Examples of disasters at sea

Examples of disasters at sea



June 2010 - 913 dead sheep (2.5%) due to heat stress and enteritis/salmonellosis on the voyage from Portland/Fremantle to the ME.  Note – over 200 sheep died before the sheep even left Australian waters (a formal complaint has been lodged with WA authorities).

July 2010 – 1,914 sheep dead (3.67%) due to heat stress and enteritis/salmonellosis on the voyage from Portland to the ME, and a further 527 sheep dead (2.08%) from the consignment form Adelaide to the ME (on the same shipment).  A total of 2,572 sheep (note - a further 131 sheep were found dead, but it was not known which port they loaded) died on this ship.

August 2010 – 1,407 sheep dead (2.04%) due to heat stress during the last week of the voyage to the Persian Gulf from Fremantle.

Note: AQIS has advised again and again that the danger of heat stress during the MR summer means that the space per animal needs to be increased at this time, i.e. the current stocking density tables are inadequate.  This has not yet occurred.


August 2009, 756 sheep dead (2.19% due to heat stress and enteritis/salmonellosis on the voyage to the ME.

November 2009, 138 sheep died (7.36%) during a live export flight by air to Malaysia.  The ventilation on the plane was inadequate and the sheep died due to high temperature, humidity and ammonia levels in the hold of the plane.


Attempted changes to stocking densities on ships were met with legal action brought by live export companies, and no increased space allowances are in place. 


During the northern hemisphere summer of 2007 a number of sheep shipments exceeded the ‘reportable’ mortality level (2% for sheep).  They were each attributed to a combination of heat stress and/or inanition/salmonellosis complex;  

May 2007, 622 dead sheep (4.16%) in one consignment and 349 dead (2.34%) in a 2nd consignment on the same shipment to Oman

June 2007, 593 dead sheep (2.15%) on the way to the ME

July 2007,  653 dead sheep (2.52%) on the way to the ME

August 2007, 1.923 dead sheep (2.53%) on the way to the ME

August 2007, 1,251 dead sheep (2.09%) on the way to the ME

October 2007, 1,142 dead sheep (2.06%) on the way to Saudi Arabia

Note: Despite recommendations from AQIS that space allowances be increased for all future shipments during the ME summer, this did not and has not occurred. 


The MV Maysora arrived in Eilat Israel in early November and a consignment of sheep was rejected - said to be due to a suspected scabie mouth outbreak in sheep from an earlier voyage on the MV Bader III. Some of the sheep were offloaded in nearby Jordan and others (approximately 40,000) were unexpectedly taken to Egypt and killed during the Eid Al Adha festival. 862 sheep died on the month long voyage.  

February 2006,  the MV Al Messilah loaded 786 cattle in Portland (Vic.), and then loaded 71,309 sheep in Devonport (Tas.) for the trip to several Middle Eastern countries, including Kuwait. Thousands of sheep were rejected at the feedlot prior to loading due to 'pink eye' infections and other problems. Fully laden, the staff resources were not sufficient to treat all the cattle (6 died) and sheep that became ill - 1683 (2.36%) of the sheep died - due to heat stress and failure to eat, exacerbated by pink eye and other problems.


The MV Maysora was delayed fully laden with 80,000 sheep in Fremantle harbour when engine problems occurred. No animal welfare authorities were alerted.

May 2005, Australian Minister Truss announces the signing of an MOU with Saudi Arabia and advises the ban on shipment to Saudi would be lifted.  The MOU includes an agreement to offload sheep into a quarantine feedlot near Jeddah if a dispute occurs.  


Saudi Arabia rejects the MV Cormo Express (allegedly on disease grounds) in August, with 57,000 sheep on board. No other country would take the sheep - and it was late October before Eritrea agreed to offload them. 10%, around 6,000 sheep, died during the three month-long voyage. Australia suspended all live exported to Saudi Arabia (resumed in mid-2005)


The MV Becrux, on its maiden voyage boasting the ability to provide the highest standard of animal welfare, carried 60,000 sheep and 1,995 cattle from Portland Victoria to Saudi Arabia. 1,400 sheep died along with 880 cattle after the vessel met high temperatures (45 degrees) and humidity in the Arabian Gulf. 

