The Broken Arrow Project: Visualizing the Dangers of Maintaining the U.S. Nuclear Arsenal

Spring 1968 - At Sea, Atlantic

DOD: Details remain classified.

CDI: The accident probably refers to the nuclear powered attack submarine USS Scorpion. The Scorpion was last heard from on May 21, 1968. It was returning to Norfolk, Va. after a three-month training exercise with the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean. It sank 400-450 miles southwest of the Azores. Initial suspicion that the Soviets were somehow involved was allayed when the research ship Mizar photographed the wreckage lying at 10,000 feet on the sea floor. A Navy seven-man court of inquiry met for eleven weeks and heard 90 witnesses. They found "No evidence of any kind to suggest foul play or sabotage," and that the "certain cause of the loss of the Scorpion cannot be ascertained from evidence now available.” Ninety-nine men were lost. The nuclear weapons aboard may have been either SUBROC or ASTOR, or both. SUBROC, first deployed in 1965, is an anti-submarine missile and nuclear depth charge. Attack submarines normally carry 4-6 SUBROCs, which have a range of 25-30 miles and high explosive power. ASTOR is the nuclear version of the MK45 torpedo which went into service around 1960 and has low explosive power.


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