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!
Our USS North Dakota Committee has worked with Satrom Travel (701-258-5000 and 1800-833-8787 – firstname.lastname@example.org) to set up a tour to the christening of USS NORTH DAKOTA (SSN-784) in Groton CT on Saturday, November 2nd. Contact Satrom Travel for all of the details and for any questions you have. Here is a .jpg format image of the flyer:
You need to move quickly as there are a limited number of seats available from Bismarck, Fargo and Grand Forks. Satrom Travel can answer your questions.
We have received new USS NORTH DAKOTA merchandise in our inventory including vinyl cling crests for the inside of your vehicle windows (our old stick on crests are all gone). In our inventory for sale to help raise money we have posters, bronze coins in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd sets (the 4th coin will be designed dealing with the commissioning next spring or early next summer), crest patches, ball caps, plus T-shirts in white and blue – long sleeve or short sleeve – with the new addition of child sizes. Your purchase of one or more of these items will help with our committee expenses for the commissioning as we are in charge of the events surrounding the commissioning. The Navy, of course, is in charge of the commissioning event itself. Check out the merchandise on the right side of this blog.
After years and months of waiting we are getting closer toward seeing our boat enter the active Navy to proudly steam for 33 years on one “tank of gas.”
We now have very nice ship’s crest patches for USS NORTH DAKOTA available for $5 each. See this among the merchandise on the right side of this blog. Attached is a scan of the patch. It is 5 and 1/8 inches tall and 3 and 1/8 inches wide.
General Dynamics Electric Boat (GDEB) has confirmed to Senator Hoeven that NORTH DAKOTA will be christened by our Ship’s Sponsor Katie Fowler in Groton CT on Saturday morning, November 2nd, So we are planning on that date even though GDEB has not made a formal announcement of the christening date. We have arranged a very nice tour including an invitation to the christening. Watch this blog for further information. There will be limited space. We cannot get as many invitations for people as we would like due to limited seating at the christening event as the christening is mainly for GDEB employees who built NORTH DAKOTA. GDEB is in charge of the invitations and any events surrounding the christening , while our USS North Dakota Committee will be in charge of the invitations and events surrounding the commissioning so we will be able to have lots of people attend the commissioning in 2014.
We expect that NORTH DAKOTA will be launched (“float off”) at the end of August. After she is launched she will power up and do various tests in September and October so she will be ready to be christened in the water alongside the pier on November 2nd.
Isn’t this all very exciting as we get closer to USS NORTH DAKOTA (SSN-784) joining the fleet!
Our USS NORTH DAKOTA float that made its debut in the Mandan 4th of July Parade took part today, July 20th, in the North Dakota State Fair Parade in Minot. It was towed to Minot, set up, driven in the parade and taken down by two Destroyer Sailors! Electronics Technician First Class Rich Dunn, who served on USS SAMPSON (DDG-10) in the mid-1970s, and Captain Bob Wefald (then Ensign/Lieutenant Junior Grade), who served on USS LYNDE McCORMICK (DDG-8) from FEB 65 to JUN 67, quickly mastered the techniques of setting up and taking down the float for travel back to Bismarck.
It was a big parade and we were interviewed on KXMC TV as we drove through the fairgrounds. If there is a link I’ll post it tomorrow. Here are a few parade photos.
Rich Dunn stands by our float and the vehicle Chamber President Kelvin Hulett let us use to tow the float.
USS North Dakota Committee Chairman Bob Wefald with a good close up view of the float.
Our float was greeted by the flags of Scandinavia and a Danish windmill in Minot’s beautiful Scandinavian Park (Minot holds its annual Norsk Hostfest celebrating its Scandinavian heritage on October 1st – 5th). The flags L to R are those of Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Canada. Yes, we know Canada is not in Scandinavia, but with Minot being close to the Canadian border and a great place for Canadian shoppers we always give a warm welcome to our friends from Canada. The Danish flag is behind the ships crest.
A Norwegian Stave Church guards over our boat.
Rich Dunn greeted the unit ahead of us. They are once a year WWII MP reenactors. Rich is talking with “General Douglas MacArthur” played by Dick Davis of Hazelton ND with Scott Haugen of Williston ND as his driver.
There is no official notice yet as to the christening date. The Secretary of the navy has signed a letter setting the date but General Dynamics Electric Boat has to make the final arrangements and officially announce the date. Stay tuned.