Hurricane Gabrielle


As we near the six year point since 9/11, it is strange (for lack of a better word) to note the weather patterns. Churning out in the Atlantic right now is Tropical Storm Gabrielle, forecasted to brush Cape Hatteras before heading northeast.

On September 11, 2001, the National Hurricane Center announced the formation of a Tropical Depression in the Gulf of Mexico, near Florida’s west coast. That storm moved across Florida and eventually became – coincidentally – Hurricane Gabrielle.

On 9/11/2001, as you may recall, the President ordered all ships capable of getting underway to do so – an emergency sortie order – and in conjunction with the other services provide an airtight defensive shield around the country.

To those forecasting for the Navy, Gabrielle presented a threat to that unbroken shield, and expert ship routers were under intense pressure to keep the shield intact while keeping our ships out of harm’s way. As Gabrielle picked up in intensity, the associated seas picked up too, and only through incredible skill did the routers avoid damage to our Navy ships.

To ship routers standing watch around the clock in Norfolk and Pearl Harbor, success is measured in silence. Similar to offensive linemen in football, they don’t get the press when they do their jobs well – only if they fail.

The routers performed their duties brilliantly, and the fleet eventually returned to port unscathed. It was a phenominal performance in emotional times, and nobody ever heard about it. But that’s what the military does.

Case in point: You probably heard about Hurrican Felix, a Category V storm that pummeled the Caribbean, then collided with the Nicaraguan coast, killing at least 133 people. What you didn’t hear was that the U.S. military was there within two days, providing humanitarian assistance. This is a picture of a Navy SH-60 from USS WASP (LHD 1) delivering emergency supplies to Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua. The other services were there too.

Gabrielle serves to remind us that when you hear the story of a natural or man-made disaster – both of which happened six years ago – you will inevitably find the U.S. military working behind the scenes to save lives.

Tomorrow: Six years after the attacks.


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