USS NORTH DAKOTA’s commissioning date of May 31st is swiftly approaching. Because we have a lot to do between now and then we have to set up an automatic cut off date after which no one can sign up for an invitation. That date is March 15th. It will be automatic so after March 15th it will be too late.
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The USS NORTH DAKOTA is nearing her final and most festive milestone…the commissioning! As we prepare for this historic moment, we graciously ask for your support. The USS North Dakota Committee is responsible for hosting a variety of celebratory events connected to the commissioning. In addition for planning and prep work, our committee is responsible for covering the costs.
Please consider lending your financial support to ensure we have the best celebration for the best boat soon to sail the seas.
- Mate ………….. $100+
- Chief ………….. $500+
- Captain ………. $1,000+
- Admiral ………. $5,000+
All contributions of $100 or more will be recognized in the commissioning program. 100 percent of your gift is tax deductible and will support the commissioning events. We welcome you to be apart of history by attending the commissioning on May 31, 2014 in Groton Connecticut and by contributing to the commissioning events. Click on each link for more information.
Tours from North Dakota to the May 31st commissioning of USS NORTH DAKOTA (SSN-784) have been set and are now available for booking through Satrom Travel – 800-833-8787 or 701-258-5000. There will be one tour in and out of Boston from May 29th through June 2nd. There will be a second tour in and out of New York City from May 28th through June 2nd. Here are photo images of the itinerary and registration form for each trip. The trip through New York City is for the Bismarck Mandan Elks Chorus, but it is open to the public.
New York City tour forms:
The May 30th tour of USS NORTH DAKOTA depends on the needs of the Navy. Satrom Travel will be happy to mail or email you the forms for the tour you want if you cannot download and print the forms for the tour you would like.
For those of you who have signed up for invitations, the initial invitation will be mailed to you about six weeks ahead of the May 31st date. Those who respond will receive tickets to the commissioning and other events as applicable.
Things are moving quickly as the May 31st commissioning date for our own USS NORTH DAKOTA (SSN-784) gets closer every day! The contractor still has some work to do on the boat before they head out for sea trials. In the mean time our USS North Dakota Committee is in full fund-raising mode as we raise all of the funds necessary to host a memorable and noteworthy commissioning weekend for the second ship to proudly carry the name of our great state of North Dakota.
This is a historic, proud and patriotic event for the people of North Dakota, both those here and all of those North Dakotans who have journeyed to live and work in other states and countries while always carrying a piece of North Dakota in their hearts, and for all those people who really wish they were North Dakotans.
We say “historic” because when she is commissioned on May 31st it will have been 91 years since a U.S. Navy ship has carried the name NORTH DAKOTA and 104 years since the first and last USS NORTH DAKOTA was commissioned in 1910.
We are proud the Navy chose our state for the great honor of having this mighty warship carry our name throughout the oceans and seas of the world for the next 33 years. She will honor us through her service by bringing the name of North Dakota to ports all over the world!
With great patriotism we support OUR boat as a vital component of our nation’s armed forces. We North Dakotans support our troops and our military. NORTH DAKOTA and her crew will always be in our prayers as we wish her well as she in turn protects us and our country!
You can be part of this historic event by donating to her commissioning events and by attending the ceremony of watching it on a live feed from Groton CT. All donations of $100 or more will be recognized in the USS NORTH DAKOTA commissioning book. An easy way to contribute is to simply write a check payable to BMCF-USSND and mail it to: USSND, PO Box 1675, Bismarck ND 58502-1675. You can also donate on-line. On the top right side of this blog you can click on the DONATE button and follow the prompts. You can also help by encouraging others to donate as well as clubs, veterans organizations, etc. Everyone can and should help. We are working through the Bismarck Mandan Chamber Foundation (BMCF) which is a 501(c)(3) entity so all USSND donations are tax-deductible as charitable donations.
