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USS Seadragon (SSN-584)
Seadragon (SSN-584) at Pearl Harbor in 1964, with the USS Arizona memorial in the distance.
Seadragon (SSN-584) at Pearl Harbor in 1964, with the USS Arizona memorial in the distance
Name: USS Seadragon
Awarded: 29 September 1955
Builder: Portsmouth Naval Shipyard
Laid down: 20 June 1956
Launched: 16 August 1958
Commissioned: 5 December 1959
Decommissioned: 12 June 1984
Struck: 30 April 1986
Fate: Submarine recycling program
General characteristics
Class & type: Skate-class submarine
Displacement: 2,580 long tons (2,620 t) surfaced
2,861 long tons (2,907 t) submerged
Length: 268 ft (82 m)
Beam: 25 ft (7.6 m)
Draft: 22 ft 5 in (6.83 m)
Propulsion: S4W reactor plant (S3W reactor)
Speed: 20 knots (23 mph; 37 km/h)+
Complement: 95 officers and men
Armament: 8 × 21 in (530 mm) torpedo tubes (6 forward, 2 aft)

USS Seadragon (SSN-584), a Skate-class submarine, was the second ship of the United States Navy to be named for the seadragon, a small fish commonly called the dragonet. The contract to build her was awarded to Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine on 29 September 1955 and her keel was laid down on 20 June 1956. She was launched on 16 August 1958 sponsored by Mrs. Robert L. Dennison, and commissioned on 5 December 1959, with Lieutenant Commander George P. Steele in command.

Operational history

Following a Caribbean shakedown cruise, Seadragon returned to Portsmouth, whence, on 1 August 1960, she sailed for the Pacific. Ordered to proceed via the Northwest Passage, she moved north to Parry Channel, at mid-month reached Lancaster Sound, the eastern end of the channel, and continued westward with Edward Parry's 1819 journal as a guide.

Collecting oceanographic and hydrographic data en route, Seadragon transited the Barrow Strait, Viscount Melville Sound, and McClure Strait. On 21 August, she completed the first submarine transit of the Northwest Passage, entered the Beaufort Sea, and headed for the North Pole, which she reached on 25 August. The ship surfaced through the thin ice becoming the third submarine to surface at the pole. Members of the crew laid out a softball diamond with the pitcher's box at the pole where the captain claimed he hit a fly ball at 4:00 pm on Wednesday and it wasn't caught until 4:00 am on Thursday. From the pole, Seadragon (having no other choice) turned south, and after conducting experiments in cooperation with scientists on ice island T-3, headed for the Chukchi Sea and Bering Strait. On 5 September, she reached Nome, Alaska, and, nine days later, she arrived at her home port, Pearl Harbor. She was awarded the Navy Unit Commendation for her transit of the Northwest Passage via Parry Channel.

For the next nine months, Seadragon was employed in local operations. In June 1961, she headed west for her first tour in the western Pacific (WestPac), during which she participated in Seventh Fleet exercises – primarily antisubmarine warfare training exercises – and completed a submerged endurance cruise of 58 days. In October, she returned to Pearl Harbor and local operations.

On 12 July 1962, Seadragon departed Pearl Harbor for her second Arctic cruise. Transiting the Bering Strait and the Chukchi Sea, she contacted T-3, then moved further north to rendezvous with sister ship, USS Skate (SSN-578), en route from New London, Connecticut. On 31 July, the two submarines rendezvoused under the ice and continued on to the North Pole, arriving on 2 August for sonar and weapons evaluations. The submarines were joined by the icebreaker USS Burton Island (AGB-1). In late August, the submarines returned to their home ports. En route, Seadragon, which was scheduled to port at Seattle, Washington, rescued 12 survivors from a downed seaplane and delivered them to Port Angeles, Washington. On 14 September, Seadragon arrived back at Pearl Harbor.

During the first half of 1963, the Arctic veteran participated in local operations and conducted her second WestPac cruise. On 8 July, she entered the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard for her first refueling and overhaul. In late May 1964, she resumed operations in the Hawaiian area. Torpedo evaluations off the Washington coast followed; and, on 10 August 1964, Seadragon sailed west in response to the Gulf of Tonkin crisis. During September and October, she operated out of Subic Bay; then, after a call at Hong Kong continued on to Okinawa and Japan to conduct public relations cruises and to participate in further Seventh Fleet exercises. On 4 March 1965, she returned to Pearl Harbor.

For the next four years, Seadragon continued to rotate between local operations in the Hawaiian area, training and evaluation exercises off the West Coast, and regular deployments to the Seventh Fleet in the western Pacific. In July 1968, however, she interrupted that schedule for a 34-month overhaul and refueling period at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard; and, in March 1971, she resumed her previous deployment schedule.



Decommissioned on 12 June 1984 and stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 30 April 1986, ex-Seadragon entered the Navy's Nuclear-Powered Ship and Submarine Recycling Program on 1 October 1994. On 18 September 1995, Seadragon ceased to exist.


In 2004, the former captain of the Seadragon, Dan Summitt, wrote a book about the exploits of boat and its crew.[1] Summitt describes how his boat was the first nuclear sub to patrol the eastern Soviet coast for SIGINT and the third to reach the North Pole.


This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.

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