HURREX/Citadel Gale 2012 is slated to get underway next week, running from April 16 to 27
The annual exercise is a part of the Navy's testing and training regimen, with these exercises being focused on preparation for the major threat that extreme weather can pose to the effectiveness and operational readiness of the military. Hurricanes are at the forefront of concern in destructive weather as their overwhelming power has provided numerous examples over the last several years to the challenges Mother Nature can present.
"From past experience, we know the damage that [natural disasters] can cause," said Timothy Stoessel with Training and Readiness (N7). "All you have to do is look at the flood of the Naval Academy [during Hurricane Isabel in 2003] to realize the kind of damage 'All-Hazards' can inflict".
Over the last two centuries, tropical cyclones have claimed the lives of approximately 1.9 million people. The United States have had its own costly reminders of the strength of hurricanes, notably in 2005 with the storm surge of Hurricane Katrina, which killed nearly two-thousand and caused 108 billion dollars worth of damage, the costliest in American history.
HURREX/Citadel Gale takes place to ensure that the Navy, as a vital partner in the community, is prepared to not only lessen any possible detriment to operational readiness, but also to provide assistance to the civil authorities in affected areas to "save lives, prevent human suffering, or mitigate extensive property damage." This responsibility that Sailors have requires they be extensively trained in preparation.
HURREX/Citadel Gale is conducted with a particular focus on Tropical Cyclone Conditions of Readiness (COR). These statuses help frame the preparation effort for a hurricane in terms of times until the threat presents itself. There are five CORs, starting with COR V, which states that destructive winds (of 50 knots or greater) are possible within four days (96 hours). The CORs then descend from IV at 72 hours, III at 48 hours, II at 24 hours, to finally COR I when possibly damaging winds are going to be present within 12 hours.
The exercise will involve two simulated storm systems developing and intensifying to hurricane strength, threatening the Caribbean Islands, East Coast and Gulf Coast regions. Although the exercise does not involve any real movement of ships or aircraft, the exercise is designed to be as real as possible. Commander, Task Force 20 will simulate a sortie, and Sailors ashore and afloat, in port or underway will review their heavy weather instructions and procedures.
NDW, and the Navy as a whole, considers the safety of its Sailors and their families to be the highest possible priority, especially during violent weather. Therefore, there is a large emphasis in all Navy commands on security and accountability before, during, and after destructive weather. The Navy Family Accountability and Assessment System (NFAAS) is a key part of this accountability. The Navy uses the NFAAS to account for Sailors and Navy families, as well as to identify disaster-related needs of Navy families. Sailors and their families should ensure their information is up to date in NFAAS. (NFAAS Website https://navyfamily.navy.mil)
"For the average Sailor individual and family emergency preparedness for destructive weather is arguably the principal benefit to be gained from the annual HURREX exercise," said Thompson Gerke, with NDW Operations (N3). "Self-registration in the NDW Wide Area Alert Network and updating information in the NFAAS are key and essential tasks."
The Naval Safety Center has information on preparing for destructive weather which can be found at www.public.navy .mil/navsafecen/Documents/media/safetips/f-m/hurricane.doc
More information on Navy Family Emergency Preparedness can also be found at www.cnic.navy.mil/CNIC _HQ_Site/WhatWeDo/FamilyLine/FamilyPreparedness/index.htm.