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Republic of Ireland MV Alta Cargo Ship - July 22


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Mar 4, 2018
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MV Alta Cargo Ship


Alta was constructed in 1976 as the Tananger, and has had several other names before becoming the Alta in 2017. By 2015, she was equipped with an Automatic Identification System (AIS) which allowed her movements to be tracked. She periodically switched the AIS on and off as she mostly travelled around the Mediterranean Sea. Deactivating the AIS is unusual, as is the numerous name changes the ship had in her later years, which can indicate involvement in illegal activity. In October 2018, the ship was on a voyage from Greece to Haiti. Such a long trip is unusual for a ship of this type and size, which typically stays closer to shorelines. The ship’s engines failed in the Atlantic Ocean, leaving the crew stranded. The United States Coast Guard rescued the crew about 2,200 km (1,400 mi) south-east of Bermuda, and the ship was abandoned. After her abandonment, the ship's next moves are uncertain. An unverified report suggested that she was towed to Guyana and possibly hijacked, only to be abandoned a second time. Regardless of what happened, the ghost ship was next sighted by HMS Protector in August or September 2019, near Bermuda. After this sighting, she likely continued to drift at very low speeds before eventually arriving in Ireland. However, the AIS was not functioning after her abandonment, making her course uncertain. On 16 February 2020, the Alta ran aground on the Irish coast near Ballycotton, Cork amid Storm Dennis. The rare story of a modern day ghost ship, as well as the length of time it spent floating without crew or captain at sea (18 months), caught the global public's imagination and curiosity.

The responsibility of the wreck fell to Irish Minister for the Marine as per the Salvage and Wreck Act 1993, until such time as a receiver of wreck be appointed. Despite efforts to determine the ownership of the ship—so that the Irish state can try to recover costs incurred - as of December 2020 ownership had not been established. Although the ship's commercial scrap value is "low," the cost to the Irish exchequer of removing the wreck could exceed €10 millions. Alta had previously been the subject of an ownership dispute, with claims she was once hijacked and towed to Guyana, but efforts have been made to establish where she was last registered. Some reports suggest the ship was sailing under a Panamanian flag when her crew were rescued and she was abandoned in October 2018, while other reports suggest she was registered in Tanzania. Sixty-two full barrels of oil were ultimately removed from the wreck by helicopter. Afterwards, the ship was sealed off and made inaccessible. By October 2020, the wreckage had deteriorated to the point that the Cork County Council feared that the ship would break apart. The County has requested assistance from other departments of the Irish government in removing the ship. Three options are under consideration for the wreckage: to leave the ship in place, to tow her out to sea and let her sink, or to dismantle and scrap her. By 13 March 2022, following a series of storms and poor weather, the hull of Alta was split in two.


We had been wanting to visit the ghost ship since it went global back in 2020. Getting to the rural location near Cork turned out to be quite difficult and it was delayed for months. During this time, we saw little evidence of what lay inside, except for a blurred kayaking video of an untouched cabin with papers left behind, and a couple intact bedrooms for staff. Unfortunately, these would be obliterated by a fire in 2021, and this made us lose the ship from our 2021 Ireland trip, as well as the Covid restrictions. Finally this year, our annual Irish trip took us more South and we decided to check it out, unsure if we would be able to find a way onboard after hearing mixed results. The exploration was one of my favourite I've ever done, despite the boat itself being destroyed, the location, history of the vessel and the risk involved made for a breathtaking experience.


Ferny hike leading to the ship.





Looking into the ship's crack.







Burnt cabin.


Ascending the ship's tower.



Surreal views from the peak.


One from the other side before we left.

We made a video on this one. One of my favourite's we have done with the cinematography. Check it out if you care:

Thanks for reading :)


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Apr 30, 2013
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Great pics, shame about the fire but still looks like a good out!