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Displaying items by tag: MV Lyubov Orlova

Ireland needs to appoint a Secretary of State’s Representative to deal with any future maritime or shipping incidents similar to the beaching of the MV Alta, a maritime expert advises.

Captain Neil Forde, a maritime consultant with Marine Hazard Ltd, tells the Irish Examiner that the ‘ghost ship’ which ran around in Ballycotton at the weekend is proving to be an “insurmountable bureaucratic obstacle” to measures to deal with the cargo ship, which underwent an environmental assessment yesterday (Tuesday 18 February).

“We are going to have a major maritime incident at some point, it is just inevitable … The county council, who even with the best will and intention is only going to be able to deal with small incidents, has been pushed into dealing with this by the current legislation,” he said.

Another ‘ghost ship’, the MV Lyobov Orlova — its decks infested with ‘cannibal’ rats — could pose a biohazard threat to Ireland if it reached these shores.

A straightforward solution, Capt Forde suggests, is to appoint a single expert whose “job is to say to the different agencies ‘you are going to do this’, no ifs or buts about it, and to deal with the situation quickly”.

The Irish Examiner has more on the story HERE.

Published in Ports & Shipping

#GhostShip - The 'ghost ship' MV Lyubov Orlova is back in the news this week, with renewed fears that she may visit her rat-infested decks upon the shores of Western Europe.

It's almost a year since the erstwhile polar cruise liner broke free from her cabling while being towed from eastern Canada to the Caribbean for scrapping, and her last known whereabouts in late February 2013 put her some 2,400km off the West of Ireland.

By October it was believed the vessel had "vanished from the high seas" though the Irish Coast Guard maintained there was every chance she was still adrift, posing a biohazard for Ireland if she ever reached our shores.

But the recent storms across the North Atlantic have put the Lyubov Orlova back on the agenda, making it more likely than ever that she's been driven closer to our coastline, or those of western Scotland and southwest England - if the extreme conditions haven't sunk the vessel, of course.

Sail World comments on the "star-crossed" history of the ship, which previously ran aground on a voyage in Antarctica, and was finally abandoned by her owners in Newfoundland over a financial dispute.

Much is also being made of the ship's 'cannibal' rats, presumed to have multiplied in great numbers on the derelict liner - and, because they have run out of other food sources, to be eating each other.

But as Irish Coast Guard chief Chris Reynolds tells The Irish Times, "it wouldn’t be at all unusual for there to be lots of rats", especially considering the ship lay empty in Canada for a year before its fateful transport.

Scare stories of rat infestations aside, there is a more clear and present concern: until there's final confirmation of the Lyubov Orlova's whereabouts, she remains a potential hazard to yachts and shipping traffic alike.

“The biggest risk," says Reynolds, "is something hitting it at speed in the dark.” More in The Irish Times HERE.

Published in Ports & Shipping

#Navigation - Marine navigation systems in yachting and shipping are 'primitive' compared to the standard in air travel, according to an electronics expert.

As Yachting Monthly reports, Martin Bransby of the UK's General Lighthouse Authorities said that "demands on marine navigation are only getting tighter, yet electronic systems at sea a primitive compared to those used in air travel. This needs to change."

Bransby made his comments following a trial to tackle the problem of rogue GPS jammers in the North Sea by the lighthouse authorities at Trinity House.

The new PNT (positioning, navigation and timing) method uses new technology to transmit critical data in the even of the loss or failure of GPS, which is vulnerable to interference from a variety of sources, both environmental and deliberate.

"The more dependent we become on electronic systems, the more resilient they must be," said Bransby. "Otherwise, we face a scenario where technology is actually reducing safety rather than enhancing it."

These new trials come after news that the Irish Coast Guard is collaborating on a new system of marine monitoring that will help detect drifting or rogue vessels in international waters before they become a problem for individual states - such as the 'ghost ship' MV Lyubov Orlova which as of last week was still adrift heading eastwards somewhere in the North Atlantic.

Published in Ports & Shipping

#GhostShip - The missing 'ghost ship' MV Lyubov Orlova that has been adrift in the North Atlantic since the end of January has finally been located - some 2,400 off the West of Ireland.

US technology site Gizmodo reports on the discovery via the daily memorandum of the US National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, which creates maps for top-secret military and civilian use.

It's not clear by what means the vessel was detected, as it has no lights and its Automatic Identification System (AIS) is switched off.

