We received an email from Commander Mike Hollenbach, the Commanding Officer of our boat USS NORTH DAKOTA (SSN-784), giving us an update on our boat and I wanted to share it with you.
I hope everyone is doing well out in North Dakota. Fall has arrived in New England and things couldn’t be better on everyone’s favorite submarine.
Here are some updates from the recent events onboard:
1) I had my first “underway” in command in the middle of August as we cruised down the Thames River while being towed by the Submarine Base Tug Boats and headed for the drydock at Electric Boat. We are off to a great start on the Post Shakedown Availability (PSA) and hope to complete ontime and get back to doing what submarines were made to do.
2) We are pleased to welcome two new babies to the North Dakota family. Petty Officer First Class Cozens (Engineering Laboratory Technician) and Petty Officer Third Class Richards (Sonar Technician) have both had babies within the past couple of weeks.
3) USS NORTH DAKOTA was extremely fortunate to receive a bonus advancement quota this year under the Navy’s Meritorious Advancement Program. This is a fantastic program in which Commanding Officers are allowed to meritoriously promote two Petty Officers per year to the next higher paygrade. Captain Gordon was able to promote 2 sailors near the end of deployment back in July, and I had the pleasure of advancing our Leading Logistics Specialist, Petty Officer Huffman, to the rank of Petty Officer First Class just last week.
4) Also on the promotion front, the NORTH DAKOTA had three sailors selected this year for the rank of Chief Petty Officer. I am pleased to announce that three of the Navy’s newest Chief Petty Officers are Chief Sonar Technician Hoyle, Chief Machinist Mate (Auxiliary Division) Groehler, and Chief Machinist Mate (Nuclear Machinery Division) Colbert. Chief Hoyle and Chief Colbert are at the end of the tours onboard and will be leaving in the next few months, while Chief Groehler will remain onboard and serve as the Auxiliary Division Chief Petty Officer for the next two years.
5) On the family front, we are putting together a few activities that we hope will be very well received. For those of you that recall CAPT Gordon’s speech at the change of command, we are taking a four-day command holiday weekend starting on Thursday afternoon this week. This is the 96-hour holiday that CAPT Gordon had promised the crew for achieving 784 days without an alcohol related incident. We will also be holding a family picnic this fall on Saturday, October 17th, and a holiday party on Friday, December 11th.
With regards to making things better for the guys onboard the submarine, we are looking to upgrade the entertainment systems in the Wardroom (new sound system), Chief’s Quarters (new TV and sound system), and Crew’s Mess (new TV). This will be a great addition to help the guys relax while onboard for a duty day and will also be beneficial when the boat goes back to sea next year.
Have a great fall.
Mike Hollenbach Commanding Officer, USS NORTH DAKOTA