By IRENE NOLAN
On Monday afternoon, the U.S. Coast Guard was removing passengers from a ferry that ran aground on an ebbing tide between Ocracoke and Hatteras islands. Crews from the N.C. Department of Transportation Ferry Division were also aiding in evacuating passengers from the ferry, the M/V Roanoke.
The Ferry Division said the vessel ran “soft aground” at about 11:30 this morning on its way to Hatteras from Ocracoke’s South Dock terminal. The Coast Guard said its watchstanders were notified at 2:20 p.m. that the ferry was aground.
A 29-foot Response Boat-Small crew launched from Station Hatteras Inlet to take passengers off the ferry and relocate them to Hatteras Ferry Terminal in Hatteras village.
There were 16 vehicles, 23 passengers, and seven crew members aboard the ferry at the time of the grounding, according to the Coast Guard.
The Ferry Division says that no injuries were reported, and at no time were passengers or crew members in any danger. There is no report or evidence of damage or pollution, according to a Coast Guard news release.
Ferry Division crew members had then planned to use the tugboat, the M/V Albemarle, to free the ferry from the shoal.
“Once that process is complete,” said Ferry Division spokesman Tim Hass, “the Roanoke will be towed to the Hatteras terminal to unload vehicles and be inspected for any damage.”
However, ferry crews managed to free the grounded vessel before the tug arrived.
The ferry grounding reportedly happened as the ferry made a hard left turn from Barney Slough, which is the newer and longer route, to where the channel rejoins the old, shorter route.
Other ferries continued running during the day.