The US Navy accepted delivery of PCU North Dakota (SSN 784), the 11th ship of the Virginia Class, on Aug. 29, two days prior to its contract delivery date.
North Dakota is the first of eight Virginia Class Block III ships. Approximately 20 percent of North Dakota was redesigned as part of the Virginia Cost Reduction work done to lower acquisition cost and increase operational flexibility. The changes include a ship’s bow redesign, replacing 12 individual launch tubes with two large-diameter Virginia Payload Tubes, each capable of launching six Tomahawk Cruise Missiles.
“North Dakota delivered ahead of schedule and under budget,” said Capt. David Goggins, Virginia Class program manager. “When one considers the scope of design changes, this represents a tremendous achievement.”
Only six days ago North Dakota successfully completed Alpha, Bravo, and Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) trials, which evaluate the submarine’s seaworthiness and operational capabilities. During the trials, the crew took the submarine to test depth, conducted an emergency surfacing, and tested the submarine’s propulsion plant.
“North Dakota and her crew delivered an outstanding performance,” said Program Executive Officer for Submarines Rear Adm. David C. Johnson. “It was almost 10 years ago that the first ship of the class, USS Virginia delivered on Oct. 12, 2004. Since then, this program has delivered 10 ships, with North Dakota the latest. We continue to meet the Virginia Class standard of delivering submarines early, under cost, more complete and ready for tasking right out of the shipyard. North Dakota set a new benchmark for excellence in what is the arguably the best performing program in defense acquisition.”
The Navy postponed North Dakota’s original May commissioning date because of quality issues with vendor-assembled and delivered components that required an unplanned dry-docking to correct. Additional design certification work was also required on the submarine’s redesigned bow.
“Now that certifications are complete, and we’re armed with lessons learned,we can move forward knowing that we are providing our fleet with the most capable, and battle-ready submarine possible,” said Goggins.
North Dakota will spend the next two months preparing for its Oct. 25 commissioning in Groton, Connecticut.
Press Release, August 31, 2014; Image: US Navy