USS Skate SSN-578, first surfaced at the North Pole

On July 30, Skate steamed to the Arctic where she operated under the ice for 10 days. During this time, she surfaced nine times through the ice, navigated over 2,400 miles under it, and became the second; Nautilus was the first, boat to reach the North Pole.

On August 23, she steamed into Bergen, Norway. The submarine made port calls in the Netherlands, Belgium, and France before returning to New London on September 25, 1958.

In early March 1959, commanding officer Cdr. James F. Calvert, she again headed for the Arctic to pioneer operations during the period of extreme cold and maximum ice thickness. The submarine steamed 3,900 miles under pack ice while surfacing through it 10 times. On March 17, she surfaced at the North Pole to commit the ashes of the famed explorer Sir Hubert Wilkins to the Arctic waste. When the submarine returned to port, she was awarded a bronze star in lieu of a second Navy Unit Commendation for demonstrating " ... for the first time the ability of submarines to operate in and under the Arctic ice in the dead of winter ... ."

Skate returned to General Dynamics Corp. in January 1961 for a regular overhaul and to have her reactor refueled for the first time.

On July 7, 1962 Skate again pointed her bow towards the North Pole. Five days later, USS Seadragon SSN-584, based in Pearl Harbor, did likewise. The mission of the two submarines was to rendezvous under the ice. They began rendezvous procedures on 31 July. After the historic meeting, the two ships operated together for over a week. Both submarines surfaced at the North Pole on August 2ed and official greetings and insignia of the Submarine Force, Atlantic Fleet and Pacific Fleet, were exchanged.

Skate returned to New London and performed fleet and local operations for the next several years. She entered the Norfolk Naval Shipyard on April 28, 1965 for nuclear refueling and installation of the SUBSAFE package, and remained there until September 1967. Skate was the first submarine to finish this major conversion program which was instituted after the loss of USS Thresher SSN-593 in 1963.

On September 12, 1986 Skate was decommission and her name was stuck from the navy list.

Specifications, USS Skate SSN-578:
The lead boat in a class of four double hull submarines. Keel laid down by Electric Boat Div., General Dynamics Corp., Groton, CT on July 21, 1955; launched May 16, 1957 and commissioned December 23, 1957.
Displacement (srf/sub tons): 2,550/2,860
Dimensions (L*B*D feet): 267`7*25`0*20`0
Propulsion: Westinghouse Pressurized Water Reactor (PWR), geared steam turbine, twin screw
Speed (srf/sub knots): 23/18
Range (srf/sub miles@knots): not relevant
Diving depth (feet): 700
Complement: 8 officers 76 enlisted
Missile: none
Torpedo: 6*21" (533 mm) bow torpedo tubes,2*21" stern torpedo tubes
Armament: none

Back to History Index

Image Country Year Description
United States USS Nautilus, SSN-571, Silver anniversary, Mare Island CA, 30 Sep', 1979
Central African Rep. 1995 Marilyn Monroe. USS Skate SSN-578, at the North pole 22.3.1959 in margin
Saint Thomas 2006 US Submarine Skate (SSN-578) breaking through the ice cup
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