Prologis and Norwegian investment arm in $2 billion US logistics warehouse venture – FreightWaves

Logistics real estate giant Prologis Inc. (NYSE:PLD) and Norges Bank Investment Management, the investment arm of Norway’s oil fund, have struck a deal to acquire a 19 million-square-foot U.S. portfolio in a $1.99 billion deal, the Norges Bank arm said.

Under the terms of a joint venture agreement, the Norges Bank unit will acquire a 45% stake for approximately $896 million. Prologis will control the remaining 55% and manage the properties. The transaction will not require any financing to be consummated, the unit said.

The joint venture is buying 127 properties in multiple U.S. markets, notably Southern California, the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle and Dallas.

The deal is an outgrowth of Prologis’ $3.99 billion acquisition in July of Industrial Property Trust Inc., whose 375 million-square-foot portfolio comprised 236 properties, 96% of which were in existing Prologis markets.

Launched in 1996, the Norwegian oil fund today holds small stakes in more than 9,000 companies worldwide, according to the investment arm. On any given trading day, it holds 1.4% of all of the world’s publicly traded companies.

Prologis, the world’s largest developer, owner and operator of logistics warehouses, controls 797 million square feet worldwide. Of that, 460 million square feet is in the U.S.

“Death ship” capsize kills over 14,000 sheep (With Video) – FreightWaves

[embedded content]

Over 14,000 sheep have died after a ship carrying the animals capsized off the coast of Romania.

The vessel, the Queen Hind, overturned Sunday, November 24 in the Black Sea shortly after loading the sheep at Midia port.

The Saudi Arabian port of Jeddah was one of the vessel’s reported destinations.

The causes of the capsizing are unknown but local media reports claim the vessel may have been overloaded.

Romanian police, military and divers desperately attempted to right the vessel and tow it to port in a bid to save the trapped animals Sunday and Monday.

However, while the crew of 20 Syrians and one Lebanese were safely rescued, only 33 sheep out of 14,600 are thought to have survived.

Animal welfare activists call livestock vessels such as the Queen Hind “death ships,” claiming animals are treated appallingly during loading and at sea, and are effectively cooked to death on board during the hot summer months.

[embedded content]

Eurogroup for Animals is now urging the European Union to take legal action against Romania, the EU’s third-largest sheep breeder after Britain and Spain.

It claims the 1980-built 3,786 gross ton Queen Hind was approved in March by the Romanian National Veterinary and Food Authority to travel with the live animals “despite being outdated, not built for live transport, and encountering engine problems as recently as last year.”

“Infringement proceedings are needed to ensure a proper application on the EU law on transport and the effective protection of the animals,” said Reineke Hameleers, Director of Eurogroup for Animals.

“It is high time the Commission intervened, both by tackling maladministration by Romania and, for the longer term, puts forward a concrete strategy to replace live transport with a meat- and carcasses-only trade.” 

Animals International’s director in the EU, Gabriel Paun, said tragedies like the Queen Hind would continue to occur regardless of improvements and better law enforcement. “There is just one way to end this risky, unnecessary and barbaric trade: replace live export with the trade in meat and carcasses,” he added.

Romania’s main livestock breeder and exporter association, Acebop, has promised to urgently investigate what happened to the Queen Hind.

“Our association is shocked by the disaster,” Acebop president, Mary Pana, told AFP. “If we cannot protect livestock during long-distance transports, we should outright ban them.”

Romania’s exports of sheep to the Middle East were widely criticized this summer for being unnecessarily cruel.

In July, Vytenis Andriukaitis, who was then the European commissioner in charge of health and food safety, demanded the EU Member State block the shipment of 70,000 sheep to the Middle East on animal welfare grounds citing extreme temperatures during summer in the Black Sea region.

His calls went unheeded and the shipment proceeded.

In evidence given to the EU Commission in August, Animals International said as a result of the shipment hundreds of sheep had died by the time they reached their destinations, with an investigator describing “piles of dead sheep” at one unloading point in the Gulf.

“They also saw surviving sheep being ‘beaten’ as they disembarked in temperatures of over 40°C,” reported the activist group.

