Author Archives: bobwefald


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

Commanding Officer






USNSCityofBismarck crop

The Friends and Family cruise the Navy has lined up for us on boar our ship USNS CITY OF BISMARCK (T-EPF-9) can now be accessed through a Land Option tour for those who are in a good position to get to Norfolk, Virginia, without having to fly. Please click on the link below and call 701-258-5000 to join us.

USNS City of Bismarck Ship Tour_Land Only_4-2018





USNSCityofBismarck crop

Starting on Friday, February 23rd, you can call 701-258-5000 to book you place on our Friends and Family cruise on board OUR USNS CITY OF BISMARCK (T-EPF-9) on Saturday, April 7th from the Naval Base in Norfolk, Virginia. We will go out to sea in the morning so Captain James Regan, the Master of our ship, can show us his ship and put it through its paces.  We’ll return to port in the afternoon. This is a “Once in a Lifetime Opportunity,” so do not miss it. Click on the link below so you can review the flyer for all of the details. Flights can be arranged from any city. A “land “portion only is available, and a flyer will soon be posted.

USNS City Bismarck Ship Tour with Air_4-2018

You can call 701-258-5000 during these hours on February 23rd, 24th and 26th:

Friday        8 a.m.-5:30 p.m.

Saturday    9 a.m.-1 p.m.

Monday     8 a.m.-5:30 p.m.


Please sign up on or before Feb. 26 because of air availability. We were working with a tight window with Delta.










The Navy has approved a “Friends and Family” cruise on board USNS CITY OF BISMARCK (T-EPF-9) for Saturday, April 7th, from the Naval Base in Norfolk, Virginia. We are working on a tour of other Navy ships on Friday, April 6th. Details will follow as soon as possible, but if you want to go with us put this on your calendar.


Your USNS City of Bismarck Committee has provided Plank Owner plaques to all 26 members of the crew of USNS CITY OF BISMARCK from the “People of Bismarck” to their ship. Bill Townsend of Dakota Awards shipped the plaques as well as a large plaque with all of the names to be mounted permanently in the ship. This is the permanent plaque and below it is a sample of a plaque given to each crew member who was part of the crew when it was accepted by the Navy on December 19, 2017.




Here are several photos of the USNS SPEARHEAD (T-EPF-1) which show the capabilities of the EPF vessels. This photo nicely the catamaran hull.


The helo deck can take even the largest Navy helicopter.

COB 008

This shows the ramp operation for driving vehicles on and off the ship. These vessels at NOT warships, hence their civilian merchant marine crew and the fact that can only operate out of secured ports.

COB 006

This cut away view shows the mission bay as the lowest level of the ship. Above that is the passenger area which can hold 312 passengers in airline type seating with a galley and mess decks plus sleeping accommodations for about 150 people. The top deck has the helo deck aft and the bridge forward with the crew quarters aft of the bridge.

COB 005


This is the crest of USNS CITY OF BISMARCK (T-EPF-9). The link below details its symbolism. All military crests are created and controlled by the Army Office of Heraldry. We submitted several suggestions for elements to be included, but the one thing I definitely requested was NOT to use Latin. So what did we get? We got a Latin motto…….




Crest with explanation