A vessel apparently belonging to the US Coast Guard has been brought ashore to Inis Oírr in the Aran Islands.

The upturned boat was spotted yesterday afternoon by the crew of the Doolin Express Ferry.

It appeared to have been in the water for some time, although it still had its engines attached.

This morning, a spokesperson for the ferry company said they believed the boat was a US Coast Guard vessel.

"We were able to find that out from the serial number, which is clearly visible," she said.

The company is appealing for further help in identifying the vessel via its Facebook page.

Liam O'Brien, owner of Doolin Ferry Co, said his staff were first to spot the upturned vessel.

"Yesterday, we were on the 1pm sailing heading for Inis Oirr. When we were going across to the island, some of the staff spotted it in the water and went over to investigate," he said.

"There was a lot of growth on it, it had clearly been there for a long time.

"We rang the coast guard, and a local fisherman went out for a look. He tried towing it back himself, but it was too big.

"He got back in contact with us and one of our boats towed it in to the beach and a load of locals came down and helped pull it ashore.

"After we pulled it up everyone was asking questions. We have some of our staff who have training on fast rescue boats, and it was painted orange so they knew it must be some kind of rescue vessel.

"We thought maybe it fell off a ship."

The group estimates the boat had been in the water for a number of years due to the length of goose barnacles attached to its sides. They can take several years to grow and some on the boat are almost two metres long.

Locals on the island are trying to clean the boat, but it remains on the beach and is drawing hundreds of tourists.

Additional reporting PA