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Bizarre Facts: The Unsolved Mystery of the MV Lyubov Orlova

After breaking free from a towing line on its final journey to a scrap yard, the MV Lyubov Orlova, a Russian cruise ship, has been drifting unmanned in the North Atlantic since January 2013. The ship had been a Yugoslav ice-strengthened Maria Yermolova class cruise ship, used mainly for Antarctic tours. 


To this day, no one knows the exact number of how many ships are floating on the ocean surface– or how many are resting on the floor. So until the Russian vessel is discovered or it beaches itself on some shore, Lyubov Orlova’s fate remains a total mystery that can be told as the story of a ghost ship.


After being decommissioned in 2010, the ship was left in St. John’s, Newfoundland, for nearly two years. Unfortunately, her condition only continued to deteriorate. Finally, she was assigned to be transported to a scrapyard in the Dominican Republic. However, the towing cable snapped only a day into the voyage, and the ship was cast adrift. Concerned about the risk to local gas and oil operations in the region, Transport Canada sent the 157-ton constant bollard pull-rated supply ship Atlantic Hawk under contract by Husk Energy to recapture Lyubov Orlova.


Once in international waters, Transport Canada ordered Lyubov Orlova cut loose and has since forfeited responsibility for the ship, which they say is unlikely to re-enter Canadian waters or cause damage to offshore installations now that it is in open seas.


Although it was assumed to have sunk, a document from the U.S. intelligence agency obtained by the Agence France-Presse revealed that the abandoned ship had recently been spotted around 1,300 nautical miles from the coast of Ireland and was drifting in the direction of Europe. However, with the prevailing winds and typical current patterns, it’s unlikely that she will float back into Canadian jurisdiction.


Suppose the ship ever reaches a final destination. In that case, it is predicted to end up anywhere from Western Africa to the Norwegian Arctic, or it could get caught in the North Atlantic Gyre.


Transport Canada repeated that the ship’s owner is still responsible for the ship’s movements, and measures were taken to monitor the position of the drifting vessel.


On February 28, 2013, she had been the subject of news reports in Ireland and Iceland, and a caution to smaller ships had been issued. A March 1, 2013, report from Irish media stated that there was a signal from the ship’s emergency system.


An emergency position-indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) starts its transmission only when the device is exposed to water. This indicated a radio beacon had been received from 700 nautical miles off the coast of Kerry.


This is leading experts to theorize that the ship might have sunk.

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