Here is a link that is currently that allows you to see VIRGINIA Class submarines in action:
I now have had a chance to go over lots of photos from the christening of USS NORTH DAKOTA (SSN-784) on Saturday, November 2nd. All of the photos are from General Dynamics Electric Boat (GDEB) and are used by permission. They are all copyrighted by GDEB. I do have an excellent high-speed slide show of NORTH DAKOTA’s “Float Off” on the weekend of September 13th, 14th and 15th. As soon as I can figure out how to post it I will do so as I know you will want to view it. O.K. here are some of the photos not in any rigid order.
Captain Gordon leads his crew on to their boat
Ship’s Sponsor Katie Fowler and her daughters with Captain Gordon and his crew
Captain Gordon and his officers
The Chief Petty officers – the guys who really run the Navy!
Captain Doug and Christine Gordon smiling proudly on this great day!
Master Chief Petty Tim Preabt – the Chief of the Boat COB. The only North Dakotan in the crew.
Katie Fowler breaking the traditional bottle of champagne to christen SSN-784 as NORTH DAKOTA!
General Dynamics Electric Boat President Kevin Poitras with Ship’s Sponsor Katie Fowler, on his last day on the job as he was retiring with NORTH DAKOTA as his last boat.
Speaker of the House Representative Bill Devlin and his wife Margie
Senator Stan Lyson and Senator Bill Bowman
Senator Tim Flakoll
Mikey and Senator John Hoeven, First Lady Betsy and Governor Jack Dalrymple, Senator Heidi Heitkamp
A small part of our North Dakota contingent. L to R: Connie and Dave Sprynczynatyk, Bill Bowman, John and Mikey Hoeven, Betsy and Jack Dalrymple, Heidi Heitkamp, Stan Lyson, Susan Wefald, Tim Flakoll, Carol Kapsner, Margie Devlin, John Kapsner, Bill Devlin, Kathy and Al Jaeger
Retired Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Bill Owens (BHS 1959), and retired Captain Bob Wefald, Chairman of the USS North Dakota Committee.
Clem and Arlys Fowler, retired Vice Admiral Jeff Fowler’s (BHS 1974) parents and Ship’s Sponsor Katie Fowler
Mike Nowak, the Manager of the construction of USS NORTH DAKOTA. He and his workers did a great job!
Senator John Hoeven, Captain Doug Gordon, Governor Jack Dalrymple, Senator Heidi Heitkamp, Admiral Bill Owens
Many of the members of the North Dakota contingent
The christening of USS NORTH DAKOTA last Saturday, November 2nd, was a special moment for all of us who have worked to get a second ship named for our state. There was a crowd of more than 4,000 lining both sides of the dock in which NORTH DAKOTA has been floating since 12:00 noon on Sunday, September 15th. There was lots of Red, White and Blue bunting with a Navy band playing while the ceremony was getting ready to get underway. Our Commanding Officer Captain Doug Gordon and his crew in their Dress Blue uniforms marched out onto NORTH DAKOTA’s deck to stand and faced the speaker’s platform built across the boat and after the sail. The sail had stairs going up to another platform where NORTH DAKOTA waited to be christened by Katie Fowler, the Ship’s Sponsor.
The day before christening had weather that was terrible. It was raining on and off, it was overcast and cold, and the strong wind made all of the flags stand straight out. It was nevertheless a great day for Doug Gordon as Vice Admiral Jeff Fowler, US. Navy (ret) did the honors of giving the oath of office to then Commander Gordon as he was promoted to the rank of Captain. For you non-Navy people that’s equivalent to a full colonel in the other services. I was very proud of him.
But on Saturday morning the day dawned clear and sunny with no wind! Good weather always helps when you have an outdoor ceremony. Speakers for the christening included Governor Jack Dalrymple, Senator John Hoeven and Senator Heidi Heitkamp. They all did a terrific job! Ship’s Sponsor Katie Fowler gave her wonderful remarks last before climbing the stairs to the platform behind the sail. With a mighty swing she broke the champagne bottle and christened out boat NORTH DAKOTA! At that moment a loud horn joined in the celebration.
