U.S.S. Scorpion

Insignia of USS Scorpion

Insignia of USS Scorpion (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

December 1980 I arrived in submarine school. Though I probably knew more than anyone my age, at that time, about the loss of the U.S.S. Thresher; I did not know very much about the loss of the U.S.S. Scorpion. That changed in December 1980, the United States submarine community and the veterans of the former Soviet submarine force have very definite opinions about the loss of the U.S.S. Scorpion.

But, opinions are not evidence. The evidence lays on the bottom of the ocean. The attached article is about a group that wants to return to the Scorpion and survey the wreck site looking for the evidence of what happened to the Scorpion.

I believe the evidence they seek already exists. The evidence is in Washington D.C., in the possession of the U.S. Navy. The navy has released a handful of photographs from the Scorpion wreck site and states these are all the photographs in its possession. The navy has released no motion picture footage of the wreck site. The claim they have released all still photographs is unbelievable considering the hundreds of hours spent by several ships at the wreck since 1968. Each of the expeditions reports taking many still photographs and motion picture footage. So where are the photographs, where is the motion picture film footage.

I believe the photographic evidence already exists, to explain what happened to the Scorpion. I also believe it will take a fight with the navy to get that evidence. For this reason I will wait until I am writing full time to do my investigation into the loss of the U.S.S. Scorpion. I wish the best of luck to those wanting to mount a new search of the wreck site. I hope they are able to bring back the evidence to tell the families what happened to their loved ones. However, if they cannot bring back the evidence needed, I will one day in the near future launch my own investigation.

I would like to close by saying to the families and friends of the crew of the U.S.S. Scorpion; Your loved ones are not forgotten, they are our shipmates, we honor their sacrifice and yours, We will never forget.


Joe C Combs 2nd US Navy Submarine Veteran 1980-1988

click on link to read article:


As updates and my research continue it will be shared on this page, thank you.

The Lone Sailor at the United States Navy Memo...

The Lone Sailor at the United States Navy Memorial in Washington D.C. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

U.S.S. Scorpion Memorial

U.S.S. Scorpion Memorial (Photo credit: Snak Shak)

USS Scorpion

USS Scorpion (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

15 responses to “U.S.S. Scorpion

  1. D. Mills

    https://polldaddy.com/js/rating/rating.jsSome outrageous claims have been made regarding the Scorpion, and they persist to this day, particularly involving the Soviets. What is known is that the SOSUS acoustic system picked up a bubble pulse indicating that the Scorpion’s hull was intact when it imploded at 1503 feet depth. This rules out serious flooding, or breach of the hull (from either internal or external agents such as torpedos). SOSUS also picked up two explosions, half a second apart, which may indicate a hydrogen explosion in the battery compartment, twenty minutes prior to the implosion of the hull. The Navy has indeed recovered charred remnants of berths, which occupied the space directly above the battery compartment. An internal explosion of this magnitude would have created a pressure wave throughout the hull which would have killed or otherwise incapacitated its occupants, leading to loss of depth control.


    • I agree with almost everything you have said. With one exception. Most of the hull of the Scorpion in the photos the navy has released look relatively intact.
      The sail is detached and the engineering compartment telescoped into the AMR. But other than that the hull looks to be in good shape. So some sections were open to sea pressure before they could implode.
      The bubble detected by SOSUS was most likely when the engineering space was shoved into AMR.
      The Thresher on the other hand, based on photos provided by the navy, is a tangle of ruined steel that does not even look like a submarine. The only parts of the Thresher that look relatively intact are the planes and rudder. Those area are freeflood areas that are already open to sea pressure.
      I do not believe the Soviets had anything to do with the sinking.
      Whatever did happen I believe began while the Scorpion was at periscope depth or shallower.
      I also believe that the emergency was most likely caused by the battery or a problem with the battery happened in addition to some other emergency.


  2. Glad to see fate of Scorpion still open for discussion. In 1968 I was working at the Supervisor of Shipbuilding office Groton, Conn.when I received a call from Scorpion unbelievably asking me if it was safe to dive. I cursed the fact that it was a holiday and I could,not transfer the call to the Supervisor or to anyone who could answer such a question. It was five years since the Thresher sank and a Subsafe program had been implemented. It also was unbelieveable to me that the captain of a submarine would not know if it were safe to dive.


    • I am familiar with the Supervisor of Shipbuilding office in Groton. I spent 2 years at Electric Boat when the 705 was being built. I got their the day before they pulled the rods for the first time. When did the Scorpion call you? Which Holiday? You know the Scorpion was one of two submarines still not sub-safe when they left for the Med. The Scorpion was in for an overhaul the year before. It was supposed to be an 18 month overhaul but was cut back to 9 months. She entered the shipyard for overhaul Feb 67 and left Oct 67. She was not even suppose to go on that Med run, but the ship that was suppose to go to the Med ran aground a month or two before the Med run. My understanding is that there was a lot of work that should/needed done that was not done. But they were told she was sea worthy, so I understand his question to you.


      • Stuart Woodland

        Memorial Day May 22, 1968


      • Stuart Woodland

        It was Memorial Day May 22, 1968.