July/August, four shipments of sheep recorded high death rates during export to the Middle East , and a total of 15,156 sheep died during the voyage and discharge phase. Cormo Express: 1064 sheep died, Corriedale Express: 6119 sheep died, Al Shuwaikh: 5,800 sheep died, and Al Messilah: 2173 sheep died. AMSA/AFFA and AQIS conducting 4 separate inquiries. At least one ship, the Al Shuwaikh, was allowed to load more sheep in September and leave for the Middle East before any reports are completed, albeit with an AQIS vet on board. A further 2,304 (3%) sheep died.  


Trade continues under the Saudi Livestock Export Program (SLEP) with a vet on all shipments and regular reporting to exporter etc.
At least 3 shipments where mortality figures under reported to Saudis.


The first trial shipments of sheep leave Australia since the trade ban.


67,488 sheep died when fire broke out on board the Uniceb; 8 days elapsed before any rescue attempt was made. 


Published figures show increased on-board death rates, rising to almost 3 per cent, the rise being attributed mainly due a large number of ships unloading at more than one Middle East port. 


At the end of the Iran/Iraq war, Australian sheep arrived in war-devastated Kuwait and some 30,000 sheep died from heat stroke and dehydration due to poor infrastructure and feedlot facilities.

Jan 17 1991: Minister John Kerin finally announced a halt to the trade, pending formalisation of veterinary and quarantine agreements between Saudi Arabia and Australia.


One rejected ship, the Mawashi AI Gasseem was forced to stay on the water for 16 weeks before a country would accept its remaining sheep.

The "state of the art" Cormo Express left New Zealand in May 1990 and almost 10,000 sheep died en route to the Middle East due to inadequate ventilation causing heat stroke, pneumonia, other diseases and failure to eat.

April 1990: After acceptance of several shipments, the Arwa with 18,000 sheep on board was rejected by Saudi authorities (alleged scabby mouth).

April 1990: The Uniceb, with 30,000 sheep was rejected (alleged scabby mouth).

April 1990: The other countries of the Gulf Co-operation Council (UAE, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain) refused to allow the unloading in their ports of any sheep previously rejected by Saudi Arabia.

May 1990: The Mawashi Al Tabouk, with more than 68,000 sheep was rejected (alleged scabby mouth).

May 1990: The Corriedale Express with 56,000 sheep rejected, alleged to be too old.

July 1990: AMLC issues new and strict guidelines, with agreement with Saudi trade representatives.

Aug 1990: Iraq invaded Kuwait, the war led to the suspension of the trade.

Nov  1990: The Mawashi Al Gasseem, with 86,000 sheep was rejected by Saudi Arabia, later unloaded 54,000 in the UAE, but the remaining sheep (26,000) were not unloaded until accepted by Jordan on February16, 1991.


Many Australian shipments rejected due to claims of scabby mouth and other diseases, by Saudi Arabia. Death rates on board soared to an average of 6% as sheep waited on board ships languishing outside ports or en route to alternative ports.

July 1989: 72,000 sheep rejected – alleged bluetongue disease.

July 1989: A further shipment rejected at Dammam – alleged bluetongue

Aug 1989: 33,500 sheep on the El Cordero rejected – alleged sheep pox

Aug 15 1989: Temporary halt to the trade, delegation to Saudi Arabia.

Aug 1989: A fourth ship was rejected (alleged sheep pox) as the delegation arrived [the sheep on this ship were subsequently unloaded in Abu Dhabi for 1 week, then reloaded onto another ship – the El Cordero  – and were reported to subsequently be refused by both Jordan and Egypt – even as a gift!].

Aug 1989: The Australian Meat and Livestock Corporation (AMLC) formally suspended trade to Saudi Arabia

Sept 1989: Two shipments were already on the water – both subsequently rejected.

Dec 1989: Another AMLC delegation to Saudi, then strict new guidelines announced, and suspension lifted.


15,000 sheep die of heat exhaustion on board the Fernanda F.


Ventilation breakdown in the Mukairish Althaleth causes the death of 70 sheep each day.


15,000 sheep die from exposure in Portland feedlots while waiting loading.


635 sheep die in the transfer from the Kahleej Express to the A1 Shuuwaikh.
8,764 sheep perished on-board The Persia from ventilation breakdown.


The total cargo (40,605 sheep) perish in a fire aboard the Farid Fares.
Disease outbreak causes the death of 2,713 sheep on the Kahleej Express.