NORFOLK, Va. —  The U.S. Navy has ordered ships in southeastern Virginia to head out to safer waters to protect them from Hurricane Irene, which is approaching the East Coast.

Virginia is home to several Navy installations, including the world’s largest naval base. Today’s order affects 64 ships based in the area, some of which were already at sea.

The Navy says ships that are at sea can better weather such storms. It also will help protect piers from being damaged.

The Navy moves it ships when storms can produce winds of 50 knots and a five- to seven-foot storm surge.

Forecasters have yet to pinpoint where the hurricane will make landfall. It’s currently a Category 3 storm with winds of 115 mph.