The U.S. Navy’s Commander, Navy Installations Command (CNIC) and U.S. Fleet Forces Command (USFF) are jointly conducting the annual hurricane preparedness exercise, HURREX/Citadel Gale 2014, from May 5 – 15 in preparation for the upcoming Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean area hurricane season.
The purpose of HURREX/Citadel Gale 2014 is to prepare the Navy to respond to weather threats to U.S. coastal regions, and to maintain the ability to deploy forces even under the most adverse weather conditions. Tropical storms have the potential to cause great damage to areas they pass over, and the Navy prepares every year to mitigate that damage.
“HURREX/Citadel Gale 2014 provides Navy regions and installations the opportunity to exercise and assess their ability to prepare for, respond to, and recover from the threats from severe weather events, in this case we’re exercising our response to a large category hurricane event,” said Cmdr. Neil T. Smith, executive officer of Fleet Weather Center Norfolk.
This year’s exercise will consist of two simulated tropical cyclones that will develop and intensify to hurricane strength, and will threaten the Eastern Coast of the U.S., the Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean coastal regions.
The exercise requires a great deal of coordination. USFF and CNIC work closely with the Fleet Weather Center, Military Sealift Command, Navy Expeditionary Combat Command, U.S. Northern Command, Marine Forces Command, Marine Forces North, Army North and Federal Emergency Management Agency.
“As we’ve seen in recent history, large scale weather events can cover enormous areas and impact huge population centers, so training opportunities like this are vital to an effective response plan,” said Smith. “But more importantly it allows us to work with a number of other agencies and to develop relationships with our counterparts in city, state, federal and non-governmental organizations (NGO).”
The exercise includes all Atlantic-based ships, submarines and aircraft. All ship movements during the exercise are simulated.
HURREX 14 will include accounting for Sailors and their families through the Navy Family Accountability and Assessment System (NFAAS). NFAAS also allows leaders to identify medical, housing, transportation, counseling, and other disaster-related needs.
The destruction and devastation caused by storms such as Hurricanes Sandy, Irene, and Katrina reinforce the need for proper training and preparedness prior to the threat of a real world natural disaster. There were 13 named storms in 2013, and with the onset of the Atlantic hurricane season June 1, 2014, the Navy remains committed to the safety, security, and wellbeing of its Sailors, civilians, and their family members.
Press Release, May 5, 2014; Image: US Navy