7th Fleet secures ships before Typhoon Melor
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — Most of 7th Fleet’s ships and fighter jets have left their bases near Tokyo in advance of Typhoon Melor’s impending arrival, officials said Tuesday.
As of 5 p.m. Tuesday, forecasters predicted Typhoon Melor’s eye to veer about 160 miles west of the Kanto Plain, which includes bases from all four branches of the armed forces. Meteorologists still expected Wednesday and Thursday to come with heavy rains and winds gusting up to 75 mph over inland areas such as Naval Air Facility Atsugi, 30 miles southwest of Tokyo.
The storm’s eye was projected to come ashore at Hamamatsu, packing 98 mph sustained winds and 121 mph gusts, as of Tuesday evening.
“This (typhoon) is one where we felt it prudent to get the ships out to sea for safety,” 7th Fleet spokesman Cmdr. Jeff Davis said.
The USS Shiloh, USS Fitzgerald and USS Lassen each left Yokosuka — about 35 miles south of Tokyo — on Monday. The aircraft carrier USS George Washington, USS Cowpens, USS O’Kane and USS Mustin left Tuesday, he said.
Most of the ships were already scheduled to get under way shortly, Davis said. Only the USS Lassen will return to port following the storm.
The USS John S. McCain, USS Stethem and U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Assateague remained at Yokosuka on Tuesday, as did multiple destroyers on the Japanese side of the harbor.
The USNS Able, a contracted ship owned by the Military Sealift Command, moved from its less-protected berth in Yokohama over to Yokosuka.
Meanwhile, fighter jets based at Atsugi flew out to sea to land on the USS George Washington on Tuesday, said Atsugi base spokesman Tim McGough.
Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light 51’s helicopters and the base’s C-12 airplanes are being secured in hangars, he said.
The military bases surrounding Tokyo are likely to get six to 10 inches of rainfall, Lt. Allan Howard of Naval Aviation Forecast Detachment Atsugi said Tuesday. Howard expects the heaviest rain between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Thursday.
Earlier this week, the storm’s eye appeared to be headed within about 30 miles of Yokosuka. Despite Melor’s turn to the west, the cool, dry air upstream of the storm will likely still mean high winds over the Kanto Plain, Howard said.