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Lyubov Orlova

Don't worry – a ghost ship crewed by cannibal rats probably isn't about to hit the British Isles

A ghost ship, crewed by cannibal rats, is reported to be heading towards the British Isles . Really? Well, the mystery of the Lyubov Orlova cruise liner has become a news story that has been circulating online and splashed in newspapers. Just imagine it: a shadowy vessel silently docking in the dark of night, while cat-sized killer pirate rodents descend and scurry around our cities, brandishing their fangs ready to gnaw at your bones – yes it's the stuff of nightmares. And with each new headline the rats have become bigger and bigger, so to speak. We relish the opportunity to tell a good ghost story, don't we? But is it true?

Chris Reynolds, director of the Irish Coast Guard , chuckles and says, "The problem you have now is that you can't prove something you don't know." It all began when the Yugoslavian-built ship – named in 1976 after a Russian actor – was abandoned for two years in a Newfoundland port after its owners were embroiled in a debt dispute. It was meant to be sold for scrap, at a value of around £600,000, to the Dominican Republic. But its tow-line broke loose on what was to be its final journey and it has been drifting in the Atlantic ever since. The reason why there's such a fuss is that an abandoned 4,000 tonne ship can be hazardous for other cruise liners and tankers in the sea, especially when it's dark, and it could also get tangled in oil rigs.

Reynolds explains that the Irish Coast Guard was alerted about the possibility of an abandoned ship heading its way and that in March 2013 the emergency beacons were alerted, which sent a signal to the coast guards. To repeat: that was early last year.

"We had a three-month drift prediction project using satellites and radar images trying to locate the ship, and did some modelling which showed that it could be heading to Norway or the south of England. But the ship had its transmitting monitors turned off. So you can't be 100% sure. We couldn't find it and there was no value to keep on searching. But we have to keep vigilant." So, this seems to be the only bit of evidence that the ship is on its way? Right. Also, with storms in the Atlantic, Reynolds now explains that he expects and hopes that the ship has sunk or has been pushed back on to rocks. If that's not enough, a spokesperson for the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency said: "We have received no reported sightings of the vessel since April last year, but we will respond accordingly." OK, so that's sorted.

What about the cannibal rats on this ship though? It's reminiscent of the scene in Skyfall when ultimate villain Raoul Silva – his blond hair slicked back – toys with Bond, and recounts his childhood tale of how his grandmother taught him how to turn rats that had arrived on the island in fishing boats into killer rodents.

In response to the story, Dr Penny Hawkins, RSPCA senior scientific officer , explains that: "Rats have a really bad press and this doesn't help. These are animals that actually respond to one another in social distress." Hawkins adds that if this did happen on the ship with no food, "then it was in response to a highly stressful situation, even if it is very unrealistic. They are no more inclined to eat one another than humans."

So where did this whole story come from anyway? It was first mentioned last year in the Irish Independent , when Reynolds is quoted as saying: "The ship was alongside the harbour in Newfoundland so we assume there are rats on board, and that's a biohazard." He added: "We don't want rats from foreign ships coming on to Irish soil. If it came and broke up on shore, I'm sure local people wouldn't be very happy about it." So, there you have it: a single source can lead to a story going viral. Oh, and you can now follow the ship being lonesome on Twitter.

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How a 1,500-ton ocean liner turns into a cannibal-rat-infested ghost ship

The Ryou-Un Maru, a  Japanese ghost ship scuttled by the US coast guard off the coast of Alaska in 2012.

The UK is alarmed—or at least its press is. “A ghost ship carrying nothing but disease-ridden rats could be about to make land on Britain’s shore, experts have warned,” frets The Independent .

The boat under discussion—the Lyubov Orlova—hasn’t been heard from since February and March 2013, shortly after the abandoned ship was cut loose from a tug line and went adrift. The headlines reflect  guesses that recent storms have sent the Lyubov Orlova reeling toward the UK. And the cannibal rats? Speculation about those come from Pim de Rhoodes, a Belgian salvage hunter, who noted the likely presence of  a starving rat colony  (paywall) aboard when he told the press the Lyubov Orlova is still “out there.”

How does an unmanned 1,565 ton (1,420 tonne) cruise ship just take off on its own like that?

The reasons are pretty simple. After Canadian authorities seized the craft due to her owner’s alleged  $250,000 in debts ,  seas peaking at 18 feet  (5.5 meters) snapped her towline while she was being taken to the Dominican Republic for scrapping. (She’s worth an estimated $1.1 million .)

In fact, ghost ships like Lyubov Orlova aren’t all that rare. In the last 15 years, sailors have come across at least seven “ghost ships.”

The Lyubov Orlova, in its cruise ship days.

As for why the ship’s crew would disappear, the reasons could be anything from piracy to  psychiatric breaks  to  tax fraud  (link in Italian)—or just straight-up abandonment. Take, for example, one of the most famed ghost ships—the SS Baychimo, a 230-foot fur-trading steamer whose crew abandoned her in 1931 when she became stuck in Arctic ice. For nearly 40 years, people reported sightings of the Baychimo all up and down the Alaskan coast.

Some crew disappearances remain mysterious, though. Like the Mary Celeste— the original ghost ship —the disappearance of 25 people aboard the Joyita, a virtually unsinkable vessel found adrift in the South Pacific in 1955, has never been solved . In the last decade, the fate of the crews of a trio of vessels found off the Australian coast—namely, the High Aim 6 , the Jian Seng and the Kaz II —have been left largely unexplained.

Perhaps the more interesting question is how the 220 meter (720 foot) Lyubov Orlova could go missing for so long.

Red square indicates estimated location as of Dec. 2013.

But both De Rhoodes and the Irish coast guard already tried to find the ocean liner a  slew of times last year  (paywall), to no avail, as the New Scientist reports. The New Scientist explains that surveillance equipment has some pretty big deficiencies when pitted against the ocean’s vastness.

There’s a decent chance no one can find her simply because a giant wave sunk her. From 2001 to 2010, an average of 146 ships  (pdf, p.10) went missing annually, 42% of which sunk. That possibility has a French environmental organization worried that the ship might release toxic elements like mercury, asbestos and fuel into the ocean.

