SKATE USS (SSN-578)

Built as a nuclear submarine under yard no 147 by Electric Boat Co, Groton for the USA Navy.
18 July 1955 ordered.
21 July 1955 laid down.
16 May 1957 launched as the USS SKATE (SSN-578)
Displacement 2,590 ton surfaced, 2,894 ton submerged, dim. 81.56 x 7.6 m,
Powered by S3W nuclear reactor, geared steam turbines, two shafts, 6,600 shp (4,900 kW)., twin shafts, speed 15.5 knots surfaced, 18 knots submerged.
Armament: 8 – 21 inch torpedo tubes, 6 forward and 2 aft.
Crew 84.
23 December 1957 commissioned.

USS SKATE (SSN-578), the third submarine of the United States Navy named for the SKATE, a type of ray, was the lead ship of the Skate class of nuclear submarines. She was the third nuclear submarine commissioned, the first to make a completely submerged trans-Atlantic crossing, and the second submarine to reach the North Pole and the first to surface there.

The contract to build her was awarded to the Electric Boat division of General Dynamics on 18 July 1955, and her keel was laid in Groton, Connecticut on 21 July 1955. She was launched on 16 May 1957 sponsored by Mrs. Lewis L. Strauss, and commissioned on 23 December 1957 with Commander James F. Calvert in command.

Operational history
SKATE conducted shakedown training out of New London, Connecticut until 29 January 1958, when she cruised to the Bermuda operating area, then returned to her home port on 8 February. Sixteen days later, the nuclear powered submarine set a course for the Isle of Portland, England. Before returning home, she had also visited ports in France and the Netherlands.
On 30 July, SKATE sought 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 (3,900 km) under it, and on 11 August, 9:47 pm EDT (the week after USS NAUTILUS ) became the second sea ship to reach the North Pole. SKATE was unable to surface precisely at the Pole on the August voyage due to dangerous ice conditions as noted in the captain's 1960 book, Surface at the Pole: The Extraordinary Voyages of the USS SKATE, where Calvert said, "Seldom had the ice seemed so heavy and so thick as it did in the immediate vicinity of the pole. For days we had searched in vain for a suitable opening to surface in." The closest was to make radio contact at the surface from a polynya around 30 nm away, but not to surface fully owing to the risk of damage from ice. SKATE did manage to surface and make contact with Drifting Ice Station Alpha at 85ºN, 300 nm away.
After being denied access to visit Copenhagen in Denmark, she sailed into Bergen, Norway on 23 August. There she was inspected by king Olav V of Norway, US ambassador Frances E. Willis and minister of defence Nils Handal. The submarine made port calls in the Netherlands, Belgium, and France before returning to New London on 25 September 1958. In recognition of the dangerous and historic feat, the SKATE and its crew was given the Navy Unit Commendation award for "... braving the hazards of the polar ice pack...."
While the SKATE was unable to surface on its first voyage to the pole, on 17 March 1959, she became the first submarine to surface at the North Pole with Calvert describing the historic moment in his book, saying, "Slowly we blew the tanks and the SKATE moved reluctantly upward. It was apparent we were under heavier ice here than any we had experienced before." While at the pole, Calvert and the crew planted an American Flag in a cairn they built out of ice blocks and put a waterproof container in the cairn with a note commemorating the event. The crew also held a ceremony for the late Arctic explorer Sir Hubert Wilkins and committed his ashes at the pole. In 1931, Sir Hubert had conducted an Arctic expedition in the disarmed research submarine NAUTILUS (ex-USS O-12). After reaching the Pole, the SKATE continued its mission to pioneer arctic operations during periods of extreme cold and maximum ice thickness. 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 designed to strengthen American antisubmarine defenses.

SKATE returned to General Dynamics 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.
On 7 July 1962, SKATE again set course towards the North Pole. Five days later, USS SEADRAGON , did likewise from Pearl Harbor. The two submarines made their rendezvous on 31 July. After meeting, they operated together for over a week. Both submarines surfaced at the North Pole on 2 August and official greetings and insignia of Submarine Force Atlantic Fleet and Submarine Force 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 28 April 1965, the first nuclear submarine overhauled there, for nuclear refueling and installation of the SUBSAFE package. SKATE was the first submarine to finish this major conversion program, which was instituted after the loss of USS THRESHER in 1963. The process was not completed until September 1967.

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 and equipment.
In October 1968, SKATE was deployed to the Mediterranean where she operated with the Sixth Fleet for two months. The polar veteran operated under the Arctic ice again in March and April 1969, in October 1970, and in February 1971 . The remainder of her at sea time was spent in various Atlantic Fleet and NATO exercises. In July 1971, she began her third regular overhaul at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard and did not return to New London until 17 November 1973. In August 1974, SKATE operated as a unit of the Atlantic Fleet.

