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Exports tug at hopes

Glenn CordingleyThe West Australian
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A record shipment of more than 10,000 head of cattle left Broome for Jakarta last week on converted livestock export ship the Awassi Express.

A second $5 million tug delivered to the Port of Broome last month made the export of 10,120 cows possible on June 24 because two of the vessels working together can handle far bigger ships berthing and leaving.

The amount was 2000 head of cattle more than the previous export record from Broome.

Port of Broome chief executive Vic Justice said the availability of the new tug has paid quick dividends for the Western Kimberley livestock industry.

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"We hope to have more shipments of this size in the near future, for the benefit of our local pastoral and road transport industries," he said.

"The next livestock vessel in the port's shipping schedule will be of similar size, again made possible by having two tugs available."

The West Kimberley pastoral industry is faring well so far during this export season, with 46,106 head of cattle shipped to date this year.

Mr Justice said another 10,000 at least would be heading overseas in coming weeks.

A total of 70,000 head was shipped for the previous calendar year.

The Awassi Express was converted from its previous life as a container ship.

During its 2010 conversion from container ship to livestock carrier, the vessel was renamed after the Awassi breed of sheep.

The vessel is 181m long, and 31m wide at the beam.

According to Maasmond Maritime, the conversion from container vessel took 5500 tonnes of steel, and the dockyard work in Indonesia is estimated to have cost $60 million.

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