PORTSMOUTH, Va. – The Coast Guard rescued 34 crew members from a sinking cruise ship that had been sailing without passengers down the coast in 30-foot seas.
The captain of the Seabreeze I radioed a distress call Sunday morning, reporting that the 600-foot ship was operating on one engine and taking on water, about 200 miles northeast of Cape Henry, Va., Coast Guard Lt. A.J. McGee said.
Wind was blowing at nearly 60 mph as a storm system lashed the East Coast.
The ship, owned by International Shipping Partners Inc. of Miami, had a capacity of 1,500 people, according to the company’s Web site.
The vessel sank shortly after two Coast Guard helicopters hoisted all of the crew members from its rolling deck, Coast Guard Petty Officer Allison von Hagn said.
The Seabreeze had been en route from Boston to Charleston, S.C.
The cause of the sinking was unknown.
“There may have been a problem with the boiler,” Coast Guard spokesman Brendan McPherson said. “Then, somehow, something broke free and the ship started flooding internally.”
Calls to International Shipping Partners were not immediately returned.
The Seabreeze crewmen were taken to Oceana Naval Air Station at Virginia Beach.
“They are happy to be alive,” McPherson said.
One man with possible heart problems was taken to a hospital. All other crew members were checked by Navy medical personnel and released.
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