute political embarrassment'' over the Navy's serious difficulties in keeping its submarine force at sea, according to documents declassified at the Houston Chronicle's request.
Armed with nuclear-tipped torpedoes, the Scorpion sank in the mid-Atlantic on May 22, 1968, six months after it received the briefest and cheapest nuclear submarine overhaul in Navy history. 
The Scorpion departed Norfolk, Va., on Feb. 15, 1968, and was lost at sea 97 days later. Its destruction occurred only five days before its scheduled return to Norfolk. 
Though the Navy announced at the time that the submarine had a regular overhaul, documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act reveal the Navy's troubled maintenance system was incapable of providing work needed by the submarine. 
Navy correspondence shows: Because the Navy was concerned that 1960s nuclear submarines spent nearly half their service life being repaired, the Scorpion was picked to become the subject of a reduced overhaul experiment. 
Eliminated as part of the experimental program was the long-overdue installation of submarine safety systems deemed essential five years before the Scorpion went down. 
The Navy's repair system was so overloaded the Scorpion's reduced overhaul was eventually slashed to no more than emergency work necessary to get it back to sea. 
The cost of the Scorpion's last ````overhaul'' was nearly seven times less than those given other nuclear submarines at the same time. 
After two investigations, the U.S. Navy says it still does not know what led to the Scorpion's destruction. A mid-1980s study showed no radiation is leaking from the submarine's nuclear reactor or its two nuclear-tipped torpedoes, now 11,000 feet deep in the Atlantic. 
The Chronicle reported in May 1993 that one former crewman saved his life by refusing to sail aboard the Scorpion after complaining to superiors about its poor condition. 
Navy researchers initially speculated that the Scorpion was destroyed by one of its own torpedoes, but that theory was rejected after a second investigation of the wreckage, which found no torpedo damage, the Chronicle reported in December 1993. 
Navy teletype messages, memos and letters reveal in minute detail how the Navy found itself incapable of repairing and building its fleet of submarines on schedule during the 1960s. At the same time, the Soviets were stepping up their construction of nuclear-powered hunter-killer submarines and ballistic missile submarines. 
A major factor hampering the Navy's ability to repair its undersea warships was a massive and costly retrofit of safety systems begun five years before the Scorpion was lost, Navy documents reveal. This ````Submarine Safety Program'' was deemed necessary after the April 10, 1963, sinking of the nuclear attack submarine USS Thresher with 129 aboard. 
The Scorpion and the Thresher are the only two American nuclear submarines lost in 40 years of nuclear submarine operations and the only submarine mishaps since World War II that caused the loss of all hands. Heavily publicized by the Navy when the sleek warships were built at the end of the 1950s, the two were launched within seven months of each other. 
Forgotten documents, discovered in the archives of the commander of the submarine force of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet, reveal a day-by-day history of how and why the Scorpion was picked for the one-of-a-kind experimental overhaul reduction program. 
Among these memos was one encapsulating the concerns of Navy officers desperately trying to keep nuclear submarines on patrol as the Soviets began to challenge American seapower: ````The inordinate amount of time currently involved in the routine overhauls of nuclear-powered submarines is a recognized source of major concern to the Navy as a whole and the Submarine Force in particular and stands as a potential source of acute political embarrassment,'' says a March 24, 1966, letter from the headquarters of Submarine Squadron Six, the Scorpion's command at Norfolk Navy Base. 
The memo warned Navy brass, already concerned about the duration of submarine repairs, that the Scorpion's planned 1967 overhaul would ````establish a new record in overhaul duration.'' This message and dozens of others were exchanged between various commands in response to a March 2, 1966, request by the Atlantic Submarine Force seeking ways to reduce ````the high percentage of (nuclear attack submarine) time off line.'' 
The magnitude of the problem was highlighted in an undated 1968 letter from Submarine Squadron Six's headquarters saying that ````40% of total available SSN (nuclear attack submarine) time was being spent in shipyards.'' 
Under mounting maintenance pressures and with new submarine construction taxing Navy resources, this reduced overhaul concept moved through the Navy bureaucracy until approved by the office of the Chief of Naval Operations on June 17, 1966. 
On July 20, 1966, the CNO also allowed deferral of Submarine Safety Program work that would have provided the Scorpion with an enhanced ability to survive a mishap while submerged. Eliminating the safety work would greatly shorten the time the Scorpion spent in the shipyard, Navy memos repeatedly note. 
Letters written before and after the Scorpion's loss report that the Submarine Safety or ````SubSafe'' program actually overloaded Navy and civilian industrial capacity. It became impossible to complete submarine repairs on schedule, and new submarine construction was hampered. 
In addition to detailed inspections of piping and the submarine's hull, the specialized program provided for the installation of various emergency systems to allow crew members to blow water from submarine ballast tanks at great depths. 
