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Navy sends Va.-based ships out to sea ahead of hurricane

Sailors assigned to the guided-missile destroyer USS Ross prepare to move the ship away from Naval Station Norfolk on Oct. 26, 2012, in advance of Hurricane Sandy.

The Navy isn't taking any chances with a weather system nicknamed Frankenstorm.

Twenty-one ships homeported in Hampton Roads, including the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman, are heading to sea in advance of Hurricane Sandy, the Navy announced Friday. The hurricane, which is moving up the East Coast, could combine with a cold front from the west to create an even larger monster storm, forecasters have said.

"Based on the current track of the storm, we made the decision to begin to sortie the fleet," said Adm. Bill Gortney, U.S. Fleet Forces commander. "The current timeline allows them enough time to transit safely out of the path of the storm."

The ships are heading to sea and out of harm's way between Friday afternoon and Saturday morning.

Besides the Truman, these other ships are leaving from Naval Station Norfolk: the USS Bataan, USS San Antonio, USS Mesa Verde, USS Ashland, USS Carter Hall, USS Leyte Gulf, USS Monterey, USS Anzio, USS Barry, USS Gonzales, USS Mahan, USS Bulkeley, USS Mason, USS Bainbridge, USS Gravely, USS Ross, USS Nicholas, USNS Patuxent, USNS Medgar Evers and the USNS William McClean.

Two ships are getting under way from Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story at Virginia Beach USS Ashland and USS Carter Hall.

Three ships are already at sea: USS Wasp, USS Taylor and USNS Kanawha.

Some ships undergoing maintenance will ride out the storm in port. Commanding officers can take a number of precautions to minimize damage, including adding moor and storm lines, dropping anchor and disconnecting shore power cables.

Meanwhile, the Virginia National Guard is moving about 50 personnel to the Eastern Shore, according to a press release. They are expected to be in position by Saturday evening. In all, the Guard has been authorized to bring up to 300 personnel to help deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

There was no word as of Friday afternoon as to whether the Air Force would fly its F-22 Raptors out of Langley Air Force Base to avoid the storm. Last year during Hurricane Irene, the Raptors flew inland to avoid the heavy rain and damaging winds.

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