Rat-Filled Ghost Ship Lost at Sea

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Someone call Jack Sparrow. The British media report that a ship lost at sea last year is now full of rats and could end up on the British shore.

Nearly a year ago the cruise liner Lyubov Orlova was en route to the scrapyard when it drifted into the North Atlantic during a storm, Adam Withnall reported in the Independent. You’d think a 328-foot cruise ship would be easy to spot, but the abandoned Yugoslavian vessel built in 1976 has eluded detection so far.

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Experts think it’s still floating around out there somewhere. Two signals from the boat were picked up last March — likely from its lifeboats falling away — but not all the lifeboat beacons have gone off yet, Withnall explained. Satellite technology is now extremely advanced but it helps to have a starting point for where to look.

In true tabloid style, The Sun recently reported that the ghost ship is packed with hundreds of cannibalistic rats. The paper quoted a Belgian salvage hunter who said, “There will be a lot of rats and they eat each other. If I get aboard I’ll have to lace everywhere with poison.”

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The BBC’s Richard Fisher doubts the rat story, which I also took with a giant grain of sea salt. There might be some rodents aboard but it’s in that hunter’s interest to keep other treasure-seekers away. After all, the law says that whoever finds the abandoned ship and throws a line on it gets to keep it. The scrap was estimated to be worth almost $1 million.

Rats aside, Fisher pointed out that the ghost ship could still pose a threat to European coastlines or oil rigs. When the ship first was lost, maritime software indicated that currents were pushing it toward Ireland or Scandinavia. The search area has only widened since. It can be easy to forget how big the ocean is when our interconnected world feels so small.

 

Photo: The Lyubov Orlova cruise liner is seen from Aitcho Island in 2008, while it was still in use. Credit: Maggie & David via Flickr.