A Coast Guard helicopter spotted the cargo ship Alta stranded on the rocks of the southern Irish coast on Sunday, the agency said on Twitter. The Alta was found near Ballycotton in County Cork, the Irish Coast Guard says. That’s nearly 6,000 kilometres away from where it was lost north of Puerto Rico some 17 months ago.
There was no one on board.
A spokesperson for the Irish Coast Guard said it was “quite uncommon” for a lost ship to drift so far. John Tattan, a manager for Ireland’s Royal National Lifeboat Institution in Ballycotton, had a more colourful way of describing it.
“This is one in a million,” he told the Irish Examiner. “It has come all the way up from the African coast, west of the Spanish coast, west of the English coast and up the Irish coast. I have never, ever seen anything abandoned like that before.”
The vessel was abandoned in October 2018, according to a U.S. Coast Guard statement from that time. The cargo ship was travelling from Greece to Haiti when it broke down some 2,220 kilometres southeast of Bermuda on Sept. 19, leaving all 10 crew members stranded on board.
The crew were forced to ration their food and wait for help for almost 20 days, the U.S. Coast Guard said at the time. They initially had enough food for two days and water for 15 days, but the Coast Guard air-dropped supplies for the stranded individuals until a rescue ship could reach them. Everyone was ultimately rescued safely ahead of Hurricane Leslie, which was barrelling toward the area at the time.
The U.S. Coast Guard arranged for the ship to be towed to Guyana, but it was hijacked and lost en route, the Irish Post reports.
The 2,200-ton, 77 metre-long Alta was later spotted drifting off the coast of Africa back in 2019, The Washington Post reports.
The stranded vessel is still afloat, but Irish officials worry it will break up on the rocks and its diesel fuel will spill onto the beach, causing environmental damage.
The ghost ship has already survived the fabled Bermuda Triangle and Davy Jones’ Locker, but officials hope it’ll stay intact just a little bit longer so its pollution won’t haunt them for years to come.
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