Tugboats spray water on the Spirit of Norfolk passenger vessel after a fire broke out near Naval Station Norfolk in Norfolk, Virginia, June 7, 2022. Credit: U.S. Navy

Mariners Awarded for ‘Spirit of Norfolk’ Rescue

Mike Schuler
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November 11, 2022

The U.S. Coast Guard has presented 18 public service awards to the good Samaritan vessels and their crews who responded to the Spirit of Norfolk passenger vessel fire back on June 7th.

The sightseeing vessel was on a cruise on the Elizabeth River near Naval Station Norfolk when it caught fire with 108 people on board, many of whom were school children on a field trip. 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 ship suffered an engineering casualty that put it on a collision course with the Spirit of Norfolk. But the quick-thinking of the crews of the responding vessels and tugs managed to maneuver both the burning vessel and the cargo ship before they could collide. No injuries were ever reported.

It took five days to put out the fire and the Spirit of Norfolk was eventually towed to the Colonna Shipyard in Norfolk, Virginia.

The cause of the incident is still under investigation.

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, 2022, 12 awards at the offices of McAllister and Moran Towing companies on Wednesday, and one at the Virginia Pilot Association 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.”

The award recipients were:

Distinguished Public Service Award:

  • The crew of the Victory Rover
  • The crew of the Rosemary Mcallister 

Meritorious Public Service Award:

  • The crew of the Ohio River
  • The crew of the Condor
  • The crew of the Challenger
  • The crew of the Z One
  • The crew of the Fort Bragg
  • Captain Roger Warren, Docking Pilot 

Certificate of Merit:

  • The crew of the Karen Moran 
  • The crew of the Wendy Moran
  • The crew of the Patricia Moran
  • The crew of the Surrie Moran
  • The crew of the Marci Moran
  • The crew of the Maxwell Paul Moran 
  • The crew of the Clayton W. Moran 
  • The crew of the Gm Mcallister 
  • Captain Chadwick Jamison, Virginia Pilot

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