SSN 589 SCORPION was lost on 22 May 1968 with 12 officers and 87 enlisted men -- one of the worst casualties in the Navy's history. Based on prior experience with such problems and an analysis of the accoustic signature of the Scorpion loss, the Navy initially concluded that the most probable cause of the loss of the Scorpion was the launch of an inadvertently activated torpedo, which turned and struck the submarine. A six-month search eventually located the Scorpion's wreckage some 400 miles southwest of the Azores. Investigation of the boat's wreckage on the ocean floor found no evidence of torpedo damage. A six-month expedition in 1969 by Trieste II found no direct evidence to support the theory that the Scorpion was destroyed by a torpedo. While some portions of the Scorpion's hull were never found, the wreckage that was examined did not exhibit the conditions expected from the hydrostatic implosion of a submarine hull structure.
In 1970 a Navy panel completed a classified report that disavowed the Court of Inquiry's conclusion. Instead of an accidental torpedo strike, the new group suggested a mechanical failure caused an irreparable leak that flooded the submarine. That report said the bulk of the evidence suggested an internal explosion in the sub's massive electrical battery caused the sub to flood and sink. The large number of accoustic signals detected from the loss of the Scorpion was characteristic of a submarine going through deep depths after experiencing substantial flooding, rather than an intact submarine passing through collapse depth. At the time of its loss, the boat had a history of unresolved maintenance problems, poorly functioning safety systems, and had received an extremely abbreviated overhaul prior to its final mission.
|Displacement|| 3,070 tons surfaced|
3,513 tons submerged
|Speed|| 15 knots surfaced|
29 knots submerged
|Test Depth||700 feet|
|Power Plant||One nuclear reactor, two steam turbines, one shaft|
|Skipjack||SSN-585||Electric Boat||Norfolk||05 Oct 1955||15 Apr 1959||19 Apr 1990|
|Scamp||SSN-588||Mare NSY||San Diego||23 Jul 1957||05 Jun 1961||30 Sep 1991|
|Scorpion||SSN-589||Electric Boat||Norfolk||31 Jan 1957||29 Jul 1960||22 May 1968|
|Sculpin||SSN-590||Ingalls||San Diego||18 Jan 1957||01 Jun 1961||03 Aug 1990|
|Shark||SSN-591||Newport News||Norfolk||31 Jan 1957||09 Feb 1961||15 Sep 1990|
|USS Snook||SSN-592||Ingalls||New London||18 Jan 1957||24 Oct 1961||16 Oct 1986|