Senators, advocates push for USS Thresher disaster memorial

November 12, 2018

A renewed effort is underway to memorialize the 129 sailors and civilians who were lost aboard the USS Thresher, a submarine that sank off the New England coast in 1963.

In the deadliest submarine disaster in U.S. history, the USS Thresher went down on April 10, 1963, during deep-diving tests, sinking in 8,000 feet of water about 200 miles off Cape Cod.

None of the 129 men aboard the Portsmouth-based vessel survived.

"It was a national event," said Kevin Galeaz of the USS Thresher Arlington Memorial Foundation. "It was bracketed between the Cuban Missile Crisis of November 1962 and President John F. Kennedy's assassination that following November of '63."

A memorial stands at the Albacore Museum in Portsmouth, but for years, there have been efforts to erect a monument on the grounds of Arlington National Cemetery.

This month, five New England senators, led by U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., are encouraging the secretaries of the Army and Navy to allow the project to move forward.

"There are precedents that other memorials of specific incidents have been honored, and we think it's very important to recognize those lost on the Thresher," Shaheen said.

The Navy responded to the Thresher disaster by revamping submarine safety and quality assurance standards during construction, a legacy that would be honored on the proposed monument.

"It also recognizes what happened because of that horrible accident, that we made changes to our submarine program that have saved so many lives," Shaheen said.

"Family members of the men lost aboard the Thresher have been trying to build a memorial for decades. They're now calling on veterans and civilians to write letters to military officials in support of the effort.

"Myself and other submariners who have served since, we owe our lives to these men," Galeaz said.

By:  Adam Sexton
Source: WMUR