Nfld. & Labrador

Mobile app helps users "find" the Lyubov Orlova

People who have been following the mystery of the missing Lyubov Orlova now have a new mobile phone app to "help" them.
The Lyubov Orlova, as it was being towed out of St. John's harbour on Jan. 23. (CBC)

The former Russian cruise ship Lyubov Orlova is still drifting somewhere in the North Atlantic, but people who have been following the mystery of the missing ship now have a new mobile phone app to "help" them. 

The app, called Find Orlova, features an animated ocean screen, which users touch to find the location of the missing ship. It costs 99 cents to download on iTunes.

Find Orlova was created by Justin Gray and Jonathan Simon, who run a company called Tricolour Software. 

"On your screen, once it's downloaded, you press somewhere on the ocean as to see and try and find Orlova," explained Simon. "And then it gives you an audio clip back as to whether you found it or not and little tidbit that came from some of the tweets as well."

Each audio clip features the sultry, female Russian-accented "voice" of the Lyubov Orlova, which broadcasts tongue-in-cheek messages, such as "When you find me, bring me vodka from Russia".

"The voice is actually Justin's girlfriend, Tricia," said Simon. "She came up with the Russian twang, if you will, for the voiceover."

Ship went adrift in January

The Lyubov Orlova, a former Russian cruise ship, broke free of its tow line to a tug boat in late January while it was being transported from St. John's to the Dominican Republic.

Since then, the derelict ship has literally disappeared from everyone's radar, drifting aimlessly somewhere in the north Atlantic. 

The real Orlova's whereabouts may be unknown, but Gray and Simon took a shine to the idea of the silent ship drifting aimlessly on the high seas.

Soon after the Orlova vanished, the pair created LyubovOrlovaNL — a Twitter account, which has been making regular dispatches in the imagined voice of the ship. 

Their account has attracted more than 1,400 followers.

Apps just a hobby

From there, said Simon, a mobile phone app was the next natural step.

This has been the pair's second venture into apps with a Newfoundland and Labrador connection. Their "Whaddaya app", a mobile phone app which translates Newfoundland sayings to standard English expressions, was a surprise hit, with 35,000 downloads.

Simon said both men have day jobs to support their app-making hobby, but at 99 cents per download, he said Find Orlova could earn then a bit of money. 

"The Orlova App? who knows?"  said Simon. "It's got an international following on Twitter, so it could go even further than the Whaddaya App has."