An abandoned, 378-foot floating barge has been safely moored by a small tugboat near a Virginia beach, nearly a year after the ship had appeared at sea, according to a Coast Guard spokeswoman.
The barge, a combination cargo and cruise ship named Summer Breeze, docked Thursday at Louisa Beach at about 4:40 p.m., Coast Guard Petty Officer Lauren Steenson said. The barge — which was launched in 1966 — had previously been at Louisa County Eel River Landing since Nov. 14, 2018, but the crew “wouldn’t let us on the ship,” said Capt. Joe Parker, Louisa County Parks and Recreation director.
Parker told The Daily Press that earlier this month, a boat in the parking lot “kind of shook, so we heard there was a ship in the water.” A Coast Guard vessel soon arrived and identified the barge as Summer Breeze, though “We didn’t get a good look at it,” he said.
Federal officials didn’t know about the shipwreck until Jan. 14, when the Mary River Cruise Line vessel Mary Queen noticed in its navigation stream that “a strange and possibly long-abandoned barge was close to shore near Mary River Fish Hatchery.”
The Coast Guard contacted the owners of the barge, which had been tied to a pier at Elizabeth City, N.C., for nearly two years, Steenson said. On Jan. 29, the barge was transferred to a small towboat, Pacific Dream. Officials have yet to inspect the boat, but “the boat seems in good shape,” Steenson said. “I’m sure there’s some rust, but it’s in good shape.”
The barge will be towed to the coast of North Carolina over the next few days. “We will be inspecting it when it arrives, but it should be able to roll on its own,” she said.