Removal of grounded “ghost ship” on Irish coast could cost over €10 million, salvage experts claim

Photo: Cork County Council/Daragh McSweeney

A number of local and international salvage experts have remarked that the Irish government may end up spending more than €10 million (US$10.8 million) to remove a derelict ship that had run aground on the country’s southwestern coast earlier this year.

Local authorities are still working to identify the owner of the vessel, which has been identified as the Panamanian-flagged cargo ship Alta.

Alta ran aground near the fishing village of Ballycotton in County Cork on February 16, 2020 after it was swept to shore by 64-knot wind gusts brought about by Storm Dennis.

Prior to the grounding, the vessel had drifted across the Atlantic for over a year after being abandoned by its crew southeast of Bermuda in October 2018.

The removal of oil and other possible contaminants from the vessel was carried out and completed within two weeks of the grounding.

Irish officials said that, unless the vessel’s owner comes forward to shoulder the financial burden, the state may need to undertake the costly salvage effort as well.

Mark Hoddinott, a wreck removal specialist with salvage company Brand Marine Consultants, told Irish news outlet RTE that the only other viable alternative would be to leave Alta where it lies since the vessel’s scrap value would likely be low due to its age, having been completed in 1976.

County Cork residents, however, have expressed concern about allowing the vessel to remain where it had washed ashore.

Residents have pointed out the possible effect that Alta‘s rusting hull would have on the surrounding coastal environment and the fact that, prior to the imposition of Covid-19 restrictions, curious onlookers had been boarding the vessel even after the authorities have issued numerous safety warnings.

See more stories from this month’s Tug and Salvage Week here

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