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Navy to evacuate ships from Norfolk area ahead of Hurricane Florence

By Stephen Carlson
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Navy to evacuate ships from Norfolk area ahead of Hurricane Florence
The guided-missile destroyer USS Gonzalez (DDG 66) departs Naval Station Norfolk after the announcement of Sortie Condition Alpha ahead of Hurricane Florence, on Monday. Photo by MC2 Justin Wolpert/U.S. Navy/UPI | License Photo

Sept. 10 (UPI) -- All Navy ships in the Hampton Roads area in Virginia are being put to sea Monday ahead of Hurricane Florence, according to U.S. Fleet Command.

Hurricane Florence has reached Category 4 status, making it a large and potentially very dangerous storm. So far its track for landfall on the East Coast has been unpredictable.

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Nearly 30 ships are preparing to get underway from Naval Station Norfolk and Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek to avoid the heavy rains and high winds Florence is expected to bring.

The fleet will be put to sea in the Atlantic Ocean and will steam for areas that are not anticipated to be affected by the storm.

Some ships will not be evacuated due to maintenance activities but will be battened down to ride out the storm. These procedures include extra mooring lines, anchors and other preparations.

"Our ships can better weather storms of this magnitude when they are underway," U.S. Fleet Forces Commander Adm. Christopher Grady said in a press release.

The commander of Navy Region Mid-Atlantic ordered all Navy installations in the Hampton Roads area to assume Tropical Cyclone Condition of Readiness Three in anticipation of extremely high winds during the next 48 hours. Drainage ditches are being cleared, equipment is being tied down and other precautions are being taken.

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Possible evacuation of Navy personnel and their families from coastal facilities in the area is also being planned, according to Fleet Forces Command.

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