Exploring the Submarine Environment: Nuclear Submarines in Exploration

Nuclear-powered submarines have enabled scientists to collect data not only from the ocean depths but also from remote and otherwise inaccessible regions of the earth. Knowledge of the polar regions, in particular, has benefitted greatly from the nuclear-powered submarine's ability to travel great distances under the ice cap, then break through to the surface in areas that otherwise could not be reached at all. The remote Arctic was a major scene of submarine activity during the Cold War, a place where fast attacks hunted hiding boomers.

At the North Pole (above)

On 17 March 1959, the USS Skate (SSN-578) became the first submarine in history to surface at the North Pole. U.S. Navy photo

The Arctic from Below
In September 1960, the periscope of the USS Seadragon (SSN-584) views the Arctic ice pack from below, seeking an opening in the ice to surface. Courtesy Naval Historical Center


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