This article below is a slightly out of date summary of the facts and capabilities of the VIRGINIA Class submarines, of which USS NORTH DAKOTA (SSN-781) is the 11th and latest.  It was copied from Undersea Warfare News as of Monday, March 16th.  I(t must be from an English publication.  I have updated it as to our boat.  Enjoy!

Virginia Class Submarines

Staff, Next Big Future, Mar 14

US Navy’s total requirement is for 30 Virginia Class Attack Submarines. The Navy placed a bulk-buy contract for the first five ships and, in January 2004, placed a multiyear contract for the following five.

The Virginia-class of attack submarines surpasses the performance of any current projected threat submarine. They were designed as a cheaper alternative to the Cold War era Seawolf-class attack submarines, and are slated to replace aging Los Angeles class subs, seventeen of which have already been decommissioned.


The Virginias incorporate several innovations. Instead of periscopes, the subs have a pair of extendable “photonics masts” outside the pressure hull. Each contains several high-resolution cameras with light-intensification and infrared sensors, an infrared laser rangefinder, and an integrated Electronic Support Measures (ESM) array. Signals from the masts’ sensors are transmitted through fiber optic data lines through signal processors to the control center. The subs also make use of pump-jet propulsors for quieter operations.

The hull size is length 377ft by beam 34ft and the displacement is 7,300t dived, which is smaller than the more expensive Seawolf attack submarine with displacement 9,137t dived.

The submarine is fitted with modular isolated deck structures, for example the submarine’s command centre will be installed as one single unit resting on cushioned mounting points. The submarine’s control suite is equipped with computer touch screens.

Weapon systems

The submarine is equipped with 12 vertical missile launch tubes and four 533mm torpedo tubes. The vertical launching system has the capacity to launch 12 Tomahawk submarine-launched cruise missiles (SLCM) in a single salvo. There is capacity for up to 26 mk48 ADCAP mod 6 heavyweight torpedoes and sub harpoon anti-ship missiles to be fired from the 21in torpedo tubes. Mk60 CAPTOR mines may also be fitted.

An integral lock-out / lock-in chamber is incorporated into the hull for special operations. The chamber can host a mini-submarine, such as Northrop Grumman’s Oceanic and Naval Systems advanced SEAL delivery system (ASDS), to deliver special warfare forces such as navy sea air land (SEAL) teams or Marine reconnaissance units for counter-terrorism or localised conflict operations.


Virginia is fitted with the AN/WLY-1 acoustic countermeasures system being developed by Northrop Grumman, which provides range and bearing data, along with the mast-mounted AN/BLQ-10 electronic support measures (ESM) system from Lockheed Martin Integrated Systems.

AN/BLQ-10 provides full spectrum radar processing, automatic threat warning and situation assessment.

Technology barriers

Because of the low rate of Virginia production, the Navy entered into a program with DARPA to overcome technology barriers to lower the cost of attack submarines so that more could be built, to maintain the size of the fleet.

These include:

Propulsion concepts not constrained by a centerline shaft.

Externally stowed and launched weapons (especially torpedoes).

Conformal alternatives to the existing spherical sonar array.

Technologies that eliminate or substantially simplify existing submarine hull, mechanical and electrical systems.

Automation to reduce crew workload for standard tasks

Block I

USS Virginia (SSN-774), commissioned and in service.

USS Texas (SSN-775), commissioned and in service.

USS Hawaii (SSN-776), commissioned and in service.

USS North Carolina (SSN-777), commissioned and in service.

Block II

USS New Hampshire (SSN-778), commissioned and in service.

USS New Mexico (SSN-779), commissioned and in  service.

USS Missouri (SSN-780), commissioned and in service.

USS California (SSN-781), commissioned and in service.

USS Mississippi (SSN-782), commissioned and in service.

USS Minnesota (SSN-783), commissioned and in service.

Block III

USS North Dakota (SSN-784), named July 15, 2008, commissioned on October 25, 2014 and in service.

PCU John Warner (SSN-785), named January 8, 2009, expected to be delivered April 30, 2015.


These are several photos of Master Chief Tim Preabt’s visit with the Legislature on February 9th.  I’m sorry about the delay in posting these photos.  These photos were taken by Poppy Mills, Jon Arenz and Mike McCleary.  they are not shown in any particular order.

USS North Dakota speaks to Legislators USS North Dakota USS North Dakota USS ND Chief of Boat Addressing the Legislature USS ND Chief of Boat Addressing the Legislature  USS ND Chief of Boat Addressing the Legislature Proclamation for  with Governor Jack Dalrymple


Electronics Technician master Chief Petty Officer Tim Preabt and his wife Linda completed a namesake state visit to Bismarck and Fargo, North Dakota.  On Monday, February 9th, Tim was given the honor of addressing both houses of the North Dakota Legislature.  he spoke first in the Senate and then in the House of Representatives being well received in both houses.  He thanked them for all the support they and the people of North Dakota have given USS NORTH DAKOTA, and he gave each house a plank owners plaque.

Here are links to several articles  in The Bismarck Tribune:

Also on that Monday Master Chief Preabt was interviewed on the PMS Show on KFYR 550 AM Radio at 8:40 a.m. that morning by host Phil Parker.  That evening Tim gave an excellent candid talk to the annual meeting of the North Dakota Council of the Navy League of the United States.

