The issue of livestock shipments is never far from the news in Australia where the government has come under enormous pressure to legislate improved carriage conditions, if not to ban the livestock trade entirely. The debate came to a head in 2017 when a shipment of 63,800 sheep from Freemantle to the UAE, Qatar and Kuwait incurred the loss of 2,400 sheep with the sub-standard conditions on the vessel being filmed by a whistleblower. This followed a similar incident in 2016, many of the deaths being attributed to the high temperatures and humidity in the Gulf during summer months. Government investigators pointed to inadequate manning and the complete absence of a heat stress management plan.
This then is the background to the sale by Australia’s Wellard Group of Ocean Shearer, the world’s largest purpose-built livestock carrier, to Kuwait Livestock Transport & Trading (KLTT), a major exporter of Australian sheep to the Middle East.
Transfer of ownership took place in March this year, the vessel being renamed Al Kuwait. The sale price was said to be US$53m, the vessel having been delivered new to the Wellard Group in 2016 at a price of US$90m.
- Built by China COSCO Shipyard, Dalian
- Owned and operated by Kuwait Livestock Transport & Trading (KLTT)
- LOA 189m
- Beam 33m
- GRT 36,028 tons
- Livestock area: 23,500 square meters
- Number of decks: nine
- Design draft: 8.85m
- Freshwater capacity: 350 tons
- Freshwater production: 800 tons/day from five reverse osmosis units
- Fodder Capacity: 3,000 tons
- Ventilation: Greater than 0.5 meters/second across all pen areas. Greater than 100 air changes per hour.
- Engines: MAN B&W type 6S50 ME – B9,5 TII
- Speed: 18 knots
Al Kuwait has now completed her first voyage for KLTT with the vessel fully delivering on performance. She loaded 60,183 sheep and 910 cattle in Fremantle in mid-April for an 18-day voyage to Oman, Qatar and Kuwait and Qatar. Sixty-two sheep were reported lost, a loss ratio of 0.1%, a company record, against the benchmark worst case allowable of up to 2%. KLTT acknowledged the new vessel’s design and upgraded ventilation in providing the best possible animal welfare was key to the success of this initial voyage.
The Australian Federal Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment introduced new restrictions on live sheep exports effective May 1 this year. Live sheep exports are now banned to the Middle East from June 1 to September 14. In addition, all voyages during the northern hemisphere summer must now be equipped with automated environmental data loggers with the temperature and humidity recorded.
Additional measures include a requirement that sheep are loaded onboard with the shortest wool length and voyages arriving in the Gulf or Red Sea after June 1 or leaving Australia between September 15 and 30 must have no more than two ports of discharge.