Well the reason the KLTT owned Al Messilah shuffled across to Berth H from North Quay on 26th Oct was not just to install some industrial fans. The West has reported that on 20th Oct, AMSA apparently found “a number of issues” and it withdrew the vessel’s certification to carry livestock until repairs were done.
The issues: holes corroded in the decks and bulkheads as well as wastage of the supporting structure, multiple issues with electrical cabling and an unserviceable generator. Oh ...and poor quality repairs had been made through the livestock decks. Ah but those old ships are just fine.....its only a vessel owner, maintenance issue apparently.
Just over 2 years ago, KLTT, a livestock-ship operator and importer, announced through its Australian subsidiary RETWA that it had committed to build the first of a series of new vessels to replace the existing KLTT fleet by 2020. Guess that means they were hoping the Al Messilah would hold together till that happened. Well looks like its in the hands of AMSA now.
Al Messilah has been in Fremantle Port for days now (since Oct 20). One wonders why? Perhaps they are loading industrial fans rather than sheep? The very innovative and ingenuous Government response to the heat stress disaster on the Al Messilah last year (High Mortality Voyage Report 65) was to recommend loading industrial fans....ho hum.....
Documents obtained under FOI show that on 21st April 2016, the exporter NACC sent their report in to the government regarding a high mortality voyage carrying cattle from Townsville to Vietnam in March 2016 (1.42% mortality; Report 61). The unseasonable weather pre-export was given as the precipitating factor. The report stated that “the most significant and principal cause was around a 1 in 5 year rainfall event that occurred in the 3-4 days immediately prior to the voyage commencing”. NACC advised the following “NACC will also review our policies around monitoring weather patterns to prepare for adverse conditions and we will work closely with existing quarantine facilities to ensure conditions for livestock are best should bad weather eventuate”.
Just over a month later, on 27th May 2016, a NACC consignment left the other side of the country (Geraldton) after less than ideal pre-export conditions. The government report (Report 64) stated that “628 cattle were held at Premises A for more than 30 days….The area received greater than average rainfall in April…the wet conditions in the area were exacerbated with more than 90% of the rainfall of May falling within three days prior to the departure date of the consignment…”…Sound familiar?…..Deja vu for Voyage 61?? The report continued “According to the exporter, the wet conditions softened the hooves and this resulted in infection, lameness and later some secondary illness including pneumonia causing 5 mortalities in Premises A.” [Note this was BEFORE loading]. 13/15 shipboard mortalities were from Premises A. The government report concluded that “the cold and wet conditions and a prolonged stay of cattle in Premises A (up to 40 days) may have contributed to the lameness, downers and subsequent mortalities during the voyage".
Wow….if the government didn't comment on the similarities between the voyages or ask what could have been done differently to prevent the second high mortality voyage, we can hardly criticise the exporters.
A VALE blog written less than a month ago predicted that the DAWR would find that slippery decks were the whole and sole cause of the 7.69% mortality on the GL Kaihou...and sure enough they did. Not one mention of the inadequate ASEL requirement for bedding despite the fact that the only thing that helped these cattle was the provision of sawdust and fodder in ALL pens!!! How totally predictable.
However, a more shocking revelation about this high mortality voyage (Report 68) was the fact that the problem was detected by an exporter representative, a stockman and a DVO (Department Veterinary Officer) BEFORE the ship left port...and the fact that the problems started on the voyage ON THE MORNING OF Day 1, ie it could have been banned from sailing or could have turned around and come back.
A government spokesperson was happy to point out to the ABC that this was essentially a breach of ASEL but there was no mention of this in the Investigation Report. No such directions as to appropriate procedure appear to have been given for the subsequent voyage with the same shipboard veterinarian.
THE LIVE EXPORT HIGH MORTALITY INVESTIGATIONS ARE A COMPLETE FARCE...its no wonder shipboard vets wont report high mortality voyages. The common reason provided for deliberately under-reporting mortalities to stay under the acceptable percentages is that it is a huge amount of work reporting a high mortality voyage and nothing constructive ever comes of it. VALE agrees.