But it may be the result of efforts made by marine surveillance expert Guy Thomas, who has been working in collaboration with the Irish Coast Guard on a new system of marine monitoring called Global Maritime Awareness.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, Thomas was contacted by Irish Coast Guard director Chris Reynolds amid concerns that the MV Lyubov Orlova might suddenly appear in Irish waters and become a burden on the State.

Responsibility for the vessel has already been disavowed by the Canadian authorities after the vessel, which was being towed from Canada to the Caribbean for scrapping, broke loose from its cabling.

Current information on the ghost ship's position indicates that it is being carried by Atlantic currents towards Europe.

Published in News Update

Sharks in Irish waters

Irish waters are home to 71 species of shark, skates and rays, 58 of which have been studied in detail and listed on the Ireland Red List of Cartilaginous fish. Irish sharks range from small Sleeper sharks, Dogfish and Catsharks, to larger species like Frilled, Mackerel and Cow sharks, all the way to the second largest shark in the world, the Basking shark. 

Irish waters provide a refuge for an array of shark species. Tralee Bay, Co. Kerry provides a habitat for several rare and endangered sharks and their relatives, including the migratory tope shark, angel shark and undulate ray. This area is also the last European refuge for the extremely rare white skate. Through a European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) project, Marine Institute scientists have been working with fishermen to assess the distribution, diversity, and monthly relative abundance of skates and rays in Tralee, Brandon and Dingle Bays.

“These areas off the southwest coast of Ireland are important internationally as they hold some of the last remaining refuges for angel shark and white skate,” said Dr Maurice Clarke of the Marine Institute. “This EMFF project has provided data confirming the critically endangered status of some species and provides up-to-date information for the development of fishery measures to eliminate by-catch.” 

Irish waters are also home to the Black Mouthed Catshark, Galeus melastomus, one of Ireland’s smallest shark species which can be found in the deep sea along the continental shelf. In 2018, Irish scientists discovered a very rare shark-nursery 200 nautical miles off the west coast by the Marine Institute’s ROV Holland 1 on a shelf sloping to 750 metres deep. 

There are two ways that sharks are born, either as live young or from egg casings. In the ‘case’ of Black Mouthed Catsharks, the nursery discovered in 2018, was notable by the abundance of egg casings or ‘mermaid’s purses’. Many sharks, rays and skate lay eggs, the cases of which often wash ashore. If you find an egg casing along the seashore, take a photo for Purse Search Ireland, a citizen science project focusing on monitoring the shark, ray and skate species around Ireland.

Another species also found by Irish scientists using the ROV Holland 1 in 2018 was a very rare type of dogfish, the Sail Fin Rough Shark, Oxynotus paradoxus. These sharks are named after their long fins which resemble the trailing sails of a boat, and live in the deep sea in waters up to 750m deep. Like all sharks, skates and rays, they have no bones. Their skeleton is composed of cartilage, much like what our noses and ears are made from! This material is much more flexible and lighter than bone which is perfect for these animals living without the weight of gravity.

Throughout history sharks have been portrayed as the monsters of the sea, a concept that science is continuously debunking. Basking sharks were named in 1765 as Cetorhinus maximus, roughly translated to the ‘big-nosed sea monster’. Basking sharks are filter feeders, often swimming with their mouths agape, they filter plankton from the water.

They are very slow moving and like to bask in the sun in shallow water and are often seen in Irish waters around Spring and early Summer. To help understand the migration of these animals to be better able to understand and conserve these species, the Irish Basking Shark Group have tagged and mapped their travels.

Remarkably, many sharks like the Angel Shark, Squatina squatina have the ability to sense electricity. They do this via small pores in their skin called the ‘Ampullae of Lorenzini’ which are able to detect the tiny electrical impulses of a fish breathing, moving or even its heartbeat from distances of over a kilometre! Angel sharks, often referred to as Monkfish have a distinctively angelic shape, with flattened, large fins appearing like the wings of an angel. They live on the seafloor in the coastal waters of Ireland and much like a cat are nocturnal, primarily active at night.

The intricate complexity of shark adaptations is particularly noticeable in the texture of their skin. Composed of miniscule, perfectly shaped overlapping scales, the skin of shark provides them with protection. Often shark scales have been compared to teeth due to their hard enamel structure. They are strong, but also due to their intricate shape, these scales reduce drag and allow water to glide past them so that the shark can swim more effortlessly and silently. This natural flawless design has been used as inspiration for new neoprene fabric designs to help swimmers glide through the water. Although all sharks have this feature, the Leafscale Gulper Shark, Centrophorus squamosus, found in Ireland are specifically named due to the ornate leaf-shape of their scales.

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