A Mysterious Navy Boat Washed Up in North Carolina—Then Suddenly Disappeared

A Mysterious Navy Boat Washed Up in North Carolina—Then Suddenly Disappeared

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THINGS ARE GETTING weird in North Carolina, and the mystery involves a U.S. Navy vessel that washed ashore and a house drifting out to sea.

A resident recently spotted a 16-foot-long orange object on the beach in Rodanthe, Virginia.

Kyle Barniak said that he first thought the item he saw on the beach was a porch swing or a bench seat.

“As I approached, it was clear it was a boat, completely intact and watertight,” he said, according to a news report.

Target Lock

Barniak called a number attached to the boat. It turns out the vessel belongs to Norfolk Naval Air Station, about 100 miles north, and officials had thought the boat had sunk. The ship apparently was used for target practice.

But the story only got stranger. “When I went back, it was no longer there,” Barniak told McClatchy News. “Being Rodanthe, it was probably pirated overnight.”

A target ship is typically an obsolete or captured warship used as a seaborne target for naval gunnery practice or weapons testing. Targets can test the effectiveness of specific types of ammunition. The target ship may be used for an extended period of routine target practice with specialized non-explosive ammunition.

A Missing House

It’s not clear exactly which ship washed ashore, but it’s part of a fleet from the Norfolk Detachment of Atlantic Targets & Marine Operations. The unit is part of the Navy and is responsible for providing range support for naval aviation training and testing operations in the Atlantic Ocean. The Norfolk Detachment helps with air-to-air and air-to-ground target towing, electronic warfare training, and surface and subsurface targets for live-fire exercises.

Norfolk Naval Air Station is the largest naval base in the world and is home to the U.S. Atlantic Fleet. The base hosts numerous aircraft, including fighter jets, helicopters, and surveillance planes, and it supports various missions, including combat, search and rescue, and humanitarian relief.

The boat isn’t the only thing that vanished in Virginia. The same day the ship disappeared, a 1,100-square-foot house fell into the ocean. A huge storm sent waves crashing into the area, which may have forced the house into the water. At last report, the Navy is still looking for its missing ship.

Headshot of Sascha Brodsky

Sascha Brodsky

Science and Technology Journalist

Sascha Brodsky, a freelance journalist based in New York City and a graduate of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs, writes about many aspects of technology including personal technology, AI, and virtual reality. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Guardian, and many other publications. In his spare time, he enjoys cycling and hiking. 

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