Coast Guard restricts Thimble Shoals Channel due to missing buoy at Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel

Frank DrewPORTSMOUTH, Va. — The Coast Guard placed transit restrictions on the Thimble Shoals Channel Thursday between buoys 1 and 2, and Anchorage C west of Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel after a buoy sank in the channel.

Only vessels with a 20-foot draft or less are allowed to transit through the channel.

At 4:30 p.m., Fifth District Coast Guard watchstanders were notified a vessel being towed by McAllister Towing of Virginia Inc. and buoy 11 allided.  The buoy was dragged and subsequently sank in the channel between buoys 1 and 2, and Anchorage C.

The Coast Guard is working with personnel from the Army Corps of Engineers, Virginia Pilots Association, Virginia Port Authority and Virginia Beach Police Department to assess and reopen the channel.

The Virginia Beach Police department is using side-scan sonar, and the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Frank Drew is on scene to locate the buoy, which is 26 feet tall, eight feet wide and weighs 12,100 pounds.  An HH-60T Medium Range Recovery helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, North Carolina, is also assisting in the search for the buoy.

There are currently three inbound vessels and one outbound vessel awaiting transit through the channel.

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