Hoeven Joins Naval Officials to Commission USS North Dakota

Ceremony Marks Formal Entry of Submarine into Navy’s Fleet

GROTON, CONN. – Senator John Hoeven today joined U.S. Navy officials, congressional and state leaders and North Dakota residents to celebrate the commissioning of the USS North Dakota, an advanced Virginia-class nuclear submarine named in honor of the state. As governor, Hoeven worked collaboratively with state and federal officials and the USS North Dakota Committee to name a modern, high-tech naval vessel for the state of North Dakota.

In the summer of 2008, Hoeven and the state’s congressional delegation visited then-Secretary of the Navy Don Winter in Washington to advance the effort. An earlier USS North Dakota, a battleship, was decommissioned by the Navy in 1923 and subsequently used as a “target ship.” Hearing that story, Secretary Winter was very receptive to the idea of a new, modern USS North Dakota, and a few weeks after the visit the secretary made it official.

The effort continued in North Dakota, with poster contests and the sale of commemorative coins to help fund the state’s involvement in the project. Hoeven, along with Admiral Bill Owen, Vice Admiral Jeff Fowler and Bob Wefald had the honor of presenting the first coin to the North Dakota Heritage Center back in 2009. In May 2012, Hoeven and the USS North Dakota delegation joined Navy officials at the keel laying ceremony. Last November, Hoeven participated in a christening ceremony for the USS North Dakota, which marked completion of the shipbuilding process and formalized the name of the submarine. The commissioning ceremony, which was held at the U.S. Naval Base in Groton, Connecticut, marks the ship’s formal entry into the Navy’s fleet.

“Today is a proud day for the people of North Dakota,” said Hoeven. “This commissioning ceremony is the culmination of years of hard work by Bob Wefald, the USS North Dakota Committee and many other North Dakotans. The sub we are commissioning today was just a vision eight years ago when we approached the Secretary of the Navy to discuss the possibility of naming a ship in honor of our state. Today, the USS North Dakota joins the world’s largest and greatest naval fleet and serves as a lasting tribute to the people of North Dakota, especially those men and women who have served in our armed forces.”

Hoeven thanked Naval officials and the North Dakotans involved in the USS North Dakota effort, including the USS North Dakota Committee, Mandan City Commissioner and USS North Dakota Committee Chair Dot Frank; Vice Chair Bill Butcher; Bismarck-Mandan Chamber President Kelvin Hullet; Greater North Dakota President Andy Peterson and former Navy officer and retired Judge Bob Wefald, who worked for 20 years to advance the campaign.

The USS North Dakota incorporates the latest technological advancements, including sophisticated surveillance, reconnaissance, special operations and anti-submarine capabilities. It has a built-in reactor plant that will fuel the submarine throughout the duration of its estimated 33-year service life expectancy. To date, this is the second ship named in honor of North Dakota. The first, the Delaware-class USS North Dakota, operated from 1910 to 1923.