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Berlin native assumes command of USS West Virginia

Comdr. Jay Bijeau (right, facing camera) is congratulated by Comdr. Timothy Clark as the two exchange command of the nuclear submarine USS West Virginia during a ceremony on June 29. (Courtesy Photo) (click for larger version)
July 11, 2018
BANGOR, Maine — The Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarine USS West Virginia (SSBN 736) (Gold) held a change of command at the Trident Training Facility, June 29.

Cmdr. Timothy Clark was relieved by Cmdr. Jay Bijeau as commanding officer of the West Virginia Gold crew.

Capt. Bob Wirth, Commodore of Submarine Squadron 20, was the guest speaker for the ceremony, and lauded the crew for their success and various accolades.

"It's really reassuring to see that West Virginia Gold reflects that resilient spirit of her World War II namesake. Like the battleship, this crew never gives up. And it's this resilience that has characterized Commander Clark's tour," Wirth said. "At the end of 2017, I selected West Virginia Gold not just as the best engineering and strategic crews in the squadron, but as the best overall. Earlier this month, the Chief of Naval Operations awarded West Virginia Gold the Arleigh Burke Fleet Trophy, recognizing that during 2017, this crew demonstrated the greatest improvement of any ship or aircraft squadron in the Atlantic Fleet!"

Clark, a native of Johnston, S.C., spoke of his crew's professionalism and dedication to their mission.

"Onboard West Virginia Gold, the officers fight the ship, the chiefs run the ship and the crew makes the ship run," Clark said. "This synchronous effort and their often overlapping roles have propelled our team to tremendous accomplishments. I positively know that without them, I would not be standing here today."

He went on to outline his crew's advancement and qualification statistics, explaining "I had the privilege of re-enlisting 87 Sailors, advanced one Senior Chief to Master Chief, five Chiefs to Senior Chief, six Sailors to Chief Petty Officer, 16 Sailors to First Class Petty Officer, 34 to Second Class Petty Officer, and 36 to Third Class Petty Officer," Clark explained. "Perhaps most importantly, I presented 12 officers and 71 Sailors their submarine qualification dolphins. I have been truly blessed to lead such a talented and dedicated crew!"

Clark leaves West Virginia to join the staff of the Chief of Naval Operations in Washington, D.C.

Bijeau, a Berlin native, was previously assigned to the Inter-American Defense College where he completed his Master's Degree in Hemispheric Defense and Security. His most recent operational assignment was onboard USS Rhode Island (SSBN 726) Gold where he served as the executive officer.

Bijeau relayed his excitement in becoming the commanding officer of West Virginia Blue.

"To the West Virginia Sailors—your service in defense of our nation enables us to enjoy the freedoms that are too often taken for granted," Bijeau said. "With the support of our families, hard work, and the willingness to learn and improve, team West Virginia will be ready whenever our nation needs us."

USS West Virginia was commissioned in 1990 and is the third U.S. Navy ship to be named for the state of West Virginia.

For more information about Submarine Group 10, visit the Facebook at www.facebook.com/submarinegroup10.

Martin Lord Osman
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