(PORTSMOUTH, VA — November 9, 2007) The Coast Guard and local authorities removed passengers from the cruise ship Spirit of Nantucket that ran aground in the Intracoastal Waterway near the Pungo region of Virginia Beach, Va., Nov. 8.
The Coast Guard was notified at approximately 6:16 a.m. today from the captain by phone. He indicated the ship was taking on water, and that he intentionally ran it aground to prevent it from sinking. At the present time, the Spirit of Nantucket is aground in 9-feet of water, but in stable condition.
The Coast Guard’s number one priority is to ensure the safety of passengers and crew aboard the Nantucket. Two 41-foot utility boats from Coast Guard Station Portsmouth are moored up to the Spirit of Nantucket. Passengers and crew have been instructed to wear lifejackets, and have been given the opportunity to disembark the vessel.
De-watering pumps have been lowered from an MH-60 Jayhawk rescue helicopter based at Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C, to the Spirit of Nantucket to assist with removal of excess water.
In addition, Virginia Beach Police and Fire Departments are assisting with the rescue.
The 178-foot Spirit of Norfolk was on a 10-day cruise from Alexandria, Va. to Charleston, S.C. Their are no reports of injuries.
Passengers were transferred to the Pungo Ferry Marina on Coast Guard small boats. Arrangements have been made by Cruise West to take the passengers to a local hotel.