Two members of the crew of USS NORTH DAKOTA (SSN-784) completed a very successful namesake visit to northwest North Dakota on June 6th and 7th. Machinist’s Mate Senior Chief Petty Officer Richard Hicks, the Auxiliary Division Leading Chief Petty Officer, and Electronics Technician 1st Class petty Officer Robert Anderson, the Reactor Controls Division Leading Petty Officer made well received stops in Bismarck, Minot, Williston and Watford City. They were escorted by USS North Dakota Committee Chairman Bob Wefald.
On Thursday morning, June 6th, they started out with a live on air visit with Phil Parker on KFYR 550 AM Radio in Bismarck.
At noon that day they spoke to the Military Affairs Committee of the Minot Chamber of Commerce during a luncheon at the Minot Air Force Base. They also did interviews with KXMC TV and KMOT TV in Minot.
L to R: Bruce Carlson the Minot MAC Chairman, ET1 Anderson, MMCS Hicks, John MacMartin President of the Minot Chamber of Commerce, Bob Wefald USSND Chairman.
Friday morning they were in Williston to speak to the Military Affairs Committee of the Williston Chamber of Commerce. On the way out of Williston our Williston host Steve Slocum, who with his wife Lorri provided us with a great steak dinner when we arrived on Thursday, took us to a veterans memorial.
For lunch on Friday they were in Watford City speaking to a well attended community luncheon sponsored by the Watford City Post 29 American Legion. Here is a link to excellent coverage of the Watford City visit:
On the way back to Bismarck they visited the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
Their visit was preceded by an excellent article in The Bismarck Tribune. Here are links to the article and photos they used with the article. The photos are used by permission of General Dynamics Electric Boat.
Our sister ship USS MINNESOTA (SSN-783) has successfully completed her ALPHA sea trials according to an excellent article in the Brainerd Dispatch. Here is a link to the article:
MINNESOTA’s commissioning has not yet been set, but I expect it to be commissioned this fall. Then it will be NORTH DAKOTA’s turn! It’s getting closer every day!!
We’ve gotten a few more photos of the Saturday, April 13th visit on board NORTH DAKOTA by our Ship’s Sponsor Katie Fowler and her husband Jeff. All of these photos are the copyrighted property of General Dynamics Electric boat (GDEB). They were cleared by GDEB security and they are used with permission. They were provided by Bob Hamilton of GDEB.
I was excited to view these photos because they are the first views I have had of NORTH DAKOTA’s interior, and they clearly show that everything is coming together nicely. This first photo is of Katie and Jeff looking into the Lockout Trunk which allows Special Operations Forces to be locked out and in as they do their missions.
These next two photos were taken in the Control Room. L to R are Mike Nowak, the Ship’s manager; LCDR Kris Lancaster, the XO; Jeff & Katie; and CDR Gordon, the CO.
This photo was taken in the Wardroom with Jeff, Katie and Mike Nowak.
This photo was taken in the Mess Decks with L to R Mike Nowak, LCDR Lancaster, CDR Gordon, Katie and Jeff Fowler.
This final photo follows up on the May 11, 2012, Keel laying Ceremony when Katie Fowler initialed a metal plate and her initials were then welded onto the metal plate. As you can us Katie is now a permanent part of NORTH DAKOTA.
NORTH DAKOTA is getting more and more ready to be launched everyday. Hopefully she will be in the water by the end of September.
On the weekend of April 12th – 13th the sponsor of USS NORTH DAKOTA (SSN-784) Katie Fowler and her husband Vice Admiral Jeff Fowler USN (Ret) were in Groton CT for the Submarine Birthday Ball that Saturday evening. Here is a photo of Katie and Commander Gordon, NORTH DAKOTA’s Commanding Officer and his wife Christine. They enjoyed spending time at the ball with NORTH DAKOTA’s crew.
