Russian ‘Ghost Ship’ Lyubov Orlova Goes Missing Again

A Russian “ghost ship” has disappeared yet again, prompting questions over whether the old vessel has drifted off or if it finally sunk to the bottom of the ocean.

The Lyubov Orlova, an old cruise ship, broke loose of its tow line in January as it was being hauled from Canada to the Dominican Republic as scrap.

The ship, empty except for several hundred rats, was located in February, drifting in the North Atlantic off Newfoundland. But her trail was lost again on March 12. Since then, there have been no more reported sightings.

The ship was drifting toward Iceland or Ireland when it was last seen, but there have been no recent sightings of the Russian ghost ship by either European officials or other maritime agencies.

Sam Whiffen, a spokesman for Fisheries and Oceans Canada, reiterated a point the agency made when the ship was last spotted in February, saying, “The owners of the Lyubov Orlova remain responsible for their vessel.”

But the co-owner of the wayward ship, Reza Shoeybi, stated in February that his life savings were lost when the Lyubov Orlova snapped her tow line on January 24. In an interview at the time, he stated, “It has ruined me. I don’t have anything else. I’ve lost 12 years of my savings.”

The Lyubov Orlova, named for a revered Russian actress from the 1930s, was seized by Canadian authorities in September 2010 as part of a lawsuit by Cruise North Expeditions against its Russian owners. It sat in its prime harbor berth in St. John’s for over two years while rats slowly took over.

Shoeybi and an uncle became co-owners of the once popular Arctic cruise ship. They took over payments after a family friend purchased the vessel for $275,000 in a Federal Court process last year. They got the ship ready for tow to the Dominican Republic for scrap. In all, the pair spent about $400,000 on the ship, which they hoped to sell in the Dominican for between $700,000 and $800,000, depending on metal prices.

But now, reports indicated that the ship may have sunk. If so, a French environmental organization is worried that the ship will leak toxic fluids into the ocean. The last known communication from the Russian ghost ship was in March when one of its emergency beacons indicated it was more than 800 miles off the coast of Newfoundland, heading toward Ireland or Iceland. That location was never confirmed.

[Image via Lilpop,Rau&Loewenstein]