        • Are you sure someone was not playing a prank on you? I do not doubt you. However, the Scorpion already had several surfaces and dives since it left the overhaul in the shipyard. It was returning from a patrol in the Med, and by the 22 May 1968 she was already one day into a secret mission the United States Navy still will not officially comment on. I would like to know more about what you have to say. It is possible you may have the key to finally figuring out what happened to the Scorpion.


          • Stuart Woodland

            I’m absolutely sure. What happened was that after the three sections of its hull were welded together an order was received from Navsea to remove the middle section and replace it with a section containing 16 missile tubes and renaming the finished product George Washington SSBN 598.the first FBM fleet ballistic missile submarine. Forming a new mid-section between the forward and aft sections of Scorpion at Norfolk Naval Shipyard according to one inspector who I recently talked with had difficulties that compromised its structural integrity around the forward bulkhead Frame 13 and according to the literature there were mysterious sounds and strange vibrations.


            • I would like to talk with you and record our conversations. The Scorpion is one of those ships that I am continuing to work on. Your knowledge and expertise would be a great help in trying to uncover what happened to the Scorpion. I think the families of the 99 crewman deserve that knowledge and I do not think the navy will follow through on that responsibility.


          • Stuart Woodland

            On Wed, Mar 2, 2016 at 4:39 PM, joeccombs2nd wrote:

            > combs2jc commented: “Are you sure someone was not playing a prank on you? > I do not doubt you. However, the Scorpion already had several surfaces and > dives since it left the overhaul in the shipyard. It was returning from a > patrol in the Med, and by the 22 May 1968 she was alr” >


  3. Kim Hales

    Hi Joe ~

    Enjoyed reading this and look forward to hearing more. My father was on the USS Scorpion when it went down on May 22, 1968. My mother was 5 months pregnant with me(so I never met him) and May 22 happend to be her 21st birthday. A very sad day for her. I have lived in the shadow of this my whole life and several times – from ones in the navy – have been told to not look into the truth of the sinking because I will not get any answers. It’s like everyone who knows anything about it is brain-washed. My Grandparents both died not knowing why their only son is no longer alive and lived their lives out in eternal sadness..It was very hard to watch growing up. I have stayed quiet all these years because nothing I can do will ever bring any of those 99 men back…It’s really hard on the families of these men that they never had a body come back to bury and say good-bye to and to not know the truth – it’s all anybody wants. I feel they are spending more money and time on the Malaysian jet that is missing than they ever did on finding out what really happened with the loss of the Scorpion. And at the sme time I understand that those families want answers just like those in 1968. So any information you can find will be one more step to bringing relief to those that are still wondering – WHY? My father was Robert Huber.


    • Kim,
      I so wish I had some answers for you. I also want you to know that you are a part of the submarine family (as are your family and all of the families of the crew of the Scorpion). If you ever need anything – let us know. Go to the nearest VFW, American Legion, or Sub Vets and let us know.
      There are several things which bother me about the loss of the USS Scorpion. The navy has a web site that has a few photographs of the Scorpion and they claim that in all the trips to the Scorpion the navy has made is all the photography they have -oh and they do not have any video either. That is simply not true. Dr. Ballard used the hunt for the Titanic as a cover to do an extensive survey of the Scorpion. He even talks about this in his memoirs. Just the shear number of still and video photography he did on this one trip dwarfs the number of imagery the Navy claims to possess from all the combined trips.
      I do not know why the navy is doing this.
      I do not know why the Scorpion sank. I do know that in the last thirty years my opinions about the cause of the loss have evolved. At one time I believed she was sunk intentionally through hostile action. I no longer believe that.
      Looking at the wreckage, I think the Scorpion was probably at periscope depth or surface when the emergency happened. But, if I ever get a chance to investigate the Scorpion they way I would like to that view may change.
      One thing I can tell you is that your father’s death was quick. He did not suffer like the men of the Kursk did.
      Every day the men of the Scorpion, Thresher, and Kursk are with me. I do hope that one day we will have the full story of the Scorpion. But that will take more time and money than I have right now, and the navy does not seem inclined to say any more.
      I am so sorry you never had a chance to know your father. But I encourage you to seek out men he served with in the navy. They will take you in as a long lost daughter and do more to introduce you to your father than anyone can. And they will be glad to do that for you and for him.
      I want you to feel free to contact me any time you wish. If I can ever do anything for you, you have only to ask.

      One other thing I do want to say about the Scorpion. After reading Dr. Ballard’s book, and reading about the other trips the navy has made to the wreck site, I am convinced that enough photographic evidence already exists. A forensic study of the photographic evidence that currently exists is our best chance of finding out what happened. I do not believe that any more visits to the site are needed. The problem will be in getting the navy to give up those photographs so that a team of people can examine them together. Currently the navy continues to deny that any video footage of the wreck exists. The navy also claims that all of the still photographs in its possession are on its web site. Both statements are not true, just based on Dr. Ballard’s comments alone. And Dr. Ballard is not the only one who has talked publicly about photographing the Scorpion.


  4. bob hughes

    For some reason I get a “undeliverable” statement when I attempt to send you an Email


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