“While the initial destination was Kuwait, the vessel made five stops in the Gulf, increasing the risks of suffering and death from heat stress.

“Animals were unloaded in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Dubai, Qatar and Oman.”

More FreightWaves and American Shipper articles by Mike

The black Angus bull trade and the need for tracking its supply chain – FreightWaves

A consignment of 250 black Angus-cross weanling bulls made its way from Ireland to Algeria on Nov. 21, marking the advent of Irish cattle into the African country and potentially opening up a new market for Irish livestock – especially with the reality of Brexit looming. This delivery is the first livestock to head to Algeria from Ireland after a new veterinary protocol was agreed upon recently by the Irish and Algerian departments of agriculture. 

The last cattle delivery from Ireland to Algeria before this consignment happened in the 1980s. Every year, Algeria imports roughly 150,000 cattle, making it a highly lucrative market for Irish rearers if they continue to deliver high quality and healthy livestock to the north African nation. 

The Wicklow Calf Company exported the Angus bulls in association with Bord Bia, the Irish food board, which was in touch with the customers and facilitated the logistics required to safely transport the cattle from the farm to the Algerian port.

But going beyond the trade dynamics between countries with regard to cattle exports, it is also essential to make sure the authenticity of the breed in a transaction. Take the case of the black Angus bull consignment that was sent to Algeria from Ireland. The Angus breed is highly sought after for well-marbled beef, leading it to be heavily counterfeited. 

The U.S. is the largest consumer of beef in the world, having consumed 60.9 million metric tonnes of beef in 2018. The black Angus variant is a consumer favourite as can be seen with the number of businesses that claim to rear these cattle. Of the 86 U.S. Department of Agriculture-certified companies that total 25% of all the beef produced in the country, 63 of them have Angus on their list. 

Counterfeiting and mislabeled products start right from the colour of the Angus cattle in question. The Angus breed comes in two primary colours – black and red, with the former being the one that draws the most interest, leading to black Angus cattle selling for a much higher cost in the market than its red counterpart. 

Though clamour for black Angus beef is well documented, cattle growers and beef stakeholders mostly agree that the taste of meat from both the black and red variants taste the same. This makes it easy for slaughterhouses and beef businesses to wilfully interchange variants, as the cost of the red Angus is slightly lower than the black Angus.

Cattle growers have also found that the black Angus bulls are more reactive to heat than their red counterparts, as their black hide absorbs heat better than the red one. During the hot summer months, black Angus bulls tend to graze less and rest under the shade a lot more than the red Angus bulls. This shows up on the weighing scale, as red Angus bulls from the same farm as the black ones tend to be a bit heavier – giving greater dividends to stakeholders who can rear, buy, and sell the red Angus by mislabeling them as a black variant. 

All this leads black Angus beef to be at the epicenter of counterfeiting, pushed forward by small- and mid-tier rearing farms and beef stakeholders that wish to exploit the system. 

Introducing the technology of blockchain can help bring more order into the black Angus supply chain, as blockchain will force every stakeholder in the value chain to push data onto an immutable ledger – from the farm to the supermarket shelves. 

Being decentralized, blockchain provides all the stakeholders with equal control over the network, making it impossible for any single party to edit or mislabel products without the explicit approval of every stakeholder in the system. Apart from restricting the entry of counterfeit products, it also helps with trust, because consumers can scan QR codes to understand their product’s provenance.  

As consumer traits and expectations keep evolving and as supply chains increasingly go global, it is critical to provide transparency and visibility into logistics operations. Apart from infusing trust into the system, such technology can help stakeholders shed inefficiencies and move towards precision logistics – thus benefiting the landscape in its entirety. 

Europa Worldwide gets new head of property to manage construction of its £60 million futuristic warehouse – FreightWaves

Multimodal logistics service provider Europa Worldwide Group has appointed Alec Kirkbride, the former national building manager of supermarket chain Aldi Stores U.K., as the head of property for its new £60 million state-of-the-art logistics facility being built at Midlands Logistics Park in Corby, England. 

