Uss ``Thresher’’ 50Th Anniversaryby Senator Susan M. Collins
Posted on 2013-03-12
COLLINS. Madam President, on April 10, 1963, the submarine USS
Thresher sank off the New England coast. The loss of 129 officers,
sailors, and civilian technicians was a tragedy for the Navy, our
Nation, and especially for the families of that gallant crew.
The USS Thresher was built in Kittery, ME, at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. Each year, the people of Kittery and neighboring communities in Maine and New Hampshire gather on the anniversary of the loss of the Thresher to pay their solemn respects to those who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our Nation.
This year is the 50th anniversary of that tragedy. On April 10, 2013, the USS Thresher Memorial will be dedicated. Located at Kittery Memorial Circle, this tribute features a flagpole rising from a black granite base. The height of the flagpole--129 feet--is a powerful reminder of those who perished.
The memorial is made possible by contributions from throughout the region--from schoolchildren and civic organizations to such U.S. Navy veterans as President George H.W. Bush. The depth of support for this inspiring project demonstrates the gratitude the American people have for all who serve.
The USS Thresher was the first of a new class of submarines for the Navy that was designed to be the world's most modern, quiet, deep- diving fast-attack submarines. It was during deep-diving trials some 200 miles east of Cape Cod when a crucial system failed.
The loss of life on the USS Thresher was the worst submarine disaster in American history. Among the 129 lost were a veteran submariner whose service began during World War II and extended into the Cold War, 2 brothers, and a young husband who had just learned he was to become a father. Each of the 129 men left behind a grieving family and a hometown in sorrow.
They did not die in vain. The Thresher disaster directly led to the SUBSAFE program that ensures every submarine in America's fleet undergoes rigorous testing to safeguard our submariners. Every safe voyage and every crisis survived since that terrible time is the legacy of the USS Thresher.
The courage and sacrifice of those aboard the USS Thresher exemplify the devotion of all submariners, past and present, and their commitment to the mission. The ``silent service'' is a critical component of America's defenses, and those who step forward to serve willingly take on one of the most challenging assignments in our armed forces. The USS Thresher Memorial in Kittery, ME, ensures that we will never forget those who are on eternal patrol.