RE: A LOGICAL EXPLANATION TO THE LOSS OF USS SCORPION
28 November 1999
Captain Smith argues that SCORPION likely was lost through an uncontrolled depth excursion after losing the bubble at high speed. Unsatisfied with other loss theories, and citing his experience as a submarine weapons officer, he concludes that a SCORPION torpedo warhead explosion could not have occurred because the explosion of one torpedo would have detonated all the other torpedoes, visibly opening the pressure hull surrounding the torpedo room. In arriving at his conclusion, however, he does not account for evidence that an explosion did occur at or near periscope depth.
Facts that must be accepted, accounted for, or disproved include:
- There was an explosion. The explosion was recorded by SOSUS and pinpointed the tragedy’s location. Had there been no explosion, SCORPION would not have been found.
- The explosion almost certainly took place at or near periscope depth. The observed time between the explosion and later implosions was demonstrated to match computer modeling for an uncontrolled dive from periscope to crush depth.
- SCORPION was headed east. Within days after starting his analysis of the SOSUS tapes, Dr. Craven determined that her course was eastward. Many months later, when SCORPION was found, she was observed in fact to be pointed toward Europe. The point is that SCORPION did not, in her final dive, undergo some unusual course reversal. The course reversal had been completed at or before the telltale explosion.
- The torpedo room was not visibly distorted; i.e., did not implode. Therefore it was flooded before reaching crush depth.
- The after compartments did implode; i.e., their watertight integrity was at least essentially intact until reaching crush depth.
Other pertinent factors include the position of the topside hatches, the position of periscopes and radio antennas, the condition of the torpedo tube outer doors and shutters, and-possibly-the condition of the torpedo tube outer doors and shutters, and-possibly-the condition of the ship’s 126-cell lead-acid battery. These factors must support, or be explainable within, any final solution the problem.
A mystery as absorbing as SCORPION’s loss will continue to spark discussion and new theories. But to be productive such discussions must take “into account incontrovertible facts. The essence of the SCORPION mystery is, “what exploded and what caused the explosion to happen?” Without encouraging them, but knowing they will happen, I will continue to be absorbed by future iterations. But it seems sure to me that the last chapter will not be written until if new hard facts come to light.
CAPT Gordon W. Enquist, USN(Ret.)
REQUEST FOR INFORMATION
December 8, 1999
I am searching for any information about the embarkation of Lord Louis Mountbatten in USS SKIPJACK (SSN 585) sometime in 1959 or 1960. I am particularly interested in contacting any of those onboard for that event.
4302 Dahill Place
Alexandria, VA 22312