Farmington man remembers deadliest submarine disaster in US history

It was the deadliest submarine disaster in US history.
It was the deadliest submarine disaster in US history.
Danny Miller
Danny Miller

FARMINGTON, MO (KFVS/AP) - Fifty years ago on Wednesday, a United States submarine crew reported a garbled message about having a "minor difficulty."

That difficulty ended up being the deadliest submarine disaster in US history.

"The captain and the executive staff had determined that there was a major concern," Danny Miller, a former Navy diver, said. "We've lost communication we don't know why."

It's a day Danny Miller has been trying to forget for 50 years now.

"It's no different than watching the twin towers collapse," Miller said. "You know its going to happen. You people are dying and there's not a thing you can do about it."

According to records, the USS Thresher was doing a normal test run. The nuclear-powered submarine had a lot of 'never before used' functions that needed to be examined.

Still to this day, it is unknown exactly what happened, but in a matter of minutes, 129 men lost their lives.

That's where Miller comes in. He was one of the Skylark divers sent to see what he could find.

"They were in approximately 8,000-feet of water when they exceeded crush depth," Miller said.

Meaning no one was getting to the sub. Now 50 years later, Miller says it is still tough to even think about.

"It's just an anniversary of a tragic incident," Miller said. "We need to remember those and we need to remember the families."

If there is anything to celebrate on this anniversary, Miller points to right back to the men that were aboard the USS Thresher.

"These boys didn't die in vain," Miller said. "We learned something from it. We made our safety standards better. We made our workmanship better and maybe even we train them better."

Copyright 2013 KFVS. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.