In late 1977, SKATE transferred to Pearl Harbor, where she joined the other three SKATE class submarines as a member of Submarine Squadron 7.

Decommissioning
SKATE was decommissioned on 12 September 1986, stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 30 October 1986, and disposed of by submarine recycling at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard on 6 March 1995.

Awards
SKATE received two Navy Unit Commendations and three Meritorious Unit Commendations during her career. The first Navy Unit Commendation was for the period 9–12 August 1958 and the second for the period 4 March through 6 April 1959. The Meritorious Unit Commendations were for the periods 24 March through 15 April 1969, 12 October through 18 November 1970 and 26 February through 9 March 1971. (Source – US Navy Unit Awards Webpage.)

Popular culture
SKATE appears in Tom Clancy's 1993 novel Without Remorse.
SKATE appears in the 1961 film, Parrish as the submarine upon which the title character is stationed.
The 1978 disaster film Gray Lady Down features a fictional SKATE-class submarine USS NEPTUNE.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_SKATE_(SSN-578)
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MARY CELESTIA

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MARY CELESTIA

Postby D. v. Nieuwenhuijzen » Fri Jun 09, 2017 6:59 pm

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Built in 1864 by William C. Miller, Toxteth, Liverpool for William G. Crenshaw & Co. (supply agents for the Confederacy)
Paddlewheel steamer, Gt:207, L:68.58m. B:6.70m Draft:3m. steam engine:140 hp. built by Fawcett, Preston & Co., Liverpool.

The 'Mary Celestia' is recorded as having made eight successful ‘runs’ though the exact count is uncertain. To confuse Federal agents on both sides of the Atlantic, she often used aliases including the Bijou, Marie Celeste and Mary Celeste. (Not to be confused with the mystery ship ‘Mary Celeste’, the abandoned brigantine later popularized by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.)
During her active career, the 'Mary Celestia' initially ran under the command of the “Boy Captain” Michael P. Usina, who would mak some twenty eight successful blockade runs but only four as Captain of the 'Mary Celestia'. Mary Celestia’s first run was out of St. Georges, via Nassau to Wilmington, the last open port of the Confederacy. On the return voyage she was spotted shortly after evading the blockade. Poor visibility and a driving rain prevented the crew seeing their pursuer until it was bearing down upon them. The seas were rough and the 'Mary Celestia' was heavily laden with cotton but as the larger ship came within easy gun distance. Captain Usina urged Engineer Sassard to take extreme measures to get more revolutions out of the engines and ordered forty five bales thrown overboard to enable his vessel ride the heavy waves more easily. While their adversary sought to avoid the loose floating cotton, below deck, Engineer Sassard locked both safety valves shut and continued to increase steam until the ship was making 17 knots against a head-on swell. Fortunately, the solid English boilers did not let them down and the ship made good her escape. After three more Bermuda-Wilmington runs, Captain Usina and his engineer Sassard moved on to other ships.

On a further occasion, as a yellow fever epidemic ravaged the entire crew, the ship’s North Carolina pilot, a man who knew the landmarks by which to safely navigate the hazardous approaches to Wilmington, also struck by the fever, stayed at his post as the runner raced past the blockaders. Evading no less than seven blockading vessels he finally brought 'Mary Celestia' safely into North Carolina’s Cape Fear River, where he collapsed and died.

The 'Mary Celestia' was one six, almost identical paddle-steamers, out of the hundreds of steam ships built to run the blockade. William and James Crenshaw, two brothers from Richmond, Virginia, commissioned the ship to serve their business interests in Great Britain and its colonies, including Bermuda. They depended on regular maritime trade, running the blockade with a variety of goods and returning to Bermuda with cotton. Mary Celestia’s brief career was dramatic from beginning to end..On her final voyage, the 'Mary Celestia' steamed out of Hamilton, Bermuda, with owner William Crenshaw and Bermuda pilot John Virgin onboard. Loaded with a Confederate government contracted shipment of canned meat, ammunition, side-arms and Enfield rifles bound for Wilmington, she navigated along the southern shore of the island to drop off the owner and pilot near the Gibb’s Point Lighthouse. On September 6th 1864 as the ship closed into shore, the chief mate warned he could see rocks ahead. The pilot who was at this time in control, replied that he knew the reefs and rocks as well as he knew his own home. No sooner had he finished speaking than the 'Mary Celestia' struck a reef. Several minutes later, as all on board scrambled into lifeboats, the steamer sank taking with it the only victim, the ship’s cook, who ran below to save something of value and become trapped. When she sank, the 'Mary Celestia' had been in service for only four months.

Today, all that remains is a ghostly upright paddlewheel frame standing sentinel over wreckage that includes a huge iron boiler and fire box, the remains of the ship’s engine, the anchor and bits and pieces of the hull and stern.

(Bermuda 1986 60 c. StG.517A)
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