​

However, the Lyubov Orlova was designed for extra buoyancy to withstand rough seas, reports the New Scientist. Plus, only two of her six lifeboats distress transmitters, which deployed upon contact with water, have gone off. So perhaps the Lyubov Orlova—and maybe even her cannibal rat passengers—are still adrift out there somewhere.

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Eerie final journey of 'cannibal rat ghost ship' feared was floating towards Plymouth

The Herald's tale of the ghost ship MV Lyubov Orlova, which was once feared to be floating towards the Devon coast with a cargo of cannibal rats, prompted national discussion on the issue of abandoned vessels - but what ever happened to it?

  • 20:45, 19 MAY 2020
  • Updated 20:48, 19 MAY 2020

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In 2014 there were fears a ghost ship full of diseased cannibal rats was about to crash into the coast of Devon or Cornwall.

The abandoned Lyubov Orlova had been missing since it cut adrift while being towed from Canada nearly a year before.

The 40-year-old liner had been driven across the Atlantic by high winds and at the time was thought close to the UK shore.

Based on emergency beacons activated in 2013 aboard the ship, it was feared the 40-year-old Yugoslavian liner registered to Russia could crash into the shore of Devon, Cornwall, Ireland or Scotland.

Those searching for the ship said there were likely to be thousands of disease-ridden rats on board with no source of food except each other.

Belgian-based searcher Pim de Rhoodes said at the time: "She is floating around there somewhere. There will be a lot of rats and they eat each other."

The 4,250-ton ship, named after a movie star, was built to carry 110 passengers but was impounded in Canada in 2010 after being deserted by her crew in a debt row. Two years later, she was towed to the Dominican Republic to be scrapped - but abandoned when she broke free.

In 2014 there were fears a ghost ship full of diseased cannibal rats was about to crash into the coast of Devon or Cornwall

The MCA believes the ship may have sunk, but those searching for the ship at the time to cash in its £600,000 scrap value said sinking would have activated emergency beacons aboard the liferafts.

A spokesman said in 2014: "The MCA has received no sightings of the former Soviet cruise ship 'Lyubov Orlova' since April last year and there is no evidence to suggest it is still afloat.

"Any 'ghost' ship entering European waters is highly likely to be reported due to the large number of vessels passing through the area. We would then act accordingly."

The MV Lyubov Orlova and her final voyage

Built in 1976, the MV Lyubov Orlova was an ice-strengthened cruise liner so it could be used for Antarctic cruises, reports the Mirror .

Several renovations followed after her initial launch, one in 1999 and an extensive revamp three years later.

In 2006 the MV Lyubov Orlova ran aground in Antarctica and had to be towed to safety.

Just four years later the ship was seized in St John's, New Foundland, Canada, due to debts of £200,000 and because some of the crew hadn't been paid in more than five months.

For two years the giant vessel lay rotting in the dock until it was finally taken out of service and was bought so it could be broken up and its parts sold.

It was as the ship was being moved from its port in Canada to a new home in the Dominican Republic that the journey was hampered by problems and it became nothing but a floating derelict.

A tug boat, the Charlene Hunt, was used to tow the ailing boat but just a day into the journey, the line connecting the two vessels snapped.

Battling huge storms, the crew of the Charlene Hunt tried desperately to reconnect the two boats but the MV Lyubov Orlova continued to drift away from the little tug.

However, the massive liner now posed a risk to oil and gas drilling in the seas off the coast of Canada and had to somehow be brought under control to prevent a disaster.

An offshore supply ship, the Atlantic Hawk, belonging to Transport Canada, managed to regain control of the MV Lyubov Orlova and pull her away from danger.

But once she was in international waters, she was cut free as she remained the responsibility of her owners.

The former cruise ship was now devoid of crew and passengers - or so people thought.

As it floated aimlessly across the world's seas, with no guidance or steering, a new kind of guest had taken up home on the huge ship.

The MV Lyubov Orlova was now believed to be home to a crew of vicious 'cannibal rats'.

One expert explained at the time: "This ship is thought to have been taken over by hordes of cannibal rats. I mean there's nothing else to eat.

"So imagine this giant ship full of these ravenous hordes of cannibal rats appearing on your local beach right where you live."

There were even rumours the ship was slowly making its way across the ocean and heading directly for Britain.

Abandoned vessels in our waters

The Herald's tale of the ghost ship MV Lyubov Orlova prompted national discussion on the issue of abandoned vessels.

John Murray, the maritime director of the International Chamber of Shipping, told the Independent ships are used to navigating around objects.

He said: "Shipping containers and adrift crafts don't creep up on ships.

cannibal rat ghost ship

"Navigation warnings from other vessels and radar usually ensure they are spotted from quite a distance away. Ships navigate around them."

The most famous "ghost ship" is the Mary Celeste, found floating, crewless but well-provisioned, in the Atlantic Ocean in 1872. In June last year, the 69ft Nina, heading to Sydney from New Zealand, was caught in a storm and has not been seen since.

A Japanese fishing boat, the Ryou-Un Maru, floated abandoned across the seas for 11 months before being sunk by US authorities.

Even locally there have been examples.

Donald Crowhurst sailed from Teignmouth in 1969, taking part in the first single-handed race round the world. But as the racers logged their positions at sea, reporting in by radio at a time long before sophisticated GPS positioning, it appeared that Crowhurst was closing in on the favourite. However, his voyage was a sham, and Teignmouth Electron was eventually found drifting and abandoned in mid-Atlantic.

Crowhurst's logs revealed his anguish, and the fact that he had spent eight months out in the Atlantic, fabricating his details. It is thought that he jumped overboard. He was never found, and Teignmouth Electron is believed to be somewhere in the Cayman Islands.

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Lyubov Orlova: Ghost ship carrying cannibal rats ‘could be heading for Britain’

Experts say the cruise liner, adrift in the north atlantic, may be too close for comfort, article bookmarked.

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The cruise liner Lyubov Orlova, shown here among ice in Antarctica, has been drifting without a crew in the north Atlantic for the past year

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A ghost ship carrying nothing but disease-ridden rats could be about to make land on Britain’s shore, experts have warned.

The Lyubov Orlova cruise liner has been drifting across the north Atlantic for the better part of a year, and salvage hunters say there is a strong chance it is heading this way.

Built in Yugoslavia in 1976, the unlucky vessel was abandoned in a Canadian harbour after its owners were embroiled in a debt scandal and failed to pay the crew.

