Beaufort News

Bases ready for storm season, military officials say

Year-round planning has Beaufort's three military bases ready for hurricane season, officials say.

Officials at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort and Naval Hospital Beaufort said base commanders are confident in their plans for hurricane season, which began June 1 and ends Nov. 30.

PARRIS ISLAND

If a tropical storm forces an evacuation of Parris Island, all of the depot's recruits will be sent to Georgia to continue training, said depot spokeswoman Lt. Melanie Salinas.

"All recruits currently in their training will travel to Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, Ga.," Salinas said. "Recruits will travel to Camp Blanding in Florida for their rifle-range qualifications, but all other training evolutions ... will take place at Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany until we are able to return to the depot when it is ready and deemed safe."

Male recruits waiting to be shipped to Parris Island will instead be sent to Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego to train if the base here is evacuated, Salinas said.

Female recruits will not be sent to Parris Island until the base is reopened, Salinas said. Parris Island is the only Marine base that trains female recruits.

AIR STATION

Lt. Sharon Hyland, Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort spokeswoman, said the air station works with state and county emergency-management officials year-round to coordinate plans.

If a dangerous storm appears to be headed toward Beaufort, the base's F-18 Hornets, worth about $29 million each, would be moved out of harm's way, Hyland said.

"In the event of an approaching storm that requires the jets to leave the base, the pilots will fly to our primary location for evacuation, Joint Refueling Base Fort Worth, Texas," Hyland said. "This allows our squadrons to move their pilots and jets away from the projected path of the storm and avoid any damage to their personnel and aircraft."

NAVAL HOSPITAL

It is unlikely even a hurricane will stop Naval Hospital Beaufort from providing medical care to the area's active-duty and retired service members and their families, said Gaynelle Dantzler, hospital spokeswoman.

"Naval Hospital Beaufort does not plan to evacuate or reduce services for category 1 or 2 hurricanes," Dantzler said. "For category 3, 4 and 5 hurricanes, the hospital may consider evacuation of non-essential personnel and reduction of capabilities, but it plans to maintain emergency-room, ward, pharmacy, operating-room, laboratory and radiology services."

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