Navy sends warships to N.J., N.Y. for storm aid


WASHINGTON — The U.S. Navy is sending three large-deck amphibious ships to waters off of New York and New Jersey to assist in storm recovery and relief, according to the Navy’s chief of information.

“The Navy is moving ships to be closer to the areas affected by the hurricane,” Rear Admiral John Kirby, the service’s chief spokesman, said in a blog posting Wednesday.

The Pentagon said in a separate update on military assistance that 10,000 Army and Air Force National Guard personnel have been mobilized to provide support in the 13 states that were hit hardest by superstorm Sandy.

While the three ships haven’t been officially assigned to post-storm duties, Kirby said the moves “will allow our forces to be best-postured to minimize the amount of time it will take these forces to get on station if tasked.”

The USS Wasp, USS San Antonio and USS Carter Hall are being sent from Norfolk, Va. The San Antonio is the lead ship in the new $18.8 billion, 12-ship LPD-17 class. The three vessels are capable of carrying Navy helicopters or refueling Army choppers.

The Wasp was already out to sea riding out the storm when it headed north “to be better positioned,” Kirby said, and the other ships today were ordered to follow.

The Army Corps of Engineers has received 25 assignments so far from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for assistance, including missions in New York to deliver and use “high-volume” water pumps to drain flooded areas, according to the Pentagon.

The equipment includes 25 pumps being shipped from New Orleans. The U.S. Northern Command, which is coordinating the military’s assistance, is providing an additional 100 pumps to FEMA, the Pentagon said.