In Memoriam, USS SCORPION (SSN 589)


Navy Hymn for Submariners

Bless those who served beneath the deep
Throughout the lonely hours the vigil they had to keep
May eternal peace their mission ever be,
Bless each one we ask of thee,
Comfort those who at home who waited and prayed,
For their return night and day
Sailor, rest your oars”.

Lost Under Mysterious Circumstances May 22, 1968 | Mechanical Failure or a USSR Retaliatory Strike?


Lost Under Mysterious Circumstances May 22, 1968 | Mechanical Failure or a USSR Retaliatory Strike?


Allen, Keith Alexander Martin, FTG3(SS), USNR
Amtower, Thomas Edward, IC2(SU), USN
Annable, George Gile, MM2(SU), USN
Bailey, Michael Jon, RM2(SS), USN
Barr, Joseph Anthony, Jr., FN(SS), USN
Bishop, Walter William, TMC(SS), USN
Blake, Michael Reid, IC3(SU), USN
Blocker, Robert Harold, MM1(SS), USN
Brocker, Kenneth Ray, MM2(SS), USN
Brueggexan, James Kenneth, MM1(SS), USN
Bryan, Robert Eugene, MMC(SS), USN
Burke, John Patrick, LT, USN
Burns, Daniel Paul, Jr., RMSN(SG), USNR
Byers, Ronald Lee, IC2(SS), USN
Campbell, Duglas Leroy, MM2(SS), USN
Cardullo, Samuel “J.”, MM3(SS), USN
Carey, Francis King, MM2(SS), USN
Carpenter, Gary James, SN(SU), USN
Chandler, Robert Lee, MM1(SS), USN
Christiansen Mark Helton, MM1(SS), USN
Constantino, Romeo, SD1(SS), USN
Cowan, Robert James, MM1(SS), USN
Cross, Joseph, SD1(SS), USN
Denney, Garlin Ray, RMC(SS), USN
Dunn, Michael Edward, FA(SU), USN
Engelhart, Richard Philip, ETR2(SU), USN
Farrin, George Patrick, LT, USN
Fenick, William Ralph, FTGSN(SU), USN
Flesch, Robert Walter, LT, USN
Foli, Vernon Mark, IC3(SS), USN
Forrester, James Walter, Jr., LTJC, USN
Frank, Ronald Anthony, SN(SU), USN
Gibson, Michael David, CSSN(SS), USN
Gleason, Steven Dean, IC2(SU), USN
Harwi, William Clarke, LT, USN
Henry Michael Edward, STS2(SS), USN
Hess, Larry Leroy, SK1(SS), USN
Hogeland, Richard Curtis, ETR1(SS), USN
Houge, John Richard, MM1(SS), USN
Huber, Ralph Robert, EM2(SU), USN
Huckelberry, Harry David, TM2(SS), USN
Johnson, John Frank, EM3(SU), USN
Johnson, Robert, RMCS(SS), USN
Johnson, Steven Leroy, IC3(SS), USN
Johnston, Julius Iii, QM2(SS), USN
Kahanek, Patrick Charles, FN(SU), USN
Karmasek, Donald Terry, TM2(SS), USN
Kerntke, Richard Allen, MMCS(SS), USN
Kipp, Rodney Joseph, ETR3(SS), USN
Knapp, Dennis Charles, MM3(SU), USN
Lamberth, Charles Lee, LT, USN
Lanier, Max Franklin, MM1(SS), USN
Livingston, John Weichert, ET1(SS), USN
Lloyd, David Bennett, LCDR, USN
Martin, Kenneth Robert, ETN2(SU), USN
Mazzuchi, Frank Patsy, QMCS(SS), USN
McGuire Michael Lee, ET1(SS), USN
Miksad, Steven Charles, TMSN(SU), USN
Miller, Joseph Francis, Jr., TMSN(SU), USN
Mobley, Cecil Frederick, MM2(SS), USN
Morrison, Raymond Dale, QM1(SS), USN
Odening, Michael Anthony, LTJG, USN
Petersen, Daniel Christopher, EMC(SS), USN
Pferrer, Dennis Paul, QM3(SS), USN
Pospisil, Gerald Stanley, EM1(SS), USN
Powell, Donald Richard, IC3(SU), USN
Ray, Earl Lester, Jr., MM2(SU), USN
Santana, Jorge Luis, CS1(SS), USN
Saville, Lynn Thompson, HMC(SS), USN
Schaffer, Richard George, ETN2(SS), USN
Schoonover, William Newman, SN(SU), USN
Seifert, Phillip Allan, SN(SU), USN
Slattery, Francis Atwood, CDR, USN (Commanding Officer of Scorpion)
Smith, George Elmer, Jr., ETC(SS), USN
Smith, Laughton Douglas, LTJG, USN
Smith, Robert Bernard, MM2(SS), USN
Snapp, Harold Robert, Jr., ST1(SS), USN
Stephens, Daniel Peter, LCDR, USN
Stephens, Joel Candler, ETM2(SS), USN
Stone, David Burton, MM2(SS), USN
Sturgill, John Phillip, EM2(SU), USN
Summers, Richard Norman, YN3(SU), USNR
Sweeney, John Driscoll, Jr., TMSN(SG), USNR
Sweet, John Charles, LTJG, USN
Tindol, James Frank, III, ETM2(SS), USN
Veerhusen, Johnny Gerald, CSSN(SU), USN
Violetti, Robert Paul, TM3(SU), USN
Voss, Ronald James, ST3(SU), USN
Wallace, John Michael, FTG1(SS), USN
Watkins, Joel Kurt, MM1(SS), USN
Watson, Robert Westley, MMFN(SU), USN
Webb, James Edwin, MM2(SU), USN
Weinbeck, Leo William, YNCS(SS), USN
Wells, James Mitchell, MMC(SS), USN
Williams, Ronald Richard, SN(SU), USN
Willis, Robert Alan, MM3(SU), USN
Wright, Virgil Alexander III, IC1(SS), USN
Yarbrough, Donald Howard, TM1(SS), USN
Young, Clarence Otto, Jr., ETR2(SS), USN

“And so the greatest of American triumphs… became a peculiarly joyless victory. We had won the Cold War, but there would be no parades.”

