60th Anniversary of the USS Thresher Disaster

Published April 10, 2023

For more than a century, Newport News Shipbuilding has earned the tremendous responsibility and honor of building the most complex and technologically advanced ships ever to roam the seas. Generations of shipbuilders have played a critical role in our nation’s defense, and today, the mission starts with us. The U.S. Navy’s safety and strength at sea depends on the quality of our work. This mindset is required every day, by every shipbuilder, yet it is especially significant to reflect upon today.

Today marks 60 years since the submarine USS Thresher (SSN 593) was lost at sea, taking the lives of 129 officers, crew and civilians who died in service to our nation.

  • On April 10, 1963, Thresher began a dive to test depth off the coast of New England as part of her sea trials.
  • At 9:13 a.m., the crew reported they were experiencing minor difficulties.
  • At approximately 9:15 a.m., communications with the submarine were lost and all 129 on board – officers, crew and civilians – perished.
  • The congressional board of inquiry concluded that the loss of Thresher was most likely the result of a failed piping joint, a failure that began a series of events ultimately resulting in the ship’s inability to maintain propulsion or to effectively blow seawater from her ballast tanks and return to the surface.

Although Thresher was not built at Newport News Shipbuilding, it is a story that every shipbuilder needs to know, share and hold in their hearts. At 9:15 a.m. today, as is our longstanding tradition, we will sound the shipyard whistle to mark this solemn anniversary. I ask you to join me in a moment of silence and consider the importance of first-time quality and why we must never let our standards falter.

To learn more about Thresher, and to hear from fellow shipbuilders on the importance of quality and its connection to safety, please take a moment to visit the links below. Thank you for continuing our legacy of “Always Good Ships,” and always remembering the significance of our mission.


Jennifer Boykin
President, Newport News Shipbuilding

Thresher Learning Links