It was a truly memorable event! I think more than 150 North Dakotans, former North Dakotans and some North Dakotans “want to be’s” celebrated the christening of the second Navy ship named for our great State of North Dakota. Included in our delegation was Secretary of State Al Jaeger and his wife Kathy, Supreme Court Justice Carol Kapsner and her husband John as well as Senator Bill Bowman, Representative Bill Devlin, Senator Tim Flakoll, Representative Ed Gruchalla, Representative Vernon Laning, Senator Stan Lyson, Representative Andy Maragos, and Senator John Warner.
When the official photos have been cleared by the Navy I will post them in a new blog posting. In the mean time here are links to several articles in The Day, a daily newspaper serving the Groton CT area. Be sure to click on all the photos with each article.
Some of you had problems watching the christening ceremony on your computer or cable access TV. Here is the explanation received by Rich Dunn who could not get hooked in to watch it:
Here is the official word on the inability to view the Christening…
You have my sincere apology for your not being able to watch the christening of the USS North Dakota through access to our website. Our server was overwhelmed by the number of requests for access, and we did not have the bandwidth to support the requests. This is not meant as an excuse, as we might have anticipated this possibility and made other arrangements.
You can now watch the recorded video at the General Dynamics Electric Boat site: http://www.powerstationevents.com/GDEB-USS_NorthDakota.php
Dakota Media Access will be replaying the recorded event at future dates after we obtain a copy from GDEB.
Again, we regret your experience, and those of your friends and family, with this event.
Dakota Media Access
307 N 4th St
Bismarck, ND 58501–4020
When USS NORTH DAKOTA is christened this Saturday, November 2nd, in a Navy ceremony starting at 11:00 a.m. on the east coast, the entire ceremony will be streamed live so you can watch it on your PC. At 10:00 a.m. in North Dakota (9:00 a.m. in Dickinson) you can go to http://www.freetv.org see the ceremony broadcast live. For those of you in the Bismarck Mandan area you can go to Dakota Community Access on Government Access cable channel 2 and see the entire ceremony. We are not allowed to take photos during the ceremony on the property of General Dynamics Electric Boat so it will be a while before we can get officials we can post on this blog, but we will post them as soon as possible.
I’ve been taking of other things for the past month and more so I am just getting back to our blog. Ship’s Sponsor Katie Fowler gave you a great report on NORTH DAKOTA’s “Float Off” early on Sunday morning, September 15th. I’ve finally gotten around to opening three photos of the “Float Off” I want to share with you. These three photos are the copyrighted property of General Dynamics Electric Boat and are used by permission.
NORTH DAKOTA being moved from the hangar to the dry dock. Very Impressive!!
Ship’s Sponsor Katie Fowler with her husband Vice Admiral Jeff Fowler after she gave the command to “Open The Valves.”
Our boat’s christening is taking place on Saturday, November 2nd at the facilities of General Dynamics Electric Boat, her builder, in Groton CT. Helping us celebrate this grand event is the North Dakota Council of the Navy League of the United States. Navy League members will be handing out buttons to help celebrate NORTH DAKOTA’s christening.
As soon as the christening is completed our USS North Dakota Committee with swing into full-scale action to get us all ready for NORTH DAKOTA’s commissioning which has been set by the Secretary of the Navy for Saturday, May 31, 2014, in Groton CT. We hope to have much of the necessary fund-raising completed by the end of the year.
Float Off—Another Big Milestone for the future USS North Dakota
By Katie Fowler, Sponsor
Katie Fowler, the boat sponsor, and her husband retired Vice Admiral Jeff Fowler, were able to participate in another special event in the construction of the future USS North Dakota. For the first time after years of being assembled in a variety of buildings, the hull of the boat, now more than 90% complete, was rolled out of the building and placed in a Dry Dock. Also, for the first time in its life, the hull was surrounded by seawater until it “floated off” the blocks that have been holding it up since the beginning of construction.
