August 30, 2019 1:19 PM EDT

The U.S. Navy is sending six warships out to sea to ride out Hurricane Dorian before the storm makes landfall.

The coastal patrol ship USS Shamal––motto, “the Fury of the Storm”––left Naval Station Mayport outside Jacksonville on Thursday.

Five other ships were scheduled to leave Mayport on Friday: the guided-missile destroyers USS Lassen, USS Paul Ignatius and USS Farragut and littoral combat ships USS Billings and USS Milwaukee.

The ships will go to areas of the Atlantic where they will not be in the storm’s path. Hurricane Dorian is expected to bring Category 4-strength winds of 138 mph and up to 18 inches of rain to the Florida coast.

“Our top priority must always be the safety and security of our ships and aircraft, as well as our Sailors and families. We move our ships and aircraft in order to mitigate potential damage,” Rear Adm. Don D. Gabrielson said in a statement. “When maintenance status prevents storm avoidance, we take extra precautions to best protect these units.”

The Whidbey Island-class amphibious dock landing ship USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43) at Naval Station Mayport, Fla. It will be riding out the storm in Mayport.
MC3 Nathan T. Beard—U.S. Navy

The USS Fort McHenry, USS Roosevelt, USS Detroit, USS Little Rock, USS Hue City, USS The Sullivans, USS Thomas Hudner and USS Iwo Jima will stay at the port and ride out the storm there.

According to Bill Austin, a spokesperson for Naval Station Mayport, the ships that are staying behind are having maintenance work done and will take precautions to avoid damage.

Officers who are with the ships that are staying in port have a variety of options when dealing with the storm, including adding more storm lines to the ship, dropping the anchor and disconnecting power cables.

Hurricane Dorian is now a category 2 storm. It is expected to move over the Bahamas on Sunday and make landfall in Florida on Monday.

More Must-Read Stories From TIME

Write to Josiah Bates at

Read More From TIME
You May Also Like