As Hurricane Dorian continued to gain strength as it headed towards southern Florida, the U.S. military was taking no chances and on Friday began to move 150 aircraft and ships out of the path of the storm.
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With the Navy’s Fourth Fleet declaring Sortie Condition Alpha at Naval Air Station Mayport in north Florida, six warships will sortie out to sea to avoid the storm. An additional eight warships will be readied to ride out the storm pierside.
(MORE: ‘Monster’ Hurricane Dorian takes aim at Florida, may make landfall as Category 4)
Headed out to sea were the destroyers USS Lassen, USS Paul Ignatius, USS Farragut; littoral combat ships USS Billings and USS Milwaukee, and the patrol craft USS Shamal. The large amphibious ship USS Iwo Jima and seven other ships will ride out the storm in port.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Alana La/US Navy
The Cyclone-class patrol ship USS Shamal (PC 13) departs Naval Station Mayport, Fla., Aug. 29, in preparation for Hurricane Dorian.
Additionally six Navy P-8 Poseidon squadrons stationed at Naval Air Station Jacksonville will began moving to other Navy locations in the southeast and mid-Atlantic states.
Also, on Friday the Navy began to re-position about 86 helicopters from bases in Florida to other states.
The Air Force has also begun to reposition fighter aircraft and refueling tankers stationed in Florida and Georgia.
HH-60 rescue helicopters based at Patrick AFB in Brevard County, Florida are also being moved out of state.
Moody AFB in Georgia has moved 16 A-10 Warthog fighter jets and maintenance teams to Little Rock, Arkansas. All other aircraft at Moody will shelter in place, including helicopters from Air Force rescue units that have been used in the past to help provide relief to hurricane victims in Florida and Texas.
(MORE: ‘Complete devastation’ at Tyndall AFB after direct hit from Michael)
It’s not only active duty aircraft that are being re-positioned.
An Air Force official confirms that more than 20 F-16 aircraft based at Homestead Air Reserve Base in the Miami area will be moved out of state.
And the Florida Air National Guard has sent F-15 fighters based in Jacksonville to Wright Patterson AFB in Ohio.
On its Facebook page Naval Air Station Fort Worth highlighting the arrival of some of the aircraft from Homestead said more than 150 military aircraft were being relocated from southeastern states.
After Hurricane Dorian makes landfall it will be up to the National Guard to lead the initial response effort.
It will be up to Major General James Eifert, the Adjutant General of the Florida National Guard, to determine if additional assets from active duty forces will be needed to augment Guard efforts. At a news conference on Friday, Florida officials said 2,000 National Guardsmen had already been called up and that a total of 4,000 will have been mobilized by Saturday.
In past hurricanes, the active duty military has positioned troops, aircraft and equipment in surrounding states to be prepared to respond should that call be made.
Last year, Tyndall Air Force Base in the Florida panhandle took a direct hit from Hurricane Michael completely devastating the base.
The Air Force has estimated that it will cost $3 billion to rebuild.