The next time you stick your fork into a veal fillet, a good steak or a sheep shoulder, think that perhaps the piece of meat you are about to put in your mouth has arrived at your table after a long ocean voyage. . That is, by sea. Ships loaded with containers of merchandise, oil, gas, cars, minerals, fish… and livestock, including cows, sheep, goats and everything they need for travel, such as fodder, move throughout the oceans.
Throughout 2018 alone, Australia exported close to 1.14 million sheep and 1.12 million head of cattle by sea, figures that give a clear idea of the intensity of traffic that is not alien to Spanish ports. In 2020, with the pandemic as a backdrop, some 780,000 head of cattle left the port of Cartagena, an export flow that was maintained in 2022.
And if each maritime traffic has its own “king ship”, a vessel that stands out for its dimensions and capacity, the cattle trade is no exception. For years now, the Ocean Shearer has stood out among vessels intended for the transfer of animals thanks to its enormous capacity, which allows it to load neither more nor less than 20,000 cattle, 75,000 sheep or a combination of both.
The largest ship of its category
Its history dates back to the spring of 2016, when Wellard Limited decided to bolster its livestock transport fleet with a major signing. And so big.
Built by COSCO Ship Yard in Dalian, China, the Ocean Shearer it surpassed even what until then had been the “jewel in the crown” of Wellard, the Ocean Drover. When designing it, its managers wanted not only to expand its capacity, but also to improve the conditions of the cattle on board, with better ventilation, more fresh water and space for fodder storage.
Only a few months after leaving the Dalian docks, the Ocean Shearer won the go-ahead from the Australian authorities and the permits to transport cattle, becoming – in the words of its owners – “the largest ship in the world” built specifically for the transport of cattle, a record that until then had belonged to its older brother, the Ocean Drover.
Bazas had to be, of course.
The ship had a cargo capacity of 23,500 square meters (m2), which allowed it to transport, depending on the weight, 20,000 cattle or 75,000 sheep in a single trip with a range of 18,000 miles. Its technical sheet is completed with a length of just over 189 meters by 30 meters wide, almost 9 meters deep and 36,028 gross tons. A whole mega floating stable.
Using similes, the ABC chain explained during its launch, in 2016, that Wellard’s new ship was almost as long as two football fields and, seen at water level, reached the height of an eight-story building. A whole mass of the seas that had cost around 90 million dollars.
“The ship’s fodder storage system contains approximately 3,000 tons,” explained Wellard Limited, which recognized that one of its main objectives was rejuvenate your fleet of ships. After all, the name of the new ship had not been accidental. When baptizing it, those responsible for it recovered that of a previous boat, withdrawn in 2012. Thus, sporting the title of largest floating stable in the world, the Ocean Shearer undertook long voyages around the world that they brought him several times to Cádiz during 2016.
Not all of his voyages were by sea.
In 2019, just a few years after its premiere in style, ABC revealed that Wellard Limited had reached an agreement with the Kuwaiti firm Al Mawashi Limited, one of the largest exporters of sheep from Australia to the Middle East, to sell the ship. by close to 53 million dollars. His objective: to strengthen his finances and save himself the cost of eight million dollars that the Ocean Shearer brought him each year between principal and interest.
Not long after, Al Mawashi released a statement presenting its new acquisition, the ship Al Kuwait, with which it hoped to increase its cattle export capacity in 8,000,000 sheep a yearthus increasing its capacity to two million head of cattle per year.
The ship —emphasized those responsible for the Kuwaiti firm— stands out for its dimensions, but also for a fundamental peculiarity: it has been specifically built to serve as a stable, unlike others that must be adapted. Today she announces it as a ship capable of displacing 80,000 sheep and 15,000 cattle.
Such a floating barn.
A Noah’s Ark for cattle XXXL format.
Images: Bahnfrend (Wikipedia), port of cadiz and Al Mawashi
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