22 on cargo ship stuck off Virginia Beach

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by 13News Now

WVEC.com

Posted on April 16, 2014 at 8:40 AM

Updated Thursday, Apr 17 at 11:26 PM

3:45 p.m. UPDATE:  Coast Guard Captain John Little tells 13News Now that there are 22 people on the Ornak. None of them are injured however they cannot take people off the ship right now.

The Ornack is the only ship that wasn't able to be secured during last night's severe weather.

Captain Little says he has the authority to close the port in situations like this, but he has serious reasons for choosing not to.

"The reason I didn't shut down the port was because obviously it's an impact to commerce, but I also wanted to give the freedom of the tow boats to be able to move to assist those ships that were having difficulty at the birth," Captain Little said.

He said the Ornak is stable, so there shouldn't be a concern of it coming any closer to shore.
Right now, they are monitoring the wind speeds and tide cycles to see when it'll be safe enough for crews to enter the water and rescue the vessel.

The Ornak will be going into the Port of Hampton Roads when it is out of the sandbar and they're able to refloat it.

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11:30 a.m. UPDATE: The National Weather Service reported that waves reached 4 to 6 feet during the peak of the storm, with sustained winds from 30 mph to 45 mph and there were wind gusts of more than 70 mph.
The ship is owned by a company called Polsteam and sails under a Bahamian flag, according to the Coast Guard.

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7:30 a.m. UPDATE: High tide was scheduled around 10:30 a.m. and the Coast Guard is working to get tug boats to assist the ship. It will likely be later this morning before they try to move the ship, PA1 Brandyn Hill told WVEC.com.

4/16 4:45 a.m. UPDATE: Winds gusting to 70 mph at Cape Henry caused 12 ships anchored near Lynnhaven to drag anchor. The 751-foot bulk carrier Ornak had been anchored east of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel and ran aground near First Landing State Park.
The Virginia Pilot office dispatched 11 pilots to embark the anchored vessels at anchorage.

Also off the coast, two ships collided in the Thimble Shoal Channel -- the 79-foot rig vessel Petite and the 1065-foot container ship MSC Charleston - around 7:30 p.m. Both are now safely anchored pending an investigation, the Coast Guard said.
Coast Guard inspectors will be one of the ships Wednesday for an investigation. 

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VIRGINIA BEACH -- The 751-foot ship Ornak beached near the 2800 block of Shore Drive around 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, according to Coast Guard officials. High winds in the area were likely to blame. 

Officials say several other ships have reported dragging anchor. The CBBT was also forced to shut down for a short time due to the inclement weather.    

Nobody was injured during the ordeal and no pollution has been reported. 

The Coast Guard is now working with tug companies and the Pilots Association to help the vessels dragging anchor.  Tugs were also on the way to the Ornak to pull it back out into the bay.  No word on how long the process will take.   

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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