PCU North Dakota Crew Members Participate in Namesake Visit
Navy News Service
Story Number: NNS121010-06
By Lt. Cmdr. Jennifer Cragg, Commander, Submarine Group 2 Public Affairs
GRAND FORKS, N.D. (NNS) -- Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) North Dakota's (SSN 784) engineering department master chief and the boat's prospective executive officer are participating in a namesake visit to the state, Oct. 10 - 13.
During their visit to North Dakota, Lt. Cmdr. Kristopher Lancaster and Master Chief Machinist's Mate (SS) James Lucky will visit both Grand Forks and Fargo and participate in a variety of events to include meeting with Navy League and USS North Dakota Commissioning Committee members; and participating in the University of North Dakota homecoming parade.
In addition to the parade, Lancaster and Lucky will be participating in the coin toss prior to the University of North Dakota versus Northern Arizona University Lumberjacks football game Oct. 13.
"Namesake visits provide a great opportunity to interact with citizens of North Dakota, but also serves to increase the awareness of the submarine and her crew while providing an update on the status of her construction," said Lancaster, who after serving more than 18 years in the Navy, will officially take over the position of executive officer in March 2013.
"This is a new set of challenges that I haven't had an opportunity to do in my naval career. It is an honor and a privilege to be the commanding officer's right hand man, and I look forward to being a part of each milestone, as we transition from a construction to an operational status," said Lancaster, who added that PCU North Dakota is slightly more than 70 percent complete with the christening ceremony scheduled to occur fall 2013.
Lucky, who has served in the Navy for more than 21 years, has been attached to PCU North Dakota for the past year and oversees 60 Sailors, which comprises the largest department aboard the Virginia-class submarine.
Lucky reflected on the arrival of the crew and what it takes to prepare them for the manning of the submarine.
"Most of the Sailors have already reported to North Dakota," said Lucky. "With the Virginia class having the most advanced systems in the submarine force, we want to ensure they have the most knowledge and experience to operate this platform."
Providing a snapshot of what the Sailors are accomplishing daily is something both Lucky and Lancaster look forward to discussing with North Dakotans they will be meeting with during their visit.
Lucky also reflected on the importance of having a sustained relationship with a boat's namesake state during the commissioning and the life of the submarine.
"This is by far the best relationship between a namesake state and a boat that I have been a part of. To have this type of relationship with North Dakota from the get-go is a positive experience," said Lucky.
PCU North Dakota, the second ship named in honor of North Dakota, will be delivered by General Dynamics Electric Boat in Groton and will be the 11th Virginia-class submarine when it is commissioned in 2014.
The only other ship to bear the name North Dakota was the Delaware-class battleship USS North Dakota, which was in service from 1910 to 1923.
Virginia-class submarines are designed to dominate the world's littoral and deep waters while conducting anti-submarine; anti-surface ship; strike; irregular; and mine warfare missions; as well as support special operation forces; and covert intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance.
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