"Ghost Ship" Washes Up in Ireland

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

February 18, 2020

The 250-foot Tanzanian-flagged merchant ship Alta had been abandoned and adrift at sea for more than a year before running aground in Ireland earlier this week. (Photo: Irish Coast Guard)

The 250-foot Tanzanian-flagged merchant ship Alta had been abandoned and adrift at sea for more than a year before running aground in Ireland earlier this week. (Photo: Irish Coast Guard)

An abandoned cargo ship landed on the coast of Ireland this week after more than a year drifting alone at sea.

The Irish Coast Guard said it responded to a merchant vessel aground near Ballycotton, Cork on Sunday, only to discover there was no one was on board.

It turns out that the mysterious vessel is the 250-foot Tanzanian-flagged Alta, which had been left crewless and adrift on the other side of the Atlantic when the U.S. Coast Guard rescued all 10 crew members on board after the vessel lost power while en route from Greece to Haiti in September 2018.

At the time of the rescue, the U.S. Coast Guard said it had been working with the ship's owner to arrange for a commercial tug to tow the vessel to shore. Apparently, the tow never came to fruition, and the vessel has been floating solo ever since.

One year later, in September 2019, the U.K. Royal Navy’s Ice Patrol Ship HMS Protector spotted Alta adrift in the mid-Atlantic, but attempts to make contact and offer assistance went unanswered.

It's believed Alta made its way near Africa, the Americas and Europe before finally being pushed ashore by Storm Dennis earlier this week.

The Irish Coastguard, Cork County Council, the Receiver of Wrecks and other relevant bodies are now working to develop a plan to remove the wreck.

There has been no visible pollution near the grounded vessel, Cork County Council said in seperate statements on Monday and Tuesday.

An initial assessment by the Council’s marine contractor on Tuesday found there is no cargo on board and that only a small amount of diesel fuel remains in the ship's tanks, which are divided into a number of compartments. Several of the compartments are inaccessible due to water on board and will be pumped out on Wednesday to allow the contractor to complete the assessment.

Officials are also evaluating plans to remove a number of sealed oil containers and other materials on board which may pose a pollution risk.

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