The investigation into the sinking of Gulf Livestock 1 that left 40 crew members missing, including 36 Filipinos, may likely center on the history of the Panamanian-flagged vessel which allegedly logged mechanical defects and operational concerns over the past two years.
This developed as the Japanese Coast Guard suspended its search and rescue for the missing crew due to a typhoon that is currently wreaking havoc in the area where the Dubai-based livestock cargo vessel was believed to have sunk in the early morning of Wednesday, September 2.
In December 2019, an inspection report from Indonesian authorities posted on the website of Equasis logged issues that included reported the vessel’s “deficiencies” with the propulsion main engine and gauges, thermometers.
The Australian government, in a 2019 report on the freighter’s transit in June from Australia to Indonesia, noted that the vessel’s departure was delayed for a week due to alleged “stability and navigation issues identified by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA)”.
In May 2019, AMSA’s website showed Gulf Livestock 1 was reportedly held by the Australian authorities for three days because of issues related to its navigation Electronic Chart Display and Information System, citing both a lack of up-to-date charts and training for officers using the system.
German-based maritime tracking site FleetMon said on its website that Gulf Livestock 1, under its former name Rahme, had to shelter at Cesme anchorage in Turkey on September 13, 2018 to fix “mechanical problem” that required spare parts to be delivered on board.
Maritime experts also found it hard to believe that the vessel’s Master missed the typhoon on converging track with its route, or possibly disregarded the typhoon as a threat.
“The ship, judging from ship’s track and track of Typhoon Maysak, may be caught in a center of typhoon and fall victim to its fury, with wind up to 130 knots in gusts,” the FleetMon wrote in its website.
So far, two Filipino crewmen were rescued alive – Eduardo Sareno, 45 and Jay-Nel Rosales 30. The ship’s crew include 39 Filipinos, 2 New Zealand, 1 Australian, and 1 Singaporean.
The Gulf Livestock 1 was on its way to China from New Zealand carrying around 5,800 live cows when it issued a distress signal at 1:45 a.m. (2:45 a.m. in Manila) on Wednesday some 100 nautical miles west of Amami Archipelago, part of the Ryukyu Islands southwest of Kyushu, Japan.