The Thresher Class attack submarines marked a new primary mission for the attack boats of the USN. Since 1957 Soviet submarines became the first priority for attack boats. The Thresher and her sisters, were given long range sonar, BQQ-2 sonar, and a long range weapons system, the SUBROC with conventional or nuclear warhead, to deal with the threat. The class also introduced a more streamlined hull form over the preceding Skipjack Class, was deeper diving and quieter. It was the first class of submarines for the USN that was purpose built to specialize in ASW.
The eleven boats of the Thresher Class displaced 3,705 tons surfaced and 4,311 tons submerged. Since they used the same power plant as the smaller Skipjack, they were slightly slower at 27 knots submerged.
USS Thresher SSN-593was built in the Portsmouth Navy Yard and launched on July 9, 1960. Overshadowing the excellent new capabilities of the name ship and the balance of the new class was the loss of the Thresher. On April 10, 1963 during the course of diving trials, Thresher was lost. Although officially rated at 1,300 feet (396.2m), something went wrong and Thresher went below her crush depth and imploded. Since this was the first loss of a nuclear boat by the USN, it was a huge news story at the time. In May 1968 a second boat was lost. The USS Scorpion of the Skipjack Class was lost in what appears to have been a case of torpedo malfunction inside the ship. (History from Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships 1947-1982, Part I: The Western Powers)
If you visit Battleship Park in Mobile, Alabama, you will see many interesting displays. Of course USS Alabama is the major draw but also found are many beautifully constructed models. One such display is the USS Thresher in drydock.