Ireland Has a Problematic Mystery on Its Hands

It still doesn't know who owns the MV Alta
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted May 5, 2020 3:28 PM CDT
Updated May 9, 2020 10:30 AM CDT
One Mystery Persists About Ireland's Ghost Ship
This image released Feb. 17, 2020, by the Irish Coast Guard shows the abandoned cargo ship MV Alta washed up on the coast of County Cork, near Ballycotton, southern Ireland.   (Irish Coast Guard via AP)

Who's the captain of the ghost ship that washed up near Ballycotton, Ireland, in February after more than a year of sailing empty in the Atlantic? It's still a giant question mark, and that's problematic for Ireland. As a rep for the country's revenue commissioners tells the Guardian of the MV Alta, "We’re still trying to establish ownership and that process may take up to a year." Salvage experts are less optimistic about that timeframe, saying it's possible the owner will never be found. That would then saddle the country with an expensive decision.

The ship's age (it was built in 1976) means its scrap value would be minimal, and the cost of removing it could be $6 million at a minimum, per one such expert. "Whether the state would want to remove her just because she was an eyesore, I doubt," he says. But the Guardian notes it could be more than an eyesore: There have been reports of curious daredevils boarding the ship despite its unstable nature. But the Irish Independent reports there's no environmental threat, as 80 barrels of oil and possible pollutants were removed in late February. The Guardian previously reported that no other cargo was aboard. (Read what's known about the ship's path here.)

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