USS Skipjack (SSN-585), the lead ship of her class of nuclear-powered attack submarine, was the third ship of the United States Navy to be named after the Skipjack tuna fish.
Her keel was laid down on 29 May 1956 by the Electric Boat Division of the General Dynamics Corporation in Groton, Connecticut. She was launched on 26 May 1958 sponsored by Helen Mahon, wife of Representative George H. Mahon from the 19th District of Texas, and commissioned on 15 April 1959 with Commander W. W. Behrens, Jr., in command
The boat's motto was Radix Nova Tridentis, meaning "Root of the New Sea Power"; and correctly so, as every US attack submarine until 1988 (when the diving planes moved back to the bow on the improved Los Angeles class) turned out to follow the Skipjack's design.
After being launched 26 May 1958, Skipjack was soon dubbed the "world's fastest submarine", after setting the speed record on sea trials in March of that same year. It was designed to have a speed in excess of 20 knots, but its actual speed was a guarded secret. However, the rated reactor power in shaft horsepower (15,000 shp) and reasonable assumptions about the hull's coefficient of drag, cross sectional area, and appendage drag can be combined via algebra to show that the vessel should have reached 31 knots submerged. This speed was some 9 knots faster than the Nautilus made using the same basic reactor, and only 2 knots shy of the Albacore's best theoretical submerged speed (33 kn).
Skipjack's maneuver capabilities, furthermore, added a whole different dimension to ASW problems as she could reverse direction in the distance of her own length, and were referred to as "flying", as Skipjack and her sister ships climbed, dove, and banked like an airplane. The antisubmarine warfare (ASW) problems created by such maneuverability and high sustained speeds took several decades to resolve to parity.
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