ABSTRACT: Photography of the wreckage confirms SCORPION experienced catastrophic, pressure-induced collapse at great depth. The conjecture advanced by ALL HANDS DOWN that the Soviets torpedoed SCORPION is thus exposed as a fictional invention without substance or credibility.
PREFACE: In an article in the June 17, 2007 edition of the HONOLULU STAR BULLETIN entitled "Expert Torpedoes Book on USS SCORPION," Dr. John Craven who was, in 1968, a member of the Navy's SCORPION Court of Inquiry and then or later the chief scientist of the Navy's Special Projects Office and Head of the Deep Submergence Systems Project and the Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicle program, called SCORPION DOWN, Ed Offley's book on the loss of SCORPION, "irresponsible speculation" and "absolutely and completely wrong" for advancing the same theory as ALL HANDS DOWN (AHD), i.e., that the Soviets sank SCORPION wth a torpedo.
If Jerome Preisler, co-author of AHD, does not agree with the following review of his book, he should ask Dr. John Craven, now living in Kahala, Hawaii, to review AHD and post his review on Amazon.com.
DISCUSSION: AHD is like the mythological nine-headed hydra of Lerna; you can use reasoned technical arquments to cut off one head (the hardcover edition); however, you still have to deal with other heads that appear on Amazon.com as the paperback edition, the Audio CD, the Audio Download and used copies of some of these formats, all of which advance the "lurid conspiracy theory" that the Soviets sank the US nuclear submarine SCORPION with a torpedo in the east-central Atlantic on 22 May 1968.
This conjecture (premise) has been supported by a cadre of the co-author's surrogates who have posted five-star Amazon.com reviews of AHD and/or attacked the technical background (bona fides) of anyone who questions that premise.
It now appears useful to write a summary review that exposes AHD for what it is: a poorly researched effort that ignores a wealth of technical information that confirms SCORPION was lost because of an onboard problem the crew could not overcome. There was no Soviet complicity in the event. This summary review, posted on 3 July 2009, replaces earlier reviews.
REVIEW: There is so much technically wrong with AHD that no review of reasonable length can address all the errors; therefore, only the basic AHD premise that the Soviets torpedoed SCORPION is rebutted by the following summaries:
- (1) Photographic coverage of the SCORPION wreckage, which is in several major sections, confirms the pressure-hull collapsed in two places separated by about 90-feet. If, as postulated by AHD, SCORPION had been sunk by a Soviet torpedo, the submarine would lie on the bottom basically intact with a single hole in the hull. This would be the case because flooding through any such hole would have collapsed all the internal bulkheads, which were less pressure-resistant than the pressure-hull, and fully-flooded (pressure-equalized) SCORPION before it sank to pressure-hull collapse depth.
The feature of the SCORPION wreck that unambiguously confirms the pressure-hull was intact until it collapsed at great depth is the "telescoping" of one after pressure-hull section within another section by 50-feet. This is the "signature" of a pressure-induced failure because such telescoping could have occurred only if force sufficient to produce collapse was applied equally - uniformly around - the entire SCORPION pressure-hull. The explosion of a torpedo warhead would apply force only upon the area of the pressure-hull where impact occurred, and, as discussed above, the pressure-hull would not have collapsed after it was breached by a torpedo because it would have become fully-flooded before reaching collapse depth.
Based on the photo-documented condition of the SCORPION wreckage, the inescapable conclusion is that, while still intact, the pressure-hull experienced catastrophic, pressure-induced failure at great depth. On this single point, the AHD Soviet torpedo conjecture edifice collapses and the book is exposed as a fictional invention without substance or credibility.
- (2) Reanalysis of acoustic signals detected before, during and after the pressure-hull collapse at 18:42:34 Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) on 22 May 1968 indicate the initiating events responsible for the loss of SCORPION were two small explosions that occurred at 18:20:44 GMT within the pressure-hull but which did not breach that structure. Because of these events, the crew could not maintain depth-control. SCORPION sank to collapse depth: 1530-feet. Sections of the pressure-hull and all internal bulkheads were completely destroyed in one-tenth of a second by sea-pressure (680 psi) with a force equal to the explosion of 13,200 lbs of TNT at the collapse depth. This is the force that fragmented the SCORPION far beyond the capabilities of a torpedo warhead of several hundred pounds of TNT.
- (3) Commander Submarine Forces Atlantic message date-time-group 271946 GMT May 1968 provides the position reported by SCORPION at 0001 GMT on 22 May and the intended course (290) and speed (18-knots) for the remainder of the transit to Norfolk, VA. At the time of the internal explosions, SCORPION should have been 330 nautical miles (nm) from her 0001 GMT position. The wreckage lies 297 nm, bearing 290 from the 0001 GMT position which indicates SCORPION was precisely on course and within 33 nm of where she should have been at a speed of 18-knots, a difference well within that permitted by standard operating procedures. This circumstance indicates the condition that resulted in the loss of SCORPION was the immediate result of the internal explosive events and not the result of an extended duration, evolving situation of which the internal explosions were the culminating events. A major casualty that occurred at transit depth and resulted in the loss of propulsion and electrical power is consistent with the failure of SCORPION to transmit a message subsequent to the 18:20:44 GMT time of the internal explosive events.
All who need to examine the detailed technical analyses of the SCORPION acoustic data, which include reproductions of the original signal displays provided by engineers who participated in the 1968 analysis, should address a Freedom of Information Act request to the Naval History and Heritage Command in Washington, DC.
To defuse additional attacks on this writer's credibility by AHD co-author Jerome Preisler's cadre of surrogates, note that this writer was, for 42-years, the lead acoustic analyst at the Office of Naval Intelligence and, in 2003, wrote the document that remains the Navy's official assessment of the dynamic and acoustic characteristics of submarine bulkhead and pressure-hull collapse events. All analyses of original SCORPION acoustic data this writer has provided to Navy commands have been pro bono publico.
CONCLUSION: Multiple lines of evidence confirm SCORPION was lost because of an onboard problem the crew could not overcome. There was no involvement by any Soviet naval forces.