The authorities in Newfoundland tried to sell the hull for scrap – valued at £600,000 – to the Dominican Republic, but cut their losses when it came loose in a storm on the way.

7 things you need to know about Lyubov Orlova

Sending the ship off into international waters, Transport Canada said it was satisfied the Lyubov Orlova “no longer poses a threat to the safety of [Canadian] offshore oil installations, their personnel or the marine environment”.

Experts say the ship, which is likely to still contain hundreds of rats that have been eating each other to survive, must still be out there somewhere because not all of its lifeboat emergency beacons have been set off.

Two signals were picked up on the 12 and 23 March last year, presumably from lifeboats which fell away and hit the water, showing the vessel had made it two-thirds of the way across the Atlantic and was heading east.

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.

Pim de Rhoodes, a Belgian salvage hunter who is among a number looking for the Lyubov Orlova off the UK coastline, told The Sun: “She is floating around out there somewhere.

“There will be a lot of rats and they eat each other. If I get aboard I'll have to lace everywhere with poison.”

The head of the Irish coastguard, Chris Reynolds, said the ship was more likely than not to still pose a threat.

“There have been huge storms in recent months but it takes a lot to sink a vessel as big as that,” he said. “We must stay vigilant.”

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No, an Abandoned Ship Full of Diseased Rats Is Not Floating Towards Britain

If you believe the headlines, a ghost ship full of cannibal rats is heading for England. Don’t believe the headlines

Rose Eveleth

Rose Eveleth

Contributor

Orlova

Off the coast of England there is a ship. Well, there are probably many ships, but this ship in particular is interesting because it has no people on it. It’s a ghost ship—a 1,400 ton ocean liner of a ghost ship. If you believe the headlines , it’s full of cannibal rats, and it’s heading for England. Neither of those things are true. 

The Lyobov Orlova disappeared on Febrauary 4th of last year while it was being towed from Newfoundland to the Dominican Republic. How and why the ship was cut loose is still a mystery, and for months, no one knew where it was. 

According to some sources, the ship is infested with “cannibal rats.” But this is more theory than fact, as no one has been on the ship in a year. The cannibal rat theory comes from Pim De Rhoodes, a Belgian salvage hunter, who told tabloid The Sun ,  “There will be a lot of rats and they eat each other. If I get aboard I'll have to lace everywhere with poison.” De Rhoodes has no actual information about whether there are rats on the boat, or whether they're diseased, cannibalistic or perfectly civilized.

According to the BBC , the ship has yet to be sighted off English waters. The Irish Coast Guard isn’t worried, nor is the U.K. Maritime and Coastguard Agency. For more Orlova sightings, the blog  Where is Lyubov Orlova  tracks sightings and theories about the ship. You can see  map of sightings , as well as the ship’s deck plan, and there are shirts and mugs on offer for the most intrepid Orlova hunters. 

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Rose Eveleth

Rose Eveleth | | READ MORE

Rose Eveleth was a writer for Smart News and a producer/designer/ science writer/ animator based in Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in the New York Times , Scientific American , Story Collider , TED-Ed and OnEarth .

Horrifying final voyage of cruise boat that became 'cannibal rat-infested ghost ship'

The Russian cruise ship was plagued by problems until it was docked permanently in 2010 - but what happened next was far more gruesome

cannibal rat ghost ship

  • 11:39, 19 May 2020

The MV Lyubov Orlova was built to have a glittering future on the ocean waves - named after a movie star and travelling to some of the most stunning places on the planet.

But instead the liner met a grisly end and mystery still surrounds its final resting place.

Built in 1976, the MV Lyubov Orlova was an ice-strengthened cruise liner so it could be used for Antarctic cruises.

Several renovations followed after her initial launch, one in 1999 and an extensive revamp three years later.

In 2006 the MV Lyubov Orlova ran aground in Antarctica and had to be towed to safety.

Just four years later the ship was seized in St John's, New Foundland, Canada, due to debts of £200,000 and because some of the crew hadn't been paid in more than five months.

For two years the giant vessel lay rotting in the dock until itwas finally taken out of service and was bought so it could be broken up and its parts sold.

It was as the ship was being moved from its port in Canada to a new home in the Dominican Republic that the journey was hampered by problems and it became nothing but a floating derelict.

A tug boat, the Charlene Hunt, was used to tow the ailing boat but just a day into the journey, the line connecting the two vessels snapped.

Battling huge storms, the crew of the Charlene Hunt tried desperately to reconnect the two boats but the MV Lyubov Orlova continued to drift away from the little tug.

However, the massive liner now posed a risk to oil and gas drilling in the seas off the coast of Canada and had to somehow be brought under control to prevent a disaster.

An offshore supply ship, the Atlantic Hawk, belonging to Transport Canada, managed to regain control of the MV Lyubov Orlova and pull her away from danger.

But once she was in international waters, she was cut free as she remained the responsibility of her owners.

The former cruise ship was now devoid of crew and passengers - almost.

As it floated aimlessly across the world's seas, with no guidance or steering, a new kind of guest had taken up home on the huge ship, which had previously been able to cater for 100 passengers at a time.

The MV Lyubov Orlova was now believed to be home to a crew of vicious 'cannibal rats'.

One expert explained: "This ship is thought to have been taken over by hordes of cannibal rats. "I mean there's nothing else to eat.

"So imagine this giant ship full of these ravenous hordes of cannibal rats appearing on your local beach right where you live."

There were even rumours the ship was slowly making its way across the ocean and heading directly for Britain.

There were reports of a sighting of a ship matching th description of the 300ft vessel off the coast of Scotland in 2016.

The following year, a wreck was beached on the Californian coastline, which many feared was the MV Lyubov Orlova - but this has now been rubbished by experts.

And there have been several other reports of the vessel close to Britain's shores.

Back in 2013, the MV Lyubov Orlova was spotted 1,300 nautical miles off the coast of Ireland and then again later in the year, with a warning issued to smaller ships.

In March that year, an emergency signal from the boat was recorded 700 miles off the coast of Kerry, but was still clased as international waters.

There have been no reported sightings of the MV Lyubov Orlova for several years, with experts believing she - and her gruesome crew of cannibal rates - now lie at the bottom of the ocean.

