US Navy flees storm

Sep 16, 2003
Author: P&S

The United States, acknowledged as the only remaining Super Power, and possessing the most powerful navy ever known to history, which is capable of reacting swiftly to any threat imagined or real, has chosen in the face of rampant Mother Nature that discretion is always the wisest course.

With Hurricane Isabel approaching the coast 40 ships and submarines of the US Navy Second Fleet have put to sea from Norfolk, Virginia to move away from the danger. As one observer expressed it, ‘when the navy heads for deep water then you know it (the storm) is going to be a big one.’

The last time US Navy ships in Norfolk were forced to ride out a storm at sea on such a scale was in 1999.

Hurricane Isabel, with wind speeds reaching 120 miles per hour (192 km/h) is expected to reach the American mainland somewhere between North Carolina and New Jersey on or about Thursday this week. The tropical storm is currently lying opposite Cape Hatteras, less than 700 miles from the coast, and moving northwest at a rate of 7 mph.

The Navy will leave another 30 ships battened down in Norfolk Naval Station, most of them unable to sail as they are undergoing maintenance or repair. Three carriers normally based at Norfolk, USS Theodore Roosevelt, USS George Washington and USS Enterprise are currently at sea and USS Ronald Reagan is expected to follow. At the Newport News and Portsmouth shipyards two other carriers, USS Dwight D Eisenhower and USS Harry S Truman, which are undergoing maintenance, are expected to remain in port.

Navy met officers will keep a close eye on the storm, as they do not want a repeat of 1995 when the navy put to sea only to have Hurricane Felix change course and pursue the escaping ships. This time round the navy will try and circle behind the storm, returning to port once it has passed.

Even the US Air Force is moving 60 F-15 Eagle fighter aircraft from the 1st Fighter Wing at Langley Air Force Base to Grissom Air Force Base in Indiana.

Meanwhile, other storms across the globe are battering shipping and land with little regard to life or property, with Mexico’s Baja Californian Peninsular struck by a strengthening Hurricane Linda on Monday.

On the other side of the Pacific South Korea is mopping up after the devastating Typhoon Maemi left 11 container gantry cranes at the port of Busan lying crumpled in a heap and a number of ships crunched against the piers, including a passenger ferry that was being used as a floating hotel. The flotel was evacuated before the storm struck, which was just as well as the ship ended up lying on her side in the harbour. In the Ulsan yard of Hyundai Heavy Industry, a 200,000-dwt FPSO under construction for ExxonMobil was shoved against a 37,000-dwt products tanker at an adjacent shipyard causing severe damage to the tanker.

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