On Tuesday, February 10th, Master Chief Preabt spoke to more Navy League members at a luncheon in Fargo.  That afternoon he was interviewed on Main Street on Prairie Public Radio.  Here is a link to that interview:

After almost 3 1/2 years as the first crew member of USS NORTH DAKOTA, in which Master Chief as Chief of the Boat (COB) supervised the training of new crew members and worked closely with Commanding Officer Captain Douglas Gordon, Master Chief Preabt completed his relief during the week of February 2nd.  He has been relieved by Master Chief Machinist Mate Todd Estes.  When we get more information about the leadership changes on board our boat we will share them with you.

CONGRATULATIONS to Master Chief Tim Preabt and having done an OUTSTANDING job as the 1st Chief of the boat of USS NORTH DAKOTA.  Well Done, Tim!  We, your fellow North Dakotans, are very proud of you!!






For those who are interested a DVD of the entire commissioning ceremony is now available.  The entire ceremony was downloaded from the Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System at 1 GB and is available in a DVD for $12.99 from Feist Electronics, 225 West Broadway Avenue, Bismarck ND 58501.  The phone number is 701-258-0065.  The email address is:

The DVD has been formatted into chapters so if you want you can go to the part of the ceremony you want to watch.

You can access the video of the ceremony yourself


To assist in the preparation for the commissioning of USS NORTH DAKOTA (SSN-784) your USS North Dakota Committee commissioned four sets of coins celebrating highlights on NORTH DAKOTA’s journey toward commissioning.  A limited number of sterling silver coins were minted of each of the four coins and quite a few bronze coins were also minted.

AAA All four silver coins

All four coins on the reverse side have the same image of our boat against the background of the flag of the state of North Dakota as shown above.  The coins going left to right above have (1) the crest of the 1st USS NORTH DAKOTA (BB-29), (2) the crest of the 2nd USS NORTH DAKOTA (SSN-784), (3) the image of Katie Fowler, our Ship’s Sponsor, and (4) the boat’s commissioning pennant.

The silver coins are sold for $100 each.  We have none of the 1st coin left to sell.  If you do have the first coin and you want to collect the entire set we have only two of the second left to sell.  We have about 60 coins left to sell of the 3rd and 4th coins.  If you have the first two silver coins now would be a good time to collect the 3rd and 4th coins to have a full set.  You can write to: USS North Dakota Committee. PO Box 1675, Bismarck ND 58505-1675.

The bronze coins are $20 each so for $80 you can collect a full bronze set of coins.  Write to that same address.



Electronics Technician Master Chief Petty Officer Tim Preabt, the Chief of the Boat, USS NORTH DAKOTA (SSN-784) is coming home to North Dakota for a visit.  He has been granted the rare privilege of giving remarks to both the North Dakota Senate and the North Dakota House of Representatives on Monday afternoon, February 9th.  He will talk to the Senate at 1:15 p.m. followed by remarks to the House of Representatives.  His wife Linda is coming with him.  She is from Williston.  Tim was born in Minot and he went to school in Williston and Mandan graduating from Mandan High School in 1989, after which he enlisted in the Navy.

ETMC Tim Preabt

Master Chief Preabt is the senior enlisted man on the boat and the only North Dakotan.  He was the first enlisted man assigned to the crew, and he has done a great job keeping the crew focused throughout the construction of the boat and during the sea trials to get ready to be brought into the active Navy.

Tim is going through the process of being relieved by Master Machinist Mate Chief Petty Officer Todd L. Estes.  Tim should be relieved on Thursday, February 5th, completing a very successful tour as NORTH DAKOTA’s COB.

On Monday morning, February 9th, Tim will be a guest at 8:40 a.m. on the PMS Show on KFYR 550 AM radio.  That Monday evening he will speak to the North Dakota Council of the Navy League of the United States at the Kelly Inn in Bismarck.  At 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, February 10th Tim and Linda will be at the Fyr’n Pan Restaurant in Fargo, after which he will be interviewed on Main Street on Prairie Public Radio.  If you would like to attend either one or both of these events call please call Bob Wefald at 701-223-8975.




Scheels in Kirkwood Mall in Bismarck has generously agreed to sell all of our remaining USS North Dakota Committee merchandise at clearance prices.  This includes T-shirts, ship’s crest patches, and crest shaped coins with the boat’s crest on the front and a North Dakota image on the reverse.  These items will make great Christmas gifts and stocking stuffers.  The display of this close out merchandise is just south of the registers on the entrance to Scheels inside Kirkwood Mall.

Edited DVDs of three events sponsored by our USS North Dakota Committee are available at Feist Electronics, 225 West Broadway Avenue, Bismarck ND 58501.  Each set of DVDs costs $19.99.  The first DVD is of the Chairman’s Dinner on Saturday, October 24, 2014, and includes the remarks of President Teddy Roosevelt as portrayed by Joe Wiegand who entertains in Medora during the summer as well as songs by the Elks Chorus and all of the various presentations.  The second DVD is of the very short program for the North Dakota Contingent Party on Saturday afternoon, October 25, 2014, and the Ship’s Party program on the evening of Saturday, October 25, 2014.  Also on this DVD is a program of pre-commissioning photos.  You can call Feist Electronics at 701-258-0065 or send an email to


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