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Highest hopes for livestock vessel

Brad ThompsonThe West Australian
Wellard chief executive Mauro Balzarini is expecting smoother sailing from the Ocean Shearer after taking delivery of the vessel in Dalian.
Camera IconWellard chief executive Mauro Balzarini is expecting smoother sailing from the Ocean Shearer after taking delivery of the vessel in Dalian. Credit: The West Australian

Livestock exporter Wellard is counting on the latest addition to its fleet to provide some smooth sailing after a rocky few months since floating on the Australian Securities Exchange.

Fremantle-based Wellard took delivery of the $US90 million Ocean Shearer in the Chinese port city of Dalian yesterday where it was commissioned at the COSCO Ship Yard.

Chief executive Mauro Balzarini, a naval architect, had a hand in designing the vessel which has been touted as a better version of Wellard flagship the Ocean Drover.

The Shearer is bound for Brazil where it will load cattle for delivery to the Middle East.

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Wellard now has five vessels, with the Shearer increasing the fleet’s carrying capacity by about 50 per cent. A sixth vessel, the Ocean Kelpie, is under construction.

The Shearer can carry 20,000 cattle or 75,000 sheep. It has a fuel range of about 29,000km and a top speed of about 19 knots.

Mr Balzarini said the commissioning of the Shearer was a milestone for Wellard and the global livestock industry.

“It shows our confidence to all stakeholders in Australia and around the world,” he said. “The vessel’s speed, ventilation system, fodder capacity, enhanced stability and modern engines will enable us to safely transport sheep or cattle in perfect comfort on short or long route with the lowest emission footprint.”

The Shearer could eventually be used to carry Australian cattle to Tianjin in China where Wellard is building a feedlot and abattoir as part of a joint venture with the Fulida Group. Its smaller vessels with capacity to carry about 7000 cattle are likely to make the initial deliveries.

Wellard was rocked by engine breakdowns on the Ocean Outback and Ocean Swagman earlier this year.

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