The ‘Spirit of Norfolk’ Passenger Cruise Catches Fire with 89 School Children
June 7, 2022
While running a field trip for elementary school pupils, a well-known excursion ship that conducts excursions in Norfolk port and along the Elizabeth River caught fire today. Local fire agencies, with the help of the US Navy and the US Coast Guard, battled the blaze and reported that all 108 persons aboard were safe, despite the fact that the fire is still burning.
The 187-foot Spirit of Norfolk caught fire at noon today, June 7, as it was docked near Naval Station Norfolk. There were 89 students on board, as well as professors and chaperones. After determining it was a larger excursion ship, fire and emergency services reacted to reports of a boat fire and swiftly phoned in the fire to local emergency dispatchers.
Passengers on board the ship said they first smelled the fire and then saw flames and thick smoke pouring from the engine room. The crew gathered all of the children and passengers on board and hastily strapped them into life jackets before escorting them to the upper deck.
As the fire became larger and fireboats were positioned nearby, onlookers gathered around the coastline and pier. The decision was taken to relocate the passengers to another excursion boat as they continued to combat the fire.
#VIDEO: First responders aid in firefighting efforts at Naval Station Norfolk Pier 4 after the Spirit of Norfolk catches on fire Tuesday.
Read more here: https://t.co/FLddCenuAH pic.twitter.com/yASUWFeqxq
— WAVY TV 10 (@WAVY_News) June 7, 2022
The decision was taken to relocate the passengers to another excursion boat as they continued to combat the fire. Before ferrying the people to land, they hauled the smaller Victory Rover alongside and transferred the passengers to the second craft.
Two crew members stayed on the Spirit of Norfolk to aid the firemen, and the ship was hauled to the military base's Pier 4 shortly after. During an afternoon news conference, Naval Station Norfolk Fire Chief Tony Sickell described the fire as "extremely deep-seated, highly complex, and very tough to suppress. Right now, we're doing all we can to cool the hull and deliver water to the source of the fire in the engine room, where we suspect it began."
Firefighters used foam, but there was little risk of damage to individuals on the ground and just a minor risk of environmental contamination for the ship. The fire was reported to be still blazing aboard the vessel as of early evening.
Multiple agencies currently at Pier 4 and NOB working a boat fire on the Spirit of Norfolk. Much thanks to all agencies and neighboring jurisdictions for the assistance- will update more soon! pic.twitter.com/NmXRlnqPgq
— Norfolk Fire-Rescue (@norfolkfireresc) June 7, 2022
The Spirit of Norfolk, which was built in 1992, is a regular sight along the local shoreline. The ship conducts excursions in Norfolk harbor, such as today's school field trip and dinner cruises. When performing its excursions, it can carry up to roughly 500 guests and is owned by the Hornblower Group of California.
According to company executives, the safety of their passengers is always their first priority, and the ship is inspected by the US Coast Guard on a regular basis, and the crew conducts numerous safety exercises. The inquiry into the cause of the fire will be led by the United States Coast Guard.