The Thresher

By Phil Ochs

Intro: Bm G F# Bm Em A F#

   Bm         G           F#      Bm
In Portsmouth town on the eastern shore

      Em          A        F#
Where many a fine ship was born.

    Bm           G
The Thresher was built

         F#           Bm
And the Thresher was launched

         Em           A           F#
And the crew of the Thresher was sworn.

          Bm           G
She was shaped like a tear

          F#          Bm
She was built like a shark

         Em          A       F#
She was made to run fast and free.

          Bm                   G
And the builders shook their hands

         F#                    Bm
And the builders shared their wine,

       Em                  A           F#
And thought that they had mastered the sea.

      Bm                F#
Yes, she'll always run silent

     Em                F#
And she'll always run deep

            Em           Bm
Though the ocean has no pity

            A                F#
Though the waves will never weep

They'll never weep.

And they marvelled at her speed
marvelled at her depth
marvelled at her deadly design.
And they sailed to every land
And they sailed to every port
Just to see what faults they could find.
Then they put her on the land
For nine months to stand
And they worked on her from stem to stern.
But they could never see
It was their coffin to be
For the sea was waiting for their return.

Yes, she'll always run silent
And she'll always run deep
Though the ocean has no pity
And the waves will never weep
They'll never weep.

On a cold Wednesday morn
They put her her out to sea
When the waves they were nine feet high.
And they dove beneath the waves
And they dove to their graves
And they never said a last goodbye.
And its deeper and deeper
And deeper they dove
Just to see what their ship could stand.
But the hull gave a moan
And the hull gave a groan
And they plunged to the deepest darkest sand.

Now she lies in the depths
Of the darkened ocean floor
Covered by the waters cold and still.
Oh can't you see the wrong
She was a death ship all along
Died before she had a chance to kill.

And sheŽll never run silent,
And sheŽll never run deep,
For the ocean had no pity
And the waves, they never weep,
They never weep.

[Alternate final verse from an early Broadside tape]

And it's 8000 fathoms of the water above
And over 100 men below
And sealed in their tomb
Is the cause of their doom
That only the sea will ever know


On the morning of April 10, 1963, the USS Thresher (SSN 593) proceeded to conduct sea trials about 200 miles off the coast of Cape Cod. At 9:13 a.m., the USS Skylark (a surface vessel assigned to assist Thresher) received a signal, via underwater telephone, indicating that the submarine was experiencing minor difficulties, have positive up-angle, attempting to blow.

Shortly afterward, the Skylark received a series of garbled, undecipherable message fragments from the Thresher. At 9:18 a.m., the Skylark’s sonar picked up the sounds of the submarine breaking apart. All 129 hands were lost -- 112 military and 17 civilian technicians.

Text from For further info see the NOVA show Submarines, Secrets, and Spies for more Thresher and Scorpion (which departed and never returned) info.

Last modified 31 Mar 02 by trent