PHOTOS FROM THE CHAIRMAN’S DINNER – CALL TO ORDER

The guests find their places

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Katie Fowler and her family

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USS North Dakota Committee Chairman Bob Wefald greets everyone

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The Reverend Bob Polk, the Youth Program Secretary of the YMCA in Minot, North Dakota, from 1957 to 1906, and Bob Wefald’s life long friend, gave a beautiful invocation

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The Bismarck Mandan Elks Chorus sang the Navy Hymn following the invocation

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John Hermanson sang the NORTH DAKOTA verse of the Navy Hymn written by Bob Wefald

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PHOTOS FROM THE CHAIRMAN’S DINNER – PRE-DINNER RECEPTION

Our USS North Dakota Committee held a Chairman’s Dinner on Friday evening, October 24, 2014, at the Mystic Marriott Hotel.

USSND Committee Treasurer Kelvin Hulett and Vice Admiral Mike Connor, Commander of the entire submarine force

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Reverend Bob Polk visits with Susan Wefald

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Rear Admiral Rick Breckenridge and his wife Cindy

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Rea Admiral Stuart Munsch from Oakes, North Dakota, the commander of subs deployed to the Western Pacific and the Indian Ocean visits with Vice Admiral Jeff Fowler (ret) from Bismarck, North Dakota, the husband of Ship’s Sponsor Katie Fowler

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Jim Offutt, the National President of the Navy League of the United States and Rear Admiral David Johnson, the program Executive Officer for Submarines

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Chief of the Boat Tim Preabt of Mandan, North Dakota, Commander Dinis Pimentel who with Al Morales helped our USSND Committee, and Jerry Samuelson, Gordon Blake and Duane Preabt all of whom are from North Dakota

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Captain Darlene Grasdock of Wibaux, Montana, the Supervisor of Shipbuilding

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PHOTOS FROM DENNIS JANKE AND ONE FROM DOC BRADLEY

The crew has manned their boat!

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Governor Jack Dalrymple speaks at the commissioning.

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The Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jonathon Greenert was the main speaker.

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Colors being retired after the ceremony.

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Susan Wefald, wife of the USSND Committee Chairman, being escorted after the ceremony.

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A very happy USSND Committee Chairman!

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Dennis Janke, Minot High Class of 1960, with Governor Dalrymple.

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Norman Graving, Minot High Class of 1960, with Teddy Roosevelt.

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VIP tour after the ceremony with Governor Dalrymple, Senator Hoeven and Captain Gordon

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VIP tour with Governor Jack and Betsy Dalrymple, Mikey Hoeven, it looks like

Representative Cramer, Senator Hoeven, unknown  State Senator Marcellais and

Bismarck Mandan Chamber President Kelvin Hulett

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A NAVY Family by Doc Bradley

Sailor and family

 


CHAIRMAN’S DINNER COMMISSIONING PRAYER

To give the invocation at the Chairman’s Dinner the Friday evening before the October 25th commissioning of USS NORTH DAKOTA I called on my dear long time friend Rev. Bob Polk.  Here is my introduction of him.

The Reverend Robert L. Polk is a retired minister of the United Church of Christ, formerly the Congregational Church. His ties to North Dakota run deep.  He grew up in Chicago and was ordained, but his first call in 1955 was for two years to a small church in Berthold, North Dakota.  With the construction and buildup of the Minot Air Force Base bringing more diversity to Minot, community leaders realized the need for the skills Bob Polk could bring to a visible position in Minot.  Bob became the Youth Program Secretary of the Minot YMCA, just a block from the Minot Senior and Junior High Schools.  He built great relationships with so very many of us kids as he was a warm and friendly man.  Bob and I met at the Y becoming lifelong friends.  He held this job from 1957 through 1960 when I graduated from high school.  In 1960 he became the Minister of Youth at the Riverside Church in New York City serving for 13 years.  He also served nine years as the executive director of The Council of Churches in the City of New York.  I am personally honored that my North Dakota friend Bob Polk is with us to share in this milestone for the Great State of North Dakota!

Here is Reverend Polk’s invocation and benediction:

USS NORTH DAKOTA

COMMISSIONING SERVICE

CHAIRMAN’S DINNER

24 OCTOBER 2014

GROTON, CT

INVOCATION DELIVERED BY THE REV. ROBERT L. POLK

LET US PRAY:

Our God, Our Help in ages past,

Our hope for years to come,

Our shelter from the stormy blast,

And our eternal home.

