for Submariners

by Hamilton 1:1 Communications, LLC

Skipjack Class
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SSN-585 Skipjack Class


The first submarine class to combine nuclear power with the new hull design was the USS Skipjack. USS Skipjack was also unique in that it was the first nuclear submarine with a single shaft. Placement of the bow planes on the sail greatly reduced flow noise at the bow-mounted sonar. Deep-diving and high speed capabilities were the result of HY-80 construction and a new reactor design, the S5W. This reactor became the US Navy’s standard until the Los Angeles class joined the fleet in the mid-1970’s.

SSN 589 SCORPION was lost on 22 May 1968 with 12 officers and 87 enlisted men -- one of the worst casualties in the Navy's history. Based on prior experience with such problems and an analysis of the accoustic signature of the Scorpion loss, the Navy initially concluded that the most probable cause of the loss of the Scorpion was the launch of an inadvertently activated torpedo, which turned and struck the submarine. A six-month search eventually located the Scorpion's wreckage some 400 miles southwest of the Azores. Investigation of the boat's wreckage on the ocean floor found no evidence of torpedo damage. A six-month expedition in 1969 by Trieste II found no direct evidence to support the theory that the Scorpion was destroyed by a torpedo. While some portions of the Scorpion's hull were never found, the wreckage that was examined did not exhibit the conditions expected from the hydrostatic implosion of a submarine hull structure.

In 1970 a Navy panel completed a classified report that disavowed the Court of Inquiry's conclusion. Instead of an accidental torpedo strike, the new group suggested a mechanical failure caused an irreparable leak that flooded the submarine. That report said the bulk of the evidence suggested an internal explosion in the sub's massive electrical battery caused the sub to flood and sink. The large number of accoustic signals detected from the loss of the Scorpion was characteristic of a submarine going through deep depths after experiencing substantial flooding, rather than an intact submarine passing through collapse depth. At the time of its loss, the boat had a history of unresolved maintenance problems, poorly functioning safety systems, and had received an extremely abbreviated overhaul prior to its final mission.


General Dynamics Electric Boat
Mare Island Naval Shipyard
Ingalls Shipbuilding
Newport News Shipbuilding
3,075 tons surfaced
3,513 tons submerged
251.7 ft.
31.5 ft.
15 knots surfaced,
29 knots submerged
Test Depth:
700 feet
One S5W PWR 15,000shp nuclear reactor,
Two steam turbines,
One shaft
6 × 21in (533 mm) torpedo tubes in bow
24 × Mark 37 torpedoes, Mark 14 torpedoes, Mark 16 torpedoes, Mark 27 torpedoes, or Mark
45 ASTOR nuclear torpedoes