USS SKATE (SSN-578)
Skate (SSN-578) was laid down on 21
July 1955 by General Dynamics Corp. (Electric Boat Co. Div.), Groton,
Conn.; launched on 16 May 1957; sponsored by Mrs. Lewis L. Strauss; and
commissioned on 23 December 1957, Comdr. James F. Calvert in command.
Skate conducted shakedown training out
of New London
until 28 January 1958 when she cruised to the Bermuda
operating area; returning to her homeport on 8 February. Sixteen days later, the nuclear powered submarine set a
course for Portland, England. Before returning
home, she had also visited ports in France and the Netherlands.
On 30 July, 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 ship to reach the North Pole. On 23 August, she steamed
Norway. The submarine made port calls in the Netherlands,
Belgium, and France before returning to New London on 25 September 1958.
In the following months, Skate, as the first ship
of her class, conducted various tests in the vicinity of her homeport.
In early March 1959, 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
17 March, 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
. . . In the fall of 1959 and in 1960, Skate participated in exercises
that were designed to strengthen American antisubmarine defenses.
Skate returned to General Dynamics Corp. in January 1961
for a regular overhaul and to have her reactor refueled for the first
time. She put to sea in August and, for the next 11 months, conducted exercises
to increase the operational readiness of her crew.
7 July 1962, Skate again pointed her bow towards the North Pole. Five
days later, Seadragon (SSN-584), based
in Pearl Harbor, did likewise. The mission of the two submarines was to
rendezvous under the ice there. 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 2 August and official greetings and
insignia of the Submarine Forces,
Atlantic Fleet and Pacific Fleet,
Skate returned to New London and performed fleet and
local operations for the next several years. She entered the Norfolk
Naval Shipyard on 28 April 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 Thresher
(SSN-593) in 1963. After sea
trials and a shakedown cruise in the Caribbean, the submarine returned to New London and participated in exercises involved in the development of new undersea tactics
In October 1968, Skate was deployed to the
Mediterranean where she operated with the 6th Fleet for two months.
The polar veteran operated under Arctic ice again in March and April of
1969, in October of 1970, and in February 1971. The remainder of her at sea time
was spent in various Atlantic Fleet and NATO exercises. In July of
1971, Skate began her third regular overhaul at the Norfolk Naval
Shipyard and did not return to New London until 17 November 1973. Into August
1974, Skate is still operating as a unit of the Atlantic
[Note: The above USS SKATE (SSN-578) history may, or may not, contain text provided by crew members of the USS SKATE (SSN-578), or by other non-crew members, and text from the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships]