LATEST NEWS / WASHINGTON – Dozens of US Navy ships in the Atlantic moved out of the path of Hurricane Irene and are now poised to help with relief efforts in coastal areas battered by the storm, officials said Saturday.
The US Second Fleet said 38 ships, including 27 vessels that were pulled out of the port of Hampton Roads, Virginia to avoid potential damage, had managed to stay away from Irene’s powerful winds and high seas, the Navy said in a statement.
“The ships have safely moved around the storm and are now coming in behind it, prepared to provide any requested support,” it said.
Vice Admiral Daniel Holloway, commander of the Virginia-based US Second Fleet, said an array of ships and aircraft were at the ready to carry out search and rescue efforts, medical services and air transport as needed.
The vessels included amphibious ships with fleets of helicopters and the aircraft included P-3 Orion surveillance planes able to deliver video images of coastal areas hit by Hurricane Irene to assess the storm’s damage.
Naval diving and construction units were also at the ready, officials said.
The US military has made available up to 101,000 National Guard troops to states on the East Coast while Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Saturday issued a prepare-to-deploy order for 6,500 active duty troops to support relief efforts.