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Why a U.S. Navy Spy Submarine Is Flying the Jolly Roger | Popular Mechanics
U.S. Navy Photo by Lt. Cmdr. Michael Smith

Why a U.S. Navy Spy Submarine Is Flying the Jolly Roger | Popular Mechanics

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.

 Flying above Smith, fluttering in the Puget Sound sea breeze, is the skull and crossbones of the Jolly Roger. On the flag is at least one unidentified symbol. The Jimmy Carter also flew the Jolly Roger in April 2017 returning from another patrol.

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.

Source: Why a U.S. Navy Spy Submarine Is Flying the Jolly Roger | Popular Mechanics