One Navy admiral called it "one of the greatest unsolved sea mysteries of our era". To this day, the U.S. Navy officially describes it an inexplicable accident. For decades, the real story of the disaster has eluded journalists, historians, and the family members of the lost crew. But a small handful of Navy and government officials knew the truth from the very beginning: the sinking of the nuclear submarine U.S.S. Scorpion and its crew of 99 men, on May 22, 1968, was an act of war. In this major work of historical reporting, Ed Offley reveals that the sinking of the Scorpion has never been a mystery, but rather a secret buried by the U.S. government in a frantic attempt to keep the Cold War from turning into a hot war. The Soviets had torpedoed the Scorpion in reprisal for the destruction of the Soviet missile sub K-129, which the Americans had sunk in the Pacific just 10 weeks earlier. But why does the U.S. Navy continue to hide the real story of what happened on that fateful day in 1968?In Scorpion Down, military reporter Ed Offley tells the true story for the first time and dramatically recounts a little-known episode that nearly brought about World War III. And he conclusively demonstrates that the Navy's official account of the Scorpion incident, from the frantic open-ocean hunt for the wreckage to a court of inquiry's final conclusions, is nothing more than a carefully constructed series of lies.More
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A detailed conspiracy theory
It was well done, however the constant mispronunciation of Submariner is irritating
ED Offley offers a detailed conspiracy theory that the USS Scorpion (SSN - 589) was sunk by a torpedo fired by a Soviet Submarine during a secret mission in May 1968.
The author provides some convincing evidence that the submarine was sent on an intelligence gathering mission after a successful patrol in the Mediterranean when the US Navy discovered a group of Soviet Surface ships and a submarine operating near the Canary Islands when the Scorpion was on its way home.
The theory is that the Soviet submarine reacted aggressively to the presence of the Scorpion and in retaliation for the Loss of the K129 in March 1968 (which they might have believed was lost due to a collision with the USS Swordfish) in the Pacific and proceeded to sink the submarine.
It is suggested that Soviets might of known that the Scorpion was sent to spy on their operation because of they had compromised the US Navy’s secret communication network. It’s argued that the North Korean’s captured the USS Pueblo in January 1968 under orders from the Russian’s to obtain it’s secret communication gear to make best use of the data and cryptographic keys flowing in from the Walker spy ring (which started operating in 1967) allowing them to ambush the submarine.
Offley claims that the US Navy knew almost immediately about the loss of the Scorpion and the fact that it was sunk by the Soviet Union due to the then Top Secret SOSUS listening posts in the Atlantic and launched a limited search operation before the Navy publically admitted it was overdue to return to its home port.
The reason why the US Navy did not publicise the sinking of the Scorpion was down to the fact that they were worried that the incident could lead to WW3 especially since tensions were already high due to America’s increasing involvement in South Vietnam and the loss of the K129. If the Americans were responsible for the loss of the K129 then they may have accepted the loss of the Scorpion and covered up the events leading up to its loss.
The account of the reasons for the loss of Scorpion is not very convincing, the evidence is circumstantial and lacks any kind of primary evidence. I find it difficult to believe that the Soviet navy ordered the sinking of the submarine or that a rogue commander of the Soviet sub acted without authorisation and care of the consequences and fired the torpedo. It would have been an open secret in the Soviet Navy which would have almost certainly have leaked out after the fall of the Soviet Union.