GROTON, Conn. (NNS) -- Capt. Robert E. Clark II turned over command of Submarine Squadron Four (CSS4) to Capt. Michael Bernacchi during a change of command ceremony aboard the historic ship Nautilus at the Submarine Force Library and Museum April 9.
Clark, a resident of West Chester, Pa, has been selected to be the 84th Commandant of Midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy (USNA). As commandant, Clark, a USNA Class of 1984 graduate, will be responsible for the military and professional development of the approximately 4,400-member Brigade of Midshipmen.
"This is a bittersweet occasion for Bob Clark," said guest speaker Rear Adm. Michael McLaughlin, Commander Submarine Group Two. "I know he thoroughly enjoys what he does here. He's a leader with contagious enthusiasm and is professional and competent in his trade."
During Clark's tenure as commodore, Squadron Four helped build a strong foundation for the Navy's newest class of submarines - The Virginia. There were significant accomplishments in Virginia-class tactical employment and warfighting readiness, including completion of the final phases of Virginia-class Operational Evaluation and transition to fully-operational status.
The Virginia-class reached several milestones under Clark's leadership including: the first European Command deployment, USS New Hampshire (SSN 778); first full six-month deployment, USS Virginia (SSN 774) and first under-ice operations, USS Texas (SSN 775).
Also under Clark, Squadron Four was a Submarine Force leader in retention and attrition.
Clark called his staff and the command teams of Squadron Four's submarines "superstars and are the sole reason for Squadron Four's success." He added, "I've had the honor and privilege to lead and - more importantly - learn from the very best."
Bernacchi, from Pleasant Ridge, Mich., said "(Clark) has organized and optimized the staff to help the ships," and that he was "honored to have the opportunity to try and continue (Clark's) work." Bernacchi also thanked his family and supporters who attended the ceremony, including his wife, Kristen.
"She takes care of everything. She is the rock and foundation for the children. I never worry about the home front when I am at sea," said Bernacchi, who previously served as Deputy Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program Manager. His sea duties include commanding officer of Los Angeles-Class attack submarine USS Alexandria (SSN 757).
"Mike has always been known for his leadership," said McLaughlin. "He demonstrated his abilities with two Battle Efficiency Es while serving as commanding officer in Alexandria in addition to the Navy League's John Paul Jones Award for Inspirational Leadership."
Bernacchi was commissioned through Officer Candidate School after graduating Summa Cum Laude from the University of Detroit with a bachelor's degree in Biology. In 1993 he was assigned to the University of Michigan as part of the Advanced Education Program, where he earned Master of Science degrees in Nuclear Engineering and Industrial Engineering.
For more news from Commander Submarine Group 2, visit www.navy.mil/local/Subgru2/.