Jeff reported that they had a wonderful tour of NORTH DAKOTA that Saturday morning. The CO, XO, and acting COB were joined by the ship’s manager—Mike Nowak, Bob Hamilton, a photographer and a couple of other shipyard personnel for a Saturday morning rendezvous. They really appreciated all of them coming in on a Saturday morning. Jeff says the boat looks good, and Katie says it’s 85% complete. With GDEB’s (General Dynamics Electric Boat) current construction schedule Jeff reports it looks like NORTH DAKOTA will still be in the enormous construction hangar until late August, but he says it is intact and looks like a submarine, not parts of a submarine. Inside the boat the control room, berthing areas, wardroom, crew’s mess, are starting to come together.
The christening date has not yet been set, but NORTH DAKOTA could be launched by the end of August or in early September. It appears that by delaying the christening date GDEB and the Navy will be able to get a lot of work accomplished which will speed up its construction cycle. With an eye on the completion of NORTH DAKOTA and some testing it look like a christening date will be set to flow in nicely with the remaining work without dramatically interfering with the completion schedule.
We will let you know the christening date as soon as we are told the date it will be held in Groton CT.
I am very excited that a new submarine has been named for our state! USS NORTH DAKOTA (SSN-784) will be commissioned in 2014, at a date and place not yet set. But I am reminded that the last North Dakotan lost at sea on a submarine was Minot’s own Lieutenant Commander Robert Lee Krag. As a member of the Staff of the Deputy Commander of the Submarine Force of the Atlantic fleet he was on board USS THRESHER (SSN-593) went it sank during tests off the coast of the Northeast United States on April 10, 1963 – fifty years ago. His mother, Mrs. Inga Margaret Krag was my second grade teacher at Lincoln for the 1949-1950 school year. Here are links for more information:
Our former Executive Office Lieutenant Commander Jeremiah Minner, who was just recently relieved for a new assignment, participated in a contest to see who would be selected to sing the national Anthem at the Southeastern Connecticut Submarine Force Birthday Ball on April 13th at the Foxwood Resort Casino. He wrote in an email that he was not the one selected, but that he had great back up from four Chief petty Officers on board USS NORTH DAKOTA.
Second from the right is Chief Jay Roberts who visited us in Dickinson, Medora and Bismarck just before the 4th of July. Here is a link to the story:
Good job XO! We are proud of you!
Our ship sponsor, Katie Fowler and her husband Vice Admiral jeff Fowler (Ret), report they will be attending the Birthday Ball. They also hope to get a tour of NORTH DAKOTA, so we are looking forward to their report.
On Friday, March 15th, NORTH DAKOTA’s Executive Officer, Lieutenant Commander Jeremiah Minner, successfully completed his assignment with our boat and he was releived by Lieutenant Commander Kris Lancaster. Early on I received his permission to call him XO, a term of respect I developed for my first Executive Officer, Lieutenant Commander C.E. Hi Gurney on board USS LYNDE McCORMICK (DDG-8). XO Minner has done a great job in helping NORTH DAKOTA get ready for commissioning and for her thrity-three years of service at sea in the United States Navy. I particularly appreciate his very productive visit to Fargo last May with the resulting excellent publicity he generated for our boat, bringing the people of the great state of North Dakota closer to our boat, USS NORTH DAKOTA (SSN-784), the second U.S. Navy ship to be named for our state.
Lieutenant Commander Jeremiah Minner
In an email to our USS North Dakota Committee XO Minner wrote, “I am being relieved as Executive Officer today by Kris Lancaster. As I transfer and move out, I wanted to personally thank each of you for your support of the ship and crew and the excitement you bring to the process of ship building. I have never seen as much positive involvement between a crew and her namesake state support group. My next duty station will be a temporary assignment to COMSUBDEVRON TWELVE TACTICAL ANALYSIS GROUP and my permanent assignment will be an Exchange Officer in Halifax, Nova Scotia beginning in AUG 2013, for three years. Tracy and I are looking forward to the move and saddened that we have to leave the NORTH DAKOTA. I hope we are able to keep in touch and I intend to travel to Christening and Commissioning as my Canadian schedule allows. Again, thank you for your support and friendship.”
His relief as XO, LCDR Kris Lancaster has already visited North Dakota when he was temporarily assigned to NORTH DAKOTA awaiting his opportunity to attend the Submarine Command Course in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, which he recently successfully completed. Lieutenant Commander Lancaster was in Grand Forks and Fargo with Master Chief Jim Lucky last October during which visit they generated lots of great publicity for NORTH DAKOTA. This photo is of his on air interview on KNOX Radio in Grand Forks.
