THE only known survivor of the cattle ship Gulf Livestock 1 has confirmed the vessel capsized in waters off south-western Japan early on Wednesday morning after suffering main engine failure while sailing in extreme conditions caused by Typhoon Maysak.

The 11,947 GT Panama-registered ship, operated by Jordan’s Hijazi & Ghisheh, sailed from Napier on 14 August with a now-reported 5,800 dairy breeding cows destined for Tangshan, China.

45-yo Filipino chief officer Sareno Edvorado was rescued by the Japanese Coast Guard but 42 other people remain missing, including two Australians and two New Zealanders. The crew are all believed to be Filipinos.

Authorities are losing hope of finding more survivors and are racing to complete the search ahead of the arrival of a second typhoon this weekend.

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Gulf Livestock 1 was built in 2002 as the feeder containership Cetus J and converted to a livestock carrier, then named Rahmeh, in 2015 for registered owners Gulf Navigation Livestock Carrier 1 Ltd Inc, managed by Hijazi & Ghosheh.

It was renamed Gulf Livestock 1 in April 2019 during a voyage from Portland, Victoria to Huanghua, China and on 22 May, 2019 detained for three days by AMSA at Broome, WA, when loading for Indonesia under charter to Australian Rural Exports Pty Ltd. The Authority found deficiencies in the vessel’s safety management system, including out-of-date ECDIS charts and officers untrained in the system’s use, which were rectified before sailing.

US-based maritime website G-captain reports that in late July Gulf Livestock 1 was rendered assistance by the Philippine Navy after it lost propulsion off Balut Island in Southern Philippines. Repairs were eventually completed without incident.

NZ’s Ministry for Primary Industries has temporarily suspended applications for live cattle exports.

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