Once the construction is completed, the new facility will become Europa’s largest such storage facility in the U.K., while also doubling the company’s warehousing portfolio. Europa, in its statement, stated that the building will cater to high-quality institutional specifications, including an above-market standard of an 18-meter high ceiling that can accommodate three floors of mezzanines. 

Bringing Kirkbride into the management team will help expedite the facility’s construction, as Kirkbride is said to come in with extensive experience in the construction segment, having managed several large-scale national infrastructure projects and complex commercial sites, while playing a pivotal role in negotiating multi-million-pound procurement contracts. 

At 715,000 square feet, the logistics facility is very expansive. Europa has mentioned that the warehouse’s construction work will be completed by June 2020. “I’m currently heavily involved in the Corby build, especially at this stage of proceedings. Once operational, the day-to-day management of the warehouse will be handed over to the warehouse director, Maria-Torrent March,” said Kirkbride. 

“My role as head of property covers all of the Europa real estate, including our warehouses and an extensive network of offices. I’ll be looking at how we can drive business efficiencies, reviewing current procurement methods and suggesting ways in which we can inject new ideas to add value to our current business model,” he continued. 

Europa’s fortunes this year have been tremendously fruitful; it is the best year in the company’s 50-year history in terms of turnover and profit. The turnover rose by 22% this year to £220 million and profit to over £6 million. 

“We’re delighted to announce this huge investment in our logistics operation at a time of massive growth at Europa,” said Andrew Baxter, managing director at Europa Worldwide Group. “This is the single biggest investment we have ever made since I acquired the business in 2013. It demonstrates our ambition to strengthen our third-party logistics operation at a time of huge market growth, particularly for e-commerce logistics.”

Though Brexit has led several logistics stakeholders to vent their frustration, Baxter is amongst the Brexiters who believe that the country’s divorce of Europe will only lead to better business. However, Baxter has commented that Europa spent over £1 million on Brexit preparations, which he admitted has become complicated due to the deadline being pushed off multiple times over this year. 

Baxter hopes for a more streamlined economic environment post-Brexit, as it will cater exclusively to British business interests rather than pander to the collective good of the European Union. In the context of Europa, Baxter does expect disruptions immediately at the onset of Brexit, which puts Europa’s management restructuring and business future-proofing in perspective. 

With e-commerce’s share of the retail consumption pie getting bigger every year, investing in futuristic warehouses can expedite freight movement through the supply chains, helping businesses improve their operational efficiency. Europa’s warehouses offer a wide range of capabilities, including ecommerce fulfilment, inventory management, packing and labelling, quality control and critical parts management.  

Ontruck’s strategic acquisition of Briver will help triple its revenue in 2019 – FreightWaves

Spanish road freight startup Ontruck has acquired digital freight forwarding platform Briver, in an attempt to consolidate its market position in the Spanish region of Cataluña. Ontruck is a marketplace that provides instant price quotes to shippers for delivering shipments within specific time windows desired by their end consumers. 

Ontruck is one amongst the new-age, on-demand delivery startups popping up in the rapidly growing European market that is worth €355.1 billion this year. Carriers use Ontruck’s smartphone application to accept or reject jobs. If they accept a shipment, they can check their whereabouts at nodal points via the application, receiving their payments after every successful delivery. 

On the shipper side of the equation, Ontruck’s precision logistics allows them to access instant price quotes, choose from an array of vehicle specifications, and pinpoint delivery schedules rather than leave them open-ended. 

Before its acquisition, Briver was a part of Wtransnet, a freight and vehicle exchange company based in Iberia, Spain. The company has a well-spread network of over 11,000 transportation companies across 33 countries, using Briver to seamlessly connect shippers and carriers by providing them real-time visibility into road freight movement. Carriers leverage the new-found visibility to significantly reduce the empty kilometres travelled, while shippers can tap into the system to track and trace freight.

“Briver offers many strengths as a digital road freight platform. Not only does it have a strong reputation and network offering a standout service in Cataluña, but it has succeeded in sustaining high margins and building out a large carrier database,” said Iñigo Juantegui, the CEO of Ontruck. 

