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US advanced nuclear submarine returns to port flying pirate flag

September 20, 2017

One of the United States’ advanced nuclear submarines returned to port last week in Washington flying a pirate flag known as a Jolly Roger.

The USS Jimmy Carter, a Seawolf-class nuclear-powered submarine, was seen returning to port with a Jolly Roger beside the American flag, The Washington Post reported. The Post reported that the flag might have been flown on the USS Jimmy Carter to signify that it had successfully completed a covert mission.


The USS Jimmy Carter was spotted in April flying a Jolly Roger while returning home from a patrol.

The tradition of flying a Jolly Roger dates back to 1914 when a British submarine, the HMS E-9, sank the German battle cruiser Hela, according to the book “Submarines at War 1939-45,” the paper reported.

When the submarine returned to port, Lt. Commander Max Horton raised the flag, signaling that they had sunk an enemy warship.

Allied submarines have flown a Jolly Roger on occasion. United States submarines have flown battle flags that were different from a Jolly Roger, but had the same meaning.