Coast Guard honors mariners for Norfolk fire response

Spirit of Norfolk sits low in the water, above, after several days of firefighting.

(NORFOLK, Va.) — The U.S. Coast Guard presented the final of 18 public service awards this week to the good Samaritans who responded to the Spirit of Norfolk fire.

On June 7, the passenger vessel Spirit of Norfolk was on a sightseeing cruise on the Elizabeth River with 108 passengers and crew, including two large groups of school-age children on field trips, when the vessel experienced a fire. The fire caused the vessel to become disabled and adrift in the main ship channel. The crew issued a mayday call and 15 commercial vessels from the area responded to assist with rescue and firefighting efforts.

During the evacuation, a 600-foot cargo vessel suffered an engineering casualty and was on a collision course with Spirit of Norfolk. The crews of the responding vessels and tugs coordinated assets to maneuver both Spirit of Norfolk and the cargo vessel before any further damage could occur.

Spirit of Norfolk sits low in the water, above, after several days of firefighting.
Spirit of Norfolk sits low in the water after several days of firefighting. U.S. Coast Guard photo

The Coast Guard recognized the crews of the involved vessels with public service awards, including the Distinguished Public Service Award, Meritorious Public Service Award and Certificate of Merit. Five of the awards were presented at the Virginia Maritime Association Annual Banquet on Sept. 29, 12 awards at the offices of McAllister and Moran Towing companies Wednesday, as well as one at the Virginia Pilot Association on Thursday.

“This community is truly fortunate for the professionalism and quick actions of these extraordinary people,” said Capt. Jennifer Stockwell, commander, Sector Virginia. “Each and every one played a valuable part in saving the lives of 108 people. These awards recognize and celebrate their selfless actions to save others.”

Distinguished Public Service Award
The crew of Victory Rover
The crew of Rosemary Mcallister

Meritorious Public Service Award
The crew of Ohio River
The crew of Condor
The crew of Challenger
The crew of Z One
The crew of Fort Bragg
Capt. Roger Warren, docking pilot

Certificate of Merit
The crew of Karen Moran
The crew of Wendy Moran
The crew of Patricia Moran
The crew of Surrie Moran
The crew of Marci Moran
The crew of Maxwell Paul Moran
The crew of Clayton W. Moran
The crew of GM McAllister
Capt. Chadwick Jamison, Virginia pilot

The cause of the Spirit of Norfolk fire is under investigation.

– U.S. Coast Guard

By Rich Miller