'She's sunk': official

Sailors on the west coast of Ireland living in fear of a nightmare ship full of ‘cannibal rats’ coming ashore in their cruising ground, can relax.

Chris Reynolds, Director of the Irish Coastguard, told YM this afternoon that the starving rats story was started as an April Fool’s joke last year – ‘There are more rats in Ireland than on that ship,’ he said. And in any case Coastguards are ‘convinced she’s gone down.’

The 300ft Lyubov Orlova has been floating around the North Atlantic since being set adrift off the Canadian coast a year ago, after her towline taking her to a breakers’ yard parted. The 40-year-old Soviet vessel originally built to carry 110 passengers to remote locations in the Arctic, the boat was impounded in Newfoundland in a debts row in 2010 and her unpaid crew walked out.

She remained in port for two years before orders came in to tow her to the Dominican Republic to be scrapped. When the tow line to a tug broke in stormy conditions in January last year, the Canadian government ordered another ship to haul her out to sea and cut her loose.
The 4,250-tonne ship’s position remains unknown despite several attempts to find her.

In March last year satellites identified a mystery object large enough to be the ship off the north west coast of Scotland but search planes found nothing.Salvage hunters are keen to trace the liner in order to cash in upon her £600,000 scrap value.

For weeks it’s been feared the vessel was still afloat because her four life-raft transmitters have not been set off as they would if she sunk.

And if she is still afloat?

‘We would contact the owners and ordered them to arrange salvage. If they failed to do so we would salvage her ourselves,’ added Mr Reynolds.