NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — When the crew of the Spirit of Norfolk began calling for help this week, a nearby boat sped into action. The Victory Rover and its 74 passengers were in the middle of a tour of Naval Station Norfolk when its captain and mate heard the call.
Captain Brandon Peter and his mate Corey Roy were showing tourists the different ships at Naval Station Norfolk when they heard the crew of the Spirit of Norfolk over the radio saying the vessel was on fire. It took less than five minutes for the crew to change course and pull up next to the yacht.
“We pulled around the side and the crew got lines over and tied up to the spirit. There was a tug boat there when we got there fighting the fire with their fire cannons and got alongside and the Spirit crew had everybody ready to go in life jackets,” Captain Peter told 10 On Your Side.
It was that moment Peter says he saw smoke coming from the vessel and was told the Spirit of Norfolk needed to evacuate all its passengers.
“Somewhere between 50 and 60 kids and a lot of parents were with them. Everybody was as helpful as can be,” Peter recalled.
Roy quickly noticed some folks and their children from the Spirit were a little shaken and watched as the Rover’s passengers eased their fears.
“We train for firefighting mostly on our own boat but those guys know how to work under pressure,” Peter explained.
Roy told 10 on your Side he’s seen fires on boats before, but this instance was different.
“Nothing like this and I’ve never had to do any kind of evacuation,” Roy stated.
It was an emergency evacuation with the best kind of outcome.
“Nobody hesitated to jump in and do what needed to be done,” Peter concluded.
Captain Peter also gives credit to the crews on the tugboats actively fighting the fire. As for the Rover crews, they train and practice safety drills weekly.