As such, Cataluña draws about 10% of the road transportation business in Spain – a sizable share within a rapidly growing market. Juantegui explained that integrating a company like Briver into Ontruck helps the startup to bolster its presence in Spain as it holds a complementary client base. 

“In the weeks leading up to the holidays, demand for vehicles increases to over 40% kicking off with Black Friday in late November, all the way through to Christmas. The Briver acquisition will harness Ontruck’s capacity to meet the influx in demand of the Christmas rush by increasing the vehicles available for shipments by 20% in Cataluña,” said Juantegui. 

This scenario is providential for Ontruck, which is on track to triple its turnover from €9 million in 2018 to €27 million this year. The company currently services major brands like Pepsico, Codorniu, GBFoods, Mitsubishi, CHEP and Decathlon, collaborating with around 2,500 vehicles to pull off its precision logistics offering. Apart from perennially looking to increase the volume it ships, it also is doubling down on new clients such as Danone and P&G. 

With Briver’s integration, Ontruck expects to see a 15% growth in business volume for the company. Juantegui stated that Briver would continue to run independently from its parent company, but under a common leadership with no operational changes for clients from either of the brands. “Briver’s team will remain working for the company as if nothing changes. For the time being, they will continue working from their office in Terrassa, Barcelona,” he said. 

Ontruck will continue to expand its geographic footprint, having grown to two new markets – France and the Netherlands – this year. The startup is also looking to open in new cities in countries where it already has its operations running, while at the same time scaling up its service offerings, like booking international full truck loads (FTLs) and providing new ways to negotiate volumes. 

Prologis and Norwegian investment arm in $2 billion US logistics warehouse venture – FreightWaves

Logistics real estate giant Prologis Inc. (NYSE:PLD) and Norges Bank Investment Management, the investment arm of Norway’s oil fund, have struck a deal to acquire a 19 million-square-foot U.S. portfolio in a $1.99 billion deal, the Norges Bank arm said.

Under the terms of a joint venture agreement, the Norges Bank unit will acquire a 45% stake for approximately $896 million. Prologis will control the remaining 55% and manage the properties. The transaction will not require any financing to be consummated, the unit said.

The joint venture is buying 127 properties in multiple U.S. markets, notably Southern California, the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle and Dallas.

The deal is an outgrowth of Prologis’ $3.99 billion acquisition in July of Industrial Property Trust Inc., whose 375 million-square-foot portfolio comprised 236 properties, 96% of which were in existing Prologis markets.

Launched in 1996, the Norwegian oil fund today holds small stakes in more than 9,000 companies worldwide, according to the investment arm. On any given trading day, it holds 1.4% of all of the world’s publicly traded companies.

Prologis, the world’s largest developer, owner and operator of logistics warehouses, controls 797 million square feet worldwide. Of that, 460 million square feet is in the U.S.

Europa Worldwide gets new head of property to manage construction of its £60 million futuristic warehouse – FreightWaves

Multimodal logistics service provider Europa Worldwide Group has appointed Alec Kirkbride, the former national building manager of supermarket chain Aldi Stores U.K., as the head of property for its new £60 million state-of-the-art logistics facility being built at Midlands Logistics Park in Corby, England. 

Once the construction is completed, the new facility will become Europa’s largest such storage facility in the U.K., while also doubling the company’s warehousing portfolio. Europa, in its statement, stated that the building will cater to high-quality institutional specifications, including an above-market standard of an 18-meter high ceiling that can accommodate three floors of mezzanines. 

Bringing Kirkbride into the management team will help expedite the facility’s construction, as Kirkbride is said to come in with extensive experience in the construction segment, having managed several large-scale national infrastructure projects and complex commercial sites, while playing a pivotal role in negotiating multi-million-pound procurement contracts. 

At 715,000 square feet, the logistics facility is very expansive. Europa has mentioned that the warehouse’s construction work will be completed by June 2020. “I’m currently heavily involved in the Corby build, especially at this stage of proceedings. Once operational, the day-to-day management of the warehouse will be handed over to the warehouse director, Maria-Torrent March,” said Kirkbride. 

