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Norfolk Shipyard commander relieved for 'loss of confidence'

Capt. Kai Torkelson, commander of the Norfolk Naval Shipward in Virginia, was relieved of duty Monday. Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy
Capt. Kai Torkelson, commander of the Norfolk Naval Shipward in Virginia, was relieved of duty Monday. Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy

Sept. 22 (UPI) -- The commanding officer of the Norfolk Naval Shipyard was fired Monday, the Navy announced.

Capt. Kai Torkelson was relieved of his command "due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command," according to a press release from Naval Sea Systems Command.

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NAVSEA spokespeople have since told multiple sources that Torkelson's dismissal was related to "performance issues that affect Norfolk Naval Shipyard's ability to meet ship maintenance schedules."

Last month the Government Accountability Office released a report saying the Navy spent $2.8 billion from 2015 to 2019 to improve the performance of its shipyards, singling out Norfolk as the only shipyard to decrease the number of fully trained production personnel in the last five years.

According to his biography, Torkelson had led the shipyard since 2018.

Commissioned in 1991 and trained initially in nuclear submarines, Torkelson transitioned to engineering in 2002 and did stints at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Washington state and Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard in Hawaii.

Rear Adm. Howard Markle, director of NAVSEA's industrial operations directorate, will serve as acting commander, with Capt. Dianna Wolfson slated to take command of the shipyard by early 2021, according to NAVSEA.

Wolfson is currently the commanding officer of Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility.

Torkelson is at least the fourth Navy leader to be relieved of command in the last month.

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