In an email LCDR Lancaster wrote, “I can’t stress enough how important it is to keep the face of the USS NORTH DAKOTA in the minds of people up there, and vice versa. As Jeremiah said, this is the best relationship between a namesake state and I boat that I have ever seen, and I want to keep it that way.”
All of us on our USS North Dakota Committee join in wishing Lieutenant Commander Jeremiah Minner a fond “Farewell” with best wishes for continued success in his Navy career! And we also join in a warm “Welcome Aboard” for Lieutenant Commander Kris Lancaster!
As of February 14th all of USS NORTH DAKOTA’s Supermodules are welded together! This is great news as she is now in the in her form as a VIRGINIA Class submarine. I was really excited when I saw this photo as we are now one step closer to having our new boat christened, commissioned and serving on active duty in the United States Navy!
And I can just imagine how excited Commander Doug Gordon, NORTH DAKOTA’s Commanding Officer, and his crew were when they had their picture taken for the first time with their new boat!
It’s going to start moving fast and soon NORTH DAKOTA will join the Navy!
Here is a link to the Navy story about NORTH DAKOTA being hull complete:
General Martin E. Dempsey, U.S. ARMY, the 18th and current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, toured USS NORTH DAKOTA (SSN-784) on Thursday, January 31st. Lieutenant Commander Jeremiah Minner, NORTH DAKOTA’s Executive Officer reported that “yesterday we gave a VIP tour of the ship to GENERAL Dempsey, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. We had a little more than an hour and a half with the General and it was a great tour.” At the end of the tour, in the wardroom, Commander Doug Gordon, NORTH DAKOTA’s Commanding Officer presented General Dempsey with NORTH DAKOTA’s Command Challenge Coin. In return, NORTH DAKOTA’s Command Team received Chairman Joints Chief of Staff Challenge Coins. XO Minner noted, “It took a significant effort by the crew and the shipyard to make the ship ready for this tour. The tour went great and the ship was clean and ready to present.” I suspect the process of welding the forward supermodule to the rest of the boat was still going on because when Commander Gordon was in his ship’s namesake state he indicated NORTH DAKOTA’s pressure hull was expected to be completely welded together by the end of the first week of February.
Here is a photo of General Dempsey and NORTH DAKOTA’s Command Team in the wardroom at the end of the tour. L to R are GEN Dempsey, CDR Gordon, ETCM Preabt and LCDR Minner. What for me is great about this photo is the fact this is the first photo I’ve seen of any part of NORTH DAKOTA’s interior spaces. All photos are compliments of General Dynamics Electric Boat, the builder of USS NORTH DAKOTA.
Commander Gordon and General Dempsey with NORTH DAKOTA’s crest.
Commander Gordon, Kevin E. Poitras, the President of General Dynamics Electric Boat, General Dempsey and John Casey, Executive Vice President of General Dynamics’ Marine Systems group.
General Dempsey bids farewell to Commander Gordon.
Here is a link to an interview I did on Prairie Public Television on the USS NORTH DAKOTA on a program called “Prairie Pulse.” This interview was taped in November and I found out from Commander Gordon during his recent visit to Bismarck that I made a mistake in my interview. I understood the term “pressure hull complete” meant the hull could be pressure tested. Commander Gordon explained that pressure hull complete simply means that the four supermodules will finally be welded together so NORTH DAKOTA will finally look like a submarine.
Here are a few photos of Commander Gordon addressing each chamber of the Legislature on Friday, January 11th – USS NORTH DAKOTA DAY! Our thanks to Gary Redmann, the Capitol official photographer, for these photos.
Commander Gordon speaks to the North Dakota Senate:
Lieutenant Governor Drew Wrigley thanks Commander Gordon for his remarks:
Commander Gordon being received into the North Dakota House of Representatives:
Commander Gordon addressing the house of Representatives:
USS North Dakota Committee Chairman Bob Wefald and Commander Gordon in the Great Hall of the Capitol: