Monday, October 29, 2012

Skipjack Class USS Scorpion (SSN-589)

Here are some images of Moebius model's 1/72 scale Skipjack Class Submarine, USS Scorpion (SSN-589).
If there was ever a model that screamed "cold war", this is it.
At over 42 inches the Skipjack is an impressive model and with only around 60 pieces it is a straight forward build with no real difficulties. It is a beautiful kit and well worth the $100+ CDN.
I would recommend for the black colour to mix 4 parts flat black with 1 part navy blue, but that's just me.

From Wikipedia"
The Skipjack class was a class of United States Navy nuclear submarines. This class was named after its lead ship, the USS Skipjack. This new class introduced the teardrop hull and the S5W reactor to U.S. nuclear submarines. The Skipjacks were the fastest U.S. nuclear submarines until the Los Angeles-class submarines.

The Skipjack's design was based on the successful Barbel-class submarines that were based on the USS Albacore design. The design of the Skipjacks was very different from the Skate-class submarines that preceded the Skipjacks. Unlike the Skates, this new design was maximized for underwater speed by shaping the hull like a blimp. This required that the single screw was aft of the rudders and dive planes. This so called "body-of-revolution hull" reduced her surface sea-keeping, but was essential for underwater performance. Skipjack's hull was also a single hull design, where the pressure hull and outer hull are the same for most of the length of the ship.
The bow planes were moved to the massive sail to cut down on flow-induced noise near the bow sonar array. This design feature would be repeated on all U.S. nuclear submarines until the improved Los Angeles-class submarine. The small "turtleback" behind the sail was the exhaust piping of the auxiliary diesel generator.
The Skipjacks also introduced the S5W reactor to U.S. nuclear submarines. The S5W was used on 98 U.S. nuclear submarines and the first British nuclear submarine, HMS Dreadnought.
The George Washington-class submarines were based on the Skipjack design. The hull of Scorpion was laid down twice as the original hull was redesigned to become the first US ballistic missile submarine George Washington. Also, the material for building Scamp was diverted into building Patrick Henry, which delayed her progress.

USS Scorpion (SSN-589) was a Skipjack-class nuclear submarine of the United States Navy, and the sixth vessel of the U.S. Navy to carry that name. Scorpion was declared lost on 5 June 1968 with 99 crewmen dying in the incident. The USS Scorpion is one of two nuclear submarines the U.S. Navy has lost, the other being USS Thresher (SSN-593).


In late October 1967, Scorpion started refresher training and weapons system acceptance tests, and was given a new Commanding Officer, Francis Slattery. Following type training out of Norfolk, Virginia, she got underway on 15 February 1968 for a Mediterranean Sea deployment. She operated with the 6th Fleet into May and then headed west for home. Scorpion suffered several mechanical malfunctions including a chronic problem with Freon leakage from refrigeration systems. An electrical fire occurred in an escape trunk when a water leak shorted out a shore power connection.
Upon departing the Mediterranean on 16 May, two men departed Scorpion at Rota, Spain. One man left due to a family emergency, while the other, PO1 Joseph Underwood departed for health reasons. Scorpion was then detailed to observe Soviet naval activities in the Atlantic in the vicinity of the Azores. With this completed, Scorpion prepared to head back to Naval Station Norfolk.
For an unusually long period of time, beginning shortly before midnight on 20 May and ending after midnight 21 May, Scorpion was attempting to send radio traffic to Naval Station Rota in Spain but was only able to reach a Navy communications station in Nea Makri, Greece, which forwarded Scorpion's messages to SUBLANT. Six days later, she was reported overdue at Norfolk. Navy personnel suspected possible failure and launched a search.

The search

US Navy photo 1968 of the bow section of Scorpion, by the crew of bathyscaphe Trieste II
A public search was initiated, but without immediate success and on 5 June, Scorpion and her crew were declared "presumed lost." Her name was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 30 June. Some recent reports now indicate that a large and secret search was launched three days before Scorpion was expected back from patrol; this combined with other declassified information led many to speculate the US Navy knew of the Scorpion's destruction before the public search was launched.
The public search continued with a team of mathematical consultants led by Dr. John Craven, the Chief Scientist of the U.S. Navy's Special Projects Division. They employed the methods of Bayesian search theory, initially developed during the search for a hydrogen bomb lost off the coast of Palomares, Spain, in January 1966 in the Palomares B-52 crash. At the end of October, the Navy's oceanographic research ship, Mizar, located sections of the hull of Scorpion in more than 3,000 m (9,800 ft) of water about 740 km (400 nmi; 460 mi) southwest of the Azores. This was after the Navy had released sound tapes from its underwater "SOSUS" listening system which contained the sounds of the destruction of Scorpion. Subsequently, the Court of Inquiry was reconvened, and other vessels, including the bathyscaphe Trieste II, were dispatched to the scene, collecting many pictures and other data.
Although Dr. Craven received much credit for locating the wreckage of Scorpion, Gordon Hamilton—an acoustics expert who pioneered the use of hydroacoustics to pinpoint Polaris missile splashdown locations—was instrumental not only in acquiring the acoustic signals that were used in locating the vessel, but also in analyzing those signals to provide a compact "search box" wherein the wreck of Scorpion was finally located. Hamilton had established a listening station in the Canary Islands, which obtained a clear signal of what some scientists believe was the noise of the vessel's pressure hull imploding as she passed below crush depth. A little-known Naval Research Laboratory scientist named Chester "Buck" Buchanan, using a towed camera sled of his own design aboard Mizar, finally located Scorpion after nearly six months of searching. The towed camera sled, which was fabricated by J.L. "Jac" Hamm of Naval Research Laboratory's Engineering Services Division, is currently housed in the U.S. Navy Museum, Washington Navy Yard, Washington, DC. (Buchanan had located the wrecked hull of Thresher in 1964 using this same technique.)


