At 8 a.m. on April 9, 1963, USS Thresher (SSN-593), the lead boat in its class of nuclear-powered attack submarines, left port at Kittery, Maine, for a series of dive tests in the deep ocean 350 kilometres east of Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
Some 25 hours later, while Thresher was nearing test depth during its first deep-dive trials after a nine-month refit, USS Skylark, the submarine rescue ship that was on station at the time, received a garbled message via underwater telephone.
"By mid-afternoon, 15 navy ships were headed to the search area."
“Minor difficulties, have positive up-angle, attempting to blow,” came the call, and then a final, even more garbled message distinguished by the number “900” at 9:17 a.m.
Sonar technicians reported hearing mysterious “air rushing” noises. The...