A fire broke out on board the Ocean Drover whilst docked at number 1 berth in Fremantle port this morning befor 8.00 AM. Thankfully no animals had yet been loaded, despite the ship having been in dock since 3 October. It has been reported that livestock trucks were removed from the dock due to the possibility of toxic smoke, so loading must have been imminent.
Apparently the fire broke out in crew's quarters -we hope they are all safe and accounted for.
Had this happened 24 hours later, or at sea, the outcome could have been catastrophic. There have been countless livestock ship disasters at sea which have seen thousands of animals die - from less than a hundred to the entire shipment - some from weather events, some from ventialtion breakdown, some from drowning, and these two (that we know about) from fire:
- 1980 The total cargo (40,605 sheep) perish in a fire aboard the Farid Fares.
- 1996 67,488 sheep died when fire broke out on board the Uniceb; 8 days elapsed before any rescue attempt was made.
Live animal export is not only inherently cruel, it is inherently risky; placing animals at increased risk for increased profit is just not morally justifiable.
We would speculate that the ship would now not be inhabitable without repairs and imagine that the cattle that were due to be loaded, bound for Indonesia, will be returned to the feedlot to await another Wellard vessel. The Ocean Outback is currently in Singapore and the Ocean Swagman in China. KL