This memorial in Newport News is dedicated to the 99 sailors who went down with the U.S.S. Scorpion (SSN-589), a nuclear submarine that went down 400 miles southwest of the Azores. The ship was declared lost on June 5, 1968 after failing to return home from a 3 month deployment. The memorial is in Huntington Park, adjacent to the Virginia War Museum, and is part of the Still On Patrol nationwide series of monuments dedicated to U.S. submarines and crews lost during World War II.
U.S.S. Scorpion (SSN 589) was a nuclear submarine, and the sixth U.S. Navy vessel to bear the name. In May of 1968, it vanished into the Atlantic with 99 crew members, having previously departed the Navy base in Norfolk, VA on February 15 for a three-month
deployment. Due for a return to port on May 27, 1968, her disappearance quickly caused consternation among Navy officials and family members of the crew.
skipper Commander Francis A. Slattery's final transmission to headquarters took place on May 22, reporting the sub's impending return on Memorial Day, May 29 at 1pm. As customary, the Navy publicly announced the vessel's return to port 72 hours prior to its expected arrival.
At 3:15pm on May 29, only hours after Scorpion was supposed to have arrived at her berth in Norfolk, the Navy officially reported the vessel as missing, and issued the orders that would spark the largest U.S. naval operation since the Cuban Missile Crisis six years earlier. Navy ships scoured the waters of the East Coast and the point of her last transmission in the Azores.
Scorpion was declared “presumed lost” on June 5, 1968 by the Chief of Naval
operations, Admiral Thomas H. Moorer. The Navy released little information
on the disappearance, and conspiracy theories of Soviet involvement soon surfaced. But the search for the missing sub continued, even while a Navy administrative investigation looked for clues back in the United States.
In October came shattering news. The Scorpion had been found. A search flotilla led by USNS Mizar, an oceanographic research vessel, had discovered the wreckage of the missing sub by photographing the ocean floor with a towed research sled. The broken hull of the Scorpion was found southwest of the Azores, in a search radius that had been triangulated using signals that scientists believed had originated when the submarine sank on May 22. The Navy announced the discovery on Oct. 30, 1968.
Unfortunately the wreckage did not lead to answers. The investigative panel concluded that, “The certain cause of the loss of Scorpion cannot be ascertained by any evidence now available.1