Mariners warned of stray cargo containers near Norfolk International Terminal

NORFOLK, Va. — The U.S. Coast Guard is warning mariners of stray cargo containers in the Elizabeth River after they allegedly fell from a cargo ship Sunday afternoon.

The Virginia Port Authority has reported that eight containers fell from a cargo ship called the APL Antwerp during offloading operations for the ship, with three of the containers being sunk. The other containers were taken back to NIT.

“The channel is open near the Norfolk International Terminal, after 8 containers fell off a ship into the water, yesterday. Still, proceed with caution and stay tuned to VHF-FM radio channel 16 for any restrictions or updates,” said the Coast Guard in an update on Monday.

Officials tell News 3 the Coast Guard Cutter Razorbill contacted watchstanders at the Sector Hampton Road’s command center around 4 p.m. about loose containers.

“Our first response in these types of incidents is to ensure the safety of the people and fortunately, no one was hurt,” said John F. Reinhart, CEO and executive director of the Virginia Port Authority. “From this point we will take a very detailed look at all of the factors leading up to incident, the incident itself and then analyze our response. This is an opportunity to re-emphasize safety, to better understand the risks associated with our work and learn from what happened.”

Coast Guard Sector Hampton Roads launched a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium crew from Station Portsmouth and diverted the Razorbill to assist in the situation.

Both the Coast Guard and the Virginia Port Authority have been coordinating efforts during this incident. Other localities also helped in this incident, including both Hampton and Norfolk Police.

“The relationships we have with the agencies and partners throughout the harbor were critical to the effort of locating and recovering these containers,” Reinhart said. “Coordinated communications and the rapid response by the agencies and businesses really helped to mitigate the situation. We are grateful for their help.”