As you might imagine, many things must be completed and certified before this can happen. The exact date for this movement out of the building is impossible to predict, so Katie and Jeff waited for the report from the boat’s Captain, CDR Doug Gordon, that the North Dakota had left the building.
The 7,800 ton vessel moves on the equivalent of train tracks, first sideways, then out of the building, then sideways again onto a pontoon that is in the Dry Dock. The water is pumped out of the Dry Dock, so the pontoon settles on the bottom of the Dry Dock with the North Dakota still “high and dry” on its original blocks.
The shipyard and crew sign off all of the final checklists to ensure bringing water against the hull will be done safely. Katie and Jeff arrived the edge of the Dry Dock at 3:45 a.m. (yes, in the morning!) on Sunday September 15th, 2013 to observe the final sign offs.
The boat on its blocks in the Dry Dock truly looked like a completed submarine—no scaffolding, very few construction materials around the boat—very exciting to see it in this condition. Two young workers who were instrumental to getting the boat to this point had the honor of opening the two valves that allowed water to enter the Dry Dock. Katie was given the privilege of ordering “Open the valves!” around 4:00 a.m. to get the process going. Many photos were taken, so once they are cleared by the shipyard, I am sure we will be able to post some of them.
The filling of the Dry Dock with sea water is done very deliberately, with occasional pauses to make sure all places that might leak water are actually water tight. Katie and Jeff left so the process could move forward, and returned when there was 26 feet of water on the hull.
The actual float off is an important event. First, a naval architect has done calculations at what water level on the boat’s hull should lift the boat from the blocks. If that does not happen by a certain point, major delays and an investigation would ensue. The best analogy I can think of for the float off is when you take your fishing boat to the lake on its trailer, unhook all fasteners, then very slowly back into the water until the boat lifts off the trailer. In the case of the Dry Dock, instead of moving the boat and trailer to deeper water, the water level is raised against a stationary boat on the blocks.
To detect the slight motion of float off, the shipyard rigs a plumb hanging from a chain that just touches the upper hull of the boat. When the boat lifts off, the plumb contacts the boat and leans over. Because the boat has been compressed against the support blocks for years, there is a little friction that has to be overcome.
The young female naval architect was on the phones with her team as the water slowly rose to the expected point. Within an inch of her calculation, the North Dakota floated off for the first time at noon on September 15th, 2013. The ship’s whistle blew a loud, long blast heard up and down the Thames River, announcing “North Dakota is waterborne!”
The next big milestone will occur on November 2, when North Dakota, floating in the same Dry Dock, will be christened.
Great News! USS NORTH DAKOTA (SSN-784) is heading for the sea. Commander Doug Gordon, NORTH DAKOTA’s Commanding Officer sent this photo of our boat being moved from the hangar to the dock where she will be in the water by this Sunday.
More very exciting news is that NORTH DAKOTA’s commissioning date has been set by the Navy for Saturday, May 31, 2014, in Groton CT, so now we can make definite plans and raise the money we need to properly send out boat out into the fleet to begin its 33 years of service in the United States Navy!
But the next event for us is NORTH DAKOTA’s christening which will take place in Groton CT on Saturday, November 2, 2013.
NORTH DAKOTA is the next and the 11th VIRGINIA Class submarine to be joining the fleet. The 10th VIRGINIA Class boat , USS MINNESOTA (SSN-783) joined the fleet on Saturday, September 7th in a commissioning ceremony held at the U.S. Naval Base in Norfolk VA. Three members of our USS North Dakota Committee attended MINNESOTA’s commissioning to help us prepare for the commissioning of our boat next May 31st, Kelvin Hulett – Treasurer, Dot Frank – secretary, and Darrell Williams – public affairs officer. Here is a link to MINNESOTA’s commissioning ceremony:
Here is a link to the commissioning article in the Star Tribune:
Start getting real excited because NORTH DAKOTA’s commissioning will be here before you know it!