USS Seadragon (SSN-584)
USS Seadragon (SSN-584), a , was the second ship of the United States Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

 to be named for the seadragon, a small fish commonly called the dragonet
Dragonets are small, perciform, marine fish of the diverse family Callionymidae . Found mainly in the tropical waters of the western Indo-Pacific, the family contains approximately 186 species in 18 genera. The Draconettidae may be considered a sister family, whose members are very much alike,...


The contract to build her was awarded to Portsmouth Naval Shipyard
Portsmouth Naval Shipyard
The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard , often called the Portsmouth Navy Yard, is a United States Navy shipyard located in Kittery on the southern boundary of Maine near the city of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. It is used for remodeling and repairing the Navy's ships...

 in Kittery, Maine
Kittery, Maine
Kittery is a town in York County, Maine, United States. The population was 9,543 at the 2000 census. Home to the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard on Seavey's Island, Kittery includes Badger's Island, the seaside district of Kittery Point, and part of the Isles of Shoals...

 on 29 September 1955 and her keel was laid down on 20 June 1956. She was launched
Ship naming and launching
The ceremonies involved in naming and launching naval ships are based in traditions thousands of years old.-Methods of launch:There are three principal methods of conveying a new ship from building site to water, only two of which are called "launching." The oldest, most familiar, and most widely...

 on 16 August 1958 sponsored by Mrs. Robert L. Dennison
Robert Dennison (Admiral)
Admiral Robert Lee Dennison was an American naval officer and aide to President Harry Truman.-Early life:...

, and commissioned
Ship commissioning
Ship commissioning is the act or ceremony of placing a ship in active service, and may be regarded as a particular application of the general concepts and practices of project commissioning. The term is most commonly applied to the placing of a warship in active duty with its country's military...

 on 5 December 1959, with Lieutenant Commander George P. Steele in command.

Operational history

Following a Caribbean shakedown cruise, Seadragon returned to Portsmouth
Portsmouth Naval Shipyard
The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard , often called the Portsmouth Navy Yard, is a United States Navy shipyard located in Kittery on the southern boundary of Maine near the city of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. It is used for remodeling and repairing the Navy's ships...

, whence, on 1 August 1960, she sailed for the Pacific. Ordered to proceed via the Northwest Passage
Northwest Passage
The Northwest Passage is a sea route through the Arctic Ocean, along the northern coast of North America via waterways amidst the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans...

, she moved north to Parry Channel
Parry Channel
The Parry Channel is a natural waterway through thecentral Canadian Arctic Archipelago in the territory of Nunavut. It runs east to west, connecting Baffin Bay in the east with the Beaufort Sea in the west. The channel separates the Queen Elizabeth Islands to the north from the rest of...

, at mid-month reached Lancaster Sound
Lancaster Sound
Lancaster Sound is a body of water in Qikiqtaaluk, Nunavut, Canada. It is located between Devon Island and Baffin Island, forming the eastern portion of the Northwest Passage. East of the sound lies Baffin Bay; to the west lies Viscount Melville Sound...

, the eastern end of the channel, and continued westward with Edward Parry
William Edward Parry
Sir William Edward Parry was an English rear-admiral and Arctic explorer, who in 1827 attempted one of the earliest expeditions to the North Pole...

's 1819 journal as a guide.

Collecting oceanographic and hydrographic data en route, Seadragon transited the Barrow Strait
Barrow Strait
Barrow Strait is a shipping waterway in Northern Canada's territory of Nunavut. Forming part of the Parry Channel, the strait separates several large islands including Cornwallis Island and Devon Island to the north, from Prince of Wales Island, Somerset Island, and Prince Leopold Island to the...

, Viscount Melville Sound
Viscount Melville Sound
Viscount Melville Sound is an arm of the Arctic Ocean in Kitikmeot, Nunavut, Canada. Forming part of the Parry Channel, it separates Victoria Island and Prince of Wales Island from the Queen Elizabeth Islands. East of the sound lies Lancaster Sound, leading into Baffin Bay; westward lies the...

, and McClure Strait
McClure Strait
The M'Clure Strait is a strait on the edge of the Canadian Northwest Territories. It forms the northwestern end of one of the routes through the Northwest Passage. The strait was named for Robert McClure, an Irish Arctic explorer serving in the Royal Navy...

. On 21 August, she completed the first submarine transit of the Northwest Passage
Northwest Passage
The Northwest Passage is a sea route through the Arctic Ocean, along the northern coast of North America via waterways amidst the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans...

, entered the Beaufort Sea
Beaufort Sea
The Beaufort Sea is a marginal sea of the Arctic Ocean, located north of the Northwest Territories, the Yukon, and Alaska, west of Canada's Arctic islands. The sea is named after hydrographer Sir Francis Beaufort...

