Butler County's great daily newspaper

Local man remembers lost sub, 99 friends

May 25, 2018 Digital Media Exclusive

Advertisement | Advertise Here
Photo of Submarine - Scorpion #589 - 50 Year Memorial took place in 2018.

BUTLER TWP — Robert Domanski's 5-month-old daughter saved his life 50 years ago, but nothing over those years could blot out the anguish of losing 99 friends.

Navy veteran Domanski served aboard the USS Scorpion nuclear attack submarine from February 1964 until February 1968, when he decided to forego the sub's upcoming trip to the Mediterranean and leave the Navy to spend time with his wife and baby daughter.

Three weeks later, on May 21 or 22, and for unknown reasons, the Scorpion disappeared into the depths of the Atlantic near the Azores.

“The families were waiting on the piers and the submarine never showed up,” Domanski said sadly.

The 22-year-old and his young wife had discussed Domanski serving on what turned out to be the sub's final mission because he always wanted to see the Mediterranean.

But his final decision was to be a father to his baby.

He thought about the sub's disappearance “constantly” for 30 straight years after she plummeted to her watery grave and took nearly 100 Americans along.

Many of his thoughts are of William Fennick, a Butler man who perished in the submarine.

“We talked about Butler a lot,” Domanski said, his voice trailing off.

The Scorpion was eventually found in 9,800 feet of water with significant structural damage. No bodies were ever recovered.

On Monday, Domanski won't travel to Norfolk or the Azores, where a monument was erected to his 99 friends.

Read more of Domanski and WIlliam Fennick's stories in Sunday's Butler Eagle.

Share this article:
Paula Grubbs

Paula Grubbs

Paula Grubbs is a Butler County native who has been with the Butler and Cranberry Eagle newspapers since June 2000. Grubbs has covered the Mars School District and Middlesex Township for over 20 years with the Eagle and her former employer, the Cranberry Journal. She also covers Adams Township, Evans City and Mars in addition to events and incidents throughout Southwestern Butler County as assigned. Grubbs has taken the lead at the Cranberry Eagle in reporting on shale gas development, which has been a hotly debated topic in the recent past, both locally and nationally. A 1979 graduate of Butler Senior High School and a 1994 graduate of Geneva College, Grubbs has won a Golden Quill and four Keystone state awards, plus an award from the Society of Professional Journalists. Grubbs enjoys following the Penguins, Pirates and Steelers, volunteers with the Connoquenessing Creek Cleanup each summer, and loves spending time outdoors and bird watching at her Penn Township home. Grubbs is the daughter of James R. Davis Sr., of Center Township, and the late Maxine Davis. She has two grown children, Jacqueline and Thomas.