High Speed Ferry for Stock Transport?

Tom Worthington FACS

15 October 2003


This proposal was prepared on 15 October in the Parliamentary Library, during the annual “Science Meets Parliament” day. It was intended to show how information technology could be used to help address a current political issue.


It is proposed to convert smaller high speed roll-on/roll-off (RoRo) ferries for exporting Australian livestock. Australia is a world leader in the construction of such vessels for commercial customers and for the US military. These vessels are twice as fast as conventional ships and have one half the draft, allowing use of many more ports. One such ship remains unsold in Hobart and could be quickly converted for livestock. If successful, the federal government could offer a subsidy such vessels to be crewed with defence force reserve personnel and made available as military transports, when required. When used for livestock transport the ships could be tracked by Australian livestock export officials via real time satellite links.

The Problem

The plan to return 50,000 stranded sheep to Australia has hit a new obstacle - the sheep are eating their feed faster than it can be loaded for the two-week return trip.
The Federal Government's own back bench is also increasingly nervous about the controversy, with concerned MPs expected to oppose the plan to bring the sheep home at today's joint party room meeting. ...
From: Feeding hitch delays sheep, By Louise Dodson, The Age, October 14, 2003, URL: http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/10/13/1065917342973.html

The ship carrying the sheep M.V. Cormo Express is reported to be at anchor in Kuwait. The ship is operated by Livestock Express is a “daughter company” of dutch Vroon B.V:

Vroon's livestock carriers are specially designed for the job and comply with -and often exceed- the requirements under the international standards for the transportation of animals. The way the Vroon vessels are built and equipped has set the norm. ...
From: Vroon Livestock Carriers, Vroon Home Page (undated), URL: http://www.vroon.nl/livestock.html

The Cormo Express is described <http://www.vroon.nl/ls_express.html> as a Philippine flaged ship converted for livestock in 1989 of 12,711 dvt, 8.87 m draft, with a capacity of 22,207 m2 sheep or 15.684 m2 sheep + 6,408.8 m2 cattle and a speed of 16.5 kn and with 32-70 ventilation air changes per hour. The ship was not purpose build for carrying livestock, but is a converted RO/RO ferry. The location of Vroon Livestock Carriers is tracked by satellites and reported on a web page <http://www.vroon.nl/positiel.htm>, however the lcoation of the M.V. Cormo Express is missing from the web page.

Locations where the sheep can be unloaded are limited due to the draft of the ship and the large number of sheep on board:

The government maintained today that the Christmas and Cocos Islands are a possible destination for the 52,000 sheep stranded on the livestock carrier MV Cormo Express.
But Tim Langmead, a spokesman for agriculture minister Warren Truss, said moving the sheep onto the islands would pose "significant logistical problems", so efforts to find another country for the sheep would continue. Mr Truss said yesterday that 25 countries had so far been approached to take the cargo...
From: Canberra looks at island solution for sheep ship, By Amalie Finlayson and AAP, The Syndey Morning Herald, October 8, 2003 – 2:01PM, URL: http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/10/08/1065292638166.html?from=storyrhs

Australian High Speed Ferries

Two Australian companies Incat in Tasmania <http://www.incat.com.au> and Austal in Western Australia <http://www.austal-ships.com/> build high speed vehicular (RoRo) and passenger ferries.

One of the Incat ships, USAV Spearhead (TSV-1X) was completed in late 2002 and quickly sailed to the middle east to take part in the US Army operations:

taking trucks off in kuwaitI was deployed to a more southern country in JAN03 with an Army Patriot missile unit. once the "shock and awe" started winding down, we got called to pack up and head north, eventually to Iraq. The Saudis didn't really want troops going through Saudi, so we got transported by sea, late FEB or early MAR. And the boat just happened to be a Catamaran.. all aluminum, unpainted, very un-Army looking, the TSV-X1 Spearhead...
From “ Hitched a lift on the TSV-X1”, SSG Drewery, US Army, 2003: URL: http://www.tomw/2002/tsv1x/index.html

Another Incat ship, “The Lynx” (Hull Number 057 ) a 98 metre “Evolution 10B” wave piercing catamaran was built in November 2000 but remains unsold in Hobart <http://www.incat.com.au/news/delivery_archive.cgi>. This ship, under the name “Incat Tasmania” was chartered to the Australian Trade Commission (Austrade) for use as a business networking venue for the duration of the 2000 Olympic games <http://members.ozemail.com.au/~marinedb/press.htm>.

Like the M.V. Cormo Express, Incat Hull Number 057 was built as a RoRo transport <http://www.incat.com.au/uploaded//18/63261_9398mwpc-onepage-004b.doc>. The ship 92.00m long at the waterline, with an overall Beam of 26.60mand a Draft of 3.42m, and speed of 36 knots @ 750 tonnes (40 knots @ 375 tonnes dead weight). In addition to vehicles there is capacity for 900 passengers.

Conversion of Ferry for Livestock

“The Lynx” could be converted to carry livestock within a few hours by rolling prefabricated containerised pens onto the vehicle deck, along with containers for food and water. These could be removed again with a few hours to allow the ship to be used for civilian cargo or military use. The livestock and food could could be preloaded into the pens and then these quickly brought on board and quickly removed at the end of the journey.

Estimate of stock carriage:

This estimate assumes the 4.35m high truck spaces can be used for four decks of sheep and car spaces for three decks of sheep:

380 truck lane metres x 3.1m wide x 4 high= 4712 square m,

plus 80 cars spaces at 4.5m length x 2.3m wide x 3 high = 2484 square m,

Total = 7196 square m.

Comparison with a conventional ship

The Incat ship would have only about one third the capacity of the M.V. Cormo Express, but would be more than twice as fast. The ship could be loaded and unloaded more quickly, reducing stress on the animals and the need for food and water. The smaller load would reduce the risk from disease causing a load to be rejected. Also the Incat ship has less than half the draft, allowing it to unload at many smaller ports.

See also:

Copyright © Tom Worthington 2003