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November 20, 2023

Unlucky Be The Name Scorpion

The USS Scorpion (SS-278) was launched on July 20, 1942. It was the fifth Navy ship to be named Scorpion. The others were a sloop, a steamer, a schooner, and a patrol yacht and gunboat that was used in The Spanish-American war in 1898. It had been sold for scrap in 1929 to a firm in Baltimore. As to this incarnation of the Scorpion, it had served admirably and it made an innocuous rendezvous with another boat on the morning of January 5, 1944 which was returning from a patrol. After the rendezvous, the Scorpion was never seen or heard from again. It was reported as "sunk and lost at sea" and that its entire crew was also lost. The best guess is that it may have hit a mine in the Yellow Sea sometime in January of that year, as there is no Japanese documentation that indicates the loss of the Scorpion was as a result of an enemy attack. 

The name Scorpion proved to be unlucky as SSN-589 also bearing the name Scorpion was a nuclear powered submarine that was launched in 1959. 99 crew members went to their watery graves when the submarine was ‘lost’ on May 22, 1968. It had been performing surveillance on some Soviet ships southwest of the Azores. The belief is that the submarine imploded and went to the bottom of the sea. An underwater listening system seemed to catch the sounds of the Scorpion being destroyed. Now as to what may have caused the implosion, opinions vary. It could have been caused by a structural failure, or perhaps a torpedo aboard exploding, or an explosion of a hydrogen battery while it was being charged. No one knows for sure. As of this day, the wreckage of the boat still remains in the North Atlantic Ocean with all its armaments and nuclear reactor intact. The Navy says they continue to monitor the site to make sure that there is no nuclear material leaking.