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Maritime Image of the Day: “USS Skate Surfaces at North Pole”

PortandTerminal.com, December 31, 2019

HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA – Today’s “Maritime Image of the Day” features the USS Skate (SSN-578), the first submarine to surface at the North Pole. Commissioned in 1957, the Skate was the third nuclear submarine to be commissioned and the second to reach the North Pole.

On her first trip to the North Pole in 1958, the Skate was unable to surface due to dangerous ice conditions. Her second trip to the pole though proved to be the charm. After blowing her tanks and slowly forcing her way upwards through the thick pack ice she became the first sub to surface at the North Pole on March 17, 1959.

Navy personnel standing on Arctic ice in the night. Submarine tower in the background with numbers 578 stencilled in white. One Navy crew member holds a burning flare.
Photo by Commander James F. Calvert of the USS Skate (March 17, 1959)

After surfacing at the pole, two-dozen of the Skate’s crew gathered to hold a ceremony to scatter the ashes of the legendary Australian explorer Sir George Hubert Wilkins. In 1931, Wilkins had conducted an Arctic expedition in the disarmed research submarine Nautilus (ex-USS O-12). 

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