Armed Forces News thresher disaster documents ordered unsealed Entering the water for the first time, during launching ceremonies at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Kittery, Maine, 9 July 1960. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command.

The Navy must release the documents relating to the worst submarine disaster in the service’s history, a federal judge has ruled.

The U.S. Naval Institute (USNI) Press reported that Judge Trevor McFadden of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued the Feb. 10 ruling in response to a lawsuit filed by retired Navy Capt. James Bryant, a former skipper of the Thresher class nuclear sub.


USS Thresher (SSN-593), the Navy’s second Thresher sub, and the first nuclear sub lost at sea, sank on April 10, 1963 about 190 nautical miles east of Cape Cod MA, killing 129 crewmembers and shipyard personnel aboard. The disaster gave rise to the Navy’s SubSafe program.

Bryant has sought answers for years that would explain the demise of SSN-593, believing there could be valuable lessons buried within them. Until the latest ruling, Bryant’s research had been hindered by the Navy’s decision to classify the documents relating to Thresher’s demise.

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