A former Russian cruise ship adrift on the Atlantic after its tow cable snapped might have sunk as it approached the coast of Ireland, according to the Irish coast guard.
The 328-foot Lyubov Orlova was being transported from Canada to the Caribbean for scrapping in late January when its tow parted.
With no lights and its Automatic Identification System disabled, officials lost track of the ship, and it could not be located by conventional means. That led the Irish coast guard to collaborate with marine surveillance expert Guy Thomas and his new Global Maritime Awareness monitoring system in the hope of detecting the ship as it approached Irish waters, according to a report on ShipTalk.com.
A spokeswoman for the Irish coast guard said the agency was notified that the ship was heading toward Ireland on Feb 14. That was the last report until Feb. 20, when a signal from the ship’s EPIRB confirmed that it was 700 nautical miles off the Kerry coast and still in international waters, according to a report by the Irish Examiner.
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The beacon activates when it comes in contact with water, so authorities suspect the ship may have sunk. The Irish coast guard directed a satellite over the location of the last signal, but no sign of the ship was found. The agency said it’s also possible that the EPIRB was washed overboard.
The 37-year-old Yugoslavia-built vessel worked as an expedition cruise ship specializing in polar regions. That came to an end in September 2010, when Canadian authorities seized it during a stopover in Newfoundland as part of a lawsuit led by Cruise North Expeditions against the ship’s Russian owners, according to a report by Canada’s National Post.
The saga of the Lyubov Orlova has inspired a Canadian software company to have fun with the story by creating a Twitter account and an app for the ghost ship.
Justin Gray and Jonathan Simon run Tricolour Software and regularly tweet “comments” from the Lyubov Orlova, such as, “I am a lonely boat and wish to go home.” As of Thursday, the account had 1,473 followers.
The app, called Find Orlova, features an animated ocean screen that users touch to find the missing ship. It costs 99 cents to download on iTunes.
"On your screen, once it's downloaded, you press somewhere on the ocean as to see and try and find Orlova," co-creator Simon told CBC News. "And then it gives you an audio clip back as to whether you found it or not and a little tidbit that came from some of the tweets, as well."
Each audio clip features the sultry female Russian-accented "voice" of the Lyubov Orlova, which broadcasts tongue-in-cheek messages, such as "When you find me, bring me vodka from Russia.”
"The voice is actually Justin's girlfriend, Tricia," Simon said. "She came up with the Russian twang, if you will, for the voiceover."