Private cruise boat Spirit of Norfolk catches fire with 89 schoolchildren onboard

   June 8, 2022 ,   Accidents

The USA-flagged private cruise boat Spirit of Norfolk (1992-built, IMO 8861618) caught fire on Tuesday, June 7.

Thanks to the crew and emergency responders, everyone onboard made it safely off the vessel.

At the time of the accident, there were 106 passengers and crew aboard, including 89 schoolchildren, the boat’s operator City Cruises revealed.

Spirit of Norfolk‘s crew called for assistance just after noon on Tuesday. NSN-Naval Station Norfolk responded with 2 tugboats. A competing Norfolk passenger cruise ship, Victory Rover, also rushed to the scene.

After most of the passengers were evacuated, the vessel was escorted back to NSN Pier 4, where firefighting efforts continued into the evening.

According to Naval Station Norfolk Fire Chief Sickell, the fire was "deep-seeded, complex, and very difficult to extinguish." They were doing everything they could to cool the hull and get water to the engine room where they believed it had possibly started.

Chief Sickell said both firefighting foam and water were being used to battle the fire.

The emergency response was notable for the number of different agencies that worked together. In addition to the Coast Guard, NSN, Victory Rover, and Norfolk Fire-Rescue, the cities of Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News, Portsmouth, and Virginia Beach were involved.

Capt. Stockwell said they were exceptionally fortunate that they had saved all the lives, in no small part thanks to the Navy "… while we’re still combatting an active fire, we can say all lives were saved today.”

It is early to estimate the extent of the damage to the vessel.