However, what the missing ship has left in its wake is years of financial hardship for both her owners and those who crewed her.

Many of the men and women who worked on board have never been paid, even after being virtually stranded on the MV Lyubov Orlova while she was docked in St John's.

At times they had even had to rely on food parcels from locals just so they could eat.

And after she was abandoned by humans - the rats moved in as dank and dark pools of fetid water gathered throughout her.

They are said to have remained on board when the MV Lyubov Orlova began her final journey, where she drifted aimlessly across the seas with her macabre crew before sinking to the dark ocean floor.

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Ghost-ship cannibal rats are swarming over the Twitterverse

Cannibal rats aren't likely to be swarming off a derelict ship onto the British Isles anytime soon, but headlines about the prospect were sure swarming over the British press on Thursday.

"Ship of Ghouls!" The Sun screamed. The tabloid's story spawned many other headlines of that ilk, sometimes with capital letters for extra emphasis. "GHOST ship crewed only by CANNIBAL rats feared to be heading for Scottish coast," the Daily Record declared .

It made for the tastiest click bait since "Sharknado!" But alas, there's not much behind this rat tale.

The part about the missing ship is factual: The Russian-registered cruise ship Lyubov Orlova was seized by Canadian authorities in 2010 when the ship's owner went into debt. Last year, the ship was supposed to be towed to the Dominican Republic for salvage, but a tow line broke loose in the North Atlantic and the vessel was set adrift. The Canadians let it float off after they determined it wouldn't be a threat to offshore operations. No one has spotted it since last February. (The "Where Is Lyubov Orlova" website is keeping track.)

The part about the cannibal rats comes from a Belgian salvager named Pim de Rhoodes . "She is floating around out there somewhere," The Sun quotes him as saying. "There will be a lot of rats and they eat each other. ... If I get aboard I’ll have to lace everywhere with poison."

The stories also speculate that a recent spate of storms could drive the Lyubov Orlova toward the English, Scottish or Irish coast. However, the BBC quotes representatives of the Irish and British coast guards as saying they've seen no sign of the ship . Or the rats.

If you're looking for more of a reality check, plus a broader perspective on the scores of ships that are lost on a yearly basis , check out this report from Quartz . But if you're looking for more entertainment, check out the #RatGhostShip chatter on Twitter:

Alan Boyle is NBCNews.com's science editor. Connect with the Cosmic Log community by "liking" the  NBC News Science Facebook page , following  @b0yle on Twitter and adding  +Alan Boyle to your Google+ circles. You can also check out  "The Case for Pluto," my book about the controversial dwarf planet and the search for new worlds.

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Is this cannibal rat ghost ship thing even real?

We've been hearing all day about how there's a ghost ship lurking in the waters off the coast of England, and that it's probably packed with cannibal rats. We can verify the ghost ship part. But what about the rats?

The tale of the ship is bizarre enough. The Lyubov Orlova is a cruise liner built in Yugoslavia in the 1970s. When its owners went bankrupt, they abandoned it in a Canadian port in Newfoundland. At that point, the port tried to sell the ship for scrap to the Dominican Republic, but then a storm came and washed the ship out to sea.

It's been drifting in the international waters of the Atlantic for at least a year, though Canadian authorities claim it's "safe." Now, however, it appears to be headed for the English coast. Authorities are tracking it using the ship's onboard safety beacons.

Over at the Independent , we learn:

Pim de Rhoodes, a Belgian salvage hunter who is among a number looking for the Lyubov Orlova off the UK coastline, told The Sun: "She is floating around out there somewhere. "There will be a lot of rats and they eat each other. If I get aboard I'll have to lace everywhere with poison."

Based on this same quote from de Rhoodes, the New York Daily News embellishes :

But once aboard, the scrappers will face unimaginable horror: a demented, disease-ridden population of rats that have been feeding on each other and breeding.

Quartz calls the ship a "cannibal-rat-infested ghost ship," again basing this assessment on the quote from de Rhoodes.

Why is everybody trusting this ship scavenger guy? And what is he basing his expert opinion on? Can rats really survive by cannibalism alone for over a year?

Let's peruse some scientific journals to find out.

Apparently, de Rhoodes isn't off-base. It is common for rat mothers to kill and eat their young if their babies are disabled or marked with the wrong scent. This is a big enough issue in labs that several papers have been written about how to prevent mothers from eating their pups. Also, when rats starve they do tend to eat each other. The author of one study , in which rats were prevented from eating for a week, noted casually, "To avoid cannibalism during starvation, each rat was housed separately."

Could rats live on cannibalism for a year? Given that rats live for a few years, we're talking about one generation of rats, basically. So they could just eat all their babies, if they wanted — or they could start attacking each other. Depending on how many rats there are, I suppose it's possible that they could have made the entire journey from Canada to England by living on rat flesh alone.

But until somebody actually goes on board, we won't know for sure.

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The Two-Way

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International, rat-infested ghost ship might be heading for u.k..

Scott Neuman

cannibal rat ghost ship

The Lyubov Orlova sits derelict at dockside in Newfoundland in October 2012. Dan Conlin/Wikipedia Commons hide caption

The Lyubov Orlova sits derelict at dockside in Newfoundland in October 2012.

A ghost ship full of diseased, cannibalistic rats could be nearing landfall somewhere in the British Isles.

No, it's not the plot for a new horror film. According to The Independent, the 300-foot cruise liner Lyubov Orlova, which has been drifting, crewless, around the North Atlantic for nearly a year since it snapped its towline en route to the scrapyard, might be moving east toward the English coast.

What about the rats, you ask? The newspaper says:

"Experts say the ship, which is likely to still contain hundreds of rats that have been eating each other to survive, must still be out there somewhere because not all of its lifeboat emergency beacons have been set off."

Salvage hunters are looking for the vessel, hoping to cash in on the estimated $820,000 it would fetch as salvage. The Sun quotes Pim de Rhoodes, a Belgian-based marine missions specialist, as saying, "There will be a lot of rats and they eat each other. If I get aboard I'll have to lace everywhere with poison."

Salon.com , which has a somewhat more sober take on the situation, points out that The Independent 's tale of the 1,565-ton floating nightmare "is based on some true facts, and then fluffed up with a lot of conjecture."