O DIVINE SPIRIT, CREATOR OF HEAVEN AND EARTH, SUN & STARS, WIND, WAVES AND SEA; WE COME BEFORE YOU ON THIS GLORIOUS COMMISSIONING OCCASION TO BLESS THIS REMARKABLE VESSEL; THE ENDEAVOR OF GREAT MINDS AND HUMAN HANDS.

MAY ALL WHO SERVE ON HER BE PROTECTED FROM THE PERILS OF THE DEEP AS THEY GUARD OUR COUNTRY. MAY A SAFE COURSE ALWAYS BE PLOTTED FOR HER SONS AND DAUGHTERS WHO LIVE AND WORK ON BOARD AS THEY TRAVEL THE WATERS OF THE WORLD WITH VIGILANCE AND COURAGE AND PERSONAL RESILIENCE.

O GOD, WE PRAY THAT EVERY VOYAGE IS FILLED WITH THE GIFT OF LEARNING, ENHANCED BY COPING WITH CHALLENGES THAT DEVELOP SKILL, CONFIDENCE AND EXPERTISE.

MAY SHE ALWAYS BE A TRUSTWORTHY AND RELIABLE PARTNER WITH YOU TO BE GUIDED THROUGH STORMS AS WELL AS WATERS OF CALM TO A SAFE HAVEN AND A FRIENDLY PORT.

WE PRAY THAT THE USS NORTH DAKOTA WILL BE LOYAL TO THIS GREAT STATE BY BEING MINDFUL OF ITS GLORIOUS CREST WHICH EMBRACES THE SYMBOLS AND BEARS THE WORDS: “STRENGTH FROM THE SOIL & REAPERS OF THE DEEP.”

WE IMPLORE YOU, GRACIOUS GOD, TO MAKE THE STORMY SEAS OF LIFE TRANQUIL BY YOUR HEAVENLY BENEDICTION. AS STATED IN THE BOOK OF PSALMS, WE KNOW YOU CAN STILL THE STORM TO A WHISPER AND HUSH THE SEAS.  SO WE ASK THAT THOSE WHO SAIL ON THIS BOAT ARE GLAD WHEN IT GROWS CALM AND ARE SUCCESSFUL IN THEIR MISSIONS.

FINALLY, MAY THOSE WHO BECOME ONE WITH THIS GREAT VESSEL LIVE OUT THE ENCOURAGING THOUGHTS OF MARK TWAIN BY THROWING OFF THE LINES, SAILING AWAY FROM SAFE HARBOR, CATCHING THE WIND AND, IN DOING SO, EXPLORE, DREAM AND DISCOVER.

WE COMMISSION THIS GREAT BOAT, USS N.D. AND ASK YOUR CONTINUED BLESSING ON ALL THE SOULS SHE WILL ENCOMPASS AND PROTECT.

We are grateful for this occasion — the Chairman’s Dinner — and all who gather about these tables for nourishment, fellowship and the joy of your many blessings.

GOD BLESS THE USS NORTH DAKOTA, ITS NAMESAKE AND GOD BLESS AMERICA. AMEN.

 

BENEDICTION

Go forth into the world in peace;

Be of good courage;

Hold fast to that which is good;

Render to no person evil for evil;

Strengthen the faint hearted;

Support the weak;

Help the afflicted;

Honor all persons;

Love and serve the Lord;

And may the blessing of God almighty be with you, the USS North Dakota, its commander and crew now and always. Amen.

 

Here are the words to the USS NORTH DAKOTA verse of the Navy Hymn:

Lord be with NORTH DAKOTA’s crew

     As through the depths they pursue

Their mission always peace to keep

     Reaping threats from the deep

Protecting those on land who toil

     Drawing strength from the soil

 

Words written by CAPT Bob Wefald, USNR (Ret)

 

 


MAY 31ST COMMISSIONING POSTPONEMENT UNDER INVESTIGATION

This story from The Day, a newspaper in Groton CT confirms the investigation of the causes of the postponement of PCU NORTH DAKOTA’s postponement of its original May 31st commissioning date is still on going.  However, I have highlighted a very interesting paragraph which gives bragging rights to Captain Gordon and his crew.  It also verifies what Admiral Stuart Munsch told us last Wednesday in Fargo at the meeting of the North Dakota Council of the Navy League of the United States.  And that is that the submarine he commanded USS ALBUQUERQUE (SSN-706) had the highest score on record for what is called an Inserv Inspection when a boat completes construction or major shipyard overhaul before the boat is taken into the Navy.  His score stood until NORTH DAKOTA achieved “the highest-quality score to date.”  Well done NORTH DAKOTA!!

