UPDATE: Crews free stuck cargo ship

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Virginia Beach, Va. – A cargo ship that ran aground near First Landing State Park during Tuesday night's high winds has finally been freed.

The Ornak will be moved to Lynnhaven Anchorage for a hull inspection. Once it is considered safe, it will be put back into service.

View from a Virginia Beach hotel (click to enlarge)

View from a Virginia Beach hotel (click to enlarge)

The 751-foot bulk carrier Ornak was pushed aground near the stretch of beach in front of the Virginia Beach Resort Hotel around 8:30 p.m. Tuesday night.

The Coast Guard oversaw the re-floating of the ship on Friday morning.

Two tugboats, the AJ McAllister and the Emily Anne McAllister, were hooked to the ship, one at either end.

The ship was freed on an incoming tide at approximately 9:35 a.m.

Once the ship is deemed safe, the Coast Guard will remove the captain of the port restrictions and allow the vessel to continue on its intended voyage to load grain at the Purdue facility at the Portsmouth Marine Terminal.

The Ornak wasn't the only ship affected by Tuesday night's high winds. The 79-foot rig vessel, Petite, and the 1065-foot container ship, MSC Charleston, reportedly collided due to weather in the main ship channel near the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel at approximately 7:30 p.m.

There was no initial report of damage, pollution or injuries to either vessel, and both are safely anchored pending a Coast Guard investigation.

The Coast Guard reports 12 other ships dragged anchor during the storm's 70+ mph winds.

To help stabilize the ships, the Virginia Pilot office dispatched 11 pilots to help the vessels at anchorage.

"The Coast Guard, commercial industry and port partners are coordinating efforts to respond to the current adverse weather conditions and are monitoring all efforts to safely attend all vessels," said Capt. John Little, the commander of Sector Hampton Roads. "Weather events such as this storm illustrate the continued need for close partnerships between the Coast Guard, industry and local emergency crews responding to maritime incidents."


  • Joseph Brandon

    How does a ship run aground when it isn’t running? When dragging anchor, isn’t it more appropriate to say “dragged aground.”

  • Chris Harris

    Exactly. Why has it become acceptable to anchor all of these ships in the Bay? This used to not be acceptable. I’m not a huge environmentalist, but this is a disaster waiting to happen.

    • Vbc

      These ships wiegh anchor in the bay for a haven. In all my years of boating on the bay near the bay bridge I have never seen these ships come within a quarter mile of each other. Thier is not much that you can do when the wind changes direction and velocity like that. It was no ones fault thier is not much around here for the anchor to grab ahold of in 60+ mph of wind. Starting and moving these ships that fast is not like starting a car. It could of been worse if these colliards were anchored off shore out of the haven of the bay.
      I have a great deal of respect for the pilots that deployed on that day on that short of a notice and in that weather. They handled the situation well, by the time they were out the ornak (being the closest to shore) had already ran aground.

  • David Williams

    Couple errors in this. 11 Pilots where not dispatched. Chris- ships have been anchoring in Lynnhaven anchorage since ships have been coming to America. Stop trying to spread inaccurate facts. They are there waiting for Coal from the coal piers. These ships are great for our economy.

    • Hoyt Duff

      Actually, this particular anchorage did not exists “on paper” until WW2 and was not used until the 70s, but has been in continuous use since then. They have to anchor somewhere.

  • jim

    David is right, on any given day there are 20 or so ships anchored in the bay waiting to load or unload in port. 70 mph winds are more than enough to move a ship anchored on a sand bottom. Let’s be thankfull we don’t have rocky shores or coral reefs that could break a ship open. Luckily no ships ran into the bay bridge, as they have decades ago.

    • Hoyt Duff

      This happened before, about 12-15 years ago. The ship wound up just west of Lynnhaven Pier. IIRC, that entire crew was placed under arrest.

      I have heard that the ship’s captain is currently resisting recovery efforts. True?

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  • Honestly....

    Gotta love the VA Beach mentality….skip actually reading the article, and rush to post worthless minutiae. Anybody got a PERTINENT comment?

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