“My role as head of property covers all of the Europa real estate, including our warehouses and an extensive network of offices. I’ll be looking at how we can drive business efficiencies, reviewing current procurement methods and suggesting ways in which we can inject new ideas to add value to our current business model,” he continued. 

Europa’s fortunes this year have been tremendously fruitful; it is the best year in the company’s 50-year history in terms of turnover and profit. The turnover rose by 22% this year to £220 million and profit to over £6 million. 

“We’re delighted to announce this huge investment in our logistics operation at a time of massive growth at Europa,” said Andrew Baxter, managing director at Europa Worldwide Group. “This is the single biggest investment we have ever made since I acquired the business in 2013. It demonstrates our ambition to strengthen our third-party logistics operation at a time of huge market growth, particularly for e-commerce logistics.”

Though Brexit has led several logistics stakeholders to vent their frustration, Baxter is amongst the Brexiters who believe that the country’s divorce of Europe will only lead to better business. However, Baxter has commented that Europa spent over £1 million on Brexit preparations, which he admitted has become complicated due to the deadline being pushed off multiple times over this year. 

Baxter hopes for a more streamlined economic environment post-Brexit, as it will cater exclusively to British business interests rather than pander to the collective good of the European Union. In the context of Europa, Baxter does expect disruptions immediately at the onset of Brexit, which puts Europa’s management restructuring and business future-proofing in perspective. 

With e-commerce’s share of the retail consumption pie getting bigger every year, investing in futuristic warehouses can expedite freight movement through the supply chains, helping businesses improve their operational efficiency. Europa’s warehouses offer a wide range of capabilities, including ecommerce fulfilment, inventory management, packing and labelling, quality control and critical parts management.  

CMA CGM aims to raise $2 billion to pay loans on CEVA purchase – FreightWaves

A sharp reduction in costs helped CMA CGM boost profits in the third quarter, but the purchase of CEVA Logistics continues to weigh heavily on the bottom line of the container shipping and logistics conglomerate.

CMA CGM’s core earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) of $1.012 billion in the third quarter of this year were almost three times higher than the $364.5 million reported in the third quarter of 2018, while the carrier also reported an EBITDA margin of 13.3%, up from just 6% a year earlier.

CMA CGM, ranked fourth globally in terms of container shipping capacity by Alphaliner (see table below), also saw revenue surge 25.8% year-on-year in the third quarter to $7.624 billion.

Source: Alphaliner

However, while the carrier’s profit from shipping operations rose to $158.9 million in the period from $103.1 million a year earlier, its overall consolidated net profit slumped to $45.4 million from $103.1 million in the third quarter of 2018.

Source: CMA CGM

The CEVA factor

CMA CGM denied the completion of its multi-billion purchase earlier this year of CEVA Logistics, ranked 13th among global third-party logistics providers (3PLs) by revenue in 2018 according to Armstrong & Associates (see table below), was overburdening the company with debt. However, it did confirm it would continue to divest in a bid to raise $2 billion by next year.

“In line with the CEVA Logistics acquisition financing plan, the Group has lightened its capital structure by divesting and refinancing certain of its assets,” the company reported.

“These transactions should enable the Group to raise more than $2 billion in cash by mid-2020, extend the Group’s debt maturities and reduce its net debt by more than $900 million.”

The plan includes raising $860 million from vessel sale and leaseback transactions, of which $650 million was completed during the third quarter of 2019. An additional $210 million is scheduled “to close over the coming weeks,” said CMA CGM.

“The proceeds will primarily be used to pay down the loan contracted to acquire CEVA Logistics, with the balance currently standing at $200 million,” it reported.

Armstrong & Associates: Top Global 3PLs in 2018

CEVA not Terminal, says CMA CGM

The carrier will also raise $968 million by selling stakes held in 10 port terminals to Terminal Link, a joint venture set up in 2013 and owned 51% by CMA CGM and 49% by China Merchants Port (CMP). Terminal Link currently holds stakes in 13 port terminals.

“Terminal Link will finance these acquisitions through a capital increase of $468 million subscribed by CMP and a loan by CMP that in eight years will be converted into a capital increase subscribed by CMA CGM,” reported the carrier.

