The Financial Express

'Ghost ship' washes up on Irish coast

Published: February 18, 2020 16:19:33 | Updated: February 21, 2020 17:31:30

The 80-metre cargo ship Alta was last seen thousands of miles away in 2019 - IRISH COAST GUARD/PA The 80-metre cargo ship Alta was last seen thousands of miles away in 2019 - IRISH COAST GUARD/PA

A "ghost" cargo ship has washed up off the coast of County Cork, Ireland, brought in by the bad weather that lashed Europe in Storm Dennis, reports BBC. 

The abandoned boat was spotted on the rocks of fishing village Ballycotton by a passerby.

The vessel appears to have drifted thousands of miles over more than a year, from the south-east of Bermuda in 2018, across the Atlantic Ocean.

"This is one in a million," said local lifeboat chief John Tattan.

The head of Ballycotton's Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) told the Irish Examiner newspaper he had "never, ever seen anything abandoned like that before."

So what's the story behind this mysterious ship without a crew?

The ship has been identified as the Alta, which has had numerous owners and names. Built in 1976, it most recently flew a Tanzanian flag.

Various authorities had become aware of its aimless drift around the world. It was last spotted in September 2019 by a British Royal Navy ship.

The saga that brought it to Ireland began in September 2018 when it was still crewed, and sailing from Greece to Haiti.

Unidentified problems on board led to a power outage and the Alta drifted at sea for 20 days around 1,300 miles (2,100km) south-east of Bermuda, according to the US Coast Guard, which became aware of its struggles.

With just two days of food left on board for Alta's crew, the coast guard air-dropped food and other supplies.

As a hurricane approached, the coast guard decided to rescue the damaged ship's 10 crew members and take them to Puerto Rico.

"M/V [Motor Vessel] Alta remains adrift to the southeast of Bermuda as salvage attempts by owners continue," a Bermuda Maritime Operations Centre spokesperson said at the time.

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