Thresher Dolphins Presented During PACNORWEST Officers' Birthday Ball

Seattle, Washington - Lt.j.g. Thomas M. Grubish, assigned to the Blue crew of the Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarine USS Louisiana (SSBN 743), was presented with USS Thresher submarine dolphins during the 2019 Pacific Northwest Submarine Officers’ Birthday Ball, April 13.

The Thresher dolphins are the submarine warfare qualification device that was worn by the late Lt. Cmdr. John Harvey, commanding officer of USS Thresher (SSN 593). The dolphins are annually presented to the newest qualified junior officer at the Submarine Birthday Ball.

“The single biggest event in the professional life of a submariner is often the pinning of their dolphins,” said Capt. Tiger Pittman, senior deputy, Submarine Development Squadron 5. “This means not only the completion of submarine qualification, but also the earning of their shipmates trust and confidence, conveyed by the phrase ‘having earned my full confidence and Trust’.”

On April 10, 1963, while engaged in a deep test dive, Thresher was lost at sea with 129 Sailors and civilians on board. Thresher was the first nuclear-powered submarine lost at sea and her loss was the largest loss of life in submarine force history. Following the tragedy, the submarine safety program was established and the challenge is to maintain those standards and avoid complacency.

“We must ensure that the lessons learned from this tragedy are never forgotten and that excellence in design, fabrication, operations and training cannot be compromised in modern high performance military systems,” said Rear Adm. John Tammen, Director, Undersea Warfare Division.

To honor and remember the Sailors lost aboard Thresher, Lt. Cmdr. Harvey's dolphins have been worn by a submariner ever since. The dolphins were passed onto retired Capt. Ted Hack by the widow of Harvey. Hack was the first and he wore them for 30 years. On the 50th anniversary of the loss of the Thresher, Capt. Hack started the tradition of giving the dolphins to the newest qualified junior officer, to wear for a year.

“This year is special as the Thresher Memorial will be commissioned at Arlington national cemetery in Washington D.C.,” said Pittman. “Lt.j.g. Grubbish of USS Louisiana Blue was pinned with Lt. Cmdr. Harvey's dolphins just a few moments ago and will represent the submarine force at the USS Thresher Memorial commissioning ceremony this fall. Congratulations Lt.j.g. Grubbish, this is an incredible honor. Wear them well.”

Lt.j.g. Grubish, from Fort Worth, Texas, was commissioned from the University of Michigan Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) in 2016, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in nuclear engineering. He reported onboard Louisiana in January 2018.