Norfolk Shipyard CO Is 4th Navy Leader to Be Fired in a Month

Capt. Kai Torkelson.
Capt. Kai Torkelson speaks at the at the “Unity at our C.O.R.E.” command event June 9, 2018. (U.S. Navy/Shelby West )

The captain who oversaw the Navy's largest and oldest industrial facility has been removed from his job.

Capt. Kai Torkelson, who led the Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Virginia, was relieved of command Monday by Vice Adm. Bill Galinis, the head of Naval Sea Systems Command. Galinis lost confidence in Torkelson's ability to command, according to a Navy news release announcing the relief.

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"The relief is 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," said Colleen O'Rourke, a Naval Sea Systems Command spokeswoman. No additional details about the relief were provided.

Rear Adm. Howard Markle, director of NAVSEA's industrial operations directorate, has assumed duties as the acting commander. Capt. Dianna Wolfson, the commanding officer of Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility, is slated to take command of Norfolk Naval Shipyard by early 2021, O'Rourke said.

Torkelson, a third-generation naval officer, assumed command of Norfolk Naval Shipyard in June 2018, according to his official bio. He spent 12 years as a submarine officer before joining the engineering community.

He was one of the first five engineering duty officers to volunteer for an Operation Iraqi Freedom assignment, the bio states. Torkelson traveled throughout 14 of Iraq's 18 provinces, where he rebuilt the country's military bases alongside local officials, according to his bio.

His personal awards include the Bronze Star, Meritorious Service, Navy Commendation and Navy Achievement Medals.

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

Cmdr. Robert Arias was removed as Naval Technical Training Center Lackland's commanding officer on Sept. 11. Cmdr. John Gaines was relieved of command of the guided-missile destroyer Arleigh Burke on Sept. 3 after an investigation into self-reported personal misconduct. And Cmdr. Erin Borozny was relieved of command of Navy Operational Support Center Portland, Oregon, in late August over a loss of confidence in her ability to lead.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional information from the Navy.

-- Gina Harkins can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @ginaaharkins.

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