A ghost ship run by disease-ridden cannibal rats is feared to be heading to British shores. The Lyubov Orlova cruise ship has been adrift across the north Atlantic for the past 12 months, and experts say that it’s possible that it is floating towards the UK.
So called ghost ship because it has no living crew aboard, the deserted vessel was built in Yugoslavia in 1976 and was named after a Russian actress.
It is believed to be floating derelict after it was cut loose near Canadian harbour. After its owners failed to pay the crew, authorities in Newfoundland tried to sell it for scrap, but the ship came loose in a storm on its way from Canada to the Dominican Republic in January 2013.
Transport Canada decided not to give chase, saying that the ship “no longer poses a threat to the safety of [Canadian] offshore oil installations, their personnel or the marine environment.”
Experts think that the ship is still out there somewhere because not all of its lifeboat emergency beacons have been set off, according to the Independent.
There were two signals picked up on March 12 and 13, which were presumed to be from the lifeboats that fell away and hit the water, showing that the ship was two-thirds of the way across the Atlantic and was heading east.
An unidentified object of the same size as Lyubov Orlova was picked up on radar just off the coast of Scotland. Search planes were never able to locate it, though.
Lifeboats send off distress signals when they hit the water. But since the last signal was picked up in March, it is assumed that the 1,420-tonne cruise ship hasn’t sunk yet.
Although unmanned, the vessel isn’t completely devoid of life.
Belgian salvage hunter Pim de Rhoodes told The Sun that it’s highly likely a starving rat colony has infested the ship. The rats would only be able to survive being aboard the ship if they feed off one another.
“There will be a lot of rats and they eat each other,” he told the paper. "If I get aboard I’ll have to lace everywhere with poison.”
The possibility of the Lyubov Orlova making its way to the UK is enough reason for Irish coastguard, Chris Reynolds, to be on their guard.
“There have been huge storms in recent months but it takes a lot to sink a vessel as big as that,” he said. “We must stay vigilant.”
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