The USS Scorpion was found

The mysterious sinking of the nuclear submarine "USS Scorpion"

Was the "USS Scorpion" sunk by the Soviets?

In 1960 the "USS Scorpion" (ID: SSN-589) was put into service. The Skipjack-class hunting submarine was only 76.8 meters long, but thanks to the teardrop shape of the hull, it could reach a speed of 30 knots.

Image: Public Domain

Eight years later, on May 22, 1968, the ship sank south of the Azores - to this day the cause of the accident in which all 99 crew members lost their lives has not been fully clarified.

Image: Getty Images

The bow of the "USS Scorpion": The first color pictures of the wreck were made by the deep submersible "Alvin" in 1985 on behalf of the US Navy.

Image: Public Domain

Part of the hull of the "USS Scorpion". It was not until 1993 that the Clinton administration released the entire investigation report into the case.

Image: Public Domain

Photo of the wreck by the bathyscaphe "Trieste II" in 1969: the experts considered a malfunction of one of their own torpedoes to be the most likely cause of the accident.

Image: Public Domain

However, rumors that the “Scorpion” had been sunk by the Soviet military never stopped. In the picture: the demolished tower of the submarine in the middle of smaller wreckage.

Image: Getty Images

The wreck of the submarine is still more than 3000 meters deep.

Image: Getty Images

The riddle can probably only be finally solved through pictures of the torpedo room in the front part of the wreck of the "USS Scorpion" - but here of all places it was, according to U.S. Navy never able to take pictures. In the picture: the antenna of the "USS Scorpion".

Image: Getty Images

After all, the navy regularly examines the area around the wreck for radioactive contamination. So far there has been no radiation - so the reactor is still tight. Pictured: pipes of the ship.

Image: Getty Images

Was the "USS Scorpion" sunk by the Soviets?

In 1960 the "USS Scorpion" (ID: SSN-589) was put into service. The Skipjack-class hunting submarine was only 76.8 meters long, but thanks to the teardrop shape of the hull, it could reach a speed of 30 knots.

Image: Public Domain

Eight years later, on May 22, 1968, the ship sank south of the Azores - to this day, the cause of the accident, in which all 99 crew members lost their lives, has not been fully clarified.

Image: Getty Images

The bow of the "USS Scorpion": The first color pictures of the wreck were made by the deep submersible "Alvin" in 1985 on behalf of the US Navy.

Image: Public Domain

Part of the hull of the "USS Scorpion". It was not until 1993 that the Clinton administration released the entire investigation report into the case.

Image: Public Domain

Photo of the wreck by the bathyscaphe "Trieste II" in 1969: the experts considered a malfunction of one of their own torpedoes to be the most likely cause of the accident.

Image: Public Domain

However, rumors that the “Scorpion” had been sunk by the Soviet military never stopped. In the picture: the demolished tower of the submarine in the middle of smaller wreckage.

Image: Getty Images

The wreck of the submarine lies at a depth of more than 3000 meters to this day.

Image: Getty Images

The riddle can probably only be finally solved through pictures of the torpedo room in the front part of the wreck of the "USS Scorpion" - but here of all places it was, according to U.S. Navy never able to take pictures. In the picture: the antenna of the "USS Scorpion".

Image: Getty Images

After all, the navy regularly examines the area around the wreck for radioactive contamination. So far there has been no radiation - so the reactor is still tight. Pictured: pipes of the ship.

Image: Getty Images

At the height of the Cold War, the nuclear submarine "USS Scorpion" sank in the Atlantic. To date, the cause of the accident has not been conclusively clarified: the rumor persists that the submarine was sunk by the Soviets.

An admiral in the US Navy allegedly described it as “one of the greatest unsolved mysteries of our era”: On the evening of May 21, 1968, Francis Slattery, the commander of the “USS Scorpion”, sent a message saying that it was 50 nautical miles south of the Azores on the assigned route home. But the hunting submarine did not enter its home port of Norfolk, Virginia, as expected on May 27. In the meantime, no signs of life from the crew were registered either - the "USS Scorpion" disappeared into the darkness of the Atlantic, including a nuclear reactor and two torpedoes with a nuclear warhead.

The "USS Scorpion", which had previously practiced in the Mediterranean with NATO partners and then monitored the activities of the Soviet Navy, had probably sunk with all 99 crew members 18 hours after the last report, according to scientists on their search. About listening buoys of the U.S. Navy they identified at that time namely underwater explosions at a location 640 kilometers southwest of the Azores, which was subsequently referred to as "point Oscar".

The search for the wreck, however, did not lead to success either at “Point Oscar” or to the west of it - and this is where the “USS Scorpion” should have been on her voyage home. John Craven, deep-sea scientist with the US Navy, then made further calculations and came to the conclusion that the submarine had moved eastward, contrary to the logical assumption. The research ship “Mizar” discovered the “USS Scorpion” with the help of underwater cameras five months after her disappearance east of “Point Oscar” at a depth of 3380 meters.

Why was the "Scorpion" suddenly heading east?

The recordings showed that the «Scorpion» had broken. The front fragment comprised the torpedo room and the control center, the rear part housed the engine room and the reactor department. The tower of the submarine was nearby in a field of small debris.

In 1969 the bathyscaphe "Trieste II" took numerous pictures of the wreck again. In 1985 the deep submersible “Alvin” dived again for the “Scorpion” on behalf of the Navy - officially under the pretext that the “Titanic” was looking for - and delivered color photos for the first time. In 1993, the Clinton administration finally released the investigation report into the case. Although the experts were unable to identify a definitive cause for the accident and fire, gas leaks and sudden water ingress could not be ruled out, they considered the malfunction of their own torpedo to be the most likely.

The strange fact that the “Scorpion” suddenly drove eastwards, which some saw as an indication that the submarine had to avoid an enemy, can therefore be explained by a torpedo accident: a so-called “hot run” of a torpedo , in which the projectile unintentionally activated itself on board due to a technical defect, submarine commanders supposedly had to steer in the completely opposite direction. After corresponding accidents during the Second World War, the torpedoes had been given a device that deactivated the warhead after a 180-degree turn.

Of all things, there are no pictures of the torpedo room

As journalists from the New York Times reported in 1998, a malfunction in the battery of the torpedoes at the time could also be responsible for the accident. In previous tests of the model, it had happened that a faulty membrane in the battery was torn due to vibrations, causing heat to develop and ultimately a fire. It is now considered the most likely that such a technical failure caused a torpedo to explode, after which it tore the submarine apart.

However, rumors that the “Scorpion” had been sunk by the Soviet military never stopped. After all, the submarine had been involved in intelligence operations monitoring Soviet activities. The Soviet submarine K-129 was lost in the Pacific just two months earlier. Moscow claimed at the time that the US military had the submarine on its conscience. Against this background, an act of revenge by the Soviets does not seem completely absurd.

The riddle can probably only be finally solved by taking pictures of the torpedo room in the front part of the wreck of the "USS Scorpion", but here of all places it was, according to the U.S. Navy never able to take pictures. After all, the navy regularly examines the area around the wreck for radioactive contamination. So far there has been no radiation - so the reactor is still tight.