The US NAVY have deployed ships, troops, and crews to help with rescue and relief efforts as Hurricane Irma approaches.
Irma, a Category 5 storm which has cut a path of destruction across the Caribbean, will be the strongest hurricane to ever come out of the Atlantic Ocean.
Experts believe it will make a direct hit on the Miami area sometime early Sunday morning. From there, it will likely turn northeast and head up the coast.
The navy ordered a release of another set of its amphibious assault ship to be ready should they be needed to support rescue and relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Irma.
According to a report from Navy Times, Iwo Jima and landing platform dock New York, both based in Mayport, Florida, departed on Aug. 5th and are slated to arrive in Norfolk to unload relief supplies as well as an additional 300 plus Marines from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit and 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, a Navy official familiar with the planning confirmed on 6 September.
“The decision to move the ships is based on concerns for the safety of sailors and preservation of the ships and associated equipment,” said Bill Austin, spokesman for Naval Station, Mayport.
“Navy vessels can remain safe at sea by maneuvering to avoid storms altogether — additionally, having ships underway ensures they are ready to respond to any national tasking if required,”
Already underway on Wednesday were the coastal patrol boat Shamal; guided-missile destroyers Sullivans and Bulkeley as well as the Coast Guard Cutter Tahoma.
The guided-missile cruiser Philippine Sea and the guided-missile destroyers Farragut and Lassen was scheduled to head to sea Thursday.
Meanwhile, the guided-missile cruiser Hue City, the coastal patrol Tornado and guided-missile destroyer Roosevelt, “will be moved to a safe haven location and made ready for heavy weather,” Navy officials announced, though it wasn’t clear where that safe haven would be.
Navy officials told Navy Times the ships will be moved elsewhere in the Jacksonville or Mayport area by tug boats and will be tied up to weather the storm at safe locations.
The littoral combat ships Detroit and Milwaukee are both slated to remain in port and will be “heavy-weather moored,” the release said.
The ship movements come after Tuesday’s announcement of the mandatory evacuation of nearly 5,000 sailors and family members from Naval Air Station, Key West, Florida. That order was given by on Sept. 5 by Rear Adm. Bette Bolivar, Navy Region Southeast commander.
Remaining behind to weather out the storm will be 50-60 mission essential personnel to maintain essential functions on the installation, according to a press release issued Sept. 6 from Navy Region Southeast.
Also evacuated were 166 non-essential personnel, family members along with 97 pets from the Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Center, off the Florida coast.
“Additionally,” Bolivar said, “I’ve directed that when mandatory orders are issued by competent civilian authorities in Florida counties that could be impacted by Hurricane Irma, non-essential active duty military, civilian employees, drilling reservists, and authorized dependents residing in those counties are authorized to evacuate.”
Personnel and family members who evacuate must be placed on evacuation orders issued by their parent command. Personnel and families will be reimbursed for lodging and per diem at the approved rate for their designated safe haven, the release said.