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Hurricane Prompts Evacuation of 700 Family Members From Guantanamo Bay

WASHINGTON, Oct. 3, 2016 — 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.

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)

Distribution channels: Military