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USS Scorpion (SSN 589)

- lost at sea -

USS SCORPION was the third SKIPJACK - class nuclear-powered attack submarine and the sixth ship in the Navy to bear the name. Eight years after commissioning, the SCORPION and her crew were lost on May 22, 1968, under uncertain circumstances while returning to the United States from a Mediterranean deployment. The SCORPION was stricken from the Navy list on June 30, 1968.

General Characteristics:Awarded: January 31, 1957
Keel laid: August 20, 1958
Launched: December 29, 1959
Commissioned: July 29, 1960
Lost: May 22, 1968
Builder: Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics Corporation, Groton, CT.
Propulsion system: one S5W nuclear reactor
Propellers: one
Length: 251.64 feet (76.7 meters)
Beam: 31.5 feet (9.6 meters)
Draft: 27.9 feet (8.5 meters)
Displacement: Surfaced: approx. 2,880 tons     Submerged: approx. 3,500 tons
Speed: Surfaced: approx. 15 knots     Submerged: approx. 30 knots
Armament: six 533 mm torpedo tubes
Crew: 8 Officers, 85 Enlisted

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Crew List:

This section contains the names of sailors who served aboard USS SCORPION. It is no official listing but contains the names of sailors who submitted their information.

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Accidents aboard USS SCORPION:

April 15, 1968Naples, Italy
USS SCORPION collides with a barge during a storm in Naples harbor. The SCORPION was alongside the barge which was used as a buffer between the submarine and another US warship. The barge and the SCORPION's stern came together and then the barge was swamped and went down. SCORPION returned to Naples on April 20 and divers descending to untangle a fishing line from SCORPION's propeller made a partial inspection of SCORPION's hull and reported no damage.
May 22, 1968400 miles southwest of the Azores
USS SCORPION is lost with all 99 hands on board. The cause of the loss remains a mystery but one theory is that the SCORPION was destroyed by an own Mk-37 torpedo that was accidentally set off and jettisoned.

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History of USS SCORPION:

USS SCORPION was laid down on 20 August 1958 by the Electric Boat Division, General Dynamics Corp., Groton, Conn.; launched on 19 December 1959; sponsored by Mrs. Elizabeth S. Morrison; and commissioned on 29 July 1960, Comdr. Norman B. Bessac in command.

Assigned to Submarine Squadron 6, Division 62, SCORPION departed New London, Conn., on 24 August 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, Va.

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 at Charleston, S.C. 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 5 June, SCORPION and her crew were declared "presumed lost." Her name was struck from the Navy list on 30 June.

The search continued, however; and, at the end of October, the Navy's oceanographic research ship, MIZAR (T-AGOR 11) 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.

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