Coast Guard sets port condition YANKEE for Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands

Coast Guard Station San Juan, Puerto Rico trailers their 33-foot-Special Purpose Craft-Law Enforcement boats in preparation of Hurricane Maria Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017. Coast Guard crews and assets are being safely relocated so they can continue reconstitution and recovery efforts once Hurricane Maria passes. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer Jim Connor

Coast Guard Station San Juan, Puerto Rico trailers their 33-foot-Special Purpose Craft-Law Enforcement boats in preparation of Hurricane Maria Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017.  U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer Jim Connor

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Effective 8 p.m. Monday, the Coast Guard Captain of the Port San Juan, Capt. Eric P. King, set port condition YANKEE for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgins Islands due to the possibility of sustained gale force winds greater than 39 mph from Hurricane Maria that may arrive within 24 hours.

The Captain of the Port is directing action by the maritime and port community for final preparations and for oceangoing vessels 500 gross tons and above, without an approved application to remain in port, to have departed the port by the setting of port condition YANKEE.

Mariners are reminded that there are no safe haven in these facilities, and ports are safest when the inventory of vessels is at a minimum. While port condition YANKEE remains in effect, port facilities will be closed to all inbound commercial traffic unless specifically authorized by the Captain of the Port.

Pleasure craft are advised to seek safe harbor. Maritime and port facilities are reminded to review and update their heavy weather response plans and make any additional preparations needed to adequately prepare in case of a potential impact to the area. Mariners can view the latest port updates on the Coast Guard’s Homeport site.

At this time, Coast Guard Captain of the Port San Juan anticipates setting port condition ZULU at 8 a.m. Tuesday for the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. These dates and times are subject to change based on future forecast.

If and when port condition ZULU is set, meaning sustained gale force winds are expected within 12 hours, port cargo operations will be suspended and the port will be closed to all vessel traffic unless specifically authorized by the Captain of the Port.

The Coast Guard is warning the public of these important safety messages:

  • Secure belongings: Owners of large boats are urged to move their vessels to inland marinas where they will be less vulnerable to breaking free of their moorings or to sustaining damage. Trailer-able boats should be pulled from the water and stored in a place that is not prone to flooding. Those who are leaving their boats in the water are reminded to remove EPIRBs and to secure life rings, lifejackets and small boats. These items, if not properly secured, can break free and require valuable search and rescue resources be diverted to ensure people are not in distress.
  • Stay clear of beaches: Wave heights and currents typically increase before a storm makes landfall. Even the best swimmers can fall victim to the strong waves and rip currents caused by hurricanes. Swimmers should stay clear of beaches until local lifeguards and law enforcement officials say the water is safe.
  • Be prepared: Area residents should be prepared by developing a family plan, creating a disaster supply kit, having a place to go, securing their home and having a plan for pets.
  • Stay informed: The public should monitor the progress and strength of the storm through local television, radio and Internet. Boaters can monitor its progress on VHF radio channel 16. Information can also be obtained on small craft advisories and warnings on VHF radio channel 16.

Information on how to prepare your boat or trailer for a hurricane can be found at the Coast Guard Storm Center webpage.

For information on the progress of Hurricane Maria and hurricane preparedness, please visit the National Hurricane Center‘s webpage.

For imagery and video of the Hurricane Maria response, please visit our Flicker page.

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