Coast Guard to convene hearing into Spirit of Norfolk fire

Tug boats have the Spirit of Norfolk in tow under Coast Guard supervision while a Coast Guard Station Portsmouth 45-foot response boat crew prepares to escort the boat out of Norfolk Naval Station, Virginia, June 12, 2022. The Spirit of Norfolk caught fire on June 7 and will be moved to Colonnas Shipyard.

Tug boats have the Spirit of Norfolk in tow under Coast Guard supervision while a Coast Guard Station Portsmouth 45-foot response boat crew prepares to escort the boat out of Norfolk Naval Station, Virginia, June 12, 2022.

PORTSMOUTH, Va. — The Coast Guard is scheduled to conduct a formal hearing starting Thursday, Jan. 26, in Virginia Beach to consider evidence related to the fire and total constructive loss of the passenger vessel Spirit of Norfolk.

The hearing is scheduled to take place at the Virginia Beach City Council Chambers on the second floor, which is located at 2401 Courthouse Drive, in Virginia Beach, VA. The hearing will be open to the public and be streamed live each day at: https://livestream.com/uscginvestigations/spiritofnorfolk.

The formal hearing is scheduled to convene daily at 8 a.m. Eastern Standard Time on the following dates:

  • Thursday, Jan. 26
  • Friday, Jan. 27
  • Saturday, Jan. 28
  • Monday, Jan. 30
  • Tuesday, Jan. 31
  • Thursday, Feb. 2
  • Friday, Feb. 3 (if necessary)

The hearing will examine all aspects of the fire aboard Spirit of Norfolk and subsequent total constructive loss including, but not limited to, pre-accident historical events, regulatory compliance, crewmember duties and qualifications, mechanical systems, emergency response, and Coast Guard oversight of the vessel.

The passenger vessel Spirit of Norfolk was underway in the Elizabeth River for a two-hour lunch cruise June 7, 2022. At approximately noon, the captain reported a fire in the engine room. Coast Guard, local fire departments, and numerous vessels responded to assist evacuating the passengers off the vessel and with firefighting efforts. All passengers and crew safely disembarked. The Spirit of Norfolk was towed to nearby Norfolk Naval Station where firefighting crews worked to put out the fire. The fire was fully extinguished June 11 and towed to Colonna’s Shipyard June 12.

Rear Adm. Shannon Gilreath, commander of the Fifth Coast Guard District, ordered a formal investigation to determine causal factors that led to the incident, examine the response, and identify any other information that can improve maritime safety in the future.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is conducting a concurrent investigation into the incident and joins the Coast Guard in this fact-finding phase. The NTSB will analyze the facts to prepare and publish a separate report.

The Coast Guard has established an email address for the public and interested parties to provide information, ask questions, and make comments related to the ongoing investigation and scheduled hearing. This email will be checked regularly, and all correspondence will be acknowledged during the hearing and throughout the investigation. The email address is: spiritofnorfolkuscg@gmail.com.

Information about the hearing, including the schedule, news releases and exhibits will be posted here as it becomes available. Hearing updates will be posted via Twitter @uscgmidatlantic with the hashtag #SpiritofNorfolkFormalHearing


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