A U.S. Navy attack submarine capable of carrying out top-secret undersea missions recently returned home flying the Jolly Roger—that skull and crossbones pirate flag. But why?
The question was on the minds of many this week after Canada-based defense journalist Ian Keddie posted on Twitter the photo of the nuclear attack submarine USS Jimmy Carter. The photo, uploaded to the Defense Video Imagery Distribution System, or DVIDS for short, shows the commanding officer of the Jimmy Carter, Commander Melvin Smith, looking on as the submarine returns to its home at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor.
In Navy tradition, the flying of the flag typically signifies a successful mission of some sort. As the Washington Post points out, the practice for subs began in World War II, when Royal Navy submarines flew the flags as a means of signaling a successful mission.