By Senior Producer Mike Mount
The U.S. Navy moved three ships toward New York and New Jersey in case the storm-struck states ask for help, officials said on Wednesday
Navy spokesman Lt. Commander Chris Servello said there has been no official request for assistance from the amphibious landing ships that can launch helicopters, make fresh water and haul critical supplies and other aid.
Disasters were declared for New Jersey and New York following Superstorm Sandy. The New Jersey shore area and New York City, especially, dealt with severe flooding and power outages. Fallen trees and power lines blocked roads and ravaged homes and other buildings. Transit systems were idle.
The USS Wasp is a landing helicopter assault ship that resembles a small aircraft carrier and is capable of handling numerous helicopters. Already in the area, the Wasp moved out to sea to ride out Sandy.
The Navy on Wednesday decided to move two other ships out of the port in Norfolk, Virginia toward the coast a few days ahead of a training mission in the Northern Atlantic. Those are the USS San Antonio and the USS Carter Hall and are expected off the storm-stricken coast in one to tow days.
All three ships will remain at sea unless asked to move in to help.
The governors of New York and New Jersey must make an official request to the federal government for the Navy to act.
None of the ships have aircraft aboard but Navy helicopter squadrons are on stand-by in Norfolk, Virginia, if requested.
The ships can handle other helicopters, including those flown by state police and the Coast Guard.
The Navy previously moved helicopter carriers off Long Island after Hurricane Irene. It turned out they weren't needed and the ships returned to port.