Here's a bit of back story, according to Salon:

"The Yugoslavian-built Lyubov Orlova ... was seized by Canadian authorities after its owners racked up $250,000 in unpaid debts. En route to being sold for scrap in the Dominican Republic in January 2013, a storm snapped her towline. [Owner] Transport Canada decided not to pursue the ship."

The crew reportedly walked off the ship in 2010 after not getting paid, The Telegraph says.

According to The Independent:

"The authorities in Newfoundland tried to sell the hull for scrap ... to the Dominican Republic, but cut their losses when it came loose in a storm on the way. Sending the ship off into international waters, Transport Canada said it was satisfied the Lyubov Orlova 'no longer poses a threat to the safety of [Canadian] offshore oil installations, their personnel or the marine environment.'
"Two signals were picked up on the 12 and 23 March last year, presumably from lifeboats which fell away and hit the water, showing the vessel had made it two-thirds of the way across the Atlantic and was heading east. "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."

As Salon points out, ghost ships are not entirely uncommon , though it's harder to find accounts of the cannibal rats that presumably would have been aboard some of them.

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The Lyubov Orlova in St. John’s harbour on June 10, 2012. You can see the ship is listing to starboard. Photo courtesy Kenneth Lawton

You’d have to be hiding under a rock to miss the recent reports that a Russian ghost ship infested with cannibal rats is heading straight for the U.K. coast.

The story, which went viral this week, has now been sent to us about 25 times and counting. Having covered it in the past , we were hesitant to jump on it ourselves given current information, but after hearing about it this morning from my wife, my mother, and after a phone call from a concerned journalist in Norway, I feel like we should finally address the story.

So here are some answers to some of your Frequently Asked Questions about the cannibal rat ghost ship you keep hearing about:

Is there really a rat infested ghost ship plying the North Atlantic?

MV Lyubov Orlova

In January 2013, the derelict cruise ship escaped death by shipbreakers in the Dominican Republic after her towing cable parted shortly after leaving St. John’s, Newfoundland, setting the ship adrift . Fearing a collision with offshore oil installations off eastern Canada, the Lyubov Orlova was secured by the Atlantic Hawk anchor handler but later ordered let loose by Transport Canada after drifting into international waters.

Citing safety concerns as their reason to not pursue a salvage operation, Transport Canada said that “the Lyubov Orlova no longer poses a threat to the safety of offshore oil installations, their personnel or the marine environment. The vessel has drifted into international waters and given current patterns and predominant winds, it is very unlikely that the vessel will re-enter waters under Canadian jurisdiction.”

So what happened after the ship was cut loose?

In early February 2013, the ship was reported to be located approximately 250 nautical miles east of St. John’s, NL (approximately 50 nautical miles outside Canada’s territorial waters) and drifting northeasterly. Officials estimated that if left alone, she could end up almost anywhere from the Norwegian arctic, to western Africa, or stuck in the middle of the North Atlantic gyre.

One of the main concerns with setting the ship adrift in the first place was that it could pose a threat to trans-Atlantic shipping so Transport Canada promised to monitor her location and warn any ships transiting nearby.

A few weeks after being cut loose, she was spotted roughly 1,300 nautical miles off the coast of Ireland.

Of course there are conflicting reports in the media about when and where exactly the ship was spotted last, but as far as we can tell the last contact was made in March or April 2013 when a signal from the vessel’s emergency position-indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) was received from 700 nautical miles off the Kerry coast.

In June 2013, it was reported that Transport Canada had lost contact with the ship completely.

Are there cannibal rats onboard?

Not sure, do rats eat each other? Right now we have no reason to believe that if there are rats onboard, these rats have mutated beyond just normal rats. We also need to consider that before the vessel left Newfoundland, it had spent about two years tied to dock. There’s a good chance some rats may have found their way onto the floating rust bucket.

Is the ship heading for Britain’s coast?

It is possible, but unlikely. Chances are the ship sank somewhere in the North Atlantic. Of course no one knows for sure, but if it is still afloat and headed for Britain’s coast, it’s likely we’ll hear about it well ahead of time.  Of course it’s also possible that the prevailing currents may have pulled the vessel south into the North Atlantic gyre and, just maybe, could one day wash up on the shores of Barbados. If we hear anything, we’ll let you know.

Why is this in the news right now?

Simple. The U.K. tabloid The Sun ran an “exclusive” story January 23 claiming that a “ship of ghouls” was heading straight for the British coast with 100’s of cannibal rats. As far as we can tell, the story was a  fabrication  embellishment of what was really making news 9 months ago. It was then picked up by some other publications, and it snowballed from there.

All things considered, right now we actually can’t confirm or refute that somewhere in the Atlantic there may be abandoned ship, with rats, that they happen to be eating each other, and it may be headed for the UK. It could happen.

What are the officials saying?

The Irish Coast Guard has told us that there is no new news about the Lyubov Orlova, but it is aware of the situation. The U.K. Maritime & Coastguard Agency also released a statement claiming no new news about the ship:

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has received no sightings of the former Soviet cruise ship ‘Lyubov Orlova’ since April last year and there is no evidence to suggest it is still afloat. Any ‘ghost’ ship entering European waters is highly likely to be reported due to the large number of vessels passing through the area. We would then act accordingly.

We wait. If we get any official news about the Lyubov Orlova ghost ship, or any ghost ship for that matter, we’ll be sure to let you know.

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Lost ghost ship filled with 'cannibal rats' may be nearing U.K. shores

Lyubov Orlova

The Lyubov Orlova is seen in an image provided by Wikimedia Commons user Lilpop Rau & Loewenstein.

Experts say a Russian cruise ship lost at sea after being cut adrift nearly a year ago in the Atlantic Ocean is still afloat and possibly nearing the British coastline.

Rumours are circulating that the Lyubov Orlova, which disappeared nearly a year ago while being towed from Atlantic Canada, could be nearing Ireland, Scotland or England.

Such a vessel is considered a good find for scrap hunters, but anyone hoping to salvage the cruise ship may want to call nautical pest control: at least one scrap-seeker says the unmanned ship is likely overrun with diseased “cannibal rats.”

Pim de Rhoodes, a Belgian salvage hunter who is searching for the Lyubov Orlova told the Sun that he believes the ship is “floating around there somewhere,” and that it’s filled with hungry rodents.

