April 10, 2013
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Last night the U.S. Senate passed a resolution commemorating the 50th anniversary of the sinking of U.S.S. Thresher – a U.S. Navy submarine built and based at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. The resolution was introduced by New England Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Susan Collins (R-ME) and Angus King (I-ME) and passed the Senate by unanimous consent.
The resolution pays tribute to the U.S.S. Thresher’s naval and civilian crew who were lost on April 10, 1963 and “expresses … deepest gratitude to all submariners on ‘eternal patrol’, who are forever bound together by dedicated and honorable service to the United States of America.”
“The loss of the U.S.S. Thresher and its courageous crew was a profound tragedy for the Portsmouth Naval shipyard community, New Hampshire, and the nation. Fifty years after the death of the Thresher’s 129 crew members, we can say without a doubt that their deaths were not in vain, and their memory endures,” Shaheen said. “The crew of the U.S.S. Thresher inspired the creation and implementation of the most comprehensive naval submarine safety program in the world. Their legacy of service and sacrifice are carried not only in our hearts, but in the rigorous steps we now take to protect and safeguard every submarine and crew that enters our waters.”
“The crew of the U.S.S. Thresher made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of our country, and we will never forget them,” Ayotte said. “We can honor their service and sacrifice by ensuring current and future shipyard workers and submariners have everything they need to safely maintain and operate our nation’s submarine fleet—which is so critical to our nation’s security.”
“The loss of life on U.S.S Thresher was the worst submarine disaster in American history. Among the 129 lost were several veteran submariners whose service began during World War II and extended into the Cold War, two brothers, and a young husband who had just learned he was to become a father. Each of the 129 men left behind a grieving family and a hometown in sorrow. They did not die in vain,” Collins said. “The Thresher disaster directly led to the SUBSAFE program that ensures every submarine in America’s fleet undergoes rigorous testing to safeguard our submariners. Every safe voyage and every crisis survived since that terrible time is the legacy of the U.S.S Thresher.”
“The painful loss of the U.S.S. Thresher and its valiant crew draped a veil of sadness over the nation on that fateful April day in 1963. Fifty years later, our hearts are still broken by the tragedy and communities in Maine and New Hampshire, united by Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, continue to feel the sorrow of the loss,” King said. “We take solace in knowing that the memory of those 129 brave crewmembers will forever live on and that their sacrifice was not in vain, for it inspired the creation of the SUBSAFE program that protects our submarines and our brave submariners to this day.”
In response to the loss of U.S.S. Thresher, the United States Navy instituted new regulations to ensure the health of the submariners and the safety of the submarines of the United States, which led to the establishment of the Submarine Safety and Quality Assurance program (SUBSAFE). Now one of the most comprehensive military safety programs in the world, SUBSAFE has kept U.S. submariners safe at sea ever since its implementation.
The full text of the resolution is below:
Title: Recognizing the 50th anniversary of the sinking of U.S.S. Thresher (SSN 593).
Whereas U.S.S. Thresher was first launched at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard on July 9, 1960;
Whereas U.S.S. Thresher departed Portsmouth Naval Shipyard for her final voyage on April 9, 1963, with a crew of 16 officers, 96 sailors, and 17 civilians;
Whereas the mix of that crew reflects the unity of the naval submarine service, military and civilian, in the protection of the United States;
Whereas at approximately 7:47 a.m. on April 10, 1963, while in communication with the surface ship U.S.S. Skylark, and approximately 220 miles off the coast of New England, U.S.S. Thresher began her final descent;
Whereas U.S.S. Thresher was declared lost with all hands on April 10, 1963;
Whereas in response to the loss of U.S.S. Thresher, the United States Navy instituted new regulations to ensure the health of the submariners and the safety of the submarines of the United States;
Whereas those regulations led to the establishment of the Submarine Safety and Quality Assurance program (SUBSAFE), now 1 of the most comprehensive military safety programs in the world;
Whereas SUBSAFE has kept the submariners of the United States safe at sea ever since as the strongest, safest submarine force in history;
Whereas, since the establishment of SUBSAFE, no SUBSAFE-certified submarine has been lost at sea, which is a legacy owed to the brave individuals who perished aboard U.S.S. Thresher;
Whereas from the loss of U.S.S. Thresher, there arose in the institutions of higher education in the United States the ocean engineering curricula that enables the preeminence of the United States in submarine warfare; and
Whereas the crew of U.S.S. Thresher demonstrated the “last full measure of devotion” in service to the United States, and this devotion characterizes the sacrifices of all submariners, past and present: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the Senate—
(1) recognizes the 50th anniversary of the sinking of U.S.S. Thresher;
(2) remembers with profound sorrow the loss of U.S.S. Thresher and her gallant crew of sailors and civilians on April 10, 1963; and
(3) expresses its deepest gratitude to all submariners on “eternal patrol”, who are forever bound together by dedicated and honorable service to the United States of America.