The State has begun proceedings to confiscate the MV Matthew, the ship that was seized off the south coast of Ireland in September with €157 million worth of cocaine on board.

The vessel is then likely to be sold at public auction in an effort to recoup costs incurred in the multi-agency operation.

The ship has since been tied up at the former IFI berth at Rushbrook in Cork Harbour since it was first brought there under arrest almost two months ago.

The bulk carrier had sailed from the Caribbean to Europe where it was dramatically intercepted off the south coast of Ireland, and boarded from the air by members of the Army Ranger Wing in a multi-agency operation.

The Revenue Commissions announced its intention to confiscate the MV Matthew in a notice published in Iris Oifigiúil on 20 October last.

It said that the vessel is being seized on the grounds that it is liable to forfeiture under Section 17 of the Customs Act 2015 because it was involved in the smuggling of illegal goods into the State.

It also said that anyone claiming ownership of the vessel has 30 days to contest the forfeiture and if no-one comes forward it will be "duly condemned as forfeited".

The deadline is due to expire this week.

The 190 metre-long, 32 metre-wide Panamanian-registered bulk carrier ship was built in 2001, and its value will depend on its classification status.

Until August, the ship was called the MV Honmom.

A total of 2.2 tonnes of cocaine was found on the ship, worth an estimated €157m.

Gardaí said it was the largest drugs seizure by weight in the history of the State.

Its captain and crew of 24 were detained for questioning at the time. Seven people have since been charged.

The ship remains tied-up in Cork Harbour with a temporary skeleton crew on board pending the outcome of these proceedings.

Meanwhile, the Castletownbere-registered fishing trawler 'the Castlemore', which was allegedly used as part of the international drugs trafficking operation, remains stuck on a sandbank off the Wexford coast.

Efforts to lift the trawler were made on the night it went aground but failed.