“There will be a lot of rats and they eat each other,” he said, adding if he gets aboard, he’ll have to “lace everywhere with poison.”

But some suggest the ship is no longer on the ocean, but at the bottom of it.

A spokesperson for the U.K. Maritime and Coastguard Agency said he had received no reports of sightings and “there is no evidence to suggest it is still afloat.”

“Any ghost ship entering European waters is highly likely to be reported, due to the large number of vessels passing through the area. We would then act accordingly.”

The vessel was built in Yugoslavia in 1976.

The rather frightening concept of an abandoned ship filled with cannibalistic rats provided fodder for Twitter users Thursday:

BREAKING: TTC Streetcar piloted by cannibal rats slowly rolling through downtown Toronto. Rats making all stops; desperate riders boarding. — Shawn Micallef (@shawnmicallef) January 23, 2014
Serious question: If you have a ghost ship full of cannibal rats whose only source of food is each other, will the rat colony grow or die? — Tom Babin (@TomBabin) January 24, 2014
I'm pretty sure a ship carrying diseased cannibal rats would arrive with just one enormous diseased cannibal rat. — Seb FoxAllen (@purpledocket) January 23, 2014

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Cannibal Rat-Infested Ghost Ship

Cannibal Rat-Infested Ghost Ship

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Cannibal Rat-Infested Ghost Ship is the nickname of the Lyubov Orlova, a 1976 Yugoslavian cruise ship that became a floating derelict after being abandoned in 2013.

The Lyubov Orlova, named after the Russian film star, served as an expedition cruise ship beginning in 1976 for the Soviet Union Far East Shipping Company. In February 2012, the ship was sold to Neptune International Shipping to be scrapped and was docked in St. John's harbour in Newfoundland. On January 23rd, 2013, the ship was towed out for delivery to the Dominican Republic. One day later, the ship began floating out to sea when the tow line broke. After being recovered by Canadian authorities, the ship was set loose into international waters.

l. MO 7391434 WUBOV ORLOVA AVATIU

On February 24th, 2013, the Where Is Orlova? [9] blog was launched, featuring news and sightings of the ship. On January 23rd, 2014, the British tabloid The Sun [1] published an article about the Lyubov Orlova, which included an interview with salvage hunter Pim de Rhoodes who speculated that the ship may be infested with cannibal rats and heading for the coast of England.

The same day on January 23rd, 2014, several news sites published articles about the derelict vessel, including Gawker, [2] Daily Record, [3] The Independent, [5] The Telegraph [6] and Uproxx. [7] Meanwhile, Redditor Happyginger submitted The Independent article to the /r/worldnews [11] subreddit, where it received more than 5,800 up votes and 1,100 comments in the first week. Also on January 23rd, the Smithsonian [8] published an article refuting the claims that the ship is heading towards English waters, citing statements by the Irish Coast Guard and the U.K. Maritime and Coastguard Agency. On January 24th, The Guardian published an article about the ship, containing a statement by the UK coastguard announcing that the vessel may have already sunk:

"The Maritime and Coastguard Agency has received no sightings of the former Soviet cruise ship Lyubov Orlova since April last year and there is no evidence to suggest it is still afloat."

On January 26th, Fox News [13] published reported that British officials believe the ship had sunk due to volatile storms in the region. On the following day, NPR's The Two-Way [12] blog published an article containing a revised statement from Rhoodes, who acknowledged that they rats may have all died over the course of the last year.

Search Interest

External references.

[1] The Sun – A ghost ship laden with cannibal rats

[2] Gawker – Abandoned Cruise Ship Full of Starving Rats Heading for Land

[3] Daily Record – Ghost ship crewed only by cannibal rats

[5] The Independent – Ghost ship carrying cannibal rats

[6] The Telegraph – Infested ghost ship

[7] UpRoxx – Abandoned Russian cruise ship

[8] Smithsonian – No an Abandoned Ship Full of diseased rats is not floating towards Britain

[9] Where is Orlova – Where is Lyubov Orlova

[10] The Guardian – Ghost ship packed with cannibal rats is not likely to crash

[11] Reddit – A Ghost Shop filled with cannibal rats

[12] NPR – Rat-A-Phooey

[13] Fox News – Officials believe rat-infested ghost ship has sunk

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Kung Fu Cthulhu

Jan 27, 2014 at 02:27PM EST

Well, the title certainly caught my attention.

RockoRocks

Jan 27, 2014 at 02:45PM EST in reply to Kung Fu Cthulhu

lol clickbait much

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A Russian cruiser with ‘cannibal rats’: What other ‘ghost ships’ could be out there?

Beleaguered mv alta on rocks in ballycotton not the first mysterious ship to haunt our shores.

A ghost ship was washed up onto the rocks off east Cork by Storm Dennis on Sunday, after drifting across the Atlantic over the last year. Video: Irish Coast Guard

The running aground of “ghost ship” MV Alta, on rocks near Ballycotton in east Cork on Sunday, was not the first time such a derelict vessel has haunted our shores.

In 2014 there were reports that the abandoned former Soviet cruise liner Lyubov Orlova was off the Irish coast bringing with it ominous headlines warning of “cannibal rats” aboard a “ghost ship” heading our way.

The Irish Coast Guard on Tuesday said it suspects the liner has probably sunk but is “still vigilant” in relation to it. The 4,200-tonne ship was once the glittering choice of Soviet holidaymakers and later wealthy Russians touring the Artic and Antarctic.

It is one of a number of ‘ghost ships’, unmanned but still afloat at last sighting, the whereabouts of which are now unknown.

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The 100m long Lyubov Orlova was seen adrift off the coast of Newfoundland in February 2013. The ship had been sold for scrap and taken under tow from St John’s, heading for the Dominican Republic. But less than a day into the journey the tow line broke and the ship drifted into international waters.

As National Geographic put it in March 2014, “somewhere in the vast expanses of the North Atlantic an empty Russian cruise ship has been lost and if it’s still afloat, its next port of call may be the coast of Ireland”.

Finding such a ship in the ocean is not easy. The International Maritime Organisation’s International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea requires international ships, with 300 or more gross tonnage and all passenger ships, to carry beacons which function as automatic identification systems (AIS).

