Lyubov Orlova: 7 things you need to know about the cannibal rat ghost ship

The rats have yet to master our language but may be plotting a government coup

Christopher Hooton
Friday 24 January 2014 16:15 GMT
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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
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 (Jerzy Strzelecki/Wikimedia Commons)

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Louise Thomas

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An abandoned cruise ship filled with rats feasting on one another and drifting ominously towards the UK has been troubling Brits this week, threatening some sort of D Day-esque landing where the vermin reach the shore and enslave the human race. Here's the vital information.

What is a ship doing out there with no crew?

When running aground rendered it faulty and none of the 51-strong crew had been paid in five months, Yugoslavian-built cruise ship the MV Lyubov Orlova fell into disrepair and disuse.

It was en route to a scrapyard in the Dominican Republic in 2012 when a tow line snapped, leaving it stranded in Canada's Avalon Peninsula and beginning this nightmarish chapter in its history.

How big is it?

300ft long. Weighs 4,250-tons.

How do we know it's full of rats?

We don't know for sure, but a Belgian salvage hunter who is out there looking for the ship certainly thinks so, and has set himself the unenviable task of lacing the entire vessel with poison if he finds it.

Before you ask, the rats eat each other because there's nothing else to eat.

The rats on board are thought to be up to 400% less cute than this (Picture: Getty)

That makes me want to weep. Where is this thing?

No-one's really sure. Coast guards fear that heavy storms are unlikely to have sunk a ship of that size, but may have blown it towards the UK.

Why the 'Lyubov Orlova', does it mean 'Place where hopes and dreams go to die'?

The cruise ship was actually named after the Soviet starlet of the same name, who unfortunately now will forever be synonymous with marine-based horror.

Are there other boats out there like this?

Undoubtedly, but not usually of this scale. Vessels have been reported lost off the coasts of New Zealand, Japan and more in recent years – there's more on that here.

What can I do about it?

"Stay vigilant" according to Irish coastguard chief Chris Reynolds. Perhaps search for high ground, start work on a rat poison flamethrower, or else start scripting a CGI-laden sci-fi thriller based on the situation to star Tara Reid.

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