Silent Steel

Silent Steel

The Mysterious Death of the Nuclear Attack Sub USS Scorpion

Book - 2006
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"She lay quietly on the ocean floor two miles beneath the roiling surface of the Atlantic, her shattered and scattered corpse a mute testament to the perils of life aboard a submarine. But what had happened to the USS Scorpion and the ninety-nine men who perished with her on May 22, 1968? A Soviet attack? A torpedo malfunction? A faulty trash disposal unit? Amid these speculations, the U.S. Navy was sure of only one thing: the disaster was not caused "by the fault, negligence or
inefficiency of any person or persons in the naval service." Stephen Johnson believes the full story is far less simplistic." "In Silent Steel, the veteran reporter who has been investigating the Scorpion disaster for nearly two decades provides the most comprehensive and authoritative analysis to date of this tragic and enduring mystery. Citing documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, letters home from sailors aboard the doomed vessel, and interviews with hundreds of
eyewitnesses, military insiders, and submarine experts, Johnson recreates the Scorpion's fatal cruise as well as the crucial events that preceded it. He clears away the confusion surrounding the loss of the Scorpion and puts a human face on the disaster, so often characterized as the loss of a complex machine rather than a catastrophe that took the lives of ninety-nine dedicated men." "Most moving - and most telling - of Johnson's interviews is his conversation with Electrician's Mate
Daniel Rogers, who served aboard the Scorpion until shortly before the boat was lost, knew virtually all of her crew, and remained deeply affected by the event until his own death in 2003. A demoralized Rogers warned of dangerous circumstances on the submarine he no longer trusted when he quit the boat six weeks before its final cruise. He would be haunted by the decision that saved his life." "The aura of mystery surrounding what happened to the Scorpion has been abetted by the navy's
unwillingness to divulge information about its own investigations. Now, many long-retired officers, sailors, and scientists feel that enough time has passed to allow them to speak openly about their roles as one-time Scorpion crewmembers or navy investigators. From these interviews and other newly available information, Johnson reveals a deep disagreement among investigators over what caused the disaster while piecing together a story that is both deeply troubling and bitterly ironic: the
Scorpion fell victim to a plague of maintenance problems that dogged the U.S. Navy's submarine service during the 1960s. These maintenance problems were the unintended result of a program designed to make submarine operations safer after the 1963 loss of the USS Thresher, the first American nuclear-powered submarine disaster." "Complete with photos of the Scorpion and her crew, Silent Steel combines an adventure story and a mystery with a cautionary tale about the limits of technology and
the high price of failure at sea."--BOOK JACKET.
Publisher: Hoboken, N.J. : John Wiley, c2006
ISBN: 0471267376 (cloth)
Branch Call Number: 359.93834 JOH
Characteristics: xi, 292 p. : ill. ; 25 cm

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Jun 22, 2015

This is a superb story about the US Navy submarine program of the 60s and the men who served onboard the USS Scorpion just before and during her last deployment. The author interviews many persons of the US Navy inside and out. Of interest to me are the transcripts and proceedings presented by the author of the several hearings held after the Scorpion's sinking. The details provided by the author with regard to possible outcomes that lead to the sinking are all discussed...from crew morale, long hours, exercise drills, unreported problems of equipment to the submarine squadron, delayed repairs and maintenance of the sub in the shipyard, maintenance history, problematic systems, program delays with the SUBSAFE program (the result of the sinking of the USS Thresher in the early 60s). I was most impressed with the concerted search effort and approach to locating the USS Scorpion. I conclude that the USS Scorpion did not sink from her own torpedo. I was a sailor in the US Navy and found this book to authentic. A must read book for those interested in naval history. This books serves as a reminder of how dangerous duty onboard a submarine really is and shall always be.

May 24, 2011

Silent Steel is an exceptionally well-researched, and well-written history of the events leading up to and resulting investigation of the loss of USS Scorpion- a long-debated issue in US Navy history. One of three books written recently, with extremely different conclusions, Silent Steel's presentation of in-depth and difficult to dispute data certainly puts extreme doubt to many theories; others rely on coincidences, unnamed sources, hearsay, 'lost' tapes, etc. while Silent Steel presents material from named scientists, engineers and experts as well as a detailed history. Anyone interested in military or maritime history will find this book fascinating. It's technical and seems almost excessive in its detail sometimes, but that serves to really underline the seemingly certain disproval of many theories and claims regarding the sinking. Highly recommended.


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