North Kingstown, R.I. — The Navy celebrated a milestone with a keel-laying ceremony for the North Dakota, a Virginia-class submarine under construction, at Electric Boat’s Quonset Point facility May 11.
It was the first major event for the North Dakota (SSN 784) as the submarine prepares for its commissioning in 2014. The ship’s sponsor, Katie Fowler, wrote her initials, which were welded onto a metal plate that will be permanently affixed inside the hull. Fowler is the wife of retired Vice Adm. Jeffrey Fowler, a North Dakota native.
“Not only is the keel laying an important first milestone in the life of the ship, it also serves as the start of a very special bond between the sponsor, her boat and her crew,” said Rear Adm. (select) Michael Jabaley, the Virginia-class program manager.
The second U.S. Navy ship named after the state, North Dakota is the 11th submarine of the Virginia class and the first of the Block III construction contract. It is the first to realize the design changes that resulted from the cost reduction program, including the introduction of the large aperture bow and Virginia payload tubes.
Electric Boat and Huntington Ingalls Industries - Newport News are building the North Dakota under a teaming arrangement.