US ships begin to sortie ahead of the hurricane
The US Navy has evacuated all its ships in the Hampton Roads area off the coast of Virginia before the arrival of Hurricane Florence.
Hurricane Florence is close to a Category 5 strength storm, the highest possible rating on the Saffir-Simpson scale, and millions of Americans on the East Coast have been advised to evacuate their homes for higher ground.
The Governors of Virginia, Maryland, North and South Carolina have all declared a state of emergency.
British aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth is currently in the United States, after arriving in Florida last week.
There were 30 US Navy ships in the Hampton Roads area, roughly a fifth of the entire US Navy fleet, but the Pentagon judged the ships would be at risk from storm surges and high wind.
Instructions were issued that the ships should be taken out to the Atlantic where they will be postured for storm avoidance.
U.S. Fleet Forces Commander Admiral Christopher Grady said in a statement:
"Our ships can better weather storms of this magnitude when they are underway."