Commanding Officer Biography
Captain Benke is a native of Jefferson City, Missouri. He enlisted in the Navy in May 1982 and was selected for the Nuclear Enlisted Commissioning Program where he received his Bachelor of Science degree in Nuclear Engineering from the University of New Mexico in 1987 and his commission at Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island.
His sea-duty assignments include a division officer tour on USS BREMERTON (SSN 698) and a department head tour as Combat Systems Officer on USS COLUMBUS (SSN 762), both home ported in Pearl Harbor, HI. Captain Benke also served as the Submarine Operations Officer and Tomahawk Strike Officer for Commander, CARRIER GROUP SIX where he completed an around the world deployment onboard USS JOHN C. STENNIS (CVN 74). His executive officer tour was on USS JEFFERSON CITY (SSN 759), home ported in San Diego, CA, where he completed a deployment to the Western Pacific and operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. His command tour was on USS PENNSYLVANIA (SSBN 735)(Gold), home ported in Bangor, WA, where he completed 4 strategic deterrent patrols.
His shore-duty assignments include Naval Postgraduate School where he received his Master of Science degree in Astronautical Engineering. He has also served as an Emergency Action Officer at the U.S. SPACE COMMAND, Cheyenne Mountain Air Station, CO. After his XO tour, he was the Undersea Warfare Officer at Commander, STRIKE FORCE TRAINING PACIFIC, in San Diego, CA, where he was responsible for training Strike Groups in Anti-Submarine Warfare and integrated submarine operations. His post-command tours included Submarine Force Navigator at Commander, SUBMARINE FORCE ATLANTIC in Norfolk, VA and Officer-in-Charge, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command Detachment Norfolk.
Captain Benke is designated a Joint Qualified Officer, a member of the Navy’s Space Cadre, and qualified as an Information Dominance Warfare Officer. He is authorized to wear the Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal.