Al Messilah Not Allowed to Load Australian Sheep

file photo

By The Maritime Executive 2017-11-01 19:41:25

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority has stopped the livestock carrier Al Messilah from loading sheep in Fremantle after a port state control inspection found numerous problems with the vessel.

An Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) spokesperson said the surveyor found a number of deficiencies including:

•         Holes corroded in the decks and bulkheads throughout the ship as well as wastage of the supporting structure;
•         Multiple issues with the electrical cabling including wasted conduits, improperly mounted cables, exposed wires and unsealed electrical junction boxes;
•         Unserviceable generator;
•         Damaged bulkhead structure;
•         Poor quality repairs throughout the livestock decks.

AMSA withdrew the vessel’s Australian Certificate for the Carriage of Livestock pending the completion of repairs. The vessel has not been banned or refused access to Australian ports, nor has it been detained by AMSA.

The Al Messilah was built in 1980 and is chartered to carry 75,000 sheep to the Persian Gulf for exporter Emanuel. Graham Daws, managing director of Emanuel, said the sheep would be loaded on to on another vessel, and he rejected suggestions that the failed inspection supported concerns the vessel was too old and unsuited for live export work, reports The West Australian. “The age of a vessel has nothing to do with its seaworthiness,” he said.

However, animal welfare organization Adelaide Against Live Export spokesperson Suzanne Cass says the problems found by AMSA come as no surprise. Cass says thousands of animals have died on the fully enclosed converted vehicle carrier. Last year, the Al Messilah suffered a high mortality voyage where over 1,700 sheep died of heat exhaustion during a trip from Fremantle to the Persian Gulf. A government investigation revealed that there was difficulty in counting the number of dead sheep, as the bodies decomposed rapidly in the extreme humidity experienced on board. 

Additionally, in August 2011, the Al Messilah suffered a mechanical breakdown shortly after leaving Adelaide. After nine days, the vessel was forced to return to port to unload the sheep on board, with the official reporting saying that 298 out of 66,918 sheep had died. In 2006, when the vessel made her final call to Devonport in Tasmania with 71,309 sheep of which 1,683 died. 

The regulations for the carriage of livestock are made under the Navigation Act 2012 and are contained in Marine Order 43, which is currently under review by AMSA. Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Darren Chester says the review is expected to be released for consultation in the first quarter of 2018 with a view to making a new order by mid 2018.

Adelaide Against Live Export is raising awareness about the age of the livestock carrier fleet with a Change.org petition that will be sent to Chester. “We hope that this is the beginning of the end for these old ships," says Cass. 

Additional coverage by The Maritime Executive: Counting Sheep