Abandoned ship found drifting in the Mid- Atlantic

When I saw this in gcaptain just now the profile of the ship told me this was an old Norwegian short sea ship from the 1970s/80s, but not which one:

Quick search tells me that this is the old M/V Tananger, which was a regular along the Norwegian coast for more than 20 years under several names:

How she could have drifted around in the Mid-Atlantic for a year without being spotted, or run down by some ship feeling sure they had the ocean to themselves, is a mystery.

It prove that she was well built and able to handle whatever was thrown at her.
The crew must have battened down well before being lifted off though.

What will happen next? Will she be allowed to keep on drifting, or will somebody take her under tow, claiming salvage?

1 Like

A kind of Flying Dutchman!

What strikes me is that the ship during that year should have been drifting with the mostly westerly currents and winds to some European country and run aground there on some beach or rocks. So there is a mystery going on. Little green men at work?

1 Like

From the article, 1380 NM southeast of Bermuda would put her in the North Equitorial, wouldn’t it?

That was the position where she was abandoned in October 2018. The article also mentioned:
“The Royal Navy ice patrol ship stumbled upon a mysterious ghost ship while in underway in the mid-Atlantic Ocean earlier this week.” So I figured that she was in the Gulf Stream area when recently found.

She must obviously have been caught in the Mid-Atlantic gyre, drifting around in circles. Otherwise she would have ended up on some coastline, either on the Caribbean islands, ECUSA, or Europe.

It also stated that the HMS Protector was on her way to Bermuda. It doesn’t say from where she came though.

There you go again on autonomous ships ! Looks like Norway can claim first autonomous crossing after all.


It’s the MV Alta


Here’s the story from when they abandoned her


In the 19th century abandoned ships in the North Atlantic were so numerous as to be a navigational hazard. Particularly ships carrying cargoes of timber from North America to Europe. The often overloaded timber ships would founder in storms. Their crews would panic and take to the ship’s boats. Often the crews would never be seen again,while the ship continued floating half submerged, year after year, traveling clockwise around the Atlantic. It would be spotted in one place and reported to Lloyds of London. A year later it would be spotted a thousand miles away. In the days before radar other ships would collide with them at night or in fog.

Inadvertently all these derelicts were a great boon to oceanography. One of the fathers of oceanography, the American naval captain Mathew Maury, undertook tracking these wrecks and thus plotted out the Gulf Steam and other Atlantic currents with great accuracy.

Until comparatively recent times, the navies of the world would routinely sink these derelict ships by shelling whenever they were identified, to remove the hazard to navigation. Nowadays of course the threat of an oil spill makes shelling a derelict ship a dicey operation.


These types of stories always remind me of famous “ghost” ships like the Mary Celeste or Carroll Deering.

Remember this one?

After drifting in the Atlantic for a year she ended up on the rock in Ireland:

If you search for the Alta on Marinetraffic you will find quite surprisingly a photo of the Avantis II which looks like a sister ship of the Alta. But then this ship is a wreck and popular divers destination in Greek waters!


This maybe explains it:

Although it doesn’t explain the wreck in Greek waters.(??)

No, the wreck is that of the Avantis III.

It earlier was the Norwegian Tananger. The ship also seemed to have been hijacked twice! Quite a story.

The Royal Navy ice patrol ship stumbled upon a mysterious ghost ship while in underway in the mid-Atlantic Ocean earlier this week.

The Royal Navy’s HMS Protector came across the abandoned vessel on August 30, 2019 as it sailed towards the Bahamas to assist with hurricane relief efforts.

The crew on board the vessel attempted to make contact with the ship but received no response in return.

Although the ship’s identity has not been confirmed, it is speculated to be the M/V Alta ex Tananger, which was abandoned back in October 2018 approximately 1,380 miles southeast of Bermuda.

The M/V Alta made headlines after the U.S. Coast Guard rescued its 10 crew members who were stranded aboard the disabled ship for almost 20 days and running low on food and water. The Coast Guard says it was initially notified on September 30, 2018 that the 250-foot Tanzanian-flagged cargo ship was rendered disabled while transiting from Greece to Haiti, and the crew was unable to make repairs.

The Avantis III was the ex Akershus belonging to Stavangerske:

Tananger was the Avantis II and later Avantis I as shown in your link.