WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Navy said on Friday that it was moving the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln and other ships into position to provide humanitarian relief from Hurricane Irma if needed.
The Abraham Lincoln, along with the amphibious assault ship Iwo Jima and transport dock ship New York, have left Norfolk, Virginia and are making their way south while trying to avoid the hurricane, U.S. officials said. A destroyer is expected to join them.
“These ships are capable of providing medical support, maritime civil affairs, maritime security, expeditionary logistic support, medium and heavy-lift air support,” the statement said.
In total, the four ships have three CH-53E Marine heavy lift helicopters, 10 MH-60S and 14 MH-60R Navy medium life helicopters.
The Pentagon said the assault ship Wasp near the U.S. Virgin Islands was carrying out evacuations for critical patients from the island of St. Thomas to the larger St. Croix island.
So far, 21 patients have been evacuated with another 23 evacuations planned for Friday, U.S. Northern Command said in a statement.
The U.S. Air Force said it had moved 50 F-16 fighter jets and more than 100 personnel from Shaw Air Force base in South Carolina to Louisiana.
Military facilities in the path of the hurricane have ordered evacuations.
MacDill Air Force base in Tampa, home to U.S. Central Command which oversees military operations in the Middle East, ordered a mandatory evacuation.
Marine Corps Recruit Depot in Parris Island, South Carolina, said it had authorized and encouraged non-essential military and civilian personnel to evacuate.
Reporting by Idrees Ali; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Alistair Bell