As Hurricane Matthew presses toward Cuba, the U.S. Navy is evacuating approximately 700 spouses and children of personnel from the Guantanamo Bay military base, located on the island nation’s southeast tip. The evacuees are being transported to NAS Pensacola.
Category 4 Hurricane Matthew, which briefly reached Category 5 status, is expected to reach Cuba by Tuesday (Oct. 3) morning. Navy personnel and contractors, approximately 4,800 people, as well as 61 inmates incarcerated at the controversial detention facility on the base, will remain behind and “shelter in place.”
The following is a press release from the U.S. Navy, Southeast Public Affairs office:
Approximately 700 spouses and children are evacuating from Naval Station Guantanamo Bay (NSGB), Cuba during preparations for the arrival of Hurricane Matthew.
U.S. Transportation Command provided four C-17 and two C-130 aircraft as military airlift traveling to Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla. With their help, the evacuation will be completed by tonight.
Relocating family members allows the installation to minimize operations during the storm, expediting recovery operations after the hurricane has passed. NSGB has approximately 5,500 residents living and working aboard, including families. The remaining 4,800 personnel remain behind in order to quickly begin recovery efforts, and will shelter in place.
The installation expects winds above 60 mph for several hours as Hurricane Matthew passes. 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 the Naval Station Guantanamo Bay support and will continue to do so through the recovery efforts following the storm.