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Different approaches to hurricane protection

Aug 26, 2011
<p>The aircraft carrier <em>USS John F. Kennedy</em> at Norfolk. (click on image to enlarge)</p>

The aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy at Norfolk. (click on image to enlarge)

The approach of Hurricane Irene to the East Coast of the U.S. demonstrates the different philosophy of dealing with a hurricane depending on whether you're talking about the big boys or the small fry. While most yacht owners look to protect his or her boat by going upstream to find the smallest, most snug hurricane hole possible (or takes this approach to its logical extreme and just has his or her boat hauled out), the U.S. Navy takes the opposite approach to protecting its vessels from a storm. Navy ships light the boilers, slip the lines and head out to sea. 

Standard Navy practice is to go to sea when storms approach with forecast winds greater than 50 knots and a storm surge of more than seven feet. Since Norfolk, Va., is threatened by these conditions or worse, a stream of Naval vessels left the docks at Norfolk and headed out into theAtlantic. Following this policy, more than 27 ships have headed out or are heading out, including an aircraft, three submarines and a host of other types of vessel. Twenty eight ships are staying behind in Norfolk because the Navy considers their berthing situations secureenough to ride out a storm like Hurricane Irene.

Luckily, you don't see many owners of 30-foot sloops heading out into the teeth of hurricane to ride it out at sea!