Mandan News

USS NORTH DAKOTA this year’s grand marshal

The USS NORTH DAKOTA has been named the Grand Marshal for this year’s Mandan Fourth of July Parade.

The USS North Dakota Committee will have a float sponsored by American Bank Center. The float was manufactured by CRS Enterprises in Duluth, Minn., and features the boat’s official crest behind the USS NORTH DAKOTA surfacing out of the sea and transitioning into a sea of wheat. An impressive 18′ long and 11′ high, the float will make its debut in the Mandan Fourth of July parade and travel across the state to participate in parades throughout the summer. The USS NORTH DAKOTA float will be led by the U.S. Navy’s color guard. Members of the committee, including Chairman Bob Wefald, Vice Chairman Bill Butcher, Administrator Dot Frank and Treasurer Kelvin Hullet plus other committee members, will be assisting in the parade.

The Grand Marshal team will consist of the ship’s sponsor, Katie Fowler, the Commanding Officer, Commander Doug Gordon, and the Chief of the Boat, Electronics Technician Master Chief Petty Officer Tim Preabt.

Fowler will be accompanied by her husband, Vice Admiral Jeff Fowler, U.S. Navy retired, who is a Bismarck High School graduate. Commander Gordon will be accompanied by his wife Christine. COB Preabt will be accompanied by his wife Linda. Preabt is a graduate of Mandan High School and the only North Dakotan in the crew. His wife Linda is from Williston.

USS NORTH DAKOTA (SSN-784) is the second ship to be named for the state of North Dakota. The first NORTH DAKOTA was a battleship that was commissioned in 1910 and decommissioned in 1923. It was the first steam turbine driven ship in the U.S. Navy. The second NORTH DAKOTA is a nuclear powered fast attack submarine currently under construction in Groton, Conn. It is scheduled for commissioning in 2014, filling a void of 91 years since a U.S. navy ship proudly carried the name of the great state of North Dakota.

It took a long time for North Dakota to get a second U.S. Navy ship named after it. The effort started in 1985 at a meeting of the Military Affairs Committee of the Bismarck-Mandan Chamber of Commerce.

After years of letters and phone calls, the idea finally got traction in 1997 when the Chamber started a campaign to generate interest and support statewide, and Team North Dakota – Senator Kent Conrad, Senator Byron Dorgan and Representative Earl Pomeroy started quietly working in Washington, D.C. Dorgan took the lead in early 2008, with support from Chamber President Kelvin Hullet, and a meeting was arranged with then Secretary of the Navy Donald Winter.

Winter was shown the state’s support for a Navy submarine to date, which included a statewide sub coloring contest and sub sandwich contest, and was assured that a North Dakota Council of the Navy League would provide lifetime support in our state for a ship named after her.

On July 15, 2008, Secretary Winter named the 11th VIRGINIA-Class nuclear powered attack submarine USS NORTH DAKOTA. Before the Commanding Officer or any member of the crew was assigned, Secretary Winter picked Katie Fowler to be NORTH DAKOTA’s sponsor.

USS NORTH DAKOTA will depart the pier in 2014 with a “full tank of gas.” She will patrol the seas for 33 years without ever refueling. Once the nuclear reactor is spent, the USS NORTH DAKOTA will be decommissioned. NORTH DAKOTA is 377 feet long, 34 feet in diameter, and displaces 7,800 tons of seawater. She will carry a crew of 134, including 120 enlisted sailors and 14 officers. NORTH DAKOTA will carry torpedoes and Tomahawk cruise missiles. It also has the capability of carrying Special Operations Forces.

NORTH DAKOTA is expected to be christened later this year in Groton, Conn., although it is not yet known of the exact date. It will be commissioned in 2014 in an East Coast port. Although the date has not been set, it is anticipated it will be commissioned in the spring or early summer of 2014.

North Dakotans are encouraged to follow the boat online at Register online to receive information regarding a caravan to the port for this once-in-a-lifetime experience.