It would appear that the bow of Scorpion skidded upon impact with the globigerina ooze on the seafloor, digging a sizable trench which created a significant hazard for the Trieste II crews attempting to maneuver close to acquire photographs and assess the wreckage with their own eyes. Much of the operations compartment had disappeared, and most of the debris field was identified as coming from the operations compartment. The sail had been dislodged as the hull of the operations compartment upon which it perched disintegrated, and was lying on its port side. One of Scorpion's running lights was locked in the open position as if it had been on the surface at the time of the mishap, although it may have been left in the open position during the vessel's recent nighttime stop at Rota. One Trieste II pilot who dived on Scorpion said the shock of the implosion may have knocked the light into the open position.
The aft section appeared to have skidded sideways on impact, since it was less hydrodynamically efficient than the bullet-shaped torpedo room, which investigators believed would have developed a greater downward velocity. The aft section of the engine room had telescoped forward into the larger-diameter hull section.


Bow section of the sunken Scorpion containing two nuclear torpedoes on the sea floor. US Navy photo.
At the time of her sinking, there were 99 crewmen aboard Scorpion. The boat contained a treasure-trove of highly sophisticated spy gear and spy manuals, two nuclear-tipped torpedoes, and a nuclear propulsion system. The best available evidence indicates that Scorpion sank in the Atlantic Ocean on 22 May 1968 at approximately 1844Z while in transit across the Atlantic Ocean from Gibraltar to her home port at Norfolk, Virginia.
Several hypotheses about the cause of the loss have been advanced. Some have suggested that hostile action by a Soviet submarine caused Scorpion's loss. Shortly after her sinking, the Navy assembled a Court of Inquiry to investigate the incident and to publish a report about the likely causes for the sinking. The court was presided over by Vice Admiral Bernard Austin who presided over the inquiry into the loss of Thresher. The panel's conclusions, first printed in 1968, were largely classified. At the time, the Navy quoted frequently from a portion of the 1968 report that said no one is likely ever to "conclusively" determine the cause of the loss. The Clinton Administration declassified most of this report in 1993, and it was then that the public first learned that the panel considered that a possible cause was the malfunction of one of Scorpion's own torpedoes. (The panel qualified its opinion saying the evidence it had available could not lead to a conclusive finding about the cause of her sinking.) However, the Court of Inquiry did not reconvene after the 1969 Phase II investigation, and did not take testimony from a group of submarine designers, engineers and physicists who spent nearly a year evaluating the data.

The results of the U.S. Navy's various investigations into the loss of Scorpion are inconclusive. While the Court of Inquiry never endorsed Dr. Craven's torpedo theory regarding the loss of Scorpion, its Findings of Facts released in 1993 carried Craven's torpedo theory at the head of a list of possible causes of Scorpion's loss.
The Navy failed to inform the public that both the U.S. Submarine Force Atlantic and the Commander-in-Chief U.S. Atlantic Fleet opposed Craven's torpedo theory as unfounded and also failed to disclose that a second technical investigation into the loss of Scorpion completed in 1970 actually repudiated claims that a torpedo detonation played a role in the loss of Scorpion. Despite the second technical investigation, the Navy continues to attach strong credence to Craven's view that an explosion destroyed her, as is evidenced by this excerpt from a May 2003 letter from the Navy's Submarine Warfare Division (N77), specifically written by Admiral P.F. Sullivan on behalf of Vice Admiral John J. Grossenbacher (Commander Naval Submarine Forces), the Naval Sea Systems Command, Naval Reactors, and others in the US Navy regarding its view of alternative sinking theories:
The first cataclysmic event was of such magnitude that the only possible conclusion is that a cataclysmic event (explosion) occurred resulting in uncontrolled flooding (most likely the forward compartments).
Some erroneously claim Grossenbacher's (and Sullivan's) determination is drawn solely from the inconclusive Findings of Fact, generated by the US Navy's Court of Inquiry into Scorpion sinking. This is untrue, as their letter (see excerpt below) explicitly mentions their review of a secondary study by the Structural Analysis Group in 1970, and a later report by Dr. Robert Ballard, whose investigative team visited the Scorpion wreck in 1985 using the search for Titanic as a cover since the visit was part of a recently declassified mission to visit Scorpion as well as Thresher, another nuclear sub which was lost off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts.


Pablo J. Álvarez said...

Thanks, I don´t know this brand. Really a big kit. Thanks for the history and a nice model very well done.

Warren Zoell said...

Thanks Pablo - You haven't heard of Moebius Models?
I've built many Moebius kits.

Diego said...

Very good job. How many nuclear submarines must have sunk without it being known.

Warren, you are surrounded, West earthquakes, hurricanes in the East and Yogi Bear looking for food ...

Warren Zoell said...

LOL! Gracias Diego. Aquí está completamente nublado y está nevando.

Pablo J. Álvarez said...

No, probably had not noticed its brand, but I've been reading about it and I find it very interesting.

Warren Zoell said...

You should order some kits for your shop.