US warships off to Black Sea before Olympics begin

WASHINGTON, Feb 1: US officials say the first of two American warships heading into the Black Sea in advance of the Olympic Games has sailed from Italy.

In another sign of US efforts to protect Americans at the Winter Games, the FBI says at least two dozen agents are going to Sochi, Russia.

Islamic militants have threatened to derail the Winter Games, which run from Feb. 7-23.

The USS Mount Whitney got underway yesterday from Gaeta, Italy, and the Navy frigate USS Taylor is expected to leave from Naples, Italy, today.

The officials spoke about the warships on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to publicly disclose ship movements.

FBI Director James Comey told reporters in New Mexico yesterday that the FBI is in constant contact with Russian authorities as the Games approach. Comey says he spoke earlier in the day to the head of the Russian Federal Security Service.

Comey says Russian authorities face a serious threat and he wants the FBI to be ready to help.

Russian and US defense officials, including Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel, have discussed the Olympic security threat. The US has offered to help in any way needed, but no specific assistance has been requested.

The Pentagon has said the US warships are deploying to the Black Sea as part of normal military planning and could perform any required missions, including communications or evacuations. (AGENCIES)