Man reported missing from live cattle ship; foul play a possibility

A man believed to be from the Philippines went missing from live cattle export ship Galloway Express (IMO 9621194) on March 13th, while the vessel was en route to Townsville in north Queensland. An investigation into possible foul play was underway.

The family have claimed that they were not told until several days after the event. The ship is owned by Dutch company Vroon and was chartered by Harmony Agriculture, which sends cattle overseas under the name Phoenix Exports.

International Transport Workers Federation (ITWF) spokesman Dean Summers said the organization immediately began investigating the incident as soon as it was informed by the family. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) was contacted to confirm the incident had occurred. “We had talked to the Australian authorities — we didn’t get any information other than to confirm that there had been a man lost over the side,” Mr Summers said “There is conflicting information — there are suspicious circumstances we understand — and the company refused, according to the family, to update or to talk to the family about their missing loved one.”

Mr Summers said that the ITWF delegation became frustrated at the length of time taken before they were allowed to board the ship in Townsville. He said the ITWF had called on Australian Federal Police to intervene in the case, asserting that Queensland police might not have correct jurisdiction to investigate the Singaporean-flagged carrier.

“There’s a language problem, there’s a cultural problem … we’re convinced [the Queensland Police Service] don’t know the situation on board the ship,” he said.

AMSA said that it had been advised by the ship’s master on March 14th that the event occurred en route to Australia on March 13, 2018. “At the time, the ship was outside Australian waters [in the Flores Sea, north of Timor]. “A search was carried out by local authorities but was later suspended after no signs of the missing person were found.”

Australian Border Force (ABF) officers attended the ship upon its arrival. “ABF conducted routine ‘first port boarding’ procedures and assisted QPS with a vessel search,” AMSA said.

2013-built, Singapore-flagged, 10,241 gt Galloway Express is owned by Livestock Carrier 3 Pte Ltd care of Livestock Express BV of Breda, Netherlands. It is entered with Steamship Mutual (Smuab) (European syndicate) on behalf of Livestock Carrier 3 Pte Ltd.