NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – On day two of the Coast Guard’s six days of hearings to investigate last summer’s fire on board the Spirit of Norfolk, the captain of the ship gave a timeline of the events leading up to it going up in flames.

On the day of the fire last summer, Spirit of Norfolk master Capt. Ryan Nadeau was training another captain when they lost connection to the main port and tried to switch throttle controls to another port. That’s when alarms started going off.

“When I tried to transfer power to the port wing station, that did not work as it was supposed to,” Nadeau said. “And I still did not have control. More alarms started going off, particularly alarms that I’m not familiar with that I haven’t heard before.

Hearings were to resume Saturday with passengers aboard the Spirit of Norfolk testifying.

Dozens of local students were on board when it went up in flames. The ship was a total loss.
Luckily no one was hurt.

During day one of the hearing, inside Virginia Beach city hall, we heard for the first time the distress call from the ship. The captain could be heard telling the Coast Guard, “I have an emergency right now, I’m off of NOB with approximately 108 persons onboard. I believe I have a fire in the engine room.

Coast Guard Commander Randy Waddington is the lead investigator in charge of the hearing.

“The investigation will determine as closely as possible, the circumstances and factors that contributed to the incident so that the proper recommendations for the prevention of similar casualties may be made,” Waddington said as the hearing began.

We know the Coast Guard, local fire companies, and the Navy all responded quickly.

On the distress call, you could hear the Coast Guard ask, “Do you have an adequate number of personal floatation devices for everyone on board?”

Then the voice of another saying,”(inaudible) platform we could come to your location if you need to offload passengers, we are just off of your starboard beam now – heading out to the channel.”

A sightseeing boat, The Victory Rover, got there first and helped get passengers to safety.

The hearing is expected to take a week, until Feb. 3. The public can watch it on a live stream, see evidence presented and submit questions here.

The next hearings will happen at Virginia Beach City Council Chambers at 8 a.m. daily on these days:

  • Saturday, Jan. 28
  • Monday, Jan. 30
  • Tuesday, Jan. 31
  • Thursday, Feb. 2
  • Friday, Feb. 3 (if necessary)

View the hearing from Jan. 26 below:

Check for the latest updates.