 

Navy, Electric Boat Investigating Submarine Delay

Julia Bergman, The Day, Nov 3

GROTON – USS North Dakota is out to sea, but an investigation into third-party vendor issues that caused the nuclear attack submarine’s commissioning to be delayed is ongoing.

The Navy postponed North Dakota’s commissioning, originally set for the end of May, to Oct. 25 because of issues related to vendor components and additional design and certification work required on the submarine’s redesigned bow.

North Dakota is the first submarine to have the redesign with a new sonar array and two larger payload tubes instead of 12 individual, vertical-launch missile tubes.

Colleen O’Rourke, a spokeswoman for Naval Sea Systems Command, said the investigation into the third-party vendor began in April and is led by the shipbuilders, Electric Boat and Huntington Ingalls Industries, in conjunction with the Navy. The name of the vendor is not being released while the investigation is underway.

The issues led North Dakota to be drydocked on April 21 to allow for inspection of parts with suspected deficiencies, including stern planes and rudder rams; retractable bow plane cylinders; hydraulic accumulators; high-pressure air-charging manifolds; torpedo tube interlocks and shaft/link assemblies; weapons shipping and handling mechanisms; and other parts.

EB inspected those outboard and inboard components and corrected all mandatory deficiencies, according to an earlier statement provided to The Day from Capt. Darlene Grasdock, supervisor of shipbuilding in Groton.

As for the additional design and certification work, Naval Sea Systems Command and EB examined operational scenarios and casualty situations and eventually concluded that North Dakota was satisfactory for at-sea operations. All inboard and outboard components whose failure might cause major mission impact, major injury, loss of ship or loss of life were inspected and all required repairs were completed, according to the earlier statement from Grasdock. North Dakota was certified for sea trials on July 25 and successfully completed those trials in mid-August.

Despite the pending investigation, the vendor is still working on Navy contracts.

“The vendor is still working on select components with 100 percent oversight/work controls from the shipbuilders. The extremely critical component work is being removed from the vendor and taken in-house with the shipbuilders,” O’Rourke said in an email.

EB led the redesign of the submarine and, despite the redesign issues, delivered North Dakota to the Navy two days early and under cost by more than $30 million, with the highest-quality score to date, as measured by the Navy Board of Inspection and Survey.

Kurt Hesch, vice president of EB and Virginia-class program manager, said in a statement that the sub builder “continues to work closely with the Navy on this matter. Because the investigation is ongoing, however, we would prefer not to expand on the Navy’s statement.”


GREAT COMMISSIONING ARTICLE

Our sharp eyed Secretary of State the Honorable Al Jaeger brought this article to my attention.  Thanks, Al!

USS North Dakota Commissioned

Story Number: NNS141025-13Release Date: 10/25/2014 4:39:00 PM

A A A

By Kevin Copeland, Commander, Submarine Force Atlantic Public Affairs

GROTON, Conn. (NNS) — USS North Dakota (SSN 784) officially became the Navy’s newest addition to the submarine force following a commissioning ceremony held Oct. 25, at Naval Submarine Base New London.

North Dakota is the 11th Virginia-class attack submarine to join the fleet, and the first of eight Block III Virginia-class submarines to be built. The Block III submarines are being built with new Virginia Payload Tubes designed to lower costs and increase missile-firing payload possibilities.

The 10 current Virginia-class submarines have 12 individual 21-inch diameter vertical launch tubes able to fire Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAMS). The Block III submarines being built will have two-larger 87-inch diameter tubes able to house six TLAMS each.

Adm. Jonathan Greenert, the 30th Chief of Naval Operations, was the ceremony’s keynote speaker. He enthusiastically welcomed North Dakota to the fleet and reminded the crew of the important role they will play in protecting the nation’s security while executing his standing operating orders of: Warfighting First, Operate Forward and Be Ready.

“It is with great pride that I welcome USS North Dakota to the fleet,” said Greenert. “May God bless and guide this warship and all who shall sail on her. I congratulate all whose hard work and dedication brought this magnificent warship to life. On behalf of the Secretary of the Navy and for the President of the United States, I hereby place USS North Dakota in commission.”

Hundreds of citizens from North Dakota, including the governor and senators, attended the commissioning ceremony.