A Navy inquiry into the Thresher disaster found that faulty piping probably spewed salt water onto the nuclear reactor controls, shutting down its power. Unable to propel herself to the surface, the vessel lacked the air pressure necessary to expel water from its ballast tanks for buoyancy. When the Thresher descended below its crush depth, her hull imploded. 
By May 1968, the Navy had spent a half-billion dollars -- equal to the cost of an aircraft carrier of the period -- to implement the Submarine Safety Program, according to a report prepared by the Naval Sea Systems Command. This report was sent to the Court of Inquiry explaining why the Scorpion was one of a handful of submarines that had not received ````SubSafe'' certification. 
It stated: ````The deferral of this (work) during certain submarine overhauls was necessitated by the need to reduce submarine off-line time by minimizing the time spent in overhaul and to achieve a more timely delivery of submarines under construction by making more of the industrial capacity available for new construction.'' 
Before the Scorpion's abbreviated overhaul period began, it was slashed further because of growing pressures upon the Norfolk Navy Shipyard's overtaxed repair capacity. 
According to a November 1966 memo from Submarine Force headquarters: ````To minimize time off the line in view (of the) shipyard workload . . . request best estimates (of the) total time (of) duration to accomplish specific alternate work (packages) . . . ,'' said the memo sent to the commander in chief of the Atlantic Fleet. This message advised that only refueling of the reactor (an absolute necessity) and emergency repairs necessary to get the Scorpion back to sea would be performed. 
A 1992 study obtained from the Naval Sea Systems Command shows the Scorpion receiving only $3.32 million in repair work during the 8-month overhaul, with more than 70 percent of the money spent on nuclear refueling, the least expensive ````overhaul'' given a nuclear submarine. 
During the same period, the study says, the Scorpion's sister ship USS Snook received a 24-month overhaul at a cost of $22.5 million, while another sister ship, the USS Sculpin, underwent an 18-month, $24 million overhaul. 
The USS Shark, another of the Scorpion's sister ships, also received a greatly reduced overhaul getting only nine months of work at a cost of $4.3 million between June 1967 and March 1968. It was the second-cheapest overhaul performed on an American nuclear submarine, according to the Naval Sea Systems Command analysis. 
The Shark's next refit period occurred a mere eight months later, lasting 22 months and costing nearly $24 million. Had the Scorpion survived her final voyage, she, too, was scheduled to receive a full overhaul along with her submarine safety systems retrofit at the same time, according to Navy records. 
Officials with Naval Sea Systems Command today say they have no record of any maintenance program known as a ````planned availability'' experiment for American nuclear submarines. The reason for this may be in a 30-year-old memo discussing the Scorpion's selection for the abbreviated overhaul program. 
The ````Confidential'' Submarine Force memo written on March 25, 1966, predicted that the ````success of this ``major-minor' overhaul concept depends essentially on the results of our first case at hand: Scorpion.'' 
After a massive six-month search following its disappearance, the Scorpion's wreckage was located 400 miles southwest of the Azores. Though the precise cause of its loss remains unknown, enemy action and sabotage were ruled out by Navy investigators. 

HEADLINE Report heightens nuclear sub mystery/Torpedo theory contradicts findings of USS Scorpion's wreckage in 1968

A recently unveiled report suggesting that the nuclear submarine USS Scorpion may have been destroyed by one of its own torpedoes has only heightened the mystery surrounding the loss of the sub and 99 crewmen in 1968. 
Examination of the wreckage revealed no torpedo damage, and many investigators and others familiar with the disaster, including the commander-in-chief of the Atlantic fleet at the time, have rejected the torpedo theory. 
But it received renewed publicity after it appeared in documents released by the Navy in October under the federal Freedom of Information Act. 
One of the documents summarized the testimony and findings of a 1968 Navy Court of Inquiry into the disaster. 
The court's ````Finding of Facts'' determined the ````most probable cause'' of the tragedy was the launch of an inadvertently activated torpedo, which turned and struck the 252-foot submarine on May 22, 1968, five days before it was due at its home port of Norfolk, Va. 
Since no one survived and since no distress signals were received from the Scorpion, the Court of Inquiry's only direct evidence was the submarine's wreckage 400 miles south of the Azores and an audio recording of the Scorpion's death throes recorded by a secret submarine tracking system. 
The wreckage and recording provided enough tantalizing information to generate theories, but not enough to support any one. 
The recordings were made by the Sound Surveillance System, which consists of hydrophones connected by cables to various stations around the Atlantic. The system's real capability is in the computer analysis of sounds that reveals the presence and locations of enemy submarines. 
