By Master Chief Electronics Technician (SS/DV) Timothy A. Preabt
Chief of the Boat, Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) North Dakota (SSN 784)
Before reporting to Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) North Dakota last fall, I was planning to retire. But I ultimately decided not to. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to make history and serve as the first Chief of the Boat on a submarine named after my home state.
I’m part of a legacy of military service. My father and my great uncle served in the North Dakota National Guard during Vietnam and World War II respectively. Another uncle served in the Navy aboard USS Herbert J. Thomas (DD 833) during the 1960s. All of these men instilled in me the desire to serve.
Growing up in North Dakota, I was the kid who loved the outdoors, from hunting and snowmobiling in the fall and winter, to fishing and camping in the spring and summer. I was rarely bored in the towns of Minot and Williston where I was raised. It wasn’t all play though. I did my share of work on family farms during the summer and always had a part-time job as a teenager during the school year. By the time I joined the Navy, I knew first-hand what a good work ethic meant.
I have a lot of pride in my upbringing, and I’m equally proud to be part of a team of dedicated professionals who are bringing PCU North Dakota to life. When she is christened during a ceremony on Nov. 2, her 138 crew members will be one step closer to bringing a new warship into the fleet. The ceremony will mark the official naming of the Navy’s 11th Virginia-class attack submarine.
In the coming years, this warship will employ the speed, agility, stealth, endurance and firepower that are the key attributes of attack submarines. It will also carry something that other submarines won’t have: the pride of North Dakota.
PCU North Dakota’s motto is “Strength from the Soil, Reapers of the Deep.” “Strength from the soil” is a phrase adopted from the state’s Coat of Arms and the governor’s flag. North Dakota’s storied history is closely tied to its agricultural heritage. “Reapers of the Deep” has a double meaning. It represents both the fighting spirit of the undersea warrior and the state’s farmers who “reap” or cut grain in the fields.
This submarine is only the second Navy ship to be named for my home state. The first was a Delaware-class dreadnought battleship that served in World War II. To represent my home state and serve my country as a submariner is a great honor. I am proud to share this moment in history with my shipmates.
Tell us what it means to you having a Navy Ship named in honor of your home state if you are from North Dakota?