Hurricane Prompts Evacuation of 700 Family Members From Guantanamo Bay

WASHINGTON --

Navy officials directed the evacuation of 700 family members from Naval Station Guantanamo Bay in Cuba over the weekend in advance of approaching Hurricane Matthew, Pentagon director of press operations Navy Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters today.

Families from Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, settle into their seats aboard a Boeing C-17A Globemaster III aircraft for evacuation ahead of Hurricane Matthew, Oct. 2, 2016. About 700 spouses, children and pets were evacuated to Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., until the hurricane passes. Base tenant commands and 4,800 personnel remain to continue preparations for the storm. Hurricane condition of Readiness 2 was set base wide in preparation for destructive winds within 24 hours. Army photo by Capt. Frederick H. Agee
Families from Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, settle into their seats aboard a Boeing C-17A Globemaster III aircraft for evacuation ahead of Hurricane Matthew, Oct. 2, 2016. About 700 spouses, children and pets were evacuated to Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., until the hurricane passes. Base tenant commands and 4,800 personnel remain to continue preparations for the storm. Hurricane condition of Readiness 2 was set base wide in preparation for destructive winds within 24 hours. Army photo by Capt. Frederick H. Agee
Families from Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, settle into their seats aboard a Boeing C-17A Globemaster III aircraft for evacuation ahead of Hurricane Matthew, Oct. 2, 2016. About 700 spouses, children and pets were evacuated to Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., until the hurricane passes. Base tenant commands and 4,800 personnel remain to continue preparations for the storm. Hurricane condition of Readiness 2 was set base wide in preparation for destructive winds within 24 hours. Army photo by Capt. Frederick H. Agee Hurricane Evacuation
Families from Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, settle into their seats aboard a Boeing C-17A Globemaster III aircraft for evacuation ahead of Hurricane Matthew, Oct. 2, 2016. About 700 spouses, children and pets were evacuated to Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., until the hurricane passes. Base tenant commands and 4,800 personnel remain to continue preparations for the storm. Hurricane condition of Readiness 2 was set base wide in preparation for destructive winds within 24 hours. Army photo by Capt. Frederick H. Agee

Davis said spouses, children and pets were flown to safety and relocated at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida.

The operation was completed last night, and four C-17s and two C-130s were supplied by U.S. Transportation Command to perform the evacuation.

No Impact on Detainee Ops

“They will stay at Naval Air Station Pensacola until it is safe to return to Guantanamo Bay,” Davis said.

There has been no impact on detainee operations, or on the [61] detainees as part of this [operation],” he said.

“We’ve taken steps to keep our personnel and the detainees safe and secure. They’re largely kept in solid, concrete buildings … [and] there are plenty of places there where they can be sheltered in place and kept secure,” the spokesman said.

Troops Remain For Recovery Work

According to published reports on the Navy’s website, relocating family members allows the installation to minimize operations during the storm, and expedite recovery operations after the hurricane has passed. Guantanamo Bay has about 5,500 personnel and families living and working there. The remaining 4,800 personnel remain on the base to quickly begin recovery efforts.

The installation expects higher than 60 mph winds for several hours as Hurricane Matthew passes, according to the website.

U.S. Northern Command, U.S. Southern Command, U.S. Transportation Command, U.S. Fleet Forces, Navy Installations Command and Navy Region Southeast are providing support to Guantanamo through recovery efforts following the storm, the website indicated.

(Follow Terri Moon Cronk on Twitter: @MoonCronkDoD)