Mysterious US Navy Vessel Washes Ashore In North Carolina, Disappears Overnight

Photo Credit: Mass Communication Special 2nd Class Ernest R. Scott / Defense News / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
Photo Credit: Mass Communication Special 2nd Class Ernest R. Scott / Defense News / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

It’s not uncommon for strange things to wash ashore along North Carolina’s Outer Banks, but rarely are the objects related to the military. That’s exactly what happened earlier this week, when a man stumbled across a mysterious vessel that was later confirmed to belong to the US Navy. Adding to the mystery is the fact it disappeared overnight – without a trace.

Houses along the shore of North Carolina's Outer Banks
Photo Credit: Jahi Chikwendiu / The Washington Post / Getty Images

The mysterious US Navy vessel was found on March 13, 2023 just north of Rodanthe Pier. The man who stumbled upon it, Kyle Barniak, initially thought it was related to a 1,100-square-foot house that had fallen into the water earlier that day.

“A porch swing maybe or bench seat? As I approached, it was clear it was a boat, completely intact and watertight,” he told The Charlotte Observer.

Upon closer examination, he noticed a phone number stamped on the back of the mysterious vessel, which connected him to the US Navy. He subsequently learned it belonged to Naval Station Norfolk, and used by the Norfolk Detachment of Atlantic Targets & Marine Operations.

Employed to conduct training for “threat-representative scenarios,” the 16-foot-long, bright orange Styrofoam-filled hull had previously been reported as sunk.

Upon learning about the discovery, officials told Barniak they wanted the vessel back. However, when he returned to the site, he found it had vanished in the middle of the night.

“When I went back, it was no longer there,” he reported. “Being Rodanthe, it was probably pirated overnight. There was nothing technical on the boat, but you could sit in it and it will probably show up modified, so someone can go duck hunting in it or something.”

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According to the US Navy, it’s likely the vessel drifted back out to see and could possibly wash ashore elsewhere along the North Carolina coast. Anyone who finds it is asked to contact officials at +1 (757) 445-4825.

Clare Fitzgerald

Clare Fitzgerald is a Writer and Editor with eight years of experience in the online content sphere. Graduating with a Bachelor of Arts from King’s University College at Western University, her portfolio includes coverage of digital media, current affairs, history and true crime.

Among her accomplishments are being the Founder of the true crime blog, Stories of the Unsolved, which garners between 400,000 and 500,000 views annually, and a contributor for John Lordan’s Seriously Mysterious podcast. Prior to its hiatus, she also served as the Head of Content for UK YouTube publication, TenEighty Magazine.

In her spare time, Clare likes to play Pokemon GO and re-watch Heartland over and over (and over) again. She’ll also rave about her three Maltese dogs whenever she gets the chance.

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