Coast Guard sets Hurricane Condition YANKEE for Tampa, St. Petersburg, Manatee ports

TAMPA, Fla. – Effective 8 p.m. Friday, the Coast Guard set Hurricane Condition YANKEE (sustained Gale Force winds from a hurricane force storm are predicted within 24 hours) for Tampa, St. Petersburg and Manatee ports

Port conditions are a series of escalating measures put in place to keep vessels and ports safe.

All oceangoing vessels and barges over 500 gross tons are required to depart the ports and head out to sea. Inland vessels and barges over 500 gross tons are required to seek safe refuge in a port outside the Tampa, St. Petersburg and Manatee areas.

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 update your Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) registration, and secure them safely to your vessel prior to a major storm. These devices often float free from vessels in marinas or at docks during hurricanes and signal a distress when there is none.

All vessels wishing to conduct cargo operations during Condition Yankee shall immediately submit a Cargo Operations Plan to terminal owners for approval. All ship-to-shore operations must be completed six hours prior to the setting of Port Condition ZULU.

Drawbridges will be closed and locked in the down position within eight hours prior to the arrival of gale-force winds.

A bridge closure means the bridge will remain in the down position unless there is an emergency situation, such as a vessel removing hazardous cargo away from an area a storm is anticipated to affect.

Once a bridge is locked, it will not be opened until bridge crews are able to return after the storm passes. Crews may not be able to immediately return to a bridge or may not be able to re-open it depending on available access to the bridge, damage to the area and power outages.

Hurricane Irma is a large and powerful storm. All marine interests must take early and substantial action to ensure safety of the port and vessels. Future port conditions cannot be predicted with any degree of certainty, but provided the storm remains on the projected course and track, port stakeholders can expect sustained Gale Force winds from a hurricane force storm within 24 hours.

During the height of the storm, rescue assistance may be unavailable. Boaters should heed all hurricane warnings and take early action to stay safe.

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