#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.