As Hurricane Ian continues to strengthen and aim for Florida's Gulf Coast later this week, area military officials have ordered all ships and aircraft to prepare for the expected storm.
Rear Adm. Jim Aiken, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command, said U.S. 4th Fleet ships will depart from Mayport Naval Air Station in Jacksonville on Tuesday. USS Little Rock will be the first ship leaving, with the remaining ships following throughout the day.
Other ships that are required to stay in port will complete heavy weather mooring. Aircraft will also initiate evacuations from area airfields or be secured in hangars rated to withstand hurricane-force winds.
"Hurricane preparations were made months ago through a Navy-wide exercise ahead of the hurricane season," Aiken said. "Our sailors will now focus on the safe execution of those planning efforts to enable sustained fleet operations."
In addition, all Navy installations in the Jacksonville area have set Hurricane Condition of Readiness Three in preparation for the storm. All bases are currently open but are expected to close non-essential operations by Wednesday.