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USS Gato (SSN-615)

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USS Gato (SSN-615)
United States
NameUSS Gato
NamesakeThe gato, a species of small catshark
Ordered9 July 1960
BuilderGeneral Dynamics Electric Boat
Laid down15 December 1961
Launched14 May 1964
Sponsored byMrs. Lawson P. Ramage
Commissioned25 January 1968
Decommissioned25 April 1996
  • 'The Goal Keeper"
  • "The Black Cat"
FateDisposed of via Ship-Submarine Recycling Program
SSN-615 ship patch
SSN-615 ship patch
General characteristics
Class and typeThresher/Permit-class nuclear submarine
  • 3964 tons light,
  • 4242 tons full,
  •   278 tons dead
Length292 ft (89 m)
Beam32 ft (9.8 m)
Draft28 ft (8.5 m)
PropulsionS5W reactor with S3G-3 Core, two steam turbines with reduction-geared single shaft
Complement12 officers, 115 men

USS Gato (SSN-615) was a Thresher/Permit-class nuclear submarine known as the "Goal Keeper" or the "Black Cat." She was the second United States Navy ship named after the gato, a species of small catshark found in waters along the west coast of Mexico.

USS Gato (SSN-615)

The contract to build her was awarded to the Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics Corporation on 9 July 1960 and her keel was laid down on 15 December 1961 at Groton, Connecticut. She was launched 14 May 1964 sponsored by Mrs. Lawson P. Ramage, and was commissioned 25 January 1968 under the command of CDR Albert Baciocco.

On 15 November 1969, Gato collided with the Soviet submarine K-19 in the Barents Sea at a depth of some 200 feet (61 m). The impact completely destroyed the K-19's bow sonar systems and mangled the covers of its forward torpedo tubes. K-19 returned to port for repair but the Gato was relatively undamaged and continued her patrol.[1]

She was the first nuclear-powered submarine to completely circumnavigate South America, and the first nuclear-powered submarine to navigate the Strait of Magellan during its 1976 Unitas run under the command of CDR Robert Partlow. It was on this voyage that it became the first nuclear submarine to travel through the Panama Canal.

Gato was decommissioned and stricken on 25 April 1996 and disposed of by submarine recycling.


  1. ^ Miller, David (2006). Submarine disasters. Guilford, Conn.: Lyons Press. p. 65. ISBN 978-1592288151.[permanent dead link]