'One in a million': Ghost ship from African coast washes up on rocks in Cork

'One in a million': Ghost ship from African coast washes up on rocks in Cork
Boat on the rocks in Ballyandreen, Ballycotton during Storm Dennis. Picture: Gemma Kelleher

A "one in a million" ghost ship first spotted floating off the African coast six months ago has washed up onto rocks west of Ballycotton in Co Cork.

The 77 metre MV Alta cargo ship, which is sailing under a Tanzanian flag, was spotted by a jogger this morning at around noon.

The Waterford Coast Guard confirmed that it had checked out the vessel, which a spokesman said was firmly caught on rocks west of Ballycotton, and had confirmed that it is not polluting the nearby area and that no one is on board.

"It is quite uncommon," the Coast Guard spokesman said, adding that its current location was almost certainly due to Storm Dennis, and that it most likely came aground last night.

While its current location comes as a huge surprise, there is also mystery as to how the cargo ship, built in 1976, came to be floating around the Atlantic Ocean without anyone on board.

Last September it was reported that the UK Royal Navy's Devonport-based HMS Protector had come across the MV Alta in the Mid-Atlantic.

It emerged that in September 2018 the ship some 1,300 miles southeast of Bermuda with 10 crew onboard.

It was reported that all crew were rescued, but efforts by marine sources to find out more threw up speculation that it may previously have been hijacked, at least once, if not twice over its lifetime.

The Irish Coast Guard believe the ship is now safely snagged on the rocks, although what happens to it now is unsure.

If it did begin to float again, because of another storm or an extremely high tide, it could also pose problems.

Among those taking an interest is Ballycotton RNLI Lifeboat Operations manager John Tattan, who said: "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."

Mr Tattan said it was a wonder how it had not been detected by one of the fishing vessels off the south coast before it pitched up on the rocks.

His understanding was that efforts were being made to uncover who owns the ship, but for now its new home is the coast of east Cork.

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