Historical AIS data is also used for analysing the vessels movements on a global scale. In the case of the Lyubov Orlova, it would probably have its transponders off because power ran out. In addition, satellite recorders are not able to easily find a ship in the vast Atlantic unless they know a precise area in which to look.

In its efforts to find the cruise ship the Irish Coast Guard combined AIS tracking with radar allowing it to “see” the ghosts . First, radar satellites scanned vast areas of the sea surface, where vessels showed up as blips as on a radar screen. These were then cross-referenced with AIS satellite maps, which showed the positions of all the active ships. In theory, the ghost ship would be the only radar blip not broadcasting a signal. During efforts to find the Russian cruiser an illegal fishing vessel near Scotland which had its transponder turned off was discovered.

But all attempts to locate the MV Lyubov Orlova by the Irish Coast Guard proved unsuccessful.

In 2016 another unmanned vessel washed up on Irish shores. In November of that year a makeshift solar-powered houseboat landed on a beach in Co Mayo after drifting across the Atlantic from Canada. Authorities said the owner of the 20ft timber and polystyrene boat was intending to sail on the “floating caravan”, but was talked out of it before it broke loose from its mooring in Newfoundland. It turned out to have been built by Rick Small, a Canadian environmentalist who had given the boat away and had no idea how it ended up crossing the ocean unmanned.

In December 2000 a Spanish boat, Zorro Zaurre, drifted 140 miles to the southwest Irish coast before foundering on rocks yards from where its sister ship, Nuestra Senora de Gardotza, sank 10 years earlier at Roancarrig lighthouse in Bantry Bay, Co Cork. The 13 crew members had been airlifted a month earlier after the vessel sprang a leak.

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Cannibal rat-infested ghost ship ‘has probably sunk’: irish coast guard.

The unmanned Lyubov Orlova, shown here, 'has more than likely sunk, given the storms that have gone through the region,' according to the Irish Coast Guard.

An abandoned ghost vessel thought to be infested with cannibal rats isn’t heading for British shores after all, experts say.

The dilapidated Lyubov Orlova cruise liner may in fact be at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, according to the Irish Coast Guard.

“Our professional belief is that it has sunk,” Chris Reynolds, the agency’s director, told independent.ie . “We’ve discussed it with the UK and Norway and Iceland and we’re all pretty happy that it has probably sunk.”

The UK’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) also released a statement about the Lyubov Orlova saying, “there is no evidence to suggest it is still afloat.”

“Any ‘ghost’ ship entering European waters is highly likely to be reported due to the large number of vessels passing through the area. We would then act accordingly,” the statement continues.

Salvage hunters have had their eyes on the ship, which is worth an estimated $1 million in scrap metal.

There are no people onboard, but some say the ship is occupied by nightmarish creatures — rodents who have been in-breeding and feeding on each other to stay alive.

“There will be a lot of rats, and they eat each other,” Belgian salvage hunter Pim de Rhoodes told The Sun . “If I get aboard, I’ll have to lace everywhere with poison.”

As Smithsonian magazine points out , no one has actually been on the ship in about a year, so we don’t know for sure that it is filled with cannibal vermin. However, there were rats on the Lyubov Orlova when it left Canada, Reynolds said.

The 300-foot ship was built in 1976 in Yugoslavia. It was mostly used for cruises to the Antarctic and Arctic Circle.

Things took a turn for the worse in 2010. The Lyubov Orlova’s owners jumped ship when they fell into debt and could not pay the crew. The abandoned boat was left in a harbor in St. John’s, Newfoundland, for more than two years.

In January of 2013, the ship was sold to the Dominican Republic to be scrapped. However, the vessel broke lose soon after it left the dock. It was reportedly recaptured by Canadian authorities, but the line snapped again, and the boat was left drifting in international waters.

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Ghost ship carrying cannibal rats could be heading for Britain

A deserted cruise liner which is believed to have been drifting around the North Atlantic for a year carrying nothing but hordes of rats could be heading for British shores, it has been claimed

Ghost ship carrying cannibal rats could be heading for Britain

A deserted cruise ship crawling with cannibal rats is feared to be heading towards Britain, marine experts revealed.

The 300ft Lyubov Orlova has been floating around the North Atlantic since being set adrift off the Canadian coast a year ago and coastguards believe a series of storms blowing in from the west have driven her thousands of miles towards UK shores, according to The Sun .

Since being abandoned by her crew, it is feared the 40-year-old Soviet vessel may have become home to hordes of rats, which would have had to eat each other to survive.

Ghost ship carrying cannibal rats could be heading for Britain

(Getty Images)

Originally built to carry 110 passengers to remote locations in the arctic, the boat was impounded in Newfoundland in a debts row in 2010 and her unpaid crew walked out.

She remained in port for two years before orders came in to tow her to the Dominican Republic to be scrapped.

When the tow line to a tug broke in stormy conditions in January last year, the Canadian government ordered another ship to haul her out to sea and cut her loose.

The 4,250-tonne ship’s position remains unknown despite several attempts to find her.

In March last year satellites identified a mystery object large enough to be the ship off the north west coast of Scotland but search planes found nothing.

Salvage hunters are keen to trace the liner in order to cash in upon her £600,000 scrap value.

Pim de Rhoodes, a Belgian-based marine missions specialist who is looking for the Lyubov Orlova, told The Sun: “She is floating around out there somewhere.

“There will be a lot of rats and they eat each other. If I get aboard I’ll have to lace everywhere with poison.”

Experts believe the boat is still afloat because her four life-raft transmitters have not been set off as they would if she sunk.

Two distress beacons were activated last March but they are thought to have come from life rafts which broke away from the ship and fell into the ocean.

The ship is most likely to make landfall on the west coast of Ireland, Scotland or Cornwall.

Irish coastguard chief Chris Reynolds said: “There have been huge storms in recent months but it takes a lot to sink a vessel as big as that. We must stay vigilant.”

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IMAGES

  1. Cannibal Rat Ghost Ship

    cannibal rat ghost ship

  2. Killer cannibal rats on Russian ghost ship headed for UK

    cannibal rat ghost ship

  3. How a 1,500-ton ocean liner turns into a cannibal-rat-infested ghost

    cannibal rat ghost ship

  4. How a 1,500-ton ocean liner turns into a cannibal-rat-infested ghost

    cannibal rat ghost ship

  5. Cannibal Rat-Infested Ghost Ship Lyubov Orlova 'Heading for Britain'

    cannibal rat ghost ship

  6. Cannibal rat ghost ship spotted in Staines High Street

    cannibal rat ghost ship

COMMENTS

  1. What Ever Happened to the Rat-Infested Ghost Ship?

    Cue a storm of media reports about cannibal rats on the illusive "ghost ship." Since 2014, there has been a handful of reported sightings of what could have been the vessel near Ireland,...

