On December 7, the fishing vessel Bald Eagle II ran aground off Southern Shores, North Carolina. The vessel had dropped anchor when rough seas caused the vessel to drift ashore. The crew requested assistance and the Coast Guard dispatched a helicopter from Elizabeth City and a vessel from Oregon Inlet to the scene. The helicopter arrived on scene first and was able to rescue all 4 crew off the vessel to safety. No reports of injuries.
The Bald Eagle II remained aground for several days until it was refloated on December 15. The tug John Joseph was able to pull the fishing vessel free with the assistance of a backhoe which cleared out sand away from the hull. No reports of pollution released.
The 77 meter long, 1640 dwt cargo vessel Alta went ashore off Ballycotton, Cork, Ireland. The Alta had been blown ashore by Storm Dennis. Local authorities dispatched a helicopter and found the Alta was high and dry on the rocks. An inspection found the vessel had been a derelict for some time just like the Mary Celeste. No reports of pollution.
Unlike prior ghost ships in the Atlantic Ocean, there are accounts of the Alta. The Alta had been last reported in September 2019 when it was found abandoned in the mid-Atlantic Ocean. The Royal Navy HMS Protector found the Alta over 1000 miles from the Caribbean Sea and 1500 miles off Africa.
An investigation found the vessel had originally departed from Greece and was en route to Haiti in October 2018 when it became disabled. The 10 crew had abandoned ship and spent 20 days in lifeboats before the United States Coast Guard rescued them. Reports state the ship’s owner had contracted a tug to take the Alta under tow to Saint Maarten, but this proved to be false. Between 2018 and 2019, the Alta had been reported as hijacked off Guyana before it was left abandoned.
On January 3, the 321 meters long, 100003 dwt container ship Yantian Express caught fire in the Atlantic Ocean between Bermuda and Canada. The Yantian Express was en route to Halifax from Colombo, Sri Lanka when a fire started in one of the containers on the fore deck. Winds caused the fire to quickly spread to other containers on deck. The vessel changed course to reduce the winds as crew attempted to extinguish the blaze. The fire continued to spread as strong winds made it difficult to contain. The Yantian Express requested assistance with several salvage tugs responding.
On January 6, the salvage tug Smit Nicobar arrived on scene and began fire fighting efforts. The tug also evacuated 11 of the 23 crew off the Yantian Express. Reports state another tug had been dispatched from St. John’s to tow the Yantian Express to Halifax. No reports of injuries.
Update January 12
The owners of the Yantian Express provided an update stating the fire has spread from the deck to containers in Holds 1 and 2. Containers in Bay 1 to 24 have been damaged by fire, smoke, heat or by water in the fire fighting efforts. All reefer containers in the area impacted were turned off as a precaution.
Update January 19
Reports state there are three tugs assisting the Yantian Express. The container ship was taken under tow on January 16 to be towed to Halifax. Owners report that the fire was “widely” contained, but fire fighting efforts were still ongoing.