Both sides claimed victory following the conference. Commander Key and his allies announced that the ventilators would be armored, the guns would be improved on the next generation of ships, and the powder magazines would be refrigerated. The senior officers at the conference generally defended the North Dakota’s construction and design stating that changes in design could not be ordered so late in the construction process and that some sacrifices had to be made so that the ship could meet the desired weight and speed. Though there were problems with the early models of the turbine engine, the officers generally approved of the smooth running engine which allowed them to accurately place shots from the big guns.
With very few changes, the North Dakota was launched three days after the release of the report from the Newport Conference. The final details of construction were completed and she went to sea in April 1910 with a crew of more than 900 officers and men. She acquired an honorable record in many respects and was noted for the good feeling between the officers and the enlisted men. One report noted that the officers were careful to explain the tasks expected of the seamen thoroughly so that if one were disabled, another could take his place. Very likely, the North Dakota’s officers contributed to the education of the enlisted men when on board schooling was suggested by Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels in 1913. The entire crew cheered the success of the North Dakota’s gunnery exercises in 1911 when the ship won the fleet’s coveted red flag with the black ball in the center for hitting a target at nearly 10 miles distance over 30 per cent of the time.
The ship never saw combat so the effectiveness of the armor belt location was not resolved with this ship. However, the debate over construction was not the last time the North Dakota would have the spotlight. She entered into another debate in 1922 when she was on the list of older ships to be de-commissioned and destroyed under the terms of the Naval Arms Limitation Treaty.
612 East Boulevard Ave.
Bismarck, North Dakota 58505
Museum Store: 8am - 5pm M-F; Sat. & Sun. 10am - 5pm.
State Archives: 8am - 4:30pm., M-F, except legal holidays, and 2nd Sat. of each month, 10am - 4:30 pm.
State Historical Society offices: 8am - 5pm M-F, except legal holidays.
phone: (701) 328-2666
fax: (701) 328-3710