East of Portsmouth, NH Submarine USS THRESHER Lost, Apr 1963
THRESHER IS LOST AT SEA.
129 MEN LOST LIVES.
NAVY ADMITS SUB HAS MET TRAGIC END.
The prayers of thousands of Portsmouth area residents went out today for 129 men who have died in history's worst peacetime submarine disaster.
In a salty grave 8,400 feet deep in the Atlantic, 220 miles east of Portsmouth, lies the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard's pride and joy -- the U.S.S. THRESHER -- and the men who sailed out of here on her two days ago.
The hopes of many area residents for a miracle to bring the sub and the men aboard her back to Portsmouth were dashed early this afternoon in Washington.
That's when Adm. George W. Anderson, chief of naval operations, "reluctantly came to the conclusion that the THRESHER has indeed been lost."
His statement also crushed the optimism which for hours buoyed the saddened spirits of parents, wives, families, friends and neighbors of the THRESHER men.
Navy officials here weren't saying so officially, but the looks on their faces -- after 24 hours of worrisome, watchful waiting -- told the story, one now confirmed by the Navy at the Pentagon.
The end of a sub rated as the fastest and deepest diving ever in the Navy's service puts a most sorrowful form of tragedy on the doorstep of 40 Portsmouth area homes.
Here live the wives and families of 30 Navy men, 3 shipyard officers and 7 shipyard employes.
Six other shipyard workers from communities farther away in New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts were on the THRESHER when she left here Tuesday morning at 8 o'clock.
Also on the sub -- when it submerged at 9:17 yesterday morning and disappeared without a trace -- were 79 other Navy men and 4 employes of firms which supplied electronic equipment aboard the THRESHER.
In many Portsmouth area homes this morning, mothers somehow found words with which to tell their children "Daddy" might not come home again.
This was the greatest problem many of these women pondered during the long hours of last night.
Shipyard Chaplain ASA W. JONES, who called on many such families during the night, told newsmen early today mothers repeatedly asked him: "How can I tell the children their father isn't coming home?"
Chaplain JONES and the shipyard's two other chaplains made their rounds most of the night and again today doing, in Chaplain JONES' words "all we can to comfort them."
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