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Navy Calls 1,629 Reservists To Shipyards Left Shorthanded By COVID-19 Pandemic

The Navy is mobilizing 1,629 reservists to support aircraft carrier and submarine maintenance at its four public shipyards starting next month, officials said.

The mobilization will help reduce the maintenance backlog that has developed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In March, Naval Sea Systems Command authorized weather and safety leave for shipyard personnel who fell under the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's "high risk" category for extreme complications tied to the COVID-19 virus.

With up to 25% of the production workforce unable to report to their duty location, the shipyards have not been able to handle all their work and have a backlog that, if left unchecked, would result in delays in returning ships to the fleet, officials said in a release.

The Navy says all the reservists will be on-site by September. They will be on one-year mobilization orders which may be extended or curtailed should circumstances change.

The shipyards include Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine, Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Va., Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility in Bremerton, Wash., and Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.

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Tom Bowman is a NPR National Desk reporter covering the Pentagon.