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HISTORY, INVITATIONS & TICKETS, EVENTS

The commissioning of a U.S. Navy warship is a ceremony filled with tradition. It is a moment when our Navy brings a ship and its crew into active service in the fleet following in the wakes of thousands of other US Navy warships that have proudly served and protected our country since the Revolution.  The October 25th 2014 commissioning ceremony for our boat USS NORTH DAKOTA (SSN-784) will bring into the United States Navy the most modern and most capable submarine in the world!

The Navy is completely in charge of everything that takes place during the actual commissioning ceremony. We North Dakotans are proud and honored that our Navy chose to name this very impressive submarine after our state.  We have been given the great honor of handling all of the other non-ceremonial events for NORTH DAKOTA’s commissioning weekend.

Invitations have been mailed and we hope you have filled out and returned the enclosed postcard IF you are planning to attend the commissioning.  When you mail the reply card you will then be mailed your actual ticket to the commissioning ceremony.  No one will be admitted without a ticket and identification.

Here are the events we know of for the commissioning weekend:

It is our understanding that on Thursday and Friday afternoons, October 23rd and 24th, Captain Doug Gordon and his crew are going to try to give as many North Dakotans as possible tours of our boat.  This, of course, depends on the needs of the Navy.  The tours will start from the USS NAUTILUS Museum next to the Main Gate of the U.S. Naval Submarine Base in Groton, CT.  We will provide more details as they become available.  Ladies, wear slacks and comfortable shoes for the tour as you will be climbing down into and out of the boat.

On that Friday our USS NORTH DAKOTA Commissioning Committee will host the Sponsor’s Luncheon at the Marriott Hotel at 12:00 noon. This luncheon follows a long-standing tradition of the soon-to-be commissioned warship’s commander honoring the sponsor with a luncheon in the ship’s wardroom.  As this is a very small, invitation only event, it will be hosted by our committee at the Mystic Marriott Hotel.

On Friday afternoon, from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., our USS North Dakota Committee Vice Chairman Bill Butcher will be in the lobby of the Marriott Hotel with information about restaurants in the area. Also in the lobby at that time there will be members of the North Dakota Council of the Navy League of the United States handing out free USS NORTH DAKOTA commissioning buttons.  Be sure to pick one up and wear it with pride!

The Chairman’s Dinner on Friday evening at the Mystic Marriott Hotel is for invited guests and will start with a social at a cash bar in the foyer adjacent to the Mystic Ballroom at 6:00 p.m.  Doors to the banquet room open at 6:30 p.m. so the guests can take their assigned seats in this room where we can host a maximum of 300 invited guests.

After you have breakfast on Saturday morning, October 25th, you can take buses from in front of the Mystic Marriott Hotel directly to the pier where the ceremony is being held.  The buses will start running after 9:00 a.m.  Every bus will have a trusted agent to assure access to the ceremony.  Of course, the buses will also bring you back to the hotel. You MUST have your ticket and identification to get on the bus.  If you instead choose to drive yourself, there will be parking on the base and there will be shuttle buses with trusted agents from the parking lot to the pier – be sure to follow the directions given in your ticket packet.  Whichever transportation you use, please be sure to have your tickets and a form of identification.

At 9:00 a.m. Saturday at the Mystic Marriott Hotel, there will be a brunch hosted by our USS NORTH DAKOTA Committee for the invited guests and the platform guests. At this brunch, the Commissioning Support Team will have a chance to organize the Navy and political VIPs, and to transport them to the ceremony.  The platform guests will be the last group assembled and transported to the pier to allow the ceremony to begin promptly at 11:00 a.m.  The ceremony will go on as scheduled rain or shine regardless of the weather, so please be prepared.

Immediately following the ceremony our USS North Dakota Commissioning Committee will host Dunkin Donuts coffee and donuts served from a tent at the head of the pier.  Everyone is invited.  Stop by and pick up a donut and a cup of coffee.  Buses will also start leaving for the Mystic Marriott Hotel and to the parking lot.

At 1:00 p.m. in the foyer outside the large Marriott Ballroom in the Mystic Marriott Hotel, a cash bar will be available and butler passed hor d’oeuvres will be served.  At 1:30 p.m. the doors to the ballroom will be opened for all North Dakotans and “want to be” North Dakotans to join us for lunch at various serving stations at our North Dakota Contingent party.  There will be very few tables, several of which will be reserved, and mainly there will be lots of standing tables.  We will start an informal program at 2:00 p.m. with a few songs from the Bismarck Mandan Elks Chorus and we will give our Governor Jack Dalrymple, Senator John Hoeven, Senator Heidi Heitkamp, and Representative Kevin Cramer an opportunity to share their excitement on this great day for North Dakota.  Things should wrap up by 3:00 p.m. or 3:30 p.m. although feel free to stick around to share and enjoy the wonder of this Great Navy Day!!

Saturday evening at the Foxwood Casino Hotel, the crew of USS NORTH DAKOTA and their families and guests will enjoy a buffet dinner hosted by our USS North Dakota Commissioning Committee.

If you have any problems or concerns you can contact me, Bob Wefald, Chairman of our USS North Dakota Committee at bobwefald@msn.com or 701-595-2401.  Everyone please enjoy this great weekend for our state and for our boat!  Be sure to pick up and wear USS NORTH DAKOTA commissioning button sponsored by the North Dakota Council of the Navy League of the United States.  Navy League members will be stationed in the Marriott Hotel lobby to greet you and hand you a button.

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