• The Death of the USS Thresher

  • The Story Behind History's Deadliest Submarine Disaster
  • By: Norman Polmar
  • Narrated by: Sean Crisden
  • Length: 5 hrs and 6 mins
  • Categories: History, Military
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (71 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

When she first went to sea in April of 1961, the US nuclear submarine Thresher was the most advanced submarine at sea, built specifically to hunt and kill Soviet submarines. In The Death of the USS Thresher, renowned naval and intelligence consultant Norman Polmar recounts the dramatic circumstances surrounding her implosion, which killed all 129 men onboard in history's first loss of a nuclear submarine.

This revised edition of Polmar's 1964 classic is based on interviews with the Thresher's first command officer, other submarine officers, and the designers of the submarine. Polmar provides recently declassified information about the submarine and relates the loss to subsequent US and Soviet nuclear submarine sinkings as well as to the escape and rescue systems developed by the navy in the aftermath of the disaster.

The Death of the USS Thresher is a must-listen for the legions of fans who enjoyed the late Peter Maas' New York Times best seller The Terrible Hours.

©2004 Norman Polmar (P)2017 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"Submarines and underwater navigation have long interested people, even some of the most dyed-in-the-wool landlubbers. One worthy 'new' book about submarines is The Death of the U.S.S. Thresher. It was written in 1964. This new edition has been updated by its author, Norman Polmar, to incorporate information that has been declassified since the book was first published." (AP Newswires)

What listeners say about The Death of the USS Thresher

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Great History Book

There is nothing I did not like about this book. A great history book about a atomic Submarine that was lost.

1 person found this helpful

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The People Deserve the Truth

I was attracted to this audiobook because of an article titled "The People Deserve the Truth" on Friday, September 11, 2020, Manchester Union Leader newspaper. The article stated that out of over 1700 papers, only 19 have been released. The author of this audiobook concludes that the cause of the disaster is inconclusive. I was also curious about this book because of a meeting with a man who claimed to be one of two engineers who refused to go on Thresher out of protest. I was introduced to him by his adult daughter, a licensed therapist. This older man explained in detail how he reported and protested against the Thresher going on sea trials. He maintains the Thresher would not have survived a test drive. After the loss of the Thresher, this man was interrogated by both the Naval Investigative Service and the FBI. He said he was accused of sabotage and of being a Soviet agent. It was obvious he had been rattled by someone at one time. He said he would never go public. His daughter said he had a nervous breakdown from the visits and interrogations. She said their family disintegrated because of the trauma of his interrogations and his breakdown. I was looking for anything that would support what I had heard. The book doesn't go that deep into conspiracies or coverups. One thing is for certain, the Navy is hiding something and waiting for everyone to die off. This was my first book on the Thresher. I was hoping for a greater revelation. There must be more somewhere.

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The reader could have been better

I would have liked the narrative to be somewhat slower. However I liked the story line.

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Riveting account with no fluff.

Excellent details, no filler. I listened to this in one, uninterrupted shot. I've read Blind Man's Bluff (highly recommend) and a few other sub related books because my Dad served the Navy in the Silent Service for 20 years. I see submarines daily because of where I settled. I learned a lot about submarines by listening to this book. Sidenote/spoiler: In discussing the new DSRV service, I was surprised that the nuclear-powered DSRV NR-1 and her support vessel, The Carolyn Chouest, were not mentioned. The NR-1 ended up assisting in the salvage of The Challenger, and finding The Titanic.

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I REMEMBER THESE HEROES

As a US Navy Machinist Mate, I thought I knew all I needed to know about the Thresher, but this book opened up my mind to much more, but before critiquing the book, I send out my condolences to the family members still alive, that still are alive and still feel that void in their hearts. I could not believe the Navy had a depth test off the continental shelf itself, as I think it has no common sense behind it, and it's not good science or physics in this case. What's the difference if you stay on the shelf and find a spot that's 900 foot, rather than thousands of feet off the shelf, and on a shake down cruise? There is no rational reason to carry this out, and you owe the crew to have the bottom of the sea under them and at a depth under the crush depth of the boat. If the Navy is still sending boats boats at 900 to 1200 feet below sea level under normal operations, there is no wartime reason for that. Another matter that caught my attention was tying the sub to the pier at the stern and then going to full power, did someone ever think that you needed forward momentum to protect the wedges of the thrust bearing. Hopefully they have quit going that deep right out of drydock, but these men did not have to die, as it is enough to know about the crush depth, but you don't have to go to the razors edge in testing a manned submarine. I think the cause was the WW11 mentally at that time, as I experienced that myself on occasion back then. One more thing that bothered me was I thought all our boats came out of Electric Boat in CT? These boats are like Swiss watches, and you have the responsibility to get them built their alone. If you are an Engineer, it won't take long to find out that Admiral Rickenbacker was a self centered individual and narcissist and he was wrong more that correct in running the nuclear Navy in 50s and 60s. He forgot at times that men made the boat, not a simple nuclear reactor. My goodness this book pissed me off, as this was no instant death, but experiencing terror, and sounds from hell, as this boat sank to its demise. I think it might only have been 15 seconds, but everyone on that boat knew they were going to die, and if they had the shelf below them, these men might have survived.

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    4 out of 5 stars

loved it

very informative to me as a submariner who sailed on the sister ship SSN-621 USS Hafdock