February 18 ------ A vessel without a single soul on board ran aground near Ballycotton, Cork in Ireland, the Irish Coast Guard informed on Sunday, February 16. The ship has been identified as MV Alta and has been drifting for over a year at sea. The vessel’s 10 crew members were rescued by the US Coast Guard back in September 2018. The Tanzanian-flagged ship became disabled while underway from Greece to Haiti in September 2018, and its crew members were unable to make repairs. The crew was reportedly stuck on the ship in the middle of the Atlantic for almost 20 days. After several failed attempts to repair the ship, the crew sent out a distress call and was picked up by the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Confidence approximately 1,380 miles southeast of Bermuda.
Cork County Council said that its environmental scientists have visited the grounding site and established that there is no visible pollution within the Ballycotton Bay Special Protection Area or nearby proposed Natural Heritage Areas. The hull of the vessel reportedly remains intact. “Cork County Council has consulted with the Coast Guard in terms of pollution risk and the parties have agreed to have an initial assessment of pollution risk carried out. The council has requested its marine contractor to carry out this initial assessment of the wreck,” the council said in a statement. “The council understands that the vessel was most likely diesel fueled which poses less risk of pollution than heavy fuel oil.”
Following an appropriate risk assessment, the contractor is planned to board the vessel at the next suitable opportunity which is expected to be at low tide tomorrow morning, February 18th. The council said that any risk in relation to oil, other hazardous substances and pollution from the vessel will be evaluated. 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, the council added.