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Cork Council warns ghost ship could 'break apart' and seeks State solution for shipwreck

The MV Alta washed ashore in Co Cork during Storm Dennis in February.

The MV Alta aground in Ballycotton.
The MV Alta aground in Ballycotton.
Image: Shutterstock/Stephen Long

CORK COUNTY COUNCIL has warned that the hull of the MV Alta shipwreck at Ballyandreen is in danger of breaking apart and is considering a wider State consultation over the future of the wreck. 

The MV Alta, which remains stranded along the coast at Ballyandreen, was abandoned by its crew in October 2018 after it became disabled en route from Greece to Haiti. 

The 44-year-old ship drifted eastwards and was sighted by the Royal Navy in August 2019. The HMS Protector attempted to make contact with the ship but received no response. It continued to drift before landing ashore at Ballyandreen near Ballycotton on 16 February during Storm Dennis. 

It was reported earlier this year that the Irish Coast Guard warned the Council and An Garda Síochána that security should be provided at the site of the shipwreck due to its hazardous nature and fears over theft. 

Ten days after the ship washed ashore, Cork County Council said that an operation to remove oil and other possible contaminants which had been collected into barrels had been successfully completed.

The Council then sealed the ship and rendered it inaccessible. 

Recent documents released by the Department of Transport show that Cork County Council warned the Department in late October that there is a now a risk of the hull of the ship breaking apart and that it plans to write to a number of Government departments – including the Department of Finance – to request funding support and to ask what the “State’s objectives” are regarding the shipwreck. 

“Cork County Council signalled a significant change of approach and this was the first indication that hull removal coupled with a request for wider State consultation and assistance is being considered,” briefing notes from a Department of Transport meeting show. 

The Council has indicated three possible options for the future of the wreck: Leave it in situ at Ballyandreen, tow it out to sea and let it sink, or dismantle and remove the wreck.  

A spokesperson for the Council said: “Cork County Council has sought engagement with national government to consider the state’s intentions for the future of the wreck. This engagement would be informed by ongoing assessment work.

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“The condition of the wreck structure is being monitored on an ongoing basis.”

The Council continues to liaise with Revenue regarding ownership of the vessel, the spokesperson said. 

A spokesperson for Revenue, which is the ‘Receiver of the Wreck’ under maritime law, said it is “continuing in the matter of establishing ownership of the MV Alta”. 

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