The temporary loss of a key vessel from Australia’s live export fleet following an on-board fire in October has not significantly impacted Australia’s capacity to meet live export demand, according to the ship’s owner Wellard Rural Exports.
In early October a fire broke out on the MV Ocean Drover while it was docked days before loading stock at Fremantle Port. The fire was contained in the accommodation and bridge area and the vessel was later relocated to Singapore via a sea tug for repairs.
Work prior to the 2.5 week sea journey to remove all internal infrastructure from the damaged area helped to shorten the overall time required to repair and refurbish the ship following its arrival in Singapore.
Wellard Rural Exports told Beef Central this week that it now expects to have the Drover operating again by early February.
The shorter delivery time frame was also aided by the ability to procure all of the required replacement infrastructure and electronics easily because the Drover was designed by Wellard, and all blueprints and spare parts were readily available.
Wellard said it was also taking the opportunity while the vessel was in dry-dock to upgrade navigational and other safety equipment to the latest standards and performing scheduled dry dock maintenance on other areas of the vessel.
The company said the impact on the impact on numbers of livestock exported was not as high as some may have originally estimated because the vessel had been booked for a one month scheduled dry dock program anyway.
Wellard said it had also chartered vessels and space on other vessels to meet its customer commitments.
At least one of these vessels was likely to head to South America if Wellard hadn’t chartered it for two South East Asian voyages.
In effect the vessel will be out for only three extra months compared with the scheduled time in Dry Dock.
Wellard said that in this time it would have performed probably one round trip to the Middle East with 70,000 sheep and 1.5 round trips to South East Asia with 17,000 cattle considering multiple discharge.
Wellard CEO Mauro Balzarini said the company was pleased that it had been able to minimise the time the vessel had been out of service.
“We are also using the opportunity to upgrade many of her systems to the most modern available,” Mr Balzarini said.
“She is being repaired at a yard with an excellent reputation and I have every expectation that the vessel will re-enter service in February as good as new.
“In the meantime, we’re still purchasing the same amount of cattle we would have purchased if the Drover wasn’t temporarily stopped.
“They will be exported on either our ships or ships that we chartered to ensure we’re still providing marketing options for producers and cattle supply for our International customers.”