Ships and aircraft are departing Naval Station Mayport as Hurricane Ian heads toward Florida, the service announced on Tuesday.
Littoral Combat Ship USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul (LCS-21) was the first ship to leave Mayport Tuesday, according to a Navy press release. Three other ships, helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft sortied from Mayport ahead of the hurricane’s landfall.
Six ships will remain in Mayport tied to piers with heavy mooring. Any aircraft staying will be hangered between Naval Air Station Jacksonville and Naval Station Mayport, the service said.
“Hurricane preparations began months ago through a Navy-wide exercise ahead of the hurricane season,” said Rear Adm. Jim Aiken, commander U.S. 4th Fleet. “Our sailors will now focus on the safe execution of those planning efforts to enable sustained fleet operations.”
Rear Adm. Wes McCall, commander of Navy Region Southeast, also issued evacuations for non-essential active-duty service members, civilian employees, drilling reservists and some dependents, according to the release.
“Given the storm’s unpredictability and the forecasted winds and storm surge, civilian authorities along the west coast have issued mandatory evacuations,” McCall said in the release. “Since these evacuations will affect our military personnel and their families I have authorized the evacuations of those personnel located in the mandatory evacuation zones in Florida.”
Ian is expected to make landfall on Wednesday as a category four hurricane.