, and headed for the North Pole
North Pole
The North Pole, also known as the Geographic North Pole or Terrestrial North Pole, is, subject to the caveats explained below, defined as the point in the northern hemisphere where the Earth's axis of rotation meets its surface...

, 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 p.m. on Wednesday and it wasn't caught until 4:00 a.m. 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
Chukchi Sea
Chukchi Sea is a marginal sea of the Arctic Ocean. It is bounded on the west by the De Long Strait, off Wrangel Island, and in the east by Point Barrow, Alaska, beyond which lies the Beaufort Sea. The Bering Strait forms its southernmost limit and connects it to the Bering Sea and the Pacific...

 and Bering Strait
Bering Strait
The Bering Strait , known to natives as Imakpik, is a sea strait between Cape Dezhnev, Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, Russia, the easternmost point of the Asian continent and Cape Prince of Wales, Alaska, USA, the westernmost point of the North American continent, with latitude of about 65°40'N,...

. On September 5, she reached Nome, Alaska
Nome, Alaska
Nome is a city in the Nome Census Area in the Unorganized Borough of the U.S. state of Alaska, located on the southern Seward Peninsula coast on Norton Sound of the Bering Sea. According to the 2010 Census, the city population was 3,598. Nome was incorporated on April 9, 1901, and was once the...

, and, nine days later, she arrived at her home port, Pearl Harbor
Pearl Harbor
Pearl Harbor, known to Hawaiians as Puuloa, is a lagoon harbor on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, west of Honolulu. Much of the harbor and surrounding lands is a United States Navy deep-water naval base. It is also the headquarters of the U.S. Pacific Fleet...

. She was awarded the Navy Unit Commendation
Navy Unit Commendation
The Navy Unit Commendation of the United States Navy is an award that was established by order of the Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal on 18 December 1944...

 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, , en route from New London, Connecticut
New London, Connecticut
New London is a seaport city and a port of entry on the northeast coast of the United States.It is located at the mouth of the Thames River in New London County, southeastern Connecticut....

. On July 31, the two submarines rendezvoused under the ice and continued on to the North Pole, arriving on August 2 for sonar and weapons evaluations. The submarines were joined by the icebreaker
An icebreaker is a special-purpose ship or boat designed to move and navigate through ice-covered waters. Although the term usually refers to ice-breaking ships, it may also refer to smaller vessels .For a ship to be considered an icebreaker, it requires three traits most...

 . In late August, the submarines returned to their home ports. En route, Seadragon, which was scheduled to port at Seattle, Washington
Seattle, Washington
Seattle is the county seat of King County, Washington. With 608,660 residents as of the 2010 Census, Seattle is the largest city in the Northwestern United States. The Seattle metropolitan area of about 3.4 million inhabitants is the 15th largest metropolitan area in the country...

, rescued 12 survivors from a downed seaplane and delivered them to Port Angeles, Washington
Port Angeles, Washington
Port Angeles is a city in and the county seat of Clallam County, Washington, United States. The population was 19,038 at the 2010 census. The area's harbor was dubbed Puerto de Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles by Spanish explorer Francisco de Eliza in 1791, but by the mid-19th century the name had...

. On September 14, 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 July 8, she entered the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard for her first refueling and overhaul. In late May 1964, she resumed operations in the Hawaii
Hawaii is the newest of the 50 U.S. states , and is the only U.S. state made up entirely of islands. It is the northernmost island group in Polynesia, occupying most of an archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean, southwest of the continental United States, southeast of Japan, and northeast of...

an area. Torpedo evaluations off the Washington coast followed; and, on 10 August 1964, Seadragon sailed west in response to the Gulf of Tonkin
Gulf of Tonkin
The Gulf of Tonkin is an arm of the South China Sea, lying off the coast of northeastern Vietnam.-Etymology:The name Tonkin, written "東京" in Hán tự and Đông Kinh in romanised Vietnamese, means "Eastern Capital", and is the former toponym for Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam...

 crisis. During September and October, she operated out of Subic Bay
U.S. Naval Base Subic Bay
U.S. Naval Base Subic Bay was a major ship-repair, supply, and rest and recreation facility of the United States Navy located in Zambales, Philippines. It was the largest U.S...

; then, after a call at Hong Kong
Hong Kong
Hong Kong is one of two Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China , the other being Macau. A city-state situated on China's south coast and enclosed by the Pearl River Delta and South China Sea, it is renowned for its expansive skyline and deep natural harbour...

 continued on to Okinawa and Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

 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
Naval Vessel Register
The Naval Vessel Register is the official inventory of ships and service craft in custody of or titled by the United States Navy. It contains information on ships and service craft that make up the official inventory of the Navy from the time a vessel is authorized through its life cycle and...

 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. Summitt describes how his boat was the first nuclear sub to patrol the eastern Soviet coast for SIGINT
Signals intelligence is intelligence-gathering by interception of signals, whether between people , whether involving electronic signals not directly used in communication , or combinations of the two...

and the third to reach the North Pole.
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