The US Navy has taken delivery of PCU North Dakota (SSN 784), the 11th Virginia class attack submarine to be handed over since 2004. North Dakota is the first of eight Virginia class Block III boats that feature a new bow design, replacing 12 individual launch tubes with two large-diameter Virginia Payload Tubes, each capable of launching six Tomahawk Cruise Missiles.
Despite some quality control issues with some components whose correction required the boat to undergo an unplanned dry-docking, the vessel was still handed over on time. The next boat in the class, Jack Warner (SSN 785), was officially named on 6September. She is unusual in being one of the few US Navy vessels named after a living person.
This rare distinction is shared with only two other submarines, USS Hyman G. Rickover (SSN 709), a Los Angeles class submarine, and USS Jimmy Carter (SSN 23), a Seawolf class submarine. The first Block IV submarine, the construction of which began in May, is to follow the convention of names for US States, and will become USS Vermont (SSN 792).