A lot has been happening as NORTH DAKOTA moves daily closer to joining the fleet. Her construction from start to finish is going to take 60 months as with experience both General Dynamics Electric Boat (GDEB) – the company building NORTH DAKOTA and all even numbered subs – and Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS) – the company that is building all of the odd numbered subs – have gotten more efficient. The VIRGINIA, the lead sub of the class, took 72 months, and MINNESOTA (SSN-783), the sub one year ahead of us, will take just 62 months. Both companies build sections for one another, which are shipped by barge between Groton CT where NORTH DAKOTA is being built, Quonset Point RI, where sections for the subs of both companies are built, and Newport New VA where MINNESOTA is being built. Now the subs are being built in 5 to 7 sections where as VIRGINIA was built with 12 or so sections. I’m sure readers of this blog at GDEB and NNS can provide me with the exact numbers. Anyway, they are now being built with fewer and more complete sections that both companies assemble into the subs they are building. Right now the construction rate is designed for one completed sub per year, but I know the companies and the Navy hope to be completing two subs per year within a few years.
My plan is to keep my journal entries down to 2 or 3 paragraphs, so over the next several weeks I will bring you up to date about our beautiful sponsor, Katie Fowler, the Captain, XO and the Chief of the Boat, trips they have made to North Dakota, our USS North Dakota Committee, and the amazing experience some of us had at the “Keel Laying” ceremony for NORTH DAKOTA on May 11th. By teh way, the Chief of the Boat who called “COB.” As a surface Navy junior officer on active duty aboard USS LYNDE McCORMICK (DDG-8) from FEB 1965 to JUN 1967 I have a lot of trouble calling an E-9 Master Chief Petty Officer a COB. I’ll try to get used to that just like I am trying to get used to calling a $2.6 billion US Navy nuclear submarine a “boat.”