Stranded Livestock Carrier MV Ocean Outback Departs Western Australia After Animal Deaths

MV Ocean Outback. File photo: MarineTraffic.com/
MV Ocean Outback. File photo: MarineTraffic.com/J.Dohrn

The livestock carrier MV Ocean Outback finally departed Western Australia this weekend after a propulsion problem left the ship stranded offshore Freemantle for nearly two weeks with thousands of live animals aboard.

Australia’s biggest livestock exporter Wellard Group has confirmed that the vessel was re-routed and cleared to sail to South East Asia to deliver some 5,500 cattle to a regular buyer. AIS data showed the vessel was underway using engine as of Sunday.

The ship was originally scheduled to transport 5,600 cattle and 7,500 sheep from Western Australia to Israel departing December 29th, but engine trouble prevented the vessel leaving port. 

On Sunday, a statement by Wellard Group confirmed that three cattle and 3 sheep had died as a result of the ordeal, but the company insisted that the animals remained in a very healthy condition with all livestock services – feed, water and ventilation – operating as normal.

“Both the WA and Federal Governments and Departments have been very responsive and supportive to expedite a solution to this issue and I want to publicly acknowledge their support,” said Wellard CEO Mauro Balzarini.

On Saturday afternoon, the MV Ocean Outback was brought into Fremantle port to load additional fodder and bedding so the vessel could proceed on its journey to southeast Asia with 5,500 cattle, according to Wellard. Meanwhile the 7,500 sheep have been discharged to an export feedlot, the company said.

“When the vessel was in port it was inspected by a Federal Department of Agriculture Veterinarian, a WA Department of Agriculture animal welfare officer and an RSPCA inspector before being given clearance to proceed,” a statement from Wellard said.

Wellard’s fleet consists of 4 dedicated livestock carriers. The MV Ocean Outback was launched in 2010 and can transport 6,000 cattle or 25,000 sheep, or a combination of both. The vessel was constructed with a Dual Independent Propulsion System, comprising of two separate engine rooms and propellers, as well as an advanced ventilation system exceeding four times the Australian standard, according to the company’s website.