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Lightning Strikes Spirit of South Carolina in New England

NEWPORT, Rhode Island (July 28, 2008) – As reported by Captain Tony Arrow, at approximately 3:00 PM on Sunday, July 27, the Spirit of South Carolina was off the east coast of Block Island when a strong line of squalls approached. The ship was struck by lightning, disabling most of the electronics onboard and the engine power which is controlled by electronic components. There were no injuries to passengers or crew. At the time of the bright blast the ship was operating in heavy weather mode with passengers down below and everything battened down while keeping a close eye on traffic. Other vessels in the same area were also struck by lightning. The Spirit of South Carolina is equipped with substantial lightning protection as well as surge protection in the electrical system. Coincidentally the ship was preparing to return to Newport, Rhode Island following this adult education voyage and begin a scheduled maintenance period in August, which will now include a thorough investigation to assess any and all
repercussions of the lightning strike to the vessel.

The ship was conducting an open enrollment program out of Newport, Rhode Island at the time of this incident, with twelve passengers onboard, primarily from South Carolina, plus its regular crew of nine.

“We had lightning all around us and all of a sudden there was a big, bright blast and I knew it had hit the ship,” said Captain Arrow. “We lost radios, GPS, and engines but thankfully were well prepared for the situation with a handheld GPS, handheld VHF radio and mobile phones.”

Following the intense blow, Captain Arrow and his crew assessed the situation and found that although the ship’s huge wooden hull appeared to be uncompromised, they immediately called a PAN-PAN message to the U.S. Coast Guard, making them aware of the ship’s location and the current state of lost electronics and engine power. A Coast Guard vessel came to the ship to
standby for temporary assistance and kept in close communication with the vessel overnight. The ship is currently awaiting a tow to the Newport Shipyard in Newport, Rhode Island. All of the passengers onboard have been transferred off the vessel as today was the planned return of the voyage.

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This entry was posted on Monday, July 28th, 2008 at 1:57 pm and is filed under Main Stories, Tall Ships. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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