The nuclear-powered Thresher-class boats immediately succeeded the Skipjack-class and were the first United States Navy (USN) submarines to truly feature a useful deep sea diving capability. The group operated under the banner of the service for the good part of thirty years and remembered as quiet, fast vessels with excellent endurance (thanks to their nuclear powerpacks)for their time - becoming an ultra-important addition to American underwater operations during the Cold War period (1947-1991). USS Thresher (SSN-593) was the lead ship of the class and ordered on January 15th, 1958. Her construction was assigned to Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and the keel laid down on May 28th of that year. Launched on July 9th, 1960, USS Thresher was formally commissioned on August 3rd, 1961, fighting under the motto of "Vis Tacita" ("Silent Strength").
Aboard were a typical collection of 112 enlisted and officers. Displacement reached 3,540 tons (short) when surfaced and 3,770 tons when submerged. Overall length was 279 feet with a beam measuring 32 feet and a draught of 26 feet. Power was from a single Westinghouse S5W (Submarine, 5th Gen, Westinghouse) reactor unit coupled to Westinghouse geared steam turbines developing 15,000 horsepower to 1 x shaft astern. The boat could make headway at 33 knots when submerged at about 15 knots when surfaced. The nature of submarine design had changed to the point that boats were now faster under the water than on it. Armament centered on 4 x 21" (530mm) torpedo tubes fitted amidships (angled so as to fire forward and out).
Her external arrangement was consistent with submarine design of the time: The bow section was rounded and the sail fitted well-forward and held the dive planes. The hull was tubular and slim while tapering towards the stern. At the stern was a cruciform plane arrangement for controlling the sub and a single propeller was visible. Noise reduction techniques were used throughout her construction where possible and an advanced sonar set was fitted in the upper bow.
USS Thresher had a relatively quiet service life, taking part in exercises, tests and training in her early going. She was a prominent player in deep sea testing as well as furthering the SUBROC Anti-Submarine Missile (ASM) program. A nine-month period saw the boat given a "post-shakedown" in 1962 and she returned to service in 1963.
Having left Portsmouth on April 9th, 1963, USS Thresher was lost, with all 129 hands aboard, on April 10th while undergoing a deep sea diving test (USS Skylark ASR-20 remained topside to assist in the exercise). The wreckage was located some 217 miles off the eastern coast of Cape Cod at a depth of 8,400 feet. After the loss of Thresher was verified, the Navy retired the Thresher name (though not officially decommissioned out of respect for the boat was forever out on an "eternal patrol"). With the loss of USS Thresher, the class was renamed to Permit after the second boat of the group, USS Permit. After review of the Thresher incident, the last three boats of the Permit-class were completed with "SUBSAFE" features to enhance survivability of these units while at-sea.
The Thresher / Permit-class was succeeded in USN service by the Sturgeon-class.
USS Thresher (SSN-593); USS Permit (SSN-594); USS Plunger (SSN-595); USS Barb (SSN-596); USS Pollack (SSN-603); USS Haddo (SSN-604); USS Jack (SSN-605); USS Tinosa (SSN-606); USS Dace (SSN-607); USS Guardfish (SSN-612); USS Flasher (SSN-613); USS Greenling (SSN-614); USS Gato (SSN-615); USS Haddock (SSN-621);
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
Traveling under the surface to search, track, and / or engage or reconnoiter areas.
Active patroling of vital waterways and maritime areas; can also serve as local deterrence against airborne and seaborne threats.
Serving in support (either firepower or material) of the main surface fleet in Blue Water environments.
279.0 ft 85.04 m
32.0 ft 9.75 m
26.0 ft 7.92 m
1 x Westinghouse S5W PWR nuclear reactor; 2 x Westinghouse geared turbines developing 15,000 shaft horsepower; 1 x shaft.
22.0 kts (25.3 mph)
20.0 kts (23.0 mph)
kts = knots | mph = miles-per-hour | nm = nautical miles | mi = miles | km = kilometers
1 kts = 1.15 mph | 1 nm = 1.15 mi | 1 nm = 1.85 km
4 x 21-inch (530mm) torpedo tubes fitted amidships.
(Not all weapon types may be represented in the showcase above)
Ribbon graphics not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective naval campaigns / operations / periods.
The "Military Factory" name and MilitaryFactory.com logo are registered ® U.S. trademarks protected by all applicable domestic and international intellectual property laws. All written content, illustrations, and photography are unique to this website (unless where indicated) and not for reuse/reproduction in any form. Material presented throughout this website is for historical and entertainment value only and should not to be construed as usable for hardware restoration, maintenance, or general operation. We do not sell any of the items showcased on this site. Please direct all other inquiries to militaryfactory AT gmail.com.
Part of a network of sites that includes GlobalFirepower, a data-driven property used in ranking the top military powers of the world, WDMMA.org, the World Directory of Modern Military Aircraft, and SR71blackbird.org, detailing the history of the world's most iconic spyplane.