What Sank USS Scorpion?
Scorpion was part of a program which drastically reduced maintenance given to subs. Her last overhaul took 7 months, as opposed to ~24 and spent a fraction the cost normally applied to a sub. Also some of the crew expressed concern of the condition of Scorpion, some requesting transfer based on this belief. Following her loss this reduced maintenance experiment was cancelled.
Was Scorpion hit by an enemy torpedo or was she rammed mistakenly by a super tanker?
Why did she immediately reverse course 180 degrees right before sinking? Did she have a missile test that went badly?
According to the Structural Analysis Group that analyzed the loss of the Scorpion there was not a torpedo hit to the submarine the way many have theorized.
The internal bulkheads of Scorpion had half of the collapse depth of the pressure hull.
If any part of Scorpion was flooded and fully open to the ocean, then the whole submarine would have flooded well before she reached crush depth because the internal bulkheads would have failed first, and so pressure would have been equal inside and out, and she would not have collapsed.
When the hydroacoustic recordings were analyzed over a year’s time it was determined that the submarine imploded at a depth of 2000 ft and after that continued to drop until it reached a depth of 9800 ft. The torpedo room appeared to be intact except for a hatch that was missing and the fact that the torpedo room had been pinched from the operations compartment which had been totally destroyed.
An important piece to note is that some debris from Scorpion was recovered that was identified as part of the overhead of the battery compartment, showing there had been an explosion in that compartment while it was filled with air.
Scorched plastic from the batteries was embedded in the overhead material. About 20 minutes before the loud acoustic signal that was the hull collapse, there was a small signal equal to about one stick of dynamite. If a torpedo warhead had gone off, the bow would have been blown completely open, not just hatches, and more important, the acoustic signal from a torpedo warhead would have been much stronger than a single stick of dynamite.
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