A ship carrying about 16,000 sheep collapsed on Sunday at its berth in a Sudan port. All crew members survived, but almost all the cargo was lost.

In the early hours of Sunday morning, the vessel Al Badri 1 (misreported as the Badr 1) began sinking at the pier in Suakin, Sudan. Officials informed The Guardian that the ship sank slowly, giving the crew enough time to disembark. Only 700 sheep managed to escape and survive.

Because of the possibility of a fuel oil spill and the effluent from the decay of thousands of sheep, the loss of the Al Badri 1 might impact port operations and the environment. The ship is currently underwater near its berth, preventing the pier from being used until the wreck is cleared.

The Al Badri 1 (also known as Henry Stahl, Ester 1, Ytong 1, Malak 1) was a stern-ramp ro/ro freighter built-in 1973 that was later converted into a livestock carrier. She had a recent history of port state control violations and a 10-year period between 2008 and 2018 with no PSC inspections.

Four extra decks were welded above the ship’s main deck level to add more space for cattle, according to images taken before and after the Al Badri 1’s renovation.

Livestock carriers are generally older than merchant ships worldwide, with an average fleet age of more than 40 years. Almost all of them are conversions from ro/ro vessels.

According to a 2021 study by Animal Welfare Foundation, Tierschutzbund Zürich, and Robin des Bois, the ships chosen for conversion have typically arrived at the average age for demolition (about 30) when they begin their new life.

A similar incident occurred aboard the livestock carrier Queen Hind in November of this year. Under rare circumstances, the vessel capsized off the coast of Romania, drowning nearly all of the 15,000 sheep on board.

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