US Coast Guard concludes public hearing into fire, total constructive loss of tour boat Spirit of Norfolk

Photo: US Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Edward Wargo

The US Coast Guard and the National Transportation Safety Board have concluded the formal public hearing proceedings into the fire and total constructive loss of the tour boat Spirit of Norfolk.

The joint investigation team reviewed and considered evidence related to the fire and total constructive loss of the passenger vessel on June 7, 2022.

The investigation team heard from 23 witnesses who provided testimony into pre-accident historical events, regulatory compliance, crewmember duties and qualifications, mechanical systems, emergency response, and coast guard oversight. Additionally, 103 exhibits were created for public record, and they have been posted for the public to view.

The district formal investigation team will now compile its findings into a report of investigation that will be publicly released after the convening authority evaluates the recommendations. The coast guard will release a final action memo outlining its position on the team’s recommendations.

On the afternoon (local time) of June 7, 2022, Spirit of Norfolk was underway near Norfolk Naval Station in Virginia when some of the passengers noticed smoke and flames coming out of the engine room. The crew then relocated the passengers to the weather deck as the vessel became engulfed in smoke.

All the passengers and some of the crew were later transferred to a Good Samaritan vessel that had diverted to the scene to render assistance. Two crewmembers remained aboard the burning vessel to supervise firefighting efforts as it was towed to Norfolk Naval Station.

The fire was completely extinguished two days later. However, the vessel became a total constructive loss.

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