U.S. Fleet Forces (USFF) Command and Commander, Navy Installations Command (CNIC), conduct natural disaster preparedness exercises that help the U.S. Navy respond to adverse weather threats in U.S. coastal regions, and to maintain the ability to deploy forces even under the most severe weather conditions.
Hurricane Exercise (HURREX) and Citadel Gale (CG) are annual exercises conducted in mid-spring in preparation for the Atlantic hurricane season. The exercises provide focused hurricane preparation, recovery, consequence management and personnel account procedures training for afloat and shore-based East Coast and Gulf Coast commands. The exercises also focus on installation response and recovery to hurricane preparation, hurricane recovery and Navy family support.
The exercises involve a simulated storm system that develops and intensifies to hurricane strength, and threatens the East Coast or Gulf Coast regions. Since this is a simulated exercise, there will be no naval ship movements associated with HURREX/CG.
For the 2020 HURREX/CG exercise, the U.S. Navy is taking precautions to ensure personnel remain safe from the coronavirus by increasing cleaning/sanitation procedures, which have been established for all ships, aircraft and submarines. Additionally, personnel are following recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on maintaining physical distancing and wearing face coverings to the greatest extent possible throughout the exercise.
It is never too early to prepare families for a natural disaster, so we encourage them to review information and resources found at https://www.ready.navy.mil, and develop a family emergency plan so they are ready if and when a disaster strikes.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. Why is the Navy moving forward with the exercise amidst the coronavirus pandemic?
A. This exercise is an essential part of maintaining and improving installation support and recovery efforts before, during and after major weather events. Special precautions have been implemented to minimize the threat of the coronavirus on participating personnel, and the health and safety of our people remain the top priority throughout the exercise.
Q. Does the Navy work with other entities during HURREX/Citadel Gale?
A. As a community partner, the Navy is committed to coordinating with other government agencies, national organizations, academia and local authorities to prepare for a potential natural disaster. We coordinate with the U.S. Coast Guard, Military Sealift Command Atlantic and the Bureau of Naval Medicine, among others to train for various emergency response scenarios.
Q. What specific training will be conducted during the exercise?
A. The Navy will train through each of the five Tropical Cyclone Conditions of Readiness (TCCOR) levels. At each level there are specific preparations for defense against destructive winds. At the participating installations, personnel will be securing facilities and ensuring service members, civilians and their families are prepared for the onset of adverse weather conditions. Although no actual movement of ships or aircraft will take place, Commander Task Force (CTF) 80 will simulate sorties for the purpose of this exercise.
Q. What is the reporting system for families?
A. The Navy Family Accountability and Assessment System (NFAAS) is a web-based reporting system tool that was developed following the major hurricane season of 2005. It allows Navy service members and their families to inform their chain of command regarding their status and needs after a declared emergency or catastrophic event. Additionally, an NFAAS app was developed, and is available for Navy personnel and their families to download onto their smartphones for free.
Q. What is the significance of family preparedness as part of this exercise?
A. It is paramount our Navy families are informed of the resources available to them and have a plan in the event of a disaster. How well prepared and informed our families are directly impacts and reflects in the preparedness of our active duty and civilian personnel.
Q. Will communities surrounding installations participating in the exercise be affected?
A. The public is advised to not be alarmed if they see or hear an increase of military activity at the Navy bases or delays at the gates due to the exercise.
Q. During an actual hurricane, how will the Navy help communities affected by the storm?
A. When local and state officials request federal assistance following a storm, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) serves as the lead agency for support. If FEMA requests assistance, then U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) will provide a mix of National Guard and active duty forces. USFF, in its capacity as U.S. Naval Forces Northern Command (NAVNORTH), will provide forces to NORTHCOM as able. We conduct exercises to ensure we are trained and ready to provide support to civil authorities when it is needed and requested.
Q. How will the results and effectiveness of this exercise be measured?
A. The Navy has established a process that includes observation, discussion, recommendation and comments throughout the exercise. Upon completion of the exercise, all lessons learned are evaluated and incorporated into real-world planning efforts and future HURREX/CG exercises. Training conducted during the exercise is vital for the Navy to be prepared for and minimize interruptions in operations even under adverse weather conditions.