Here is a report from USS NORTH DAKOTA’s third Commanding Officer, Commander Mark Robinson, as of February 26th, 2018:
Friends and Supporters of USS North Dakota,
It has been a busy, and overall very positive last couple of months onboard USS NOTH DAKOTA. The team did well on a major inspection, finished our first major maintenance period in preparation for deployed operations, showed our ability to execute portions of our mission to Submarine Squadron Four earning the first of many certifications for deployment, and installed a Dry Deck shelter, which will facilitate Special Operations Teams and Divers working directly from the NORTH DAKOTA.
The crew also had a wide range of personal successes. In December, 27 members of the crew promoted to their next higher rank. Promotions are based on performance in their assignments, and written examinations. Electronics Technician (Navigation) Petty Officer Allen Alston earned recognition as NORTH DAKOTA’s Blue Jacket Sailor of the Year and Electricians Mate (Nuclear) Second Class Mitchel Brisboe earned recognition as NORTH DAKOTA’s Junior Sailor of the Year. Machinist Mate (Auxiliary) First Class Robin Anderson was NORTH DAKOTA’s 2017 Sailor of the Year, Submarine Squadron Four’s Sailor of the Year, Navy Northeast Region’s Sailor of the Year, and (although not official) I’m told was a very close second place to be the Atlantic Fleet Sailor of the Year. It is rare that a submarine would promote 27 sailors in one batch, or have one of their sailors so highly recognized. The crew did great things last year, and the Navy is rightly rewarding their efforts.
In December, we were the lucky benefactors of great North Dakota hospitality as we received huge collections of cookies and other sweet treats from the residents of the great state of North Dakota, and heartwarming cards from school children across the state. I especially appreciated the help of Ms. Carol Schwenk, a North Dakota native living here in Connecticut, who received 66 different shipments and delivered them to the grateful crew. The support from the State of North Dakota is truly humbling.
Many of you knew my previous Executive Officer, Lieutenant Commander Joel Holwitt. In December he finished his tour onboard and transferred to the Undersea Warfare Development Center in Groton, CT. For the next couple years, he will help develop and train the Submarine Force in advanced submarine tactics. With his skills, the submarine force is lucky to have him in this position. In his place Lieutenant Commander Kyle Calton took over as Executive Officer, and is already doing a great job leading us through a very intense training period and getting us ready for deployment.
We bid farewell to some other instrumental leaders as well; Lieutenant John Bolchoz, Lieutenant Brian Acquaviva, Machinists Mate (Auxiliary) Senior Chief Christopher Huggins, and two other members of the crew detached for new assignments in the Navy. Electronics Technician (Nuclear) Chief John Stork left the Navy and is starting a new career in Charleston, SC. Ensign Jacob Tyler just finished his initial submarine training after college and is starting his first qualifications onboard. Machinist Mate (Auxiliary) Chief Jeremy Rooks reported onboard to take over Auxiliary Division. Sonar Technician (Submarines) Chief Tony Sullivan, who promoted to Chief onboard last year, relieved as the Leading Chief Petty Officer of Sonar Division.
Perhaps the most exciting welcome aboard are two the two youngest members of team NORTH DAKOTA. In December Machinist Mate (Auxiliary) First Class Robin Anderson (our sailor of the year) and his wife, Amy, welcomed a new daughter, Samantha. Machinist Mate (Nuclear) Dustin Lofties and his wife, Jill, welcomed baby daughter Juliette while on leave before reporting to NORTH DAKOTA.
As I write this letter, USS NORTH DAKOTA is getting ready for another intense training event, one that will leave us with very unique capabilities for our upcoming deployment. We will have a little more time at home this spring for more maintenance, but the schedule is rapidly accelerating towards our first full overseas deployment. The crew is getting excited to head out and execute what we’ve trained for. We’re looking forward to conducting exciting new missions and carrying the NORTH DAKOTA banner under and across the ocean!
CDR Mark Robinson
USS NORTH DAKOTA (SSN-784)