One year ago, the crew of a 77 metre long shipping vessel called the Alta was rescued from the Atlantic ocean.
Yesterday, the Irish coastguard was alerted as a large vessel crashed into the rocky cliffs of Ballycotton fishing village.
The ship, identified as the Alta, had travelled thousands of miles, unmanned, to finally settle on the coast of Ireland.
In 2018 the ship suffered serious electrical faults with left it powerless. As a hurricane approached the Alta - then in the mid-Atlantic ocean - the US coastguard recused the 10 crew members and dropped them off in Puerto Rico, leaving the Alta to drift alone in the Atlantic ocean.
Then, in 2019, a British Royal Navy ship spotted the Alta again. It had moved further north-east in the direction of Spain. They hailed the ship but received no response.
Two days ago @hmsprotector discovered this apparently abandoned Merchant Vessel whilst mid-Atlantic. We closed the vessel to make contact and offer our assistance, but no one replied! Whilst investigations continue we’re unable to give you more detail on this strange event.🌊🚢🇬🇧 pic.twitter.com/x29sB5IF06
— HMS Protector (@hmsprotector) September 2, 2019
The Alta skirted Africa, the Americas, and Europe, to somehow make its way towards Ireland and then smash into the islands rocky coast.
Local lifeboat chief, John Tattan, told the Irish Examiner, "This is one in a million. It has come all the way up from the African coast, west of the Spanish coast, west of the English coast and up to the Irish coast. I have never, ever seen anything abandoned like that before."
What will happen to the ghost ship?
Cork county council said in a statement,“Cork county council is asking members of the public to stay away from the wreck location as it is situated on a dangerous and inaccessible stretch of coastline and is in an unstable condition.”
There was 80,000 litres of oil on board the ship when it left Greece for Haiti, 16 months ago. Whatever remains on the vessel still has to be assessed by scientists.
Scientists are combing the Alta to see if there are any visible signs of pollution, such as oil or chemical spillage, coming from the ship. After this evaluation comes the difficult task of towing the ship, or somehow removing it from its rocky bed.