USS North Dakota to return from successful deployment

The USS North Dakota (SSN-784) is expected to return to its home port of Groton, Conn., Jan. 31, after a six-month deployment, according to Commander Mark Robinson, commanding officer, from Faslane, Scotland at Her Majesty’s Naval Base Clyde.

The deployment included 68 days of operations which required “the most rigorous attention,” said Robinson, “but the team didn’t blink. They pulled off a very impressive mission which completed one of the highest priorities of the chief of Naval Operations.”

“USS North Dakota was awarded the ‘Battle Efficiency E’ award for the submarine most ready to carry out all tasking within the squadron,” Robinson said.

The traditional “half celebration” was delayed due to operation commitments, so the crew celebrated when their cruise was 80 percent complete, which fell on Christmas morning.

“The cooks made an extravagant Christmas dinner, we did competitions between divisions, and the guys had a great time. The mechanics used some old parts and wire to fashion a very unique Christmas tree, and we had sunflower seeds and pretzels donated by the great state of North Dakota to give away under the tree. It was a great down time after a long stressful under way,” Robinson said.

During this deployment three members of the crew became fathers as their wives gave birth to healthy babies, Robinson said.

He also said while in Faslane, Scotland, officers and crew were able to watch the Bison win their seventh national championship.

Bob Wefald, chairman of the USS North Dakota Committee from Bismarck, said, “We are very pleased our boat and its crew have had successful deployment so far, carrying out missions of critical importance to our country.” Wefald invited Robinson to come to Bismarck for a namesake visit.

“This is shaping up to be a great deployment, and as we enter the final month, everyone is excited to get home, but also about the things we’ve accomplished,” Robinson said.

The USS North Dakota, a Virginia-class submarine, is the second Navy vessel named for North Dakota. A battleship of the World War I-era also was named for the state. The submarine USS North Dakota was commissioned in 2014 at Groton.