To escape hurricane, Navy ships seek 'safe harbor' in Groton

Three Navy surface ships, all based in in Mayport, Fla., passed through New London Harbor on Friday en route to the Naval Submarine Base, where they are seeking refuge from Hurricane Dorian.

"USS Sioux City, USS Milwaukee and USS Billings are taking safe harbor at Naval Submarine Base New London, ensuring the ships and their crews remain safely away from Hurricane Dorian's high winds and seas. The Navy will continue to monitor the path of the storm and when conditions permit and ports are open, we will make plans for the fleet to return to their home ports. We will continue to focus on the safety of our sailors, civilians, and their families," Lt. Marycate Walsh, spokeswoman with U.S. 2nd Fleet, said in a statement.

The trio, all Freedom-class littoral combat ships, were among 20-plus vessels that left Hampton Roads, Va., on Wednesday, giving them time to travel safely out of the path of the storm.

The ships, which cost about $362 million to build and weigh 3,500-tons, initially traveled from Mayport to Hampton Roads to escape Dorian's path, before traveling further up the coast.

Dorian made landfall on the North Carolina coast Friday. Life-threatening storm surge and dangerous winds were expected to continue in portions of North Carolina, southeast Virginia and the southern Chesapeake Bay for several hours Friday afternoon, according to the National Hurricane Center. Flash flooding also was  expected to continue into the afternoon across portions of northeastern North Carolina into far southeast Virginia.

It's not uncommon for military ships and aircraft to be repositioned during extreme weather events to reduce the risk of significant damage.

Three years ago, the USS Truxtun, a Navy destroyer, docked at Fort Trumbull during Tropical Storm Hermine. During the Truxtun's stay, locals delivered nine hundred slices of pizza to the crew.

j.bergman@theday.com

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