Aircraft carrier, mini armada on the way to help after Irma

With two warships already bound south into the Caribbean on Hurricane Irma relief missions, the Navy announced Friday it has put the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, two amphibious assault ships and a destroyer on standby to help federal, state or local authorities in post-Irma humanitarian relief efforts, “if requested.”

The USS Iwo Jima and USS New York, left their home port in Mayport, Florida, earlier this week for Norfolk, Virginia to pick up more than 300 Marines and sailors with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing and II Marine Expeditionary Force, according to an announcement by the Fleet Forces Command. As of Friday, they were headed back south.

“These ships are capable of providing medical support, maritime civil affairs, maritime security, expeditionary logistic support, medium and heavy lift air support, and bring a diverse capability including assessment and security,” the Fleet Forces Command statement added.

Meantime, the Navy said, the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Farragut was already “conducting local operations” and has been ordered to join the group.

From the four ships, the statement said, the Navy can deploy three “Super Stallion” helicopters, which have been used in heavy-lift assault operations in Afghanistan and Iraq; and 24 multi-mission medium-lift Seahawk MH 60 combat helicopters, which can be used for search and rescue missions.

The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier Lincoln, part of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet is based in Norfolk. Sailors from the ship have done humanitarian, post-disaster relief operations before, notably in 2005 after a devastating tsunami struck Aceh Province in Sumatra, Indonesia.

It recently completed a four-year, mid-life overhaul and was returned to sea duty in May.