BISMARCK, N.D. – Gov. Doug Burgum today congratulated and thanked the leadership and crew of the USS North Dakota and their families for their important and purposeful service during a change of command ceremony at Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton, Conn.
The ceremony is a time-honored naval tradition that marks the transfer of total responsibility, accountability and authority from one commanding officer to another. It reflects on the heritage, dedication and sacrifice of free men and women serving their nation proudly.
The governor and First Lady Kathryn Helgaas Burgum were among a contingent of North Dakotans in attendance as Commander Mark Robinson relieved Commander Michael P. Hollenbach to become the submarine’s third commanding officer. Outgoing Commander Hollenbach also received a Meritorious Service Medal.
Burgum spoke during the ceremony, extending his gratitude on behalf of North Dakota citizens, who have a deep and long history of military service and support. He also shared his personal gratitude of having a father who served as a naval officer on a destroyer in the Pacific in World War II. Burgum then issued a proclamation declaring Nov. 9, 2017, “USS North Dakota Day.”
“Kathryn and I are deeply grateful to the officers and crew for their outstanding service and critical mission in the world’s most modern and sophisticated attack submarine,” Burgum said. “President Theodore Roosevelt famously said, ‘Speak softly and carry a big stick,’ and I can’t think of a better example of that philosophy than the USS North Dakota. At a time of heightened global tensions, the unmatched stealth and capability of this Virginia-class submarine and her exceptional crew is more important than ever to maintaining peace through strength, and is a source of immense pride for the people of North Dakota.”
Officially known as the USS NORTH DAKOTA (SSN-784), the submarine was commissioned Oct. 25, 2014. It’s the first submarine to carry two vertical payload tubes, nicknamed the “Six Guns,” each capable of launching six Tomahawk cruise missiles.
Robinson is a 2000 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. He previously served aboard the USS Connecticut, USS New Hampshire and USS Hawaii.