With busy times for the Fleet, NNSY welcomes new commander

Posted at 3:32 PM, Jun 29, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-29 23:30:07-04

NORFOLK NAVAL SHIPYARD, Portsmouth, Va. – After commanding since Sept. 2014, Captain Scott Brown stepped aside to let a new leader take charge.

Captain Kai Torkelson became the 108th Commander of Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY) on Thursday at the base in Portsmouth, where the keynote speaker, Portsmouth Mayor John Rowe, spoke about how important the base is to the city’s community and families, such as his.

“As a kid growing up in Portsmouth, whose Dad worked at the shipyard, this shipyard had a central role in our life.  And Scott, my father would be so proud of you and bringing this shipyard to a new level of excellence.  The city of Portsmouth and Norfolk Naval Shipyard have a long, rich and wonderful history that is so intertwined, and it goes back to almost the very spot we’re sitting, on the banks of the southern branch of the Elizabeth River.”

Torkelson has his roots in Virginia.

The third generation naval officer is a native of the Commonwealth and previously served at NNSY as Deputy Project Superintendent for USS Ronald Reagan’s (CVN 76) Planned Incremental Availability from 2009 to 2010, and as the Submarine Repair Officer at the shipyard’s satellite location at Naval Station Norfolk from 2010 to 2013.

After almost 5-years at the helm of NNSY, Brown said, “I’m turning over to an exceptional officer-Captain Kai Torkelson. “I’m confident this shipyard will accelerate its focus on people and mission while achieving great accomplishments under your leadership.”

Under Brown’s command, NNYS hired more than 4,500  employees, worked to revitalize its waterfront infrastructure and overhauled its training and mentoring programs.  The Navy said that Brown’s command also included delivering the USS Harry S Truman (CVN 75) to the Fleet two days early in July 2017; overseeing a record-setting refueling on USS Rhode Island (SSBN 740); being honored with the 2017 Chief of Naval Operations Safety Award for a large industrial activity.

Torkelson will take over command of NNSY during a busy, but also exciting, time for the Navy and Hampton Roads.

With the announcement of new jobs to Hampton Roads for shipbuilding efforts and Congress wanting to expand the U.S. Navy’s ship count, Torkelson will have his hands full.

“As a third-generation naval officer, serving the Navy is in my blood,” said Torkelson.  “It’s an exciting time to take the helm of this historic command and I look forward to taking America’s Shipyard–our shipyard!–to even greater heights of capability and service.  The Navy has committed to improving Norfolk Naval Shipyard’s employment levels, our training resources, and our facilities and infrastructure.  The challenge is on to navigate through this period of great growth and transition while still providing the same quality service the Navy has come to expect of us.”

NNSY is the fourth largest employer in Hampton Roads, with more than 10,000 civilian workers and an annual payroll of approximately $700 million.