USS Thresher Disaster Essay


Disaster Essay

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1. Draft of the FINAL submission essay (as soon as possible)

2. FINAL essay (by deadline)

Essay Requirements:

Disaster: USS Thresher

This is a clearly argued essay, 6-8 pages in length, on some specific aspect of the disaster your group studied. You will utilize the resources provided but feel free to conduct additional research. Every essay must engage with, or effectively utilize, at least two primary sources and at least two secondary sources, and more is almost always better. A clear and well-supported argument is essential.

Topic Selections/Perspectives

• why the disaster occurred and how it might have been prevented

• how and what the engineering community learned from it (especially ethics as well as technical understanding)

• what professional historians have argued about the disaster, and how those interpretations of it fit with (or contrast with) bigger themes in historical writing

• how the disaster was remembered/studied by non-engineers and society at large

Your idea/perspective should not overlap directly with other members.

Other members discussed the following perspective of the disaster:

1. Member C: Actual design of the thresher itself and the naval secrecy surrounding the disaster court case.

2. Member M: What historians have to say for or against and how it has changed historical writing.

3. Member J: What and how the engineering learnt from the sister (especially ethics as well as technical understanding)

4. Member H: See Attachment

IMPORTANT: You will emphasize the whole essay based on source 3, so how the implementation was influenced by the disaster is one of the highlights.

Feel free to get technical.

  • Callaghan, P. M. (2002, 04). Inside the Thresher Disaster. Naval History, 16, 51-54,

A piece that carries a deep analysis of the disaster on a much intellectual and sophisticated level from a historian’s point of view. This piece brings up the capability, craftsmanship flaws and the responsible party for this disaster.

2. Holwitt, Joel I. 2018. “The Loss of USS Thresher: Technological and Cultural

Change and the Cold War U.S. Navy.” Journal of Military History 82 (3): 843–72.

A look into a historian’s perspective on how this incident influenced engineering, military and safety culture as a whole. This has implications on how we view and use engineering today. Certain norms and safety standards have also been implemented. Post disaster implications, findings and consequences are also discussed in this piece.

3. Leveson, Nancy G.. Engineering a Safer World : Systems Thinking Applied to

Safety. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2012. Accessed March 19, 2019. ProQuest Ebook Central.

This chapter from the book talks about SUBSAFE (which was implemented to enforce certain standards) due to the disaster. This article touches deep into the technical details of the vessel that led to its demise. Also noted here are the post disaster implication in detail. There are compliance requirements throughout the life of a vessel, from scratch. This piece goes over that in detail and gives a clear picture to how submarines changed forever. I found the SUBSAFE program to be the most detailed and explained here.

4. Yurso, Captain Joseph F. 2017. “Unraveling the Thresher’s Story.” U.S. Naval

Institute Proceedings 143 (10): 38–42.

This short piece discussed the timeline and the role of the thresher along with its supporting vessels. This includes some important timelines and numerical figures that are noteworthy when taking the disaster into account. It is important to note that this disaster was seen as a lesson and the deaths of those on board shouldn’t go in vain, according to the narrator.

Writing Requirements:

• Writing counts, including appropriate grammar, punctuation, and vocabulary.

• Use “Turabian” or “Chicago Notes/Bibliography” formatting style for references. Place these

complete references in footnotes at the bottom of each page of your paper. (Footnotes are easy to

create in word processing programs, for example Ctrl-Alt-F inWord, footnote{note text}

in LATEX, or Insert->Footnote/Endnote in LibreOffice Writer, will make one for you.) There

are many guides to how to format notes properly in this style; one is:…

• Use a standard typeface such as Times New Roman, Helvetica, or similar, in 10 or 12 point


• Please double-space your sentences and use 1 inch margins throughout.

• No need for separate title page sheets, but do be sure your formal papers have titles.

• An image or two as needed to help illustrate your point is welcome, however the images do

not count toward your essay length obligations.


• Essay length is expressed in a range of full pages of text (e.g. 5-8 pages)

• I am always happy to discuss your essay ideas outside of class. If you like, I will give your

essay draft a quick, big-picture skim evaluation if you bring a copy to office hours to discuss

it with me. Proofreading for errors is your own responsibility.

• For additional questions about writing, I urge you to consult William Kelleher Storey,Writing

History: A Guide for Students (on reserve in the library)

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