Vessel washed up near Aran Islands likely used for target practise by US Navy
The mystery of the washed-up vessel appears to have been solved.
A vessel discovered close to Inis Óirr, the smallest of the three Aran Islands, is likely to have been a remotely-operated boat used as target practise by the US Navy that drifted eastwards towards Ireland.
The boat has been the source of huge local, national and international interest since it was spotted by the crew of the Doolin Express on Monday and subsequently hauled ashore onto a beach on Inis Óirr with the help of a local fishing boat and plenty of curious locals.
Initially, due to a serial number visible amongst significant growth on the boat – suggesting it had been in the water for a long period of time – it was thought that it was a rescue boat belonging to the US Coast Guard.
After launching an appeal to the public to determine where the boat had originated from, Doolin Ferry Company received numerous phone calls to aid their investigation and now think they have gotten to the bottom of the matter.
The boat, it seems, is not a rescue boat, but a High Speed Maneuverable Surface Target (HSMST), boats which are remotely operated and used as target practise by the US Navy (see video below).
Clip via JHU Applied Physics Laboratory
It is believed that the boat originated in Norfolk, Virginia and that it likely became lost during a training exercise and drifted in the Atlantic Ocean until it ended up close to Inis Óirr, where it was discovered by the crew of the Doolin Express on Monday afternoon.
Commenting on the “unusual” discovery, Liam O’Brien, owner of Doolin Ferry Company said: “We couldn’t have predicted the interest from the public that there has been in this boat.
“There was a lot of growth on it, it had clearly been there for a long time. We already have a shipwreck on the island, so everyone’s saying this is the new one.
“This is definitely the most unusual thing we have discovered and it’s drawing in lots of tourists to the area.”
The US Coast Guard has yet to return JOE’s request for comment!
All images via Facebook/Doolin Ferry Co