The United States Coast Guard has announced that it will hold a public hearing to investigate the fire that destroyed the Spirit of Norfolk cruise boat and its response to the incident.
The hearing, set to begin on January 26, will be held in Virginia Beach and last for 6-7 days. The purpose of the hearing is to examine all aspects of the fire, including pre-accident historical events, regulatory compliance, crew member duties, and qualifications, mechanical systems, emergency response, and Coast Guard oversight of the vessel.
The Spirit of Norfolk, a popular river cruise vessel, took schoolchildren on a two-hour lunch cruise on June 7, 2022, when the captain reported a fire in the engine room. With 89 children aboard, the crew members worked to evacuate everyone from the vessel. The multi-agency response included the U.S. Navy, Coast Guard, and several local fire departments.
Fire crews fought the fire at the nearby Norfolk Naval Station, and it took nearly four days to extinguish it. All passengers and crew made it off safely, and no one was injured in the fire.
Coast Guard Fifth District Commander Real Admiral Shannon Gilreath ordered a formal investigation to determine the factors that led to the incident and to examine the response. The goal is to identify any information that can improve maritime safety in the future. The hearing will be open to the public and will be streamed live each day at livestream.com/uscginvestigations/spiritofnorfolk.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is also investigating the incident and will work alongside the Coast Guard during this hearing. The NTSB will then analyze the facts independently and publish a separate report.
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The Coast Guard has established an email address for the public and interested parties to provide information, ask questions, and comment on the ongoing investigation and scheduled hearing. Email [email protected]. To follow information about the hearing as it unfolds, monitor this page.
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)