- Associated Press - Saturday, October 25, 2014

GROTON, Conn. (AP) - The Navy’s newest attack submarine was commissioned Saturday at Naval Submarine Base New London, where 2,400 guests gathered to welcome USS North Dakota to the fleet and salute its crew.

Adm. Jonathan Greenert, chief of Naval operations, told the North Dakota’s commanding officer and crew that their mission is clear despite all of the challenges and uncertainty in the world.

“Your mission is not uncertain. Your job is to keep the nation safe, response to crises, deter aggression. And if deterrence fails, your job is to win our nation’s war,” Greenert said.

The ceremony closed with the sub’s skipper, Capt. Douglas Gordon, inviting the ship’s sponsor, Katie Fowler, to give the order to man the submarine and to bring it to life.

The crew responded by hustling aboard the sub.

USS North Dakota is a $2.6 billion attack submarine is capable of launching Tomahawk cruise missiles, delivering special forces and carrying out surveillance over land and sea. It is the second Navy vessel to be named North Dakota. The last ship named for the state was a coal-fired, steam-powered battleship built in 1910.

Saturday’s ceremony had a North Dakota flavor, with more than 450 guests from the state of North Dakota. The sub’s ceremonial crest features wheat stalks and a pair of crossed revolvers beneath the bow of the sub.

The commissioning, initially scheduled for May 31, was postponed because of issues with the design of the bow and component parts of the submarine, which is the first in its class to have a newly redesigned bow with a new sonar array. The investigation into problems with the vendor-provided parts is continuing.

North Dakota is the 11th boat in the Navy’s Virginia class of submarines, which are built in a partnership between Electric Boat in Connecticut and Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia. Construction of the submarine began in March 2009.

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