At 5:30 a.m. on Nov. 8, 2007, the Spirit of Nantucket struck a submerged object while cruising from Alexandria, Va., to Charleston, S.C., and began taking on water in the Intracoastal Waterway near Pungo, Va. To stabilize the situation, the captain elected to ground the vessel. In the photo, the vessel sits in the Intracoastal Waterway after being run aground.
Sector Hampton Roads dispatched an HH-60J from Elizabeth City that lowered a rescue swimmer and dewatering pumps to the vessel. To facilitate information sharing, the command:
- initiated a command center critical incident communication to simultaneously brief the Fifth District, Atlantic Area, and Coast Guard headquarters within minutes of notification;
- alerted the maritime incident response team, which dispatched local municipal maritime first responders to the scene;
- briefed members of the Virginia Maritime Association and Virginia Port Authority of potential maritime transportation system issues.
The Two-Minute Drill – Thursday, 08 NOV 07
0610 - Incident reported to Coast Guard
0700 - Air Station Elizabeth City and Stations Portsmouth and Elizabeth City responders on scene; commenced dewatering and boom deployment
0740 - Maritime incident response team responded: EMS, police, fire
0745 - Incident command post established
1030 - Disembarked passengers via Coast Guard utility boat
1200 - Interagency planning initiated to stabilize vessel, mitigate pollution, draft salvage plan, secure waterway, and implement safety zone: issued urgent marine information bulletin and press release
1330 - Commenced dive/salvage operations
1700 - U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) surveyed area, found navigational hazard (NAVHAZ), marked channel
Friday, 09 NOV 07
1300 - Salvage plan approved
1700 - USACE awarded commercial contract for NAVHAZ removal
1800 - Alternate channel marked for shallow-draft vessels
1830 - Sector conducted interagency operations brief
Saturday, 10 NOV 2007
1200 - Vessel salvage operations completed
2000 - NAVHAZ removed
2200 - Waterway reopened, mission complete
During the post-incident hotwash, several interagency players commented that the operation almost seemed scripted, reminiscent of previous exercises. The sector’s relationship building within the maritime community had promoted a cooperative spirit and a level of trust that fast-tracked vessel recovery and NAVHAZ removal.
CAPT Patrick Trapp of Sector Hampton Roads remarked, “I can’t say enough about the immediate support the sector received from the maritime incident response team, Virginia maritime community, and, most particularly, the Corps of Engineers. Within hours of the grounding, the Corps’ side scan sonar located the hazard and contracted its removal. We moved quickly to close the waterway, and more importantly, to reopen it as soon as it was safe for commerce.”
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