It led to big changes for the U.S. Navy.
The U.S. Navy immediately moved to prevent such as tragedy from happening again. Less than two months later it created SUBSAFE, a program designed to ensure the structural integrity of submarine hulls at pressure and, if an emergency occurred, ensure that the submarine could safely surface. It established submarine design requirements and certified construction procedures “as specific as cataloging the source of alloy for each piece of equipment that is SUBSAFE approved.”
In the United States Navy, submarines lost at sea are said to be on “eternal patrol.” One such submarine was USS Thresher. Meant to be the first in a new generation of fast nuclear-attack submarines, today it rests in more than eight thousand feet of water, along with its crew. Thresher is one of two American submarines lost since the end of World War II.
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In the mid-1950s, the U.S. Navy was still pushing nuclear propulsion out to the submarine fleet. USS Nautilus, the world’s first nuclear submarine, had just been commissioned in 1954, and nine classes of submarines were created, including the Sailfish, Barbel, Skate and Skipjack classes, before the Navy felt it had a design worthy of mass production. Preceding classes of nuclear submarines were built in small batches, but Thresher would be the first class to build more than five. Altogether fourteen Threshers would be built.