“The transaction, which is subject to antitrust and other regulatory approvals, is expected to close in Spring 2020.”

Logistics profits forecast pushed back

CMA CGM has now pushed back on its profitability hopes for its newly acquired logistics business which it values at $1.7 billion.

 “The Group confirms the profitability targets previously announced for CEVA Logistics but sets their effects to 2023/2024 due to the challenging environment in certain industrial sectors,” it reported.

“The Group remains firmly committed to returning CEVA Logistics to a sustainable and structural profitability, thanks to the wide variety of measures and investments undertaken since the acquisition closed.”

CEVA’s new Marseille-based operations centre is now, according to CMA CGM, enabling the Group to leverage the “disciplined management of its logistics operations and generate revenue synergies with the signing of several new contracts”.

It added, “However, CEVA Logistics’ exposure to the automotive and technologies industries is continuing to dampen demand in both the Freight and the Contract Logistics services segments.

“In addition, the significant investments made to transform CEVA Logistics are also weighing on margins in the short term.”

Volumes over profits?

In terms of its core container shipping business, CMA CGM appears to be placing more emphasis on volume growth than some of its rivals. In their respective third quarter reports, rival European carriers Maersk and Hapag-Lloyd both emphasized profitability over market share. Maersk’s third quarter results revealed that  volumes increased just 2.1% year-on-year, while Hapag Lloyd reported a slight contraction in volumes.

CMA CGM, by contrast, saw volumes increase 5.1% in the third quarter, aided by the acquisition of European short-sea operator Containerships.

“This growth comes primarily from the growth of the Group short sea business and a push to rebalance our trades to help reduce our operating expenditures,” said CMA CGM.

Despite the increase in volumes, the carrier cut its operating costs during the third quarter. “Ongoing deployment of the performance improvement plan delivered a further reduction in unit operating costs of $25 per twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU), compared with the second quarter of 2019 and of $89 per TEU, compared to the third quarter of 2018,” it reported.

CMA CGM Group said that it would continue to pursue “actions to reinforce its operational efficiency and cost discipline in its shipping business.”

It added, “During the third quarter of 2019, the Group further enhanced its operating performance, led by its shipping activity.

“In particular, this reflected the optimized use of its state-of-the-art fleet and the ability to adapt its organization to market developments.”

More articles by Mike

Fretlink adds delayed fuel payment and trailer rental features to its platform – FreightWaves

French freight matching startup Fretlink has introduced a new set of features to its Platform of Services. The features were developed based on the needs of carriers and are now accessible by Fretlink’s most active carrier partners across France. These services were built in partnership with equipment service provider TIP and UNION TANK Eckstein (UTA), a major provider of fuel and service cards in Europe. 

The Platform of Services was launched by Fretlink in April this year, and the newly unveiled features are among its most significant additions yet. “Our objective is to help carriers sustain, develop and grow their activities. To do that, we analyzed what processes were impacting their profit and loss, which led us to develop the right services and get commercial bargains that help lower operational costs,” said Pierre Roux, the chief communications officer at Fretlink. 

Unlike regular digital freight marketplaces, Fretlink believes the problem within the market is not technology but rather the lack of organization – leading the startup to look at aligning pricing, capacity and service within the market. Fretlink helps shippers triage these parameters and choose carriers that would be the best overall, and not just the least expensive. 

In this set of features release, Fretlink is partnering with UTA to provide carriers access to the largest low-cost multi-brand fuel station network in France, with attractive options like delayed payment and reduced fees. “The fuel card will allow our carriers to have slight discounts on their fuel at the gas station. And carriers can easily manage their whole fleet without drivers having to pay cash, as there’s delayed payment,” said Roux. 

Fuel is one of the biggest costs in operating a carrier, making the delayed payment option a lifeline to freight businesses. Fretlink’s premium carriers enjoy the option of gaining up to three months in fuel-related working capital, helping them push forward with hauling more loads rather than await shipper payment to fund their next assignment. 

