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Book Review, NRJ 60.2

May 15, 2015 12:00 PM | David Eddy

Silent Strength: Remembering the Men of Genius and Adventure Lost in the World’s Worst Submarine Disaster

D. Allan Kerr

Silent Strength (which takes its name from the motto of USS Thresher) is a compilation of articles by D. Allen Kerr published during 2013 to commemorate to fiftieth anniversary of the boat’s loss as tributes to the men who served aboard the submarine. As such, it does not concentrate heavily on the design or construction aspects, nor on details of Thresher’s loss, but more on its legacy.

From an operational perspective, Thresher’s most important legacy (as Kerr notes frequently) was the development and implementation of SUBSAFE: the Navy’s quality assurance program designed to maintain the safety of the nuclear submarine fleet. Thresher also was the lead boat for the fleet’s advanced attack submarines designed to hunt down and overcome the Soviet Union’s expanding nuclear submarine force through speed, silence, deep-diving ability, and the deployment of advanced technologies.

 Thresher’s human legacy is the lives of the 129 sailors lost in this tragic disaster. The story of many of their lives is the central element of Kerr’s book. Kerr’s skillful writing brings out, over and over again, the accomplishments of seemingly ordinary men, from a whole range of social and educational backgrounds, who came together as a cohesive team to operate this submarine that was on the cutting technological edge of its time, thanks to training, dedication, enthusiasm, selflessness, and commitment. This is a fascinating exploration of the often obscure nature of the submarine service’s social history.

Silent Strength’s melding of operational and technical history with evocative retellings of the lives of Thresher’s crew is a wonderful tribute to these men.

  • Portsmouth, New Hampshire: Jetty House, 2014
  • 6-1/4” x 9-1/4”, hardcover, xvix + 124 pages
  • Photographs. $29.95
  • ISBN: 9781937721190

Reviewed by Michael O’Brien, Tampa, Florida

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