Saturday, September 23, 2023

Navy directs Norfolk ships to ‘sortie’ ahead of Hurricane Florence. Here’s what that entails

(Southside Daily photo/Courtesy of NOAA)
(Southside Daily photo/Courtesy of NOAA)

NORFOLK — Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command ordered all Navy ships in the Hampton Roads area to set Sortie Condition Alpha; ships are completing final preparations and will begin to sortie Monday, ahead of Hurricane Florence.

Sortie conditions are as follows:

  • Condition Charlie: Ships prepare to sortie within 48 hours to avoid heavy weather.
  • Condition Bravo: Sortie is expected within 24 hours to avoid heather weather.
  • Condition Alpha: Sortie commences to avoid heavy weather.

There are nearly 30 ships preparing to get underway from Naval Station Norfolk and Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek as Hurricane Florence is forecast to bring high winds and rain to the Mid-Atlantic coast. Ships will be directed to areas of the Atlantic where they will be best postured for storm avoidance, according to the Navy.

Some units will not get underway due to maintenance status but will be taking extra precautions to avoid potential damage.

Commanding officers have a number of options when staying in port, depending on the severity of the weather. Some of these options include adding additional mooring and storm lines, dropping the anchor, and disconnecting shore power cables, the Navy said.

“Our ships can better weather storms of this magnitude when they are underway,” said U.S. Fleet Forces Commander Adm. Christopher Grady in a news release earlier this weekend.

The No. 1 mission is to protect the fleet, to include keeping our personnel and their families safe.

Additionally, Commander, Navy Region Mid-Atlantic ordered all Navy installations in the Hampton Roads area to set Tropical Cyclone Condition of Readiness Three (III), meaning sustained destructive winds of greater than 50 knots associated with a tropical system are expected within 48 hours.

Navy installations in Hampton Roads have begun to prepare for the storm. Some preparations include securing hazards throughout the installations, removing debris from drainage areas, designating alternate parking areas for flood prone areas, sand bagging flood prone areas, topping off fuel in generators and government vehicles and relocating dumpsters and equipment to more secure areas.

All personnel and their families should review their Navy Family Accountability and Assessment System account at, as well as review hurricane checklists and evacuation plans in the event an evacuation is necessary.

Service members are encouraged to discuss evacuation and reporting requirements with their chain of command and family members, the Navy said.

Tropical Cyclone Conditions of Readiness are as follows:

  • Condition IV: Trend indicates possible destructive winds within 72 hours.
  • Condition III: Destructive winds are possible within 48 hours.
  • Condition II: Destructive winds are possible within 24 hours.
  • Condition I: Destructive winds are possible within 12 hours.

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