U.S. nuclear sub missing

By Donald H. May

WASHINGTON -- An armada of Navy hunter planes, warships and submarines fanned out over a 2,100-mile stretch of the gale-lashed Atlantic today searching for the "overdue" nuclear-powered submarine Scorpion and her 99 men.

From the Azores to the Virginia capes, all-weather P2 and P3 sub hunter planes packed with sophisticated electronic gear designed to detect submerged submarines flew low over the stormy seas hoping to make contact with the Scorpion.


Vice Adm. A.F. Schade, commander of the submarine forces for the Atlantic Fleet, arrived off the Virginia coast early today aboard the nuclear submarine Pargo to take charge of the 37-ship task force hunting for the Scorpion.

Diving Bells

Six other nuclear submarines, running submerged with their sonar probing the ocean depths, were also taking part in the search for their sister ship. Three submarine rescue vessels which carry diving bells for taking crewmen off stricken subs were standing by.

There were 87 enlisted men and 12 officers aboard the 253- foot, 3,075-ton, submarine.

Adm. Hyman G. Rickover, probably the world's foremost expert on nuclear submarines, told newsmen in Washington r "We just don't know what happened. We just can't tell."

The Scorpion, which was reported "overdue" at Norfolk, Va., at midday Monday, was last heard from at 8 p.m. EDT May 21, when it radioed a position report just south of the Azores.


It was making a submerged run home from a bth f leet training mission in the Mediterranean.

Adm. Thomas H. Moorer, chief of naval operations, said he was concerned about the Scorpion but stressed that the Navy still considers the vessel "overdue" and not "missing."

The weather was described as "very, very bad" in the Western Atlantic, with winds gusting up to 65 miles an hour, whipping up 20-foot seas. Because of this, there was speculation that the sub's skipper, Cmdr. Francis A. Slattery, 36, of Virginia Beach, Va., might have decided to wait things out off the continental shelf.

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