Seeing the submarine

NEW TOWN When the USS North Dakota submarine is commissioned May 31 at Groton, Conn., a group of military veterans from northwest North Dakota plans to be there.

In a trip being arranged by the New Town and Watford City American Legion posts, and the North Dakota Vietnam Veterans, currently between 30 to 40 or more veterans will attend the ceremony, said Dave Hilleren, New Town, a member of the New Town post and the Vietnam veterans organization.

The northwest N.D. group going to the commissioning will include veterans from New Town, Watford City, Mandaree, Stanley, White Shield and Parshall. Dan Stenvold, of Park River, president of the N.D. Vietnam Veterans, is among the group.

Prior to the commissioning ceremony at the Naval submarine base at Groton, the day before the group plans to tour a submarine, attend the sub school graduation and visit Submarine Force Museum, home of the historic USS Nautilus, at Groton.

Some members of the veterans group also will go to Washington, D.C., to visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

The USS North Dakota is a Virginia-class of nuclear-powered fast attack submarines in service with the Navy, according to Navy information. The submarines are designed for a broad spectrum of open-ocean and littoral missions. They were conceived as a less expensive alternative to the Seawolf-class attack submarines, designed during the Cold War era, and are replacing older Los Angeles-class submarines, 20 of which have already been decommissioned.

It is the second Navy vessel to be named after North Dakota. The first was a Delaware-class battleship that entered service in 1910 and was decommissioned in 1923.

Construction of the USS North Dakota started in March 2009. Contractor General Dynamics Electric Boat built the submarine in a series of modules at General Dynamics Electric Boat facilities in Groton,Conn., and Newport News Shipbuilding in Newport News,Va.

The submarine’s crew includes North Dakota native Navy Electronic Technician Master Chief Tim Preabt. Born in Minot, Preabt was educated in Williston and graduated from Mandan High School.

Others from North Dakota also are planning to attend the USS North Dakota commissioning. Bob Wefald, of Bismarck, chairs the USS North Dakota Committee.

Hilleren said some local fundraisers are being planned prior to the trip.

Veterans who are interested in joining the northwest North Dakota group for the trip or for more information should immediately call William Wilber, of New Town, at 590-0910 or email him at wawilber@restel.net or call Dave Hilleren at 690-9035.