Military officials in Hawaii have given the order for ships and submarines based in Pearl Harbor to sortie ahead of a Category 4 storm headed toward the islands.
All ships and subs not undergoing maintenance have begun to depart the harbor ahead of Hurricane Lane, Rear Adm. Brian Fort, the commander of Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, said.
"Based on the current track of the storm, we made the decision to begin to sortie the Pearl Harbor-based ships," Fort said in a release. "This allows the ships enough time to transit safely out of the path of the storm."
Sortie orders are given ahead of major storms in order to protect ships from structural damage they might incur in a more enclosed environment. Piers, too, stand to sustain damage from ships in extreme weather and high-surf conditions.
"Some ships will not get underway, due to various maintenance availabilities, and are taking extra precautions to avoid potential damage," officials with Navy Region Hawaii said in a release. "Commanding officers have a number of options when staying in port, depending on the severity of the weather. Some of these options include adding additional mooring and storm lines, dropping the anchor, and disconnecting shore power cables."
Ships that do sortie may be tasked with aid efforts after the storm rolls through, officials said. They'll remain at sea for the duration of the hurricane, while Navy aircraft in Hawaii will be stored in hangars or flown to airfields out of the path of the storm.
Hurricane Lane, which on Tuesday night briefly became a Category 5 storm, the most severe ranking, is being called the biggest storm to near the Hawaiian islands in some 24 years. While the storm is not certain to make landfall, it's expected to linger near the islands until Saturday, bringing with it extreme rains and damaging winds.
The last hurricane to make landfall in Hawaii was Hurricane Iniki in 1992.
The Navy has asked personnel stationed in Hawaii to follow city and state guidelines for safety and be prepared to evacuate if ordered to do so.
-- Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.