UPDATE (9:44 p.m. Eastern):
NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — The world’s largest navy base has resumed normal operations after reports of a possible trespassing scuba diver appear to be unfounded.
The U.S. Navy said in a statement Monday that all ships were clear after an extensive search that involved boats, helicopters and other personnel.
Earlier in the day, sailors on watch at Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia reported seeing a possible diver in a secured area near one of its piers. A security gate sits in the water surrounding the base and the 14 piers to which warships dock.
Nearly 60 ships are based in Norfolk, including the fleet’s newest and most technologically advanced aircraft carrier, the USS Gerald R. Ford.
The carrier returned to its pier recently after successfully testing new equipment that launches and lands jet fighters.
NORFOLK, Va. — The Navy’s search for a possible diver who was trespassing in the waters surrounding the piers at Naval Station, Norfolk, will likely continue for some time, a Navy official said.
“They are still searching for the possible diver,” said Kelly Wirfel, spokeswoman for Naval Station Norfolk in an email around 2:30 p.m. Monday.
“It will most likely take some time until they can clear the entire area,” Wirfel said.
Norfolk’s piers and ships were put on lock down Monday morning after reports of a possible diver in the water.
“At 9 a.m. this morning a shipboard watch stander reported a possible diver in the water,” said Kelly Wirfel, spokeswoman for Naval Station Norfolk. “That sighting was confirmed by multiple other watch standers and the situation is still under investigation.”
Wirfel said the Navy Criminal Investigation Service, Navy explosive ordnance disposal, Naval Station Norfolk base security and fire departments are still on scene investigating.
“All piers remain on lockdown and ships are in a security alert status,” she said.
The base itself is not locked down, only the piers, she said. It remains unclear when the lockdown will be lifted.
Stay tuned to Navy times for further information as it becomes available.
Mark D. Faram is a former reporter for Navy Times. He was a senior writer covering personnel, cultural and historical issues. A nine-year active duty Navy veteran, Faram served from 1978 to 1987 as a Navy Diver and photographer.