Live export ship unloads cattle in Darwin six days after major engine failure

Live export ship unloads cattle in Darwin six days after major engine failure

Approximately 1,800 head of cattle have been unloaded from a live export ship at Darwin Port after spending six nights onboard the docked vessel following a major engine failure.

Key points:

  • A live export vessel has suffered a major engine failure at Darwin Port
  • The onboard cattle have been unloaded and taken to a quarantine yard south of Darwin
  • The federal Department of Agriculture has been monitoring the situation

The Nine Eagle broke down on May 15 after being loaded at the port with cattle destined for Indonesia in a shipment organised by Perth-based company Livestock Shipping Services.

After nearly a week onboard, the federal Department of Agriculture (DAFF) ordered the animals to be taken off the vessel to ensure their ongoing welfare.

The cattle were unloaded late Sunday night and taken to a quarantine yard south of Darwin, where they will be held until export.

Northern Territory Livestock Exporters Association chief executive Tom Dawkins said the cattle were in good health when they disembarked the Nine Eagle.

“I saw the animals myself. I know the Commonwealth vets and the NT chief vet saw the animals on board. They are good animals and needed to be to get on the ship in the first place,” he said.

The ABC understands there is a delay in the arrival of a replacement part for the ship’s engine.

Livestock welfare a priority

The ongoing welfare of the cattle remains a priority of the DAFF.

“The cattle have been inspected daily by departmental vets, in addition to ongoing monitoring by the exporter,” a department spokesperson said.

“The cattle remain in good health.

“The department will continue monitoring the cattle and working closely with the exporter and local authorities on a daily basis until the situation is resolved.”

The Nine Eagle is one of the smaller vessels servicing the live export trade.(ABC Rural: Daniel Fitzgerald)

Mr Dawkins said the accumulation of manure onboard the ship was also a factor in the decision to unload the animals.

Manure from cattle onboard the Nine Eagle could not be legally discharged into Darwin Harbour while the ship was berthed at the port.

“If there is a build-up there that is not drying and bedding, then it can become an issue for the animals,” he said.

“So it was one of the things we brought into the calculations.”

The Nine Eagle, which is flagged in Panama, was built in 2006 and is one of the smallest vessels servicing live exports in Australia.

The NT Department of Industry has been contacted for comment.

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