VIDEO: Ghost Ship to be assessed by Oil Spill Team after crashing onto Cork coastline in Storm Dennis

VIDEO: Ghost Ship to be assessed by Oil Spill Team after crashing onto Cork coastline in Storm Dennis
The MV Alta, was discovered by a Royal Navy ice patrol ship in September 2019 drifting in the mid Atlantic. The Royal Navy crew found no one on board.Pic Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

LATEST: Cork County Council is to assess an abandoned cargo ship, which has become stuck on rocks near Ballycotton, for possible oil spills.

The 77m-long cargo ship, called Alta, was brought to the attention of the Irish Coast Guard around lunchtime on Sunday by a local who spotted the vessel.

It had been drifting unmanned in the Atlantic for more than a year.

"It is located on a dangerous and inaccessible stretch of coastline and is in an unstable condition," Cork County Council said it a statement.

The Council has convened its Oil Spill Assessment Team as part of its Oil Spill Contingency Plan in response to the grounding of a cargo ship in Ballycotton this afternoon.

Picture: Gemma Kelleher
Picture: Gemma Kelleher

"The Council is currently liaising with the Irish Coastguard in relation to the pollution risk and with the Receiver of Wreck in relation to ownership of the vessel which grounded at Ballyandreane, Ballycotton, Co. Cork today," it said in a statement. 

"Cork County Council, which has responsibility for land-based oil pollution risk, is continuing to monitor this ship in relation to any possible oil spillage or risk arising from cargo. 

"The Council understands that the vessel was most likely diesel-fuelled which poses less risk of pollution than heavy fuel oil. 

"The exact risk level cannot be confirmed at this time. The ship will be inspected tomorrow in daylight and from a land vantage point in order to access this further.

"Cork County Council does not believe that this wreck currently poses a risk to the Special Area of Conservation within the Ballymacoda/Ballycotton area." 

EARLIER: A mysterious ghost ship floated unmanned for a year and a half before becoming snagged on rocks near Ballycotton during Storm Dennis.

The 77m-long cargo ship, called Alta, was brought to the attention of the Irish Coast Guard around lunchtime on Sunday by a local who spotted the vessel.

The MV Alta stranded on the rocks in Ballyandreen, near Ballycotton, Co Cork, during Storm Dennis. Picture: Gemma Kelleher
The MV Alta stranded on the rocks in Ballyandreen, near Ballycotton, Co Cork, during Storm Dennis. Picture: Gemma Kelleher

Speaking to The Echo, the Coast Guard said that there were no immediate plans for the vessel, which drifted a considerable distance to the Cork coast, despite having no crew on board.

“It is high and dry at the moment,” a spokesperson for the Coast Guard said.

“We have no immediate plans, but it is early days.

“We must let Storm Dennis pass and we will reassess the situation then.”

An 80 metre/250ft cargo vessel, the Alta was built in 1976.

It first made headlines in October 2018 when the US Coast Guard rescued 10 stranded crew members from aboard the disabled ship, 1,380 miles southeast of Bermuda.

The Tanzanian-flagged ship was said to be travelling from Greece to Haiti when the crew found they were unable to make necessary repairs on the vessel. It is understood the crew were on board the ship for almost 20 days, and were running low on food and water when they were rescued.

Picture: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision
Picture: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

The same ship was then spotted off the West Coast of Africa in September of last year, before coming to the attention of the authorities for a third and final time off the Cork coastline.

The ship was checked by the Royal Navy crew when it was spotted in 2019 but they found no one on board. 

The story of the ‘ghost ship’ is shrouded in mystery, with maritime experts reporting sightings, and further speculation about possible hijackings.

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