From Navy Region Southeast and Naval Station Mayport Public Affairs 

Navy installations throughout Florida prepared for heavy weather as Hurricane Irma approached South Florida.

"We are very well prepared, certainly much better prepared than we were for Hurricane Matthew," said Naval Station Mayport Commanding Officer, Capt. David Yoder. "I think we learned lots of very important lessons. 

We're much further ahead of what we experienced with Matthew. We have time to stop and take a look and look at some of the smaller details."

Commander, Navy Region Southeast, Rear Adm. Bette Bolivar, directed the evacuation of non-essential personnel and family members from Naval Air Station Key West, Florida, Sept. 5. 

"Their safety and security is a top priority," Bolivar said.

Approximately 50-60 mission essential personnel were to remain behind to maintain essential functions on the installation. 

As a precautionary measure, U.S. Navy ships home ported at Naval Station Mayport  got underway in anticipation of Hurricane Irma.

USS Shamal (PC 13), USS The Sullivans (DDG 68) USS Bulkeley (DDG 84) and USCG Tahoma (WPG 80) headed to sea on Sept. 7. USS Philippine Sea (CG 58), USS Farragut (DDG 99) and USS Lassen (DDG 82) departed Sept. 7. USS Hue City (CG 66), USS Tornado (PC 14), USS Milwaukee (LCS 5) and USS Roosevelt (DDG 80) were moved to a safe haven location and made ready for heavy weather.

USS Detroit (LCS 7) remained in port and heavy weather moored.

The decision to sortie is based on concerns for the safety of Sailors and preservation of the ships and associated equipment. Navy vessels can remain safe at sea by maneuvering to avoid storms altogether. Additionally, having ships underway ensures they are ready to respond to any national tasking if required.

USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) and USS New York (LPD 21) departed Naval Station Norfolk, Va., Sept. 8 to support possible humanitarian relief operations in the wake of Hurricane Irma. 

USS Farragut (DDG 99) is underway conducting local operations and has been ordered to join the group. 

Iwo Jima and New York pulled into Norfolk Sept. 7 after leaving their Mayport, Fla., homeport to embark a component of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, 

"Additionally," Bolivar said, "I've directed that when mandatory orders are issued by competent civilian authorities in Florida counties that could be impacted by Hurricane Irma, non-essential active duty military, civilian employees, drilling reservists and authorized dependents residing in those counties are authorized to evacuate."

"Please keep safety in mind when traveling to your safe haven," Bolivar said. 

All Navy personnel are encouraged to update emergency contact information through the NFAAS, which can be accessed at www.navyfamily.navy.mil, or through the NFAAS smartphone app available for both iOS or Android. If personnel need support, they can complete a needs assessment through the site or the app on their smartphone and a Navy counselor will make contact to provide assistance.

Emergency Family Assistance Centers will open after storm passage. Personnel and family members are encouraged to check Facebook pages for their installation or Navy Region Southeast for the latest information and updates.