'Ghost Ship' on Cork coast could be removed but cost being explored by State

'Ghost Ship' on Cork coast could be removed but cost being explored by State

The MV Alta. The Merchant Shipping (Salvage and Wreck) Act 1993 provides for the removal of the wreck according to the Minister of State at the Department of Climate Action and Transport Hildegarde Naughton. Pic: Oisín Keniry

The ‘Ghost Ship’ the MV Alta which has been shipwrecked off the Cork coast can be removed from its location, but there may be issues concerning the cost of the process.

The Merchant Shipping (Salvage and Wreck) Act 1993 provides for the removal of the wreck according to the Minister of State at the Department of Climate Action and Transport Hildegarde Naughton. 

However, it does not contain provisions in relation to the costs associated with the removal of a wreck where the sale of the wreck is not possible, and the owners of the vessel cannot be located.

In this case, it is understood that no evidence of ownership or insurance has come to light yet.

Ms Naughton was responding to Sinn Féin TD for Cork East Pat Buckley, who raised the issue of the MV Alta this week, following a fire on board last week.

In a written answer, Ms Naughton, said that the Minister for Transport has the "general superintendence" of matters relating to wrecked or stranded vessels. However, the initial responsibility for removing a wreck is on the owner of the vessel.

“If the appropriate authority, in this case Cork County Council, considers the wreck is or is likely to become an obstruction or danger to navigation or a threat of harm to the marine environment, it shall proceed to raise and remove the wreck or otherwise render it harmless,” Ms Naughton said.

She also highlighted Cork County Council’s role in taking the lead in dealing with the MV Alta, and highlighted that a number of inter-agency meetings have also taken place, where the department was represented by the Coast Guard.

“On foot of a recommendation in a report published by the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) on the grounding of the wreck concerned, my Department has established a working group to explore the risks and potential costs to the State presented by derelict ships entering Irish territorial waters and coming ashore in Ireland and make proposals for means to identify, monitor, track and interdict derelict ships before they endanger other ships and seafarers in the vicinity,” Ms Naughton said.

“My Department is available to attend operational inter-agency meetings on this issue. Furthermore, in light of the recent fire at the site of the wreck concerned, I have asked my officials to engage directly with Cork County Council as the appropriate authority with a view to assessing appropriate next steps,” she added.

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