U.S. Navy Preparing to Sortie Ships in Hampton Roads Ahead of Dorian

Mike Schuler
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September 4, 2019

Photo from Sept. 12, 2018 shows most piers empty at Naval Station Norfolk after the order to sortie all U.S. Navy ships in the Hampton Roads area ahead of Hurricane Florence. U.S. Navy Photo

Vice Adm. Andrew L. Lewis has set Sortie Condition Bravo as a precautionary measure to reduce the risk of significant damage to ships, aircraft and piers during potential high winds and seas.

The Hampton Roads area serves as home to more than 20% of the entire United States Navy fleet. Bases in the area include Naval Station, Norfolk; Naval Amphibious Base, Little Creek, which lies partly in Norfolk and partly in Virginia Beach; Naval Air Station, Oceana; NAS Oceana, Dam Neck Annex in Virginia Beach; NSA Norfolk Northwest Annex in Chesapeake; and Naval Weapons Station, Yorktown.

The National Weather Service on Wednesday extended a Tropical Storm Watch north to Chincoteague, Virginia, located north of Hampton Roads, as well as parts of Chesapeake Bay. A Storm Surge Watch is also in place for the area, including in Hampton Roads.

“We will continue to monitor and track the storm to ensure our ships and personnel are prepared,” said Lewis. “If necessary, we will sortie our ships to allow enough time to transit safely out of the path of the storm.”

The Navy says that some ships will not get underway due to maintenance availability, but crews are taking extra precautions to avoid potential damage including adding additional mooring and storm lines, dropping the anchor and disconnecting shore power cables.

Additionally, Rear Adm. Charles W. Rock, Commander, Navy Region Mid-Atlantic (CNRMA), ordered all installations in the Hampton Roads area to prepare for possible sustained destructive winds of greater than 50 knots within 48 hours, thereby setting Tropical Cyclone Conditions of Readiness (TCCOR) Three (III).

“Our Navy remains prepared and ready to respond to evolving weather conditions, ensuring the safety of our service members and their families, and to protect our military assets and infrastructures,” said Rock. “It is important that our Navy families are informed of all resources available to them and have a plan in the event Hurricane Dorian affects our Region.”

The U.S. Coast Guard Captain of the Port for Sector Hampton Roads has set Port Condition X-RAY, meaning Gale force winds are predicted to arrive within 48 hours.

The U.S. Navy’s 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


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