Abandoned vessel drifts aground in County Cork, Ireland

The Maritime Executive

A drifting vessel that the U.S. Coast Guard evacuated in October 2018 has run ground on the shores of County Cork, Ireland, with no one on board. 

The 1976-built cargo ship Alta was disabled in the mid-Atlantic during a transit from Greece to Haiti in mid-September 2018. The U.S. Coast Guard air-dropped a food supply to the ship at a position about 1,200 nm southeast of Bermuda, and the cutter USCGC Confidence rendezvoused with the Alta and evacuated her crew on October 8, 2018 – just in time to avoid approaching Hurricane Leslie. 

The men were delivered to Puerto Rico, and the Coast Guard was in contact with the shipowner to arrange for a tow for the abandoned vessel. However, that salvage operation appears to have not been completed, as Alta was spotted by a Royal Navy ice patrol vessel in September 2019.

Alta is now on the rocks just east of Ballycotton, County Cork, Ireland, with no one on board. The location of the grounding is adjacent to Garryvoe, a popular tourist beach destination, and to the fishing port of Ballycotton. As of yet, there is no visible sign of pollution. The Irish Coast Guard is monitoring the situation and is taking steps to assess the risk of a spill and the potential for a salvage tow.

Cork County Council has also activated its spill response contingency plans in the event that assistance is required. A salvage contractor is scheduled to board the wreck at low tide on Tuesday morning in order to make an assessment.

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