The U.S. military began preparing in earnest for Hurricane Irma on Wednesday, readying four Navy ships for potential disaster relief while moving aircraft and U.S. troops in advance of the arrival of the Category 5 storm. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has approved the use of the USS Oak Hill and the USS Kearsarge, amphibious ships now off Florida’s east coast, if help is requested from Gov. Rick Scott (R-

Fla.), said Army Lt. Col. Jamie Davis, a Pentagon spokesman. The ships were originally deployed late last month with hundreds of Marines and sailors aboard to respond to Hurricane Harvey in Texas, but could instead be sent to Florida. The Navy also is preparing to dispatch a second contingent of amphibious ships, the USS Iwo Jima and the USS New York, if they are needed. READ MORE