An abandoned Russian ship whose only passengers are thousands of hungry, disease-ridden rats is headed for the British Isles. Multiple sources report that the whereabouts of the Lyubov Orlova, dubbed the “ghost ship,” are uncertain, but experts believe a series of storms in the North Atlantic have pushed the deserted vessel toward the island nations.
The Lyubov Orlova has been adrift at sea for 12 months. According to The Week, the defunct Russian cruise ship, built 40 years ago and named for a 1930s Russian actress, once ferried up to 110 passengers all around the globe. After running into problems with debt, its owners – and unpaid crew – abandoned the ship in Canada, where it was impounded in 2010.
In January 2013, the ship was on its way to the Dominican Republic to be scrapped when it became accidentally untethered from its towboat and floated out to sea. Canadian authorities dispatched a second ship to intercept the Lyubov Orlova and drag it into international waters, where it couldn’t harm Canada’s offshore oil rigs or its marine environment.
"She is floating around out there somewhere,” Pim de Rhoodes, a Belgian salvage hunter who is looking for the ship, told The Sun. "There will be a lot of rats and they eat each other. If I get aboard I'll have to lace everywhere with poison."
Salvage hunters are scouring the ocean for the 4,250-ton ship, which could be worth up to 600,000 euros, or about $820,000, if scrapped. Although the ship’s current location is unknown, it’s liferaft transmitters, which turn on automatically if the vessel sinks, have not been activated, indicating that the Lyubov Orlova is still adrift somewhere.
If the Lyubov Orlova makes landfall, it’s likely to land on the west coast of Ireland, Scotland or Cornwall, The Telegraph reports. So far, coast guards have not spotted the abandoned Russian vessel.
"There is no further action required by Ireland, and there are no reports and sightings,” the Irish Coast Guard said in a statement, according to The BBC. "Normal costal surveillance activities are carried out which are aware of the issue of the vessel."