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Families club together to create ¥5m reward in last bid to find missing Gulf Livestock 1 crew

In a last bid to track down their loved ones, the four families of the missing Australian and New Zealand crewmen on the Gulf Livestock 1 have clubbed together to create a ¥5m ($67,000) reward for anyone who discovers or unearths information leading directly to the discovery of any or all of the missing 40 crewmen, whether alive or deceased, from the sunken ship. Any information should be relayed to Simone Wearne who can be reached at the following telephone number: +819010717141.

The livestock vessel, owned by Gulf Navigation, sank in the middle of a typhoon off southern Japan on September 2. Forty out of 43 crew remain unaccounted for from the accident, while the more than 5,800 cattle onboard the converted boxship perished.

Extensive search and rescue missions, initially led by the Japanese Coast Guard and latterly funded by crowdsourcing, have unearthed debris linked to the ship washed up on islands in the far south of Japan. Families are holding out hope that a number of liferafts are still not accounted for in the search operations.

In the Philippines, meanwhile, where the other 36 missing crew hail from, Senator Risa Hontiveros today urged the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to “pressure” the owners of the cattle ship to “swiftly facilitate” the search for the missing crew.

“I would like to respectfully convey their request that the owner of the vessel – Gulf Navigation Holding – be pressured to expedite marine salvage operations for the purpose of recovering any remains that may still be within the wreck of the ship,” Hontiveros said.

Contacted by Splash last month, a spokesperson for Gulf Navigation said the company would not help finance any further search and rescue efforts for the missing crew.

The Gulf Livestock 1 started its trading career as a 630 teu containership in 2002 before being converted to carry animals 10 years later. The sunken ship had a chequered past.

European shipping database Equasis lists 25 port state control deficiencies in 2019 and 2020 alone, including a number relating to the main engine. In July last year the ship drifted for a day undergoing repairs following an engine failure.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. Thank you for sharing this plea from the families. They had to do this, they have been on their own and their efforts have been incredible. The shipping industry has a dark mark on it, this tragic sinking has taught me a lot about the industry and the human toll that seeps from the resource migrations through the portal of the seas. Humanitarian issues are exceptional low and fraud is high. Panama investigators will be closely scrutinized on their performance for the souls of these 40 men.

  2. Despite the implementation of the MLC, seafarers are still little more than a commodity. The value of their lives is set by the terms of the employment contracts they sign in order to feed their families. The Philippine crew of GL 1 will have been contracted on POEA terms which, by Philippine Govt. design, favour the ship owner and their P&I club by minimizing exposure to liability for crew death to USD 50,000 plus USD 7,000 per dependant child (max four). Oh yes, and let’s not forget the ‘generous’ USD 1,000 allowed for burial costs. Bottom line is that the cost of ‘killing’ a Filipino seafarer averages out at about USD 65,000. Total for the missing 36 Filipino crew approx. USD 2.35 million and all paid for by P&I. So why mount a costly extended search when the shipowner’s West of England P&I Club has undoubtedly advised their member they will not pay for it? Human decency? Integrity? Forget it my friend and don’t expect anything from the Panama ‘investigators’ other than the usual FOC whitewash designed to protect the Panama flag and their shipowner client.

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