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Why the USS Scorpion (SSN 589) Was Lost: The Death of a Submarine in the North Atlantic Hardcover – October 31, 2011
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The author is highly convincing in debunking the theories that the Soviets sank the submarine. The more likely theory, he finds, is that a battery explosion, fire, or release of toxins disabled the crew, causing the boat to lose neutral buoyancy, sink, and collapse under sea pressure at great depth.
The author's credentials are very strong. He was for 40 years an acoustic signals analyst at the Office of Naval Intelligence. He is at the top of the class of credentialed technical experts in his field. In analyzing the acoustic signals from this catastrophe, he is operating in his area of professional strength.
I rate this book as far more believable than any of the books written by authors of lesser (or non-existent) technical qualifications.
I am the author of "Silent Steel: The Mysterious Death of the Nuclear Attack Sub USS Scorpion." Silent Steel: The Mysterious Death of the Nuclear Attack Sub USS Scorpion Soon after the publication of my book, it was my great good fortune to come into contact with retired Office of Naval Intelligence hydroacoustic physicist and analyst Bruce Rule.
We hit it off because he was a man of great intelligence, wit and principle. He was fearless in his desire to withstand outside pressures to learn what happened to the Scorpion. (When it looked like they're might be a small chance the two of us and others might be into a bit of trouble with the Navy -- who sought the return of the hydroacoustic recording used by Mr. Rule in his analysis of the Scorpion tragedy -- Mr. Rule stood firm and continued his work.)
Over the years I have provided him details and formerly classified documents I accumulated while researching my own book. Later, when the aforementioned scientific grade copy of the original Columbia University hydroacoustic recordings of the Scorpion's sinking emerged for him to analyze, I was able to provide him an original hand-drawn map showing the location of the hydrophones that detected the Scorpion death sounds off La Palma Island in the Canary Island group. I am therefore somewhat familiar with his methodologies which were driven by data and not by a personal agenda.
I will also attest that I am familiar with his background, his expertise and his sterling reputation in the naval scientific community. I admire his honesty and independence. I know scientists who worked with Mr. Rule during the Cold War and they respect his character and his ability.
Mr. Rule, like me, was appalled at the fictionalization and commercialization of the tragedy that caused the loss of the Scorpion and the 99 men aboard her.
Not only is Mr. Rule a gentleman and someone devoted to the facts, he also has a genuine desire to treat this naval disaster and the memory of those who died with the utmost respect. He was unconcerned with where the acoustical data led him. He only wanted to glean facts from the evidence. Like me, he thought the families of the Scorpion's dead deserved no less.
In his role as an hydroacoustic analyst with ONI, Mr. Rule provided hydroacoustic data to the 1963 Naval Court of Inquiry into the loss of the USS Thresher, the lead ship of a then-new class of nuclear attack submarines that sank to crush depth on its first test depth dive following a difficult and problematic overhaul.
Incredibly, five years later, Mr. Rule was not called to testify before the Court of Inquiry into the loss of the Scorpion despite his very specific specialty of analyzing Deep Sound Channel hydroacoustic signals produced by submarines. This was a grave mistake and one of several misguided and bad decisions made during the original investigation into the loss of the Scorpion that resulted in a confusing and incomplete analysis of the disaster. Missteps and invalid assumptions during the Scorpion's original inquiry have created unnecessary confusion for decades and required a second investigation a year after its loss that I uncovered and revealed in detail in my book "Silent Steel."
Mr. Rule used his considerable skills to learn what he could from the hydroacoustic signals of the Scorpion's demise and was able to ascertain Scorpion likely suffered two internal explosions separated by a fraction of a second that did not penetrate the hull to enter the open sea. (He did not detect far more massive torpedo blast explosions that would have obliterated Scorpion's torpedo room which is fully intact. Torpedo blasts would have also invariably created a "bubble pulse" which all experts agree do not appear in the recordings or the low frequency and analysis gram.)
Mr. Rule has speculated that the Scorpion's main storage battery might have produced enough hydrogen gas to generate a pair of smaller explosions, something that has happened previously on American submarines. How this might have happened is not fully clear and more data is needed that might only be available through an additional evidence mission to the Scorpion's wreck site.
While others may disagree with his findings, especially if they are pushing a specific loss theory, or because his field of expertise is too complex for lay persons to fully understand, I consider his efforts a solid step forward in helping to understand how Scorpion may have been lost.
Owing to my long process of researching the loss of the Scorpion, I've grown wary of endorsing any specific theory about why it was lost until a preponderance of evidence will allow reasonable observers to be fully convinced. However, I'm convinced that Mr. Rule's work provides valuable insight into what may be an important link in the chain of events that led to the loss of the Scorpion.
During the secondary (Phase II) investigation into the loss of Scorpion, intensive interest was paid to main storage battery fragments from the lost submarine's 64 ton battery with scientific analysis done by the Navy revealing the possibility of an explosion occurring inside the battery well along the keel of the Scorpion.
Mr. Rule's own analysis has now returned us to long-held suspicions about a potential mishap involving the main storage battery, the issue originally noted by the Structural Analysis Group that was part of the Phase II investigation.
Some have kindly noted that my book, "Silent Steel" is a good primer for those who might want to read Mr. Rule's book "Why The USS Scorpion Was Lost." I appreciate this suggestion because as one who believes in facts, I feel my own book is in good company with Mr. Rule's selfless effort.
I should point out Mr. Rule also provided invaluable technical assistance to Norman Polmar and Michael White in their breakthrough book "Project Azorian" Project Azorian: The CIA and the Raising of K-129 [Hardcover]that provides the most complete and technically accurate review of the 1970s CIA project to raise the sunken Soviet submarine K-129.
The Scorpion is a girl who has hidden her secrets well and I learned long ago to never take the simple path when trying to understand what caused the loss of that submarine. Mr. Rule's book provides important food for thought on this tragedy.
Author of "Silent Steel: The Mysterious Death of the Nuclear Attack Sub USS Scorpion
To echo another reviewer - this is not a novel it is a series of technical scientific letters. It is not a casual read.