MaritimeMatters appeared on the Emmy Award-winning “The Rachel Maddow Show” on MSNBCTV in the US yesterday regarding the long missing ship LYUBOV ORLOVA . Many news outlets ran with a story that a rat-infested derelict liner would crash upon the shores of Britain within weeks. The BBC took a slightly different tack with their headline, “No sign of ‘rat-infested ghost ship’ Lyubov Orlova off UK”.
It appears that Pim De Rhoodes, Captain of a Belgian-based research and survey vessel CDT FOURCAULT speculated to a British newspaper the idea that the LYUBOV ORLOVA could still be afloat, and were she to be, this would likely put her off the west coast of the UK and possibly filled with hungry rats.
Journalists worldwide could not resist a headline like this from the Los Angeles Times, “Ghost ship Lyubov Orlova and starving rats headed for land?”, or this from the Daily Mail, “Could this Russian ghost ship infested with CANNIBAL RATS beach in Britain?”
MaritimeMatters reported in 2010 that the 1976-built expedition ship MV LYUBOV ORLOVA (named after the first recognized star of Soviet cinema) was placed under arrest when it arrived at St. John’s, Newfoundland in Canada over unpaid debts. In February 2012, the ship was sold at auction to Caribbean-based buyers for US$275,000.
On January 23, 2013, the LYUBOV ORLOVA left St. John’s under tow of the American tug CHARLENE HUNT for the Dominican Republic for scrapping. However, the tow line parted in rough seas and the ship went adrift off Newfoundland. All attempts to reattach a tow line failed and the tug returned to port, leaving the ship loose in the winter North Atlantic. With the LYUBOV ORLOVA now in international waters, Transport Canada* decided the vessel no longer came under their jurisdiction.
A week later, an offshore supply vessel, ATLANTIC HAWK, secured the derelict ship after the she was deemed a potential threat to offshore oil rigs. But on February 4, 2013, Transport Canada cut her loose again and issued the statement “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.”
The Irish media reported in March 2013 that two signals from the vessel’s emergency position-indicating radio beacon were received from a position 700 nautical miles off the Kerry coast, (an EPIRB starts transmitting when the device is exposed to water, which suggested to maritime experts that the ship was likely to have sunk).
By late May 2013, the Canadian Coast Guard announced that it has received no further reported sightings of the LYUBOV ORLOVA and that the ship was presumed to have sunk.
*Transport Canada is the department within the government of Canada responsible for developing regulations, policies and services of transportation in Canada.
Thanks to Peter Knego and Shawn Dake for their contributions to this story