Robert M. Gates, 1996


  1. They’re saying battery charging hydrogen explosion, eminently possible if doing equalizer prior to return to port.

  2. They also said it was the result of a torpedo hot run as evidenced by an abrupt 180 degree course change – normal operating procedure to shut down the torpedo. One of the problems with the official versions is that there seems to be an excuse for all occasions in an environment where just weeks earlier, the K129 “Widow Maker” was “lost at sea” [and subsequently found far outside its operating area at a longitude/latitude strike point matching a missile launch prerequisite for an attack on Pearl Harbor].

    Scorpion was diverted on her way home to observe the Russian fleet conducting operations and last heard from leaving the observation box. That being said, one has to wonder why the CIA would involve itself in an effort to raise the K129, provide one cover story atop another cover story to confuse events and facts and how President Nixon came to develop more favorable relationships with Communist China that the Russians had.

    The K129 was a soviet submarine similar in type to the ones provided to China by Russia during better days [pretty antiquated – too antiquated by itself to draw CIA interest] and was found with one exploded missile, one missing and one missile still in its launch tube and massive damage to the missile launch and control areas. Interesting books made even more interesting by luke warm denials made by the then Navy’s Chief Scientist, John Pina, who worked hand in hand with the CIA.

    This is truly an interesting story to follow as one book leads to another and strand after strand of deceptive webs jump off the pages and lead to even greater suspicion that Scorpion was the innocent victim of cold war paranoia escalated by a missing soviet submarine that for all intents and purposes went rogue to some extent leaving the possibility that it intended to launch a nuclear attack on Pearl Harbor and blame China to provoke a U.S. – China conflict leaving hard line Russian leaders to reap the benefits of such a conflict. I am not saying that was the case, but a good case is being made for such a scenario to attract the attention of those looking for a hobby of unraveling mysteries and government workings at the highest levels. 🙂

  3. My own view is that the USS scorpion may have been lost due to a torpedo duel with a Soviet Echo or November after being hit by its own Mk 37 torpedoes or a similar Soviet torpedo ( US torp were often copied and dev). This would have been consistent with the Mk 37/46 torpedoes locking onto the propellor and knocking it off ; the high international tension in 1968 re K19, Vietnam and Pueblo and the probability USN Communications were being broken at every level by early 68 and the real real likelihood in the Med or in shadowing a Soviet group or SSNs that it had been realised US communications were being intercepted.

    Scorpion appeared often to operate in a linquistic role ( ratings with Russian and other lingo expertise) and was known to be operating in an only emergency communication to US at Rota/ Norfolk whicn was very rare as cold war US SSN and ballistic usually in continuous tirplicate communication, at least pre exhange. So with the Scorpion possibly slowed ot 20k by Faults it may well have been overtaken by a Echo fired Mk 37 replica or its own and easily be a 33k November.

    Noramn Freidman that historical physics prof says it shouuld have been able to outrun Mk 37 ( You Tube and in the Offley book , Offley first worked Norf Vg :Ledger 82/85 the most significant is the report that the sound sosus tracks still existecd form some terminals in the 1980s with a 40min tape of the duel and the explosion which was very loud maybe triplicate.

    1. As I have stated previously, what happened to Scorpion varies with whom you consult or which books you read. What is known is that just prior to the sinking of Scorpion, a Soviet missile boat, K-129 went missing causing an all out search by the Soviets Navy. The Soviets never recovered their submarine, but there is a belief that it was recovered by the United States and after examination, it was thought to have been the victim of a failed nuclear missile launch.

      Also, according to several sources, it was found well outside of its normal operating box and in an area close enough to make a missile hit on Hawaii. As the story goes, some in the high Russian command willfully put a special operations team on that ship replacing a number of crew members just before the mission was to start. They allegedly took control of the submarine shortly after reaching patrol depth with the intention of using their submarine to strike the Hawaiian Islands and by using a submarine similar to ones they had sold to China, blame China for the strike.

      Scorpion was directed away from its return home to observe a Soviet exercise at sea for a few days. Somewhere between the completion of that mission and her second turn for home, it is alleged that the Russians sunk the Scorpion with a torpedo in retaliation for what the leadership not aware of the plot of their renegade, hard line brethren saw as an American attack on the K-129.

      The official story is that Scorpion sunk as a result of an internal torpedo detonation resulting from a “hot run” and that the position of the wreckage demonstrates an attempt to turn the boat 180 degrees from its expected course, which, as you know is a maneuver used to shut down such a mishap. It is also interesting that you get a different story from many of the scientists, sailors and civilians involved as they tell their stories in books or interviews. The more one looks at the subject, the more one finds evidence of cover-up for cover-up for cover-up building so many layers of secrecy and story lines that until the government releases the actual facts, we will never know. I find it odd and telling however, that even after the end of the cold war that our government still keeps the K9-129 incident as well as Scorpion top secret.

      So, in summary, I have no solid position on the sinking of USS Scorpion, but have provided more details about what has been gathered in terms of information and theory here: Even in the Twenty First Century; Strength is Needed to Promote Peace

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