The system revealed a series of 15 eerie sounds beginning at 6:59 p.m. Greenwich Mean Time on May 22 and continuing for 190 seconds. Navy research scientist John Craven, who heard the recording and saw graphic depictions of the low frequency sounds, told the Court of Inquiry, ````It sounds like an explosion, it looks like an explosion.'' 
But when the Scorpion's wreckage was discovered and examined five months after the disaster, investigators could not find damage consistent with a torpedo explosion inside or outside its hull. 
Because no ````classic'' torpedo damage could be seen on the wreckage, which lies 11,000 feet beneath the Atlantic, the commander-in-chief of the Atlantic Fleet did not accept the torpedo theory. The commander, Adm. Ephraim P. Holmes, was ````of the opinion that the conclusions of the Court . . . cannot be confirmed and therefore, the cause of the loss cannot be definitely ascertained,'' according to a letter from his office to the Court of Inquiry. The letter, known as an endorsement, was obtained by the Chronicle in 1992. The Navy was so stymied in its search for the cause of the tragedy that a second investigation was launched a year later, according to letters released along with the inquiry transcript in October. 
Former submarine Lt. Cmdr. Ross Saxon, now of Houston, participated in that investigation, inspecting the wreckage aboard the deep diving research submersible Trieste II. He said the six-month expedition, which included Craven and other research scientists as well as high-ranking Navy officers, found nothing to support the theory that the Scorpion was destroyed by a torpedo. 
While the Navy has not released the findings of that secondary investigation, Saxon rejects the possibility that a torpedo sank the Scorpion. No torpedo damage can be seen on the submarine's hull, he said, and the torpedo doors on the bow are tightly shuttered, indicating that no torpedo had been fired moments before the submarine was destroyed. 
Saxon and his colleagues continued their investigation May through October of 1969, making nine dives at the wreck site. ````The findings of everyone there were consistent across the board, that the Scorpion went down for an unknown reason,'' he said. ````Personally, I discount any theory that claims a torpedo struck the Scorpion or exploded inside the ship.'' ````We were given about 21 scenarios to examine and we discounted either 20 or 21 of them, including the possibility of a torpedo explosion,'' Saxon said. ````However, during our last dive we saw some things that suggested several more scenarios but I can't talk about those,'' he said, refusing to divulge classified information. 
During the original inquiry, a parade of officers and scientific experts appeared before the court offering differing and ultimately unsubstantiated theories about the Scorpion's loss. 
Some suggested a trash disposal unit failed, flooding the submarine with seawater. Others theorized that the vessel was sent to crushing depth by a failure of the stern planes -- winglike structures that guide a submarine's vertical movements. 
Last May, the Chronicle reported that the Scorpion had been denied scheduled work before its last mission and was one of only a handful of submarines not equipped with a submarine safety system developed after the loss of another nuclear submarine, the USS Thresher, in 1963. The Navy maintained that the Scorpion was in excellent condition. 
But one sailor told the Chronicle he refused to sail aboard the Scorpion because he so mistrusted its mechanical condition. Other crew members who died on the Scorpion had expressed similar concerns in letters to family. 
Rumors spread in the absence of an official explanation for the sinking, and families agonized over whether their loved ones were killed or captured during a Soviet attack or were the victims of sabotage. 
A Soviet attack seems unlikely. The original inquiry found that no Soviet warships were closer than 200 miles to the Scorpion at the time of its destruction, and those forces were under U.S. surveillance. 
The families of lost crewmen remain dissatisfied with what they believe is unreasonable secrecy about an event so far in the past. They want all the documents related to the Scorpion declassified so they can see what steps were taken to investigate the disaster. ````After all these years this is what comes out?'' said Theresa Bishop, widow of Chief of the Boat Wally Bishop, the most senior enlisted man aboard and a torpedo expert. ````We all want to know what happened. None of us buy the torpedo (theory) because we know that didn't happen.'' 
Retired Navy Capt. Zeb Alford of Houston, who commanded the Scorpion's sister ship USS Shark in 1963, reviewed the recently released documents and noted that for the Scorpion to be killed by its own torpedo, the weapon would have to have been activated accidentally, launched unnecessarily and then turned on its own ship. ````If you did have a ``hot-run' (accidental activation of a live torpedo), what you would do would be to let the torpedo's battery power run down and to then remove it from the torpedo tube and disarm it,'' Alford said. This is the same textbook solution the Navy mentions in the Findings of Fact. 
Alford left the Shark in 1963 to help prepare Navy testimony before Congress about the sinking of the Thresher, lost with 129 men in April 1963. Because the commander of the Thresher was in communication with a vessel above at the time of its fatal dive, enough information was available for the Navy to conclude that a pipe weld failed, causing the ship's reactor to shut down. The Thresher then sank below its crush depth.


Click here for more information on the Scorpion court findings in 1993

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