‘Ghost Ship’ Washes Ashore In Ireland After Drifting At Sea For A Year

Andrzej HarassekWikimedia Commons(CC BY-SA 3.0 Cropped, resized.)

Thanks to strong winter storms that kicked up high winds in the region, a “ghost ship” has washed ashore in Ireland, following a year drifting aimlessly at sea after its crew abandoned it. According to The Guardian,officials are warning the public to stay away from the wreckage.

Back in 2018, the 253-foot MV Alta — which at the time was already well over 40 years old — was damaged off the coast of Bermuda. Unable to make repairs, the crew abandoned the vessel and was rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard, which took them safely to Puerto Rico. The craft was meant to be towed to Guyana.

However, the boat never made it there and was believed to have been hijacked by bandits. What happened after that is unclear; but by August 2019, it had been found by a Royal Navy ship, HMS Protector, floating aimlessly in the mid-Atlantic.

Over the next several months, the ship was carried about by winds and currents along the Atlantic Ocean. It’s believed to have drifted northwards along the west coast of Africa, past Spain and all the way to Ireland.

Meanwhile, off the coast of The Emerald Isle, Storm Dennis kicked up winds and waves that finally pushed the rusting vessel to shore. It was specifically washed ashore near Ballycotton, a fishing village in County Cork. The craft landed on some rocks, apparently fully intact.

Needless to say, the abandoned vessel is garnering its share of curiosity-seekers who came out to the shore to get a glimpse. However, officials are warning the public to stay away from the ship, due to the fact that its final resting place is on a remote stretch of inaccessible shoreline bedeviled by tricky waves, high winds and jagged rocks. Plus, the stability of the vessel is uncertain.

“Cork county council is asking members of the public to stay away from the wreck location,” the county said in a recent statement.

For now, the Irish government’s immediate concern is the potential environmental impact of the vessel. The ship, like any derelict ship, could potentially still have toxic substances on board, including oil and fuel, that could spill into the ocean.

A team of scientists has taken a preliminary look at the situation and determined that there doesn’t appear to be any environmental damage. However, a team will take another look during the next low tide, which is expected to be on Tuesday.