“Today was a historic day for the people of North Dakota,” said North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple. “We celebrated the commissioning of this majestic submarine just days before we mark the 125th anniversary of our statehood. We are proud and honored to have this grand ship bear the name, spirit and heritage of our great state.”

As the most modern and sophisticated attack submarine in the world, the submarine can operate in both littoral and deep ocean environments and presents combatant commanders with a broad and unique range of operational capabilities. North Dakota will be a flexible, multi-mission platform designed to carry out the seven core competencies of the submarine force: anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, delivery of special operations forces, strike warfare, irregular warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and mine warfare.

“From the Arabian Sea to the Polar Ice cap, North Dakota will operate undetected in the harshest environments on the planet as her crew protects the freedom of the seas and the interests of the United States,” said Vice Adm. Michael Connor, Commander, Submarine Forces. “Leaders around the world around the world continue to ask for more American submarine presence, because they realize that there are some very important things that must be done that only submarines can do. To the crew of North Dakota, you have done a fantastic job in bringing this ship to life. Now it time to shift your focus to global operations and get ready to meet your new responsibilities on patrol far from home.”

The submarine is 377 feet long, has a 34-foot beam, and will be able to dive to depths greater than 800 feet and operate at speeds in excess of 25 knots submerged. It will operate for 33 years without ever refueling.

Capt. Douglas Gordon is North Dakota’s first commanding officer. He leads a crew of about 136 officers and enlisted personnel. While born in Indianapolis, Indiana, he refers to Carrollton, Georgia, as home. He enlisted in the Navy and attended Nuclear Power School prior to being released from active duty to attend Auburn University on an NROTC scholarship. Gordon graduated from Auburn University in 1991 with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering.

“The crew has been looking forward to commissioning from day one of their arrival,” said Gordon. “Since we first began manning the ship in October 2011 our crew has progressed through numerous milestones which has culminated in our commissioning,’ said Gordon. “For the first time the ship got underway for sea trials in August, and this sea time permitted the crew their first opportunity to finally see how their hard work and preparation had paid off,”

“I know they are all as thrilled as I am in commissioning North Dakota, joining the fleet and eventually deploying,” said Gordon. “We will operate the ship at sea over the next nine months or so while conducting training, trials, certifications, and testing. Following a post-shakedown availability, the North Dakota will begin a normal operations cycle for working towards its first deployment.”

Ironically the only native North Dakotan assigned to the submarine is the ship’s senior enlisted advisor or chief of the boat, Master Chief Electronics Technician (Submarines/Diver) Timothy Preabt.

He grew up in Williston, N.D., but moved to Mandan, N.D., and graduated from Mandan High School in 1989.

“As a native of North Dakota and the only member of the crew from North Dakota, it is a great honor and privilege to be part of the North Dakota,” said Preabt. “The outreach of support received from the great people at home has been overwhelming. North Dakota was a great place to grow up and I have always been proud of my home state, but nothing made me more prouder to see the individual pride that the people of North Dakota have for their ship,”

“The crew of North Dakota has worked together ensuring we were ready to operate the Navy’s newest Virginia-class submarine. Taking this fine warship to sea and operating it was a testament for their hard work, training and preparation during the last three years'” said Preabt. “The USS North Dakota will always be a great submarine because she started out that way – thanks to the Sailors that brought her to life!”

Katie Fowler, wife of retired Vice Adm. Jeffrey L. “Jeff” Fowler, a native of Bismarck, N.D., serves as the submarine’s sponsor. She broke the traditional champagne bottle against the boat’s sail during the christening ceremony in November 2013.

Virginia-class submarines are built under a unique teaming arrangement between General Dynamics Electric Boat in Groton, Conn., and Huntington Ingalls Industries in Newport News, Virginia.

Construction on North Dakota began March 2009; the submarine’s keel was authenticated during a ceremony on May 11, 2012; and the submarine was christened during a ceremony Nov. 2, 2013.

North Dakota is the second Navy ship, and first submarine, to be named in honor of the people of “The Peace Garden State.” The other ship was the Delaware-class battleship BB-29, which was commissioned April 11, 1910 and decommissioned Nov. 22, 1923.

 


SHARING SUBMITTED PHOTOS

If you would like to submit and share some photos of the commissioning, please first reduce them to about 300 kb MAX and then attach them to an email.  Please do NOT send them in the body/text of your email.  It is too much work for me to download, save, reduce, download to our blog and include them in a post.  Thanks!

 


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