As the UTA network grows within the other European markets, carriers will be able to push their boundaries even further within the continent without basing operations on their immediate fuel expenses. 

Fretlink’s association with TIP helps provide the startup’s premium partners with short-term trailer rental, along with privileged access to TIP’s secured parking spots around the region of Lille, France. Fretlink’s partners would also be provided with 24/7 roadside assistance anywhere across Europe by TIP services. 

“We’re really glad to accelerate our partnership with Fretlink through this Platform of Services, as being an everyday partner to carriers lies in TIP’s core DNA. With its comprehensive approach to carrier’s needs, Fretlink makes a clear positive contribution to their profitability that will definitely ensure their further sustainability and development,” said Bob Fast, CEO of TIP Trailer Services. 

This apart, the Fretlink-TIP partnership provides their carriers access to second-hand heavy goods vehicles in Europe, with every vehicle being thoroughly inspected – renovated if necessary – to meet TIP’s standards of quality and reliability. The idea here is to help local carriers choose models from a large pool of used trucks across various manufacturers’ brands. 

“Death ship” capsize kills over 14,000 sheep (With Video) – FreightWaves

[embedded content]

Over 14,000 sheep have died after a ship carrying the animals capsized off the coast of Romania.

The vessel, the Queen Hind, overturned Sunday, November 24 in the Black Sea shortly after loading the sheep at Midia port.

The Saudi Arabian port of Jeddah was one of the vessel’s reported destinations.

The causes of the capsizing are unknown but local media reports claim the vessel may have been overloaded.

Romanian police, military and divers desperately attempted to right the vessel and tow it to port in a bid to save the trapped animals Sunday and Monday.

However, while the crew of 20 Syrians and one Lebanese were safely rescued, only 33 sheep out of 14,600 are thought to have survived.

Animal welfare activists call livestock vessels such as the Queen Hind “death ships,” claiming animals are treated appallingly during loading and at sea, and are effectively cooked to death on board during the hot summer months.

[embedded content]

Eurogroup for Animals is now urging the European Union to take legal action against Romania, the EU’s third-largest sheep breeder after Britain and Spain.

It claims the 1980-built 3,786 gross ton Queen Hind was approved in March by the Romanian National Veterinary and Food Authority to travel with the live animals “despite being outdated, not built for live transport, and encountering engine problems as recently as last year.”

“Infringement proceedings are needed to ensure a proper application on the EU law on transport and the effective protection of the animals,” said Reineke Hameleers, Director of Eurogroup for Animals.

“It is high time the Commission intervened, both by tackling maladministration by Romania and, for the longer term, puts forward a concrete strategy to replace live transport with a meat- and carcasses-only trade.” 

Animals International’s director in the EU, Gabriel Paun, said tragedies like the Queen Hind would continue to occur regardless of improvements and better law enforcement. “There is just one way to end this risky, unnecessary and barbaric trade: replace live export with the trade in meat and carcasses,” he added.

Romania’s main livestock breeder and exporter association, Acebop, has promised to urgently investigate what happened to the Queen Hind.

“Our association is shocked by the disaster,” Acebop president, Mary Pana, told AFP. “If we cannot protect livestock during long-distance transports, we should outright ban them.”

Romania’s exports of sheep to the Middle East were widely criticized this summer for being unnecessarily cruel.

In July, Vytenis Andriukaitis, who was then the European commissioner in charge of health and food safety, demanded the EU Member State block the shipment of 70,000 sheep to the Middle East on animal welfare grounds citing extreme temperatures during summer in the Black Sea region.

His calls went unheeded and the shipment proceeded.

In evidence given to the EU Commission in August, Animals International said as a result of the shipment hundreds of sheep had died by the time they reached their destinations, with an investigator describing “piles of dead sheep” at one unloading point in the Gulf.

“They also saw surviving sheep being ‘beaten’ as they disembarked in temperatures of over 40°C,” reported the activist group.

“While the initial destination was Kuwait, the vessel made five stops in the Gulf, increasing the risks of suffering and death from heat stress.

“Animals were unloaded in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Dubai, Qatar and Oman.”

More FreightWaves and American Shipper articles by Mike