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Red Sea crisis: Australia recalls livestock ship

Red Sea crisis: Australia recalls livestock ship
Red Sea crisis: Australia recalls livestock ship

The ongoing Red Sea crisis for shipping has led to Australia recalling a vessel carrying livestock for safety reasons.

The MV Bahijah which was headed to the Middle East. was loaded with cattle and sheep in Fremantle, Western Australia, and left port on January 5. Australia’s department of agriculture has been closely watching the situation in the Red Sea. 

Safety for ships in the Red Sea 

The MV Bahijah is sailing under the flag of the Marshall Islands and was built in 2010. 

The department released a statement on January 20 regarding the vessel: “To ensure the health and welfare of the livestock on the MV Bahijah, the department directed the exporter that the consignment be immediately returned to Australia.” 

The decision to recall the vessel was based on considering biosecurity risks related to the livestock onboard. “The welfare of the livestock and protecting Australia’s biosecurity remain the department’s top priorities.” 

Also read: Red Sea: What’s happening to the shipping and logistics business?

Re-routing ships a massive task 

The cost of rerouting vessels is a mammoth task, not just from a logistics perspective but from a cost standpoint. There are the factors of delayed vessels arriving at port, increased fuel costs for shipowners, and even possible legal action. 

Imagine this scenario: You are a retailer waiting for imported stock to arrive at port so that you can restock your shelves. The store’s stock delay leads to customers going elsewhere – and maybe not shopping at your store again. The income lost could be detrimental if you are a small shop owner. 

Red Sea importance in logistics

The Red Sea is a crucial corridor connecting the Mediterranean Sea, Indian Ocean and beyond. Its strategic location gives shippers access to Europe, Asia, and Africa. The Red Sea route is the natural sailing route between these regions. 

The impact on business had been massive, with some shipping lines having to suspend routes and re-route vessel sailings to accommodate customers. To keep business moving, shipping companies have chosen to divert shipments around the Cape of Good Hope. 

This Cape of Good Hope reroute exercise is no shortcut – but a 6,400-kilometer detour. There is the option of moving cargo by rail and air, but this can’t come close to the amount of cargo a ship can carry. Air freight rates can be steep, but if companies are desperate for stock, then they may just go that route. 

Shipping lines increase costs 

In December 2023, shipping giant Maersk said: “Diverting vessels around the Cape of Good Hope to mitigate the ongoing risks of sailing through the region is necessary in the interest of safety, but it has ultimately brought about increased costs for carriers.”

On January 4, the company announced surcharges due to the Red Sea crisis. “Our teams will continue to evaluate the impact of the situation and hope to withdraw surcharges as soon as operationally feasible, however, please note that they may also increase depending on the circumstances.” 

About the author

Sharl is a qualified journalist. He has over 10 years’ experience in the media industry, including positions as an editor of a magazine and Business Editor of a daily newspaper. Sharl also has experience in logistics specifically operations, where he worked with global food aid organisations distributing food into Africa. Sharl enjoys writing business stories and human interest pieces.

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