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.