Navy Orders Ships to Sea as Irene Approaches

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As a precaution, the Navy is sending 27 warships, including an aircraft carrier out into the Atlantic, to move out of harms way from Hurricane Irene.

Naval Station Norfolk, the largest naval complex in the world, is in the path of the storm. The base is located in the Hampton Roads area of southeastern Virginia.

"Irene is a big storm so we'll have to go out probably several hundred to a thousand miles out of the way," said Cmdr. Adan Cruz, commanding officer of the Norfolk-based destroyer USS Mason.

The ships will conduct training exercises while at sea.

"The forecasted destructive winds and tidal surge is too great to keep the ships in port," Vice Adm. Daniel Holloway said in a statement.

"There is a much greater potential of not only the ships being damaged, but also the pier infrastructure," he said.

Sending the ships out of harms way also keeps them available to help after the storm has passed.

The Navy sends its ships out anytime potential storms can produce winds of 50 knots and a five to seven-foot storm surge is expected. The last time it did so was during Hurricane Isabel in 2003.

The Navy is also sending more than 200 aircraft from Virginia Beach and Norfolk to other bases around the country.

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