Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Court orders US Navy to release report on the loss of the USS Thresher (1963)

SAN DIEGO (Tribune News Service) — At 9:12 a.m. on April 12, 1963, the nuclear-powered submarine Thresher issued its final coherent message.

“Experiencing minor difficulties,” it began. “Have positive up angle. Am attempting to blow. Will keep you informed.”

The first and last sentences were unduly — and tragically — optimistic. After a garbled message from the boat at 9:17 a.m., none of the 129 aboard Thresher were ever heard from again. The difficulties had not been minor. They had been fatal, taking the vessel and her crew to a watery grave in the North Atlantic.

Almost 57 years later, this remains the U.S. Navy’s worst undersea disaster. It’s also one of the most mysterious. While there are numerous theories about what caused the Thresher’s sinking, the official story is still under wraps.

The Navy’s investigation resulted in a 1,700-page report. Only 19 pages have been publicly released.

Capt. Jim Bryant, a submarine skipper retired in Point Loma, wants the public to see the other 1,681 pages.

“I feel a responsibility to the men who were aboard,” he said, “and their families.”

Last year, Bryant went to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, seeking to pry loose the report.

On Feb. 10, a federal judge ordered the Navy to release its report in monthly 300-page segments, beginning May 15 and continuing until Oct. 15. When the Navy requested more time to review documents and redact classified information, Bryant’s lawyer noted that the Navy already had promised to do this — 22 years ago. Then, in 2012, the Navy announced it had nearly completed its declassification review but wasn’t going to release anything.

U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden noted that history this month, while rejecting the Navy’s plea for more time. “Normally I defer to the government,” he said during a hearing, “but I can’t say I have a lot of confidence in how this looks now.”

Read the rest here.

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