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.
There is the possibility that the christening date for USS NORTH DAKOTA (SSN-784) may soon be announced! Stand by!
Here are more photos from the Mandan 4th of July parade taken by Chuck Bartholomay of American Bank Center, the sponsor of the float.
Jeff and Katie Fowler
Linda and Tim Preabt
Old Glory as the parade forms up
The Ship’s Sponsor gets underway for USS NORTH DAKOTA as the Grand Marshal of the parade
The float is being towed by Kelvin Hulett, President of the Bismarck-Mandan Area Chamber of Commerce
The lead vehicle going down Main Street
Chief of the Boat Master Chief Tim Preabt, a 1989 Mandan High School graduate, and his wife Linda, a 1990 Williston high School graduate, wave to the crowd.
USS NORTH DAKOTA was the Grand Marshal for the Mandan 4th of July Parade. It is estimated that 20,000 watched the parade go by. In the lead were three Naval Reservists with MA3 Shane Maxwell carrying Old Glory flanked by CAPT Duane Sand and CPO Rick Wangen.
Following them were Ship’s Sponsor Katie Fowler and her husband Vice Admiral Jeff Fowler (Ret) driven by Bob Wefald accompanied by his wife Susan in Bob’s 2002 Chrysler Sebring convertible. Jeff is a 1974 Bismarck High School graduate.
They were followed by the USS NORTH DAKOTA float on which the Chief of the Boat, Master Chief Tim Preabt and his wife Linda were riding. Tim is a 1989 graduate of Mandan High School. Master Chief Preabt made the front page of this morning’s BISMARCK TRIBUNE - http://bismarcktribune.com/news/local/mandan/independence-day-parade-goes-on-despite-rain/article_8479ab48-e4ea-11e2-9218-001a4bcf887a.html
Katie and Jeff posed on the float before the parade started.
On Wednesday evening, July 3rd we were guests of the Mandan Rodeo.
Later in the afternoon of July 4th Bob and Susan Wefald hosted a picnic in their garden for 25 people.
L to R: Dave Johnston, Susan Wefald, Bob Wefald, Linda Preabt, Tim Preabt, Katie Fowler, Jeff Fowler.
In the evening we all went to a wonderful 4th of July concert by the Bismarck – Mandan Symphony Orchestra on the steps of North Dakota’s capitol building. Governor Jack Dalrymple took note of the special guests Tim & Linda Preabt and Katie & Jeff Fowler, with the Governor commenting now that he knows a Mandan High Grad is the senior enlisted man on the boat he feels a lot better knowing the boat is in good hands.
The June 20th issue of Undersea Warfare News has two very interesting items relating to North Dakota. One is a clipping from the New London Day of June 19th. It reports that for the first time since 2003 General Dynamics Electric Boat (GDEB) is building two submarines side by side. “The first module for the future USS Illinois, the 13th member of the Virginia class, arrived by barge from EB’s Quonset Point facility Tuesday. It was placed next to the North Dakota, the 11th of the class.” ILLINOIS is now in the hangar and undergoing construction along side USS NORTH DAKOTA so two submarines are under construction at the same time. The story notes that “The first module for the follow-on submarine at EB normally arrives after its predecessor is put into the water for the first time. The “float off” for the North Dakota (SSN 784) will not happen until September or October. That submarine is on track for the fastest delivery of the class yet.” Personally I would not be surprised if NORTH DAKOTA’s “float off” happens before the end of August. Clearly things are moving along swiftly for NORTH DAKOTA.
The other very interesting bit of news reported with a North Dakota connection is that Rear Admiral Stuart Munsch from Oakes, North Dakota, on June 18th relieved Rear Adm. Phillip G. Sawyer as Commander, Submarine Group Seven in Yokosuka, Japan. Admiral Munsch is a 1985 graduate of the Naval Academy where he was the brigade commander of his class. He was a Rhodes Scholar followed by a Navy career in submarines. He commanded a Los Angeles Class submarine USS Albuquerque (SSN 706) from 2002 to 2005. Maybe if NORTH DAKOTA is one day deployed to the Western Pacific she could be a part of Submarine Group Seven commanded by Admiral Munsch.
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!!