The use of vessels which have exceeded their ‘scrap by’ dates and then purchased to be converted into livestock carriers are something which is seen all too much (unfortunately) by those of us monitoring the live animal export industry.
When the ‘Queen Hind’ sank after leaving the Romanian port of Midia in November 2019, many thousands of sheep also drowned there. Who is pulling one when they paint ‘Safety First’ on the vessel ?
Only 180 sheep survived the ‘Hind’ incident out of the 14,600 initially believed to have been onboard, which was carrying them from Romania, the EU’s biggest exporter of the animal, to Saudi Arabia.
But the revelations uncovered during salvage about the Hind having secret decks only increased the death toll of the sheep carried by several thousands, and also raised fresh questions on whether overloading was to blame for the capsize.
Seems strange does it not, that the Sudan incident happening very recently, included the failure of an official PSC ministry inspection of the vessel over a 10-year gap from 2008-18. Were the extra 4 decks fitted onto the vessel during this time ? – yes; and could this have been what caused the vessel to become ‘top heavy’ and overturn when fully loaded with animals ?
We are not afraid to say, but we also question if these incidents are about compensation issues. If you have a very old ship and it is written off, do you not get insurance money which will probably buy you a better one ? – and the livestock ?; somebody somewhere is going to get compensated for the ‘loss’ of the cargo one assumes.
A disgusting business which belongs in the history books. No doubt it will happen again, what once, twice or more ?
I simply ask the question; how are these old rust buckets allowed to cross the oceans of the world carrying livestock when they have not had an official inspection for over 10 years ? – when I have a car, it has to be inspected and pass rigorous (MOT) testing by the authorities each and every year. ‘My car’ carries 4 or 5 people, not 15,000 live animals; so should ithe floating death traps not be inspected more regularly to higher standards when operating ? – especially when they are that old in the first place.
Baffled ? – yes I am, just like many others.
The vessel Al Badri 1 (misreported as the Badr 1) began sinking at the pier at Suakin, Sudan in the early hours of a recent Sunday morning. The vessel capsized slowly, officials told The Guardian, and the crew had enough time to disembark. Only some 700 sheep escaped and survived.
The loss of the Al Badri 1 may affect the port’s operations, as well as the environment, given the potential for a fuel oil spill and the effluent from the decay of thousands of sheep. The vessel is now submerged next to its berth, interfering with the pier’s use until the wreck is cleared.
The Al Badri 1 (ex name Henry Stahl, Ester 1, Ytong 1, Malak 1) was a stern-ramp ro/ro freighter originally built in 1973 and converted into a livestock carrier later in her lifespan.
She had a history of port state control deficiencies in recent years, as well as a 10-year gap from 2008-18 in which she had no PSC inspections.
Images from before and after the Al Badri 1’s conversion suggest that four extra decks were welded on above the ship’s main deck level to add more space for livestock.
Worldwide, livestock carriers are generally older than the average merchant ship, and the average fleet age for the class exceeds 40 years. Almost all are conversions, often from ro/ro vessels.
The ships selected for the conversion process have usually already arrived at the normal age for demolition (about 30) when they begin their new life, based on a 2021 study by Animal Welfare Foundation, Tierschutzbund Zürich and Robin des Bois.
A similar incident occurred aboard the livestock carrier Queen Hind in November 2019. The vessel capsized off the coast of Romania under unusual circumstances, drowning almost all of the 15,000 sheep on board.
From the Romanian incident – Secret decks for extra animals have been found in a livestock carrier that sank off the Romanian port of Midia in November drowning thousands of sheep, according to the company carrying out the massive salvage operation.
But the revelations about secret decks are likely to increase the death toll by several thousands, and raise fresh questions on whether overloading was to blame for the capsize.
The vessel was left on its side in the water as it sank not far from port, with sheep corpses piling up around it. Images of the tragedy made headlines worldwide and led to renewed calls by animal activists to impose a ban on live exports from Europe to non-EU countries, particularly the Middle East and north Africa.
We also understand that the vessel in the Sudanese incident was officially only allowed to carry 9,000 animals; yet 15,800+ being carried drowned. Thus, it would appear as we always suspect with these cheap rate bathtubs which are used in this business, the vessel was carrying twice as many animals as it should have been; which we expect (are very certain of) being the cause of the incident in the first place.
It has happed before – see the ‘Queen Hind’ secret decks data above.