  2. Apparently This Matters: A ghost ship with cannibal rats

    CNN — It's the stuff of movies. Bad movies. But movies. The kind you watch when it's a Friday night, you're feeling lazy, and, oh look! A bucket of hummus! That kind of movie. A ship. Lost at...

  3. A Ghost Ship With Cannibal Rats? A Story Too Grim To Be True

    January 25, 20149:56 AM ET Heard on Weekend Edition Saturday 1-Minute Listen Playlist Newspapers from the U.K. to the U.S. were reporting a sensational story this week about an abandoned cruise...

  4. Don't worry

    Fri 24 Jan 2014 07.35 EST A ghost ship, crewed by cannibal rats, is reported to be heading towards the British Isles. Really? Well, the mystery of the Lyubov Orlova cruise liner has become...

  5. How a 1,500-ton ocean liner turns into a cannibal-rat-infested ghost ship

    How a 1,500-ton ocean liner turns into a cannibal-rat-infested ghost ship The Ryou-Un Maru, a Japanese ghost ship scuttled by the US coast guard off the coast of Alaska in 2012. Image:...

  6. Eerie final journey of 'cannibal rat ghost ship' feared was floating

    In 2014 there were fears a ghost ship full of diseased cannibal rats was about to crash into the coast of Devon or Cornwall (Image: Lilpop,Rau&Loewenstein/Wikimedia Commons). The MCA believes the ...

  7. Lyubov Orlova: Ghost ship carrying cannibal rats 'could be heading

    A ghost ship carrying nothing but disease-ridden rats could be about to make land on Britain's shore, experts have warned. The Lyubov Orlova cruise liner has been drifting across the north...

  8. No, an Abandoned Ship Full of Diseased Rats Is Not Floating Towards

    If you believe the headlines, a ghost ship full of cannibal rats is heading for England. Don't believe the headlines Rose Eveleth Contributor January 23, 2014 The Orlova off Petermann...

  9. Horrifying final voyage of cruise boat that became 'cannibal rat

    Horrifying final voyage of cruise boat that became 'cannibal rat-infested ghost ship' - World News - Mirror Online Horrifying final voyage of cruise boat that became 'cannibal rat-infested...

  10. Ghost-ship cannibal rats are swarming over the Twitterverse

    Cannibal rats aren't likely to be swarming off a derelict ship onto the British Isles anytime soon, but headlines about the prospect were sure swarming over the British press on Thursday."Ship of ...

  11. Is this cannibal rat ghost ship thing even real?

    Quartz calls the ship a "cannibal-rat-infested ghost ship," again basing this assessment on the quote from de Rhoodes. Why is everybody trusting this ship scavenger guy? And what is he...

  12. Rat-Infested Ghost Ship Might Be Heading For U.K

    A ghost ship full of diseased, cannibalistic rats could be nearing landfall somewhere in the British Isles. No, it's not the plot for a new horror film.

  13. Cannibal Rat-Infested Ghost Ship Story Goes Viral -Lyubov Orlova FAQ

    The U.K. tabloid The Sun ran an "exclusive" story January 23 claiming that a "ship of ghouls" was heading straight for the British coast with 100's of cannibal rats.

  14. Lost ghost ship filled with 'cannibal rats' may be nearing U.K. shores

    Lost ghost ship filled with 'cannibal rats' may be nearing U.K. shores. The Lyubov Orlova is seen in an image provided by Wikimedia Commons user Lilpop Rau & Loewenstein. Experts say a Russian ...

  15. Cannibal Rat-Infested Ghost Ship

    Cannibal Rat-Infested Ghost Ship is the nickname of the Lyubov Orlova, a 1976 Yugoslavian cruise ship that became a floating derelict after being abandoned in 2013. Origin The Lyubov Orlova, named after the Russian film star, served as an expedition cruise ship beginning in 1976 for the Soviet Union Far East Shipping Company.

  16. A Russian cruiser with 'cannibal rats': What other 'ghost ships' could

    In 2014 there were reports that the abandoned former Soviet cruise liner Lyubov Orlova was off the Irish coast bringing with it ominous headlines warning of "cannibal rats" aboard a "ghost ...

  17. Cannibal rat-infested ghost ship 'has probably sunk': Irish Coast Guard

    Cannibal rat-infested ghost ship 'has probably sunk': Irish Coast Guard KIKE CALVO/AP The unmanned Lyubov Orlova, shown here, 'has more than likely sunk, given the storms that have gone through...

  18. Rats! Cannibal ghost ship yarn scuppered by facts

    Abandoned Russian cruise ship was berthed in Canada for over a year and there were reports it was infested by rats then. Rats! Cannibal ghost ship yarn scuppered by facts

  19. Ghost ship carrying cannibal rats could be heading for Britain

    Ghost ship carrying cannibal rats could be heading for Britain A deserted cruise liner which is believed to have been drifting around the North Atlantic for a year carrying nothing but...

  20. Billy Talent

    Ghost Ship of Cannibal Rats Billy Talent Track 3 on Afraid of Heights Produced by Ian D'Sa With its title and subject matter alluding to the deserted cruise liner MV Lyubov Orlov (which was rife...

  21. Billy Talent

    About Press Copyright Contact us Creators Advertise Developers Terms Privacy Policy & Safety How YouTube works Test new features NFL Sunday Ticket Press Copyright ...

  22. BILLY TALENT

    THIS VIDEO WAS MADE WITH THE SUPPORT FROM THE ONTARIO MEDIA DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION. http://www.omdc.on.ca ALL ABOARD! The Ghost Ship of Cannibal Rats! Cre...

  23. Ghost Ship of Cannibal Rats

    Provided to YouTube by Warner Music Canada Ghost Ship of Cannibal Rats · Billy Talent Afraid of Heights ℗ 2016 Warner Music Canada Co. for Canada and WEA ...