Health and safety

Maritime Union calls for investigation into converted livestock carriers following 'shocking' capsize off Romania

29 November 2019

Nautilus International has called on Romanian and European Maritime Authorities to thoroughly investigate the causes that led to a livestock carrier capsizing in calm waters off Romania this week ahead of the 10th anniversary of the sinking of the Danny F II converted animal carrier.

The 1980-built converted Ro-Ro Queen Hind, owned by MGM and Registered in Palau, capsized a few hundred feet off the Romanian port of Midia. In this case, thankfully all 22 of the Syrian crew survived, with one member being treated for hypothermia. The carrier was loaded with 14,600 sheep of which 33 survived.

'This is a shocking incident, and the second within in a year for livestock carriers. It highlights the dangers that seafarers face every day working aboard such vessels and is an issue we have long campaigned on through our efforts to get the details of the 2009 Danny F II sinking published,' Nautilus general secretary Mark Dickinson said.

'A thorough investigation must now be conducted into this latest incident so that the maritime industry can learn safety lessons for keeping seafarers safe and improving animal welfare.'

Two Nautilus members, the master and the electrical-technical officer (ETO), were among the 44 crew of the Danny F II who died when the converted Ro-Ro vessel sank off the coast of Lebanon in 2009.

Nautilus International joined crew families over several years to pressure Panama to publish the report, which many claimed should have been submitted to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) much sooner than July 2013 four years after the sinking. The public can now access the report by registering with the IMO's GISIS database

The Danny F II casualty report noted the vessel was a converted Ro-Ro and that losing that ro-ro classification needed to be further explored. It highlighted various deficiencies including stability and structure although did no apportion specific blame. It also recommended that owners and operators need to ensure all crew have basic safety knowledge and take part in drills.

Nautilus members who work onboard livestock carriers and may have concerns about the conditions they are working under should bring them to the attention of their Union Organiser or call the Union's 24/7 helpline.

Nautilus is concerned that too many flag states fail to produce adequate accident investigation reports in a timely manner and that this sets back knowledge and understanding of important maritime safety problems.

Australian veterinary surgeon Dr Lynne Simpson who worked onboard livestock carriers from 2001 until mid-2011, now blogs about her experiences and what she perceives as the 'inherent dangers of taking livestock to sea'.

'There is no way to transport large numbers of animals by sea and be financially viable, corners are cut, animals and crew suffer as a result,' writes Dr Simpson.

'The EU will be under massive pressure now to ensure disasters such as this do not occur again.'

Dr Simpson highlights several shocking accidents involving live animal carriers in recent years, including another in the Port of Midia in 2017 when Youseff H collided with a Russian Navy vessel, sinking the Russian vessel with all crew requiring rescue.

In November 2018 livestock carrier Jawan nearly capsized with 4,327 cattle onboard departing the Australian Port of Portland.

In 2016 a live animal carrier with 3,000 sheep onboard encountered rough weather off Somalia. The ship caught fire and sunk with all 3,000 sheep burnt to death.

In 2015 Haider capsized carrying 5,000 cattle while in port in Brazil. Most of the cattle drowned.

The Romanian Naval Authority has responsibility for safety of navigation and ships security in Romanian waters. It co-ordinates the activities of search and rescue of human life, ships and aircrafts in distress at sea and in the national navigable waters of Romania.]

Following the entry into force of Directive 2009/18/EC establishing the fundamental principles governing the investigation of accidents in the maritime transport sector, EU Member States are required to notify the European Commission of marine casualties and incidents via the European Marine Casualty Information Platform (EMCIP) database.

EMCIP is administered by the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA). EMSA was set up to ensure a high, uniform and effective level of maritime safety in the EU.