In 2013, the Lyubov Orlova, a Russian Cruise ship weighing over 4,251 tons broke free from its towing line as it was being delivered from Canada to a scrapyard in the Dominican Republic.
From there it drifted into international waters, where responsibility for its salvage became complicated. No one was willing to step forward and finance the search or dismantling of the vessel.
The outcome? A former cruise ship built to explore the icy waters of the Antarctic (her hull was Finnish-Swedish ice class 1A, and constructed to withstand impacts with ice) began floating through the Atlantic with no one aboard.
Built in 1976, the Lyubov Orlova was named after the Russian film star Lyubov Orlova. The ship was built for the Far Eastern Shipping Company based at Vladivostok in the Soviet Union.
In 2010, she was seized at St. John’s harbor in Newfoundland following a suit by a haulage contractor against the Russian owners over $250,000 in unpaid fees.
The ship remained tied up for more than two years before it was sold to Caribbean buyers in February 2012.
After the vessel broke free, Transport Canada claimed they were no longer responsible for the ship and with little chance of it drifting back under Canadian jurisdiction, they what you would proverbially describe, ‘wiped their hands of her.’
According to a document from a US intelligence agency, obtained by the AFP, the abandoned ship was last seen approximately 1,300 nautical miles off the coast of Ireland, and was drifting toward Europe.
After that, the Lyubov Orlova disappeared. “Canadian officials acknowledged they did not know the location of the ship, as the vessel’s global positioning system was no longer working,” the AFP reported.
Irish authorities began looking over satellite data to try and locate the loose vessel however the Ghost Ship never appeared in their jurisdiction.
Two signals were picked up on the 12 and 23 March 2013, presumably from lifeboats which fell away and hit the water.
A week later, an unidentified object of about the right size was spotted on radar just off the coast of Scotland – but search planes never verified the find.
No official search was subsequently undertaken for the Lyubov Orlova, although it is agreed she must have eventually sunk, as of today no one has any real idea where she may have ended up.