Commander Michael P. Hollenbach will make a namesake visit to North Dakota over Memorial Day. He is expected to relieve Captain Douglas V. Gordon as Commanding Officer of USS NORTH DAKOTA (SSN-784), which ceremony is tentatively set for Thursday, July 23rd at the US Naval base in Groton, Connecticut. Commander Hollenbach is on the left below and Captain Gordon is on the right. This is Commander Hollenbach’s first namesake visit while Captain Gordon has made several namesake visits to North Dakota.
I say the Change of Command it “tentatively set” for July 23rd, but no definite decision has been made as of yet. Mainly because USS NORTH DAKOTA is currently deployed and is not expected to return to the Naval Base in Groton CT until mid to late July.
I understand NORTH DAKOTA’s deployment is a rare privilege for a newly commissioned submarine. Normally all newly commissioned submarines operate in a training mode for several months followed by a period of time back in the shipyard to be updated. You would think a brand new submarine would be fully up to date when commissioned, but the Navy requires the shipyards to build submarines exactly as specified in the contract that was signed at least 8 years before each boat is commissioned. I suppose it is like building a new house – once you start making changes the ultimate cost goes way up. Therefore the Navy has the boats train and operate for several months so it can be seen what updates are required. After that they can deploy on active Navy assignments.
But USS NORTH DAKOTA since it did such a good job coming out of the shipyard and earning the highest score ever given on what is called an INSERV Inspection, so I think this three-month deployment is a reward for excellent work.
I understand that Captain Gordon’s next assignment will be in London, England. Two other leadership changes have already taken place. Lieutenant Commander Cameron Aljilani relieved Lieutenant Commander Kristopher A. Lancaster as Executive Officer while Machinist Mate Master Chief Petty Officer Todd L. Estes relieved Electronics Technician Master Chief Petty Officer Timothy A. Preabt as Chief of the Boat. Tim is now the Command Master Chief at the Recruiting Command in Denver CO. I am still waiting for their official photos and bios, but they have been very busy.
The navy uniform for this part of the country changes to summer whites on May 27th, so I thought I would include a photo of him in whites.
Commander Hollenbach was raised in Washington State and graduated with distinction from the United States Naval Academy in 1997 with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering.
His sea duty assignments include a junior officer tour on the USS FLORIDA (BLUE) (SSBN 728), where he completed six strategic deterrent patrols and served as the Reactor Controls Assistant, Tactical Systems Assistant and Damage Control Assistant. USS FLORIDA is a ballistic missile equipped submarine. Unlike attack boats since they stay deployed for long periods of time they have two complete crews – the BLUE crew and the GOLD crew – that rotate on deployment every 90 days. Commander Hollenbach served as the Engineer Officer onboard SUBMARINE NR-1 and as the Executive Officer aboard USS MIAMI (SSN 755).
Ashore, Commander Hollenbach has served as a Company Officer at the United States Naval Academy, attended the U.S. Naval War College, and served as both a Senior Analyst and Executive Assistant on the Joint Staff in the J8 Directorate. Commander Hollenbach holds Master’s Degrees in Leadership and Human Resource Development from the Naval Postgraduate School, Engineering Management from Old Dominion University, as well as National Security and Strategic Studies from the U.S. Naval War College.
Commander Hollenbach is entitled to wear the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Navy Meritorious Service Medal, the Navy Commendation Medal with four gold stars, the Navy Achievement Medal and various other unit and personal awards.
He is married to the former Heather May of Arnold, MD. They reside in Ledyard, CT with their son, Ryan and daughter, Sara.