Published April 1, 2023

North Dakota Submarine Deployment Detailed 

Written by
Lydia Hoverson
| The Dakotan
Commander Robert Edmonson III, commanding officer of the submarine USS North Dakota, details to legislators the submarine’s third deployment last year. (Photo: Lydia Hoverson/The Dakotan)
Commander Robert Edmonson III, commanding officer of the submarine USS North Dakota, details to legislators the submarine’s third deployment last year. (Photo: Lydia Hoverson/The Dakotan)

Commander Speaks to ND Legislature 


BISMARCK – North Dakota’s submarine executed its third deployment a year ago during the Russia-Ukraine war. Its commander detailed the trip to the state legislators earlier this week. 

Commander Robert Edmonson III, Connecticut, commanding officer of the submarine USS North Dakota, told legislators he commanded his first deployment on March 29, 2022, a month after Russia invaded Ukraine, where the crew was in total communications blackout for over two months and traveled over 40,000 total miles, including going above the arctic circle and sailing throughout the Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea. 

Edmonson became the fourth commanding officer of USS North Dakota on February 12, 2021, following the ship’s return from a second successful deployment. He and the crew were immediately tasked with a strenuous preparation period prior to the third deployment. 

Before this deployment, Edmonson reported to Admiral William Houston, commander of the United States Naval Submarine Forces, on the North Dakota’s readiness. 

“He stated we were deploying with the highest state of operational and material readiness that he had ever seen,” said Edmonson. “I soon realized just how important these preparations were.” 

Edmonson said the crew executed their preparation tasks flawlessly amidst immense operational, material, and scheduling pressure. One of the highlights included being chosen to participate in the Submarine Command Course. 

“This is one of the submarine forces pinnacle events where hopeful commanding and executive officers are challenged to lead a crew through intense and complicated peace and wartime operations,” said Edmonson. “During these exercises the officers and crew practice tactics that challenge the full spectrum of submarine operations.” 

Then came the deployment, which Edmonson said was one of the most difficult he has seen in his 25 years of naval service. 

“The deployment last year was hard, but your crew didn’t show it,” said Edmonson. “Their achievements were so impactful that our time at sea was extended from six months to seven months. Our missions were so crucial to our national security that we were requested from the highest levels of command to stay at sea 94% of those long seven months.” 

Edmonson said the crew received personal and ship awards that met a new high bar of excellence. 

“Your crew represented North Dakota with honor,” said Edmonson. “We made a huge investment, developing the leaders to inherit our future, achieving the highest levels of retention, qualification, and advancement across all submarines in the Atlantic fleet. All of this was possible because of the sacrifice of the crew and their families.” 

Edmonson said the ship was awarded the Battle Effectiveness Award, an honor given to warships that have met and excelled at every possible task throughout the year. Edmonson added that North Dakota has achieved this twice in its three total deployments. 

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