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Is this Russian ghost ship a hazard to the environment or safe navigation?
On January 24th, 2013 the derelict cruise ship M/V Lyubov Orlova, seized in a lawsuit by Canadian authorities in 2010, was being towed to a scrap yard in the Dominican Republic, when the tow cable parted shortly after leaving St. John’s, Newfoundland. Since then, the once proud cruise ship which, which just three years ago, carried high-paying passengers to remote polar regions, has drifted like a ghost ship alone on the cold, dark, and unforgiving waters of the winter North Atlantic.
Fearing a possible collision with oil and gas installations off eastern Canada, the Canadian Coast Guard acted quickly and managed to secure her to the anchor handling ship Atlantic Hawk on the 31st of January, however after deeming the vessel posed no further threat to these assets, Transport Canada eventually cut her loose.
Citing safety concerns in their reason to not pursue a salvage operation to retrieve the ship, a Transport Canada spokesman said, “The Lyubov Orlova no longer poses a threat to the safety of offshore oil installations, their personnel or the marine environment. The vessel has drifted into international waters and given current patterns and predominant winds, it is very unlikely that the vessel will re-enter waters under Canadian jurisdiction,”
Canada did not wash their hands of the vessel entirely however. In a statement, the department acknowledged the risk that an abandoned vessel such as the Lyubov Orlova posed to trans-Atlantic shipping, and promised to monitor the Lyubov Orlova’s location and warn any ships transiting nearby.
This week CBC Canada followed up on the story and learned that Transport Canada lost contact with the ship and has not received any reported sightings of the MV Lyubov Orlova since early March. Only one question now remains. Is she still a floating hazard to navigation or is she now resting at the bottom of the ocean, leaking toxic waste?
According to the Ireland, it’s likely that she sunk.
On February 14th, a signal from the Russian’ vessel’s emergency position-indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) confirmed that it was 700 nautical miles off the Kerry coast and, according to a report in the Irish Examiner, Irish Coastguard officials moved to investigate.
“The EPIRB only signals when it hits the water. It normally acts as a distress signal (so) a satellite was sent over the location of the last signal from the Lyubov Orlova’s EPIRB but there was no sign of the ship.” said a spokeswoman for the Irish Coastguard.
The Irish air corp is will continue to monitor the region for signs of the ghost ship and they ask they ask mariners to notify the Coast Guard if she is spotted.