NORFOLK, Va. – Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces (USFF) Command ordered all U.S. Navy ships in the Hampton Roads area to set Sortie Condition Bravo in advance of Florence’s, which projected path as Saturday is causing concern for many states down the East Coast.
Preparations for ships getting underway started with Sortie Condition Charlie Friday, which indicates the onset of destructive weather conditions to the port within approximately 72 hours. It was upgraded to Bravo around a day later – shortly after Gov. Ralph Northam issued a State of Emergency for Virginia.
Ships will make final preparations this weekend in anticipation of getting underway Monday.
Should weekend weather forecasts indicate a decrease in the strength or change in the track of the storm, which is projected to become a hurricane by Monday, the sortie condition may be downgraded.
“The decision to sortie the ships from Hampton Roads is based on Hurricane Florence’s current track, which indicates the hurricane has the potential to bring sustained winds in excess of 50 knots and storm surge in excess of 8 feet to the area, which meets the criteria for getting the fleet underway to avoid storm damage,” said USFF Commander Adm. Christopher Grady. “Our ships can better weather storms of this magnitude when they are underway.”
The forecasted destructive winds and tidal surge are too great to keep the ships in port. Having the ships underway also makes them ready and available to respond to any national tasking, including any needed disaster response efforts in the local area after the storm has passed.