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U.S. Navy Investigates Four Suicides at Norfolk Maintenance Center

Drydock Dynamic
The drydock Dynamic, operated by MARMC (USN)

Published Dec 5, 2022 7:41 PM by The Maritime Executive

The U.S. Navy is investigating a cluster of four suicides in October and November at Mid-Atlantic Regional Maintenance Center, a ship-repair support depot and drydocking facility in Norfolk, Virginia. 

The center - known as MARMC inside the service - is based out of a warehouse at Norfolk Naval Station, and it provides a full scope of engineering and repair services. It operates the Navy's oldest floating drydock, the WWII-era Dynamic, at nearby Joint Expeditionary Base-Little Creek. According to CNN, at any given time it is home to several hundred servicemembers who have been reassigned from the fleet because of a physical or mental inability to serve on board. At least one of the deceased is believed to have been on limited duty due to mental health challenges at the time of his death.  

"Right away, we should know these people are in higher need, under higher stress," counselor Kayla Arestivo told NBC. "I was inundated with the amount of hopelessness at that command." 

In the wake of the suicides, Arestivo has been brought in to hold prevention workshops with sailors at MARMC. Some of the facility's personnel blame "toxic leadership" for the rash of bad outcomes, Arestivo said. 

The situation at MARMC contains echoes of the suicides aboard the carrier USS George Washington earlier this year. Three sailors assigned to the carrier took their lives in the course of a single week in April. Washington was nearing the tail end of a five-year depot maintenance period at Newport News Shipbuilding. Her crew complained of poor living conditions aboard the drydocked carrier, and the CO eventually allowed 200 sailors to disembark and move into nearby accommodations in May. George Washington remains at NNS, and her overhaul is expected to wrap up in early 2023, about 19 months late.