Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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North Dakota II (SSN-784)


Ships seal
Caption: Ship's Seal.

(SSN 784: displacement 7,800; length 377'; beam 33'; draft 32'; speed 30 knots; complement 132; armament 12 Vertical Launch System (VLS) tubes, UGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missiles, 4 torpedo tubes, Mk 48 Advanced Capability (ADCAP) upgrade torpedoes; class Virginia)

The first and second ships named North Dakota honor the nation’s 39th state. North Dakota and South Dakota both attained their admittance to the Union on 2 November 1889. South Dakota yielded its place to North Dakota because of its position in alphabetical order, and North Dakota thus entered the Union as the 39th state.


The second North Dakota (SSN-784) was laid down on 11 May 2012 at Groton, Conn., by General Dynamics Electric Boat; floated on 15 September 2013; sponsored by Mrs. Katie Fowler, wife of Vice Adm. Jeffrey L. Fowler (Ret.); christened on 2 November 2013 [North Dakota Statehood Day]; and was commissioned on 25 October 2014, Cmdr. Douglas Gordon in command.

North Dakota proudly displays the submarine’s motto, "Strength from the Soil, Reapers of the Deep." The former is taken from the State of North Dakota Coat of Arms and the Governor's Flag, representing the connection between  North Dakota and the State of North Dakota. "Reapers of the Deep" has a double meaning: the fighting spirit of the submarine warrior and the ties to the state’s farm heritage of reapers, who cut grain in the fields. The green ribbon on which the motto resides represents the agricultural community as well as the colors of the University of North Dakota and North Dakota State University.

The overall shape of the crest is that of an arrowhead, similar to that used on the North Dakota Coat of Arms. This represents the Native American heritage of North Dakota. Flanking the Indian arrowhead shape and acting as its serrated cutting edge is wheat. This represents the North Dakota farming community. Prominently displayed on the crest are gold and silver six shooter revolvers. The front sights of the revolvers are formed by the gold and silver dolphins, representing the officer and enlisted submarine warfare community. Additionally, the revolvers represent the two tomahawk payload tubes the boat carries in arsenal. North Dakota is the first submarine to carry these payload tubes, each capable of carrying six UGM-109 Tomahawk Cruise Missiles. The red and green eyes of the submarine dolphins mounted on the six shooter revolvers pays tribute to the port and starboard running lights of the professional sailor. Across the revolver hand grips are the words "Rough Riders." This is a salute to the state’s connection to President Theodore Roosevelt. The "Rough Riders" consisted of volunteers from the plains who fought in the Spanish-American War. North Dakota National Guardsmen as well as Rough Riders served in combat for one year in the Philippines, supporting its occupation following the Spanish American War.

Across the skyline is the silhouette of the first North Dakota (Battleship No. 29). This ship is additionally represented as one of the two gold stars flanking the words, "USS NORTH DAKOTA." SSN-784, the second warship to proudly carry the name, represents the second gold star in this banner. At the base of the arrowhead outline are two horse heads, representing the Nokota horses that roamed the prairies of North Dakota.

In the night sky is the Constellation Orion. Orion, the hunter, signifies the warrior heart of the people of North Dakota and the crew of North Dakota. Wrapping across the crest is a banner with two Native American tomahawks, representing the state’s Native American Indian heritage and Tomahawk Cruise Missiles, one of the weapons capabilities North Dakota can employ. Finally, prominently pushing through the boat’s crest is a Virginia class submarine, representing the sailors who man this warship.

The Navy announced the selection of North Dakota’s name on 15 July 2008, and awarded Electric Boat a contract to build the submarine three days before Christmas [22 December] 2008. The state of North Dakota honored the boat and her crew by proclaiming 11 January 2013 as “USS North Dakota Day”.

North Dakota, Capt. Douglas Gordon in command, returned to her homeport of Naval Submarine Base New London, Conn., on 20 July 2015, following six-weeks of operations in the Mediterranean. The attack boat deployed and retrieved unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) from her Drydock Shelter (DDS) in an operational environment for the first time, and she joined a small group of Virginia-class submarines to accomplish the feat, including Hawaii (SSN-776), New Hampshire (SSN-778), and Virginia (SSN-774).

“The crew was very excited to be chosen to take the ship forward and conduct operations in support of fleet and combatant commanders’ operational objectives," Gordon explained. "It was a rare opportunity for the crew to be able to deploy prior to executing its post shakedown availability. Many crew members had never deployed before and were able to experience first-hand the hard work and effort required in preparing a ship for deployed operations. They trained hard and expertly executed our mission. I could not be more proud of their performance and the professionalism that they exhibited during our operations."

Detailed history under construction.

Mark L. Evans

12 August 2015

Published: Thu Aug 13 16:39:10 EDT 2015