RODANTHE, N.C. — A small unmanned military boat used for target practice is back with the U.S. Navy in Hampton Roads after being lost and then washing up on the Outer Banks this week.
The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) said the vessel was lost during a training exercise about 75 miles off the Norfolk coast in February.
A spokesperson told 13News Now that teams searched for the vessel for five hours but came up short before alerting the U.S. Coast Guard.
The Charlotte Observer reports a man found it near the Rodanthe Pier on March 13, thinking at first it was part of a house that had fallen into the ocean earlier that day.
He reportedly alerted the Navy, but the boat had disappeared when he went back to where it had been on the beach, possibly washing back out into the ocean.
The Navy confirms with 13News Now the vessel was found again and recovered on the morning of March 16 at Austin's South Island Seafood & Vacuum Packing in Rodanthe, and the Navy plans to return it to service.
A spokesperson said the vessel is called a "Polyethylene Towed Target," which is used in live-fire training for sailors aboard Navy ships or aircraft.
NAWCAD said this has only happened to three such boats in the past 18 years.