The MV Alta had been floating aimlessly for over a year before grounding in Co Cork on February 16

A “ghost ship” washed ashore in Ballycotton, Co Cork during Storm Dennis over the weekend after it had been floating aimlessly in the Atlantic Ocean for over a year.

The cargo ship was discovered on the beach in the fishing village of Ballycotton by a local who was jogging through the area on February 16. That day, the Irish Coast Guard shared this aerial footage of the ghost ship on Twitter:

Rescue 117 was tasked earlier today to a vessel aground near Ballycotton, Cork. There was nobody on board. Previously the @USCG had rescued the 10 crew members from the vessel back in September 2018. The vessel has been drifting since and today came ashore on the Cork coastline.

— Irish Coast Guard (@IrishCoastGuard) February 16, 2020

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BBC reports that the ship, the MV Alta, had most recently been operating under the Tanzanian flag. In October 2018, the US Coast Guard rescued the 10-person crew from the 77-meter ship off the coast of Bermuda after it encountered problems which led to a loss of power. 

Ever since, the ship has been left adrift in the sea. It was was most recently spotted by the Royal Navy ice patrol ship HMS Protector off the coast of Africa on August 30, 2019.

Two weeks ago we reported the discovery of MV Alta, an apparently abandoned ‘#Ghost #Ship’. 👻⛴

Having investigated our find we discovered that this ship was abandoned 12 months ago after the crew were all safely rescued. 🌊🚢🇬🇧

More info here:

— HMS Protector (@hmsprotector) September 14, 2019

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Cork County Council is now tasked with determining the next steps. In a statement on February 17, the council said its Oil Spill Assessment Team has convened, and that the council’s Environmental Scientists are “satisfied” that there is no visible pollution within the area.

A contractor is set to board the vessel on Tuesday morning to carry out a further pollution risk assessment.

The statement added: “Consultations are continuing between the Irish Coastguard, Cork County Council, the Receiver of Wrecks and other relevant bodies in relation to the future of the wreck.

“Cork County Council is again asking members of the public to stay away from the wreck location as it is located on a dangerous and inaccessible stretch of coastline and is in an unstable condition.”

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John Tattan, the Ballycotton RNLI Lifeboat Operations manager, told The Irish Examiner that the incident 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."

Robert McCabe, the Commissioner of Irish Lights, told BBC that damaged or sunken ships remain the property of their owners.

Noting that there has been “a number of incidents” similar to the MV Alta in the Irish Sea, McCabe said: “If there is no owner, the Commissioners of Irish Lights get involved.

He added: "To have a ship drifting around like that for 18 months is not common. For it to have been spotted just once since October 2018 just shows how vast the ocean is."

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