Scorpion Down - Sunk by the Soviets, Buried by the Pentagon: The Untold Story of the USS Scorpion ~ Ed Offley / Basic Books / 2007 / 482 pp.
Mr. Offley is a graduate of the University of Virginia, served in the US Navy in Vietnam, and since then has been an investigative military reporter.
On Wednesday, May 22, 1968, the submarine USS Scorpion (SSN 589) failed to return to Pier 22 at the Norfolk Naval Station. The nuclear missile sub, and its crew of ninety-nine were never heard from again. The wreckage was eventually found... 11,100 feet below the surface of the Atlantic. The US Navy has maintained to this day that the Scorpion suffered a major malfunction underwater and never recovered.
Using recently declassified US and Soviet naval documents, Mr. Offley shows that the US Navy has long covered up what really happened. SSN 589 was struck amidships by a torpedo fired from a Russian Echo II submarine.
Why did the Soviets attack the Scorpion? According to Soviet documents and interviews, this was payback. The Soviets firmly believed that one of their missile subs, K-129, sank in the Pacific with all hands after it had been rammed by the USS Swordfish (SSN 579). Ten days after the K-129 vanished, the Swordfish limped into the US Seventh Fleet headquarters at Yokosuka, Japan. The Swordfish had suffered severe mast damage and docked for repairs. The damage was so severe that the Swordfish was not seaworthy for one and a half years.
Mr. Offley also discovered another disturbing item during his interviews with former Soviet Navy officials. During the Six Day War, the Soviet command had dispatched an Echo-II class nuclear sub (K-172) to the Mediterranean. The K-172 commander, Captain Nikolai Shashkov, described his orders as "to be ready to make a rocket strike on the coast of Israel." K-172 was armed with eight SS-N-3 Shaddock cruise missiles each armed with a 300-kiloton nuclear warhead. Upon receipt of a coded signal from Soviet Navy headquarters in Moscow, Shashkov was to surface the K-172 and and fire his eight missiles at Israel. The trigger point, Shashkov explained, was if Israel or its Western allies invaded Syria. In the end, the fatal order never arrived and K-172 ended its patrol and headed home. Captain Shashkov has testified that to his amazement upon returning to port, Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev was on the docking pier to greet the K-172.