A 751 ft barge was tossed about in the Chesapeake Bay like a bath toy, a testament to the ferocious power of Mother Nature.
The cargo ship, known as the Ornak, had been anchored to the east of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel on Wednesday morning. While waiting to pick up wheat, the vessel was unexpectedly caught up in a thunderstorm that was a lot stronger than anyone had initially anticipated.
The storm’s winds gusted to 70 mph; sustained winds between 30 and 45 mph were reported by the National Weather Service. The waves reached several feet in height at the peak of the thunderstorm.
It was the high winds that eventually caused the Ornak to run aground near First Landing State Park. The scene was merely a few hundred feet away from a Virginia beach. Curious onlookers soon gathered to take photos.
— Rob Lankford (@waterborneRob) April 17, 2014
One local named Dick Ullman described the sight as "pretty amazing". He also shared that it was a personal “first”.
Said Ullman, “I've been coming down this way for about 50 years, and I don't remember a ship being blown ashore like this.”
It was no doubt far less amazing for the crew aboard the Ornak, but Coast Guard Capt. John Little said that no one aboard the cargo ship had been injured by the incident.
The vessel is currently resting in about 16 ft of water. Weather will play a part in how much time it will take to get the cargo ship back out to into the bay. The process could be hindered for a few days due to sustained high winds.
Coast Guard officials stated that the Ornak is owned by a company named Polsteam and has a crew of 22 men. The vessel reportedly flies under a Bahamian flag.
In addition to bringing the Ornak aground, the storm is also blamed for a collision involving two ships and a power outage affecting close to 28,000 people in the area.
"I've not seen anything quite like this," said Little when speaking of the unexpected severity of the storm.
The Coast Guard official revealed that several other ships were in danger of running aground like the Ornak. Disaster was averted due to towing ships and the harbor pilots who came aboard to guide the vessels to safety.
Image via YouTube