Alta runs aground on Irish rocks, 18 months after going adrift in Atlantic

Abandoned cargo ship Alta (IMO 7432305), abandoned and adrift in the Atlantic for 18 months, ran aground near Ballycotton in east Cork, Ireland on February 16th. Locals in Ballycotton alerted the Irish Coast Guard Marine Rescue Co-ordination Centre at Valentia during the afternoon when they spotted the freighter being driven high on to rocks at Ballyandreane. There was nobody on board and the ship was derelict. A pollution risk assessment was to be carried out, but given the length of time the vessel has been adrift, it was not believed to pose an immediate risk. By early evening the vessel was high and dry on rocks at low tide.

The crew of the Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 117 has conducted an inspection of the vessel from the air. However, due to Storm Dennis. it was deemed too dangerous to put anyone on board. 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 fuelled 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.

The council said that people should stay away from the wreck as it is located on a dangerous and inaccessible stretch of coastline and is in an unstable condition.

The Alta became disabled while underway from Greece to Haiti in September 2018. 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 they were picked up by the US Coast Guard cutter Confidence about 1,380 miles southeast of Bermuda and 1,500m west of the African coast.

Since then the ship continued to drift, being driven eastwards by the prevailing winds.

On September 3rd 2019 a Royal Navy ice patrol ship spotted the Alta drifting in the middle of the Atlantic. There was nobody on board and the ship looked like she had been derelict for some time.

Any owners of the ship have up to a year to reclaim it.

1976-built, Tanzania-flagged, 2,295 gt Alta is owned and managed by Alta Shipping of Miami. Florida, USA.