SSN 784 North Dakota
The newest US attack submarine designed to work in shallow waters, the USS North Dakota, was commissioned by the US Navy at Groton, Connecticut 25 October 2014. "The USS North Dakota and her crew represent the finest we have to offer in our Navy's undersea force," Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert, who delivered the principal address, said in a statement.
According to the Navy, the North Dakota can attack targets close to shore and conduct long-term surveillance of land areas from shallow or "littoral waters", like those in the Persian Gulf, according to the statement. The North Dakota will hold 14 officers and 120 enlisted men and can hold two missile tubes which can carry six Tomahawk cruise missiles each, the same type of missiles currently used in military operations by the US.
The Navy asked General Dynamics Electric Boat, the contractor for the project, that the North Dakota have portions of the ship redesigned to make it more effective in the delivering military special force teams. The North Dakota, part of the Virginia-class subs, is replacing the aging Los Angeles-class attack boats, which have been the workhorse of the U.S. fleet.
The 377-foot North Dakota was supposed to be commissioned in May 2014, but problems with some components required repairs in dry dock. The redesigned bow also required more certification, the Navy reported. Electric Boat has already delivered ten such ships and is expected to deliver eight more, according to General Dynamics.
North Dakota (SSN-784) is the second ship of the United States Navy to be named for the state of North Dakota. The contract to build her was awarded to Electric Boat division of General Dynamics in Groton, CT on 14 August 2003. SSN-784 through approximately SSN-791 are planned to make up the Third Block or "Flight" and should begin construction in 2009. North Dakota is the first of the Block III subs which will feature a revised bow, including some technology from Ohio class SSGNs.
Members of the USS North Dakota Committee announced at a press conference July 14, 2008, that for the first time since 1923, a USS North Dakota will be part of the nation's fleet.
The selection of the North Dakota, designated SSN 784, honors the state's citizens and veterans and their strong military support and heritage from the Frontier Wars through the Cold War and currently the war on terrorism. Seventeen North Dakotans have received the Medal of Honor for actions in combat, including Master Sgt. Woodrow W. Keeble who posthumously received the Medal of Honor during a White House ceremony on March 3, 2008. This is the second ship to bear the name North Dakota. The first ship, the Delaware-class USS North Dakota, was in service from 1910 through 1923.
"There hasn't been a ship named after the State of North Dakota in 85 years," said Governor John Hoeven. More than 1,000 colored pictures were presented to the Secretary of the Navy, Donald Winter, which impressed him with the grassroots effort the state made toward the naming a ship after North Dakota.
"This is a proud day for all North Dakotans," Senator Kent Conrad said. "Throughout our nation's history, North Dakota has enjoyed a well-earned reputation for producing some of our nation's bravest servicemen and women. The U.S.S North Dakota is a lasting and well-deserved tribute to all of our state's veterans, as well as those serving in uniform today."
"Having a submarine bear our state's name will be a fitting tribute to all North Dakotans who serve in the U.S. military," Congressman Earl Pomeroy said. "I commend Senator Dorgan for leading the charge to again have a USS North Dakota sail the high seas."
Senators Dorgan and Conrad, Congressman Pomeroy and Governor Hoeven led a delegation in June, 2008 in a meeting with Navy Secretary Donald Winter at the Pentagon. The group outlined a plan for how North Dakota will support the ship and its crew. They said that after so many decades, the time is right for the Navy to name a new ship after North Dakota.
Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) North Dakota (SSN 784) was christened in Groton, Connecticut on 2 November 2013 during a late-morning ceremony at the General Dynamics Electric Boat (GDEB) shipyard. North Dakota is the Navy's 11th Virginia-class attack submarine and was as of that date ununder construction by both GDEB and Newport News Shipbuilding. Ship sponsor Katie Fowler, wife of retired Vice Adm. Jeff Fowler, was on hand to officially christen the submarine by breaking a bottle of sparkling wine against the back of the boat's sail.
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