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Navy fires Norfolk Naval Shipyard CO after repeated maintenance delays

As the Navy continues to struggle with getting its ships out of the public yards on schedule, the commanding officer of the Norfolk Naval Shipyard was fired over such problems on Monday.

Capt. Kai Torkelson’s relief was “tied to issues related to a loss of confidence in leadership to correct underlying performance issues that affect Norfolk Naval Shipyard’s ability to meet ship maintenance schedules,” Naval Sea Systems Command spokesman Rory O’Connor said in an email.

Torkelson did not respond to requests for comment submitted via official channels and social media.

Rear Adm. Howard Markle, director of the industrial operations directorate for Naval Sea Systems Command, has assumed the duties of the acting CO until a permanent replacement is named.

A Virginia native and Virginia Military Institute graduate, Torkelson took command of the shipyard in 2018, according to his biography.

Torkelson’s firing comes as the sea service grapples with continuing maintenance woes.

While the Navy has spent nearly $3 billion in recent years to improve shipyard maintenance performance, the public yards “continue to face persistent and substantial maintenance delays that hinder the readiness of aircraft carriers and submarines,” according to a Government Accountability Office report released last month.

Three-quarters of the 51 aircraft carrier and submarine maintenance periods from fiscal 2015 to 2019 were completed late, resulting in 7,425 days of delays and limiting the Navy’s pool of ships and boats that can deploy, according to the report by the Government Accountability Office.

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