THE flagship of the world's livestock shipping fleet, the MV Ocean Drover, has celebrated its 100th voyage.
Launched in 2002 as the MV Becrux, the vessel is the world's largest, purpose-built livestock carrier with advanced ventilation, feed and water systems.
In its first 100 voyages the MV Ocean Drover has carried 670,368 cattle and 3,837,127 sheep and travelled 932,613 nautical miles, equivalent to four and a half trips to the moon.
The livestock have consumed more than 150,000 tonnes of fodder.
It has visited ports in Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Mexico, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Russia, and loaded from Townsville, Darwin, Wyndham, Broome, Geraldton, Fremantle, Adelaide, Portland and New Zealand.
Wellard executive chairman Mauro Balzarini said Wellard had high expectations for the MV Ocean Drover when it was launched and the vessel had continued to exceed those lofty expectations.
"The Drover was a breakthrough for the live export industry because it was the first time a large vessel had been designed from the ground up to carry livestock," Mr Balzarini said.
"It was a huge investment in the future of Australia's livestock industry and we continue to see the benefits of that investment more than 100 voyages later.
"The vessel has performed extremely well.
"Success rates are high, weight gains are high and we expect that it will continue to exhibit the same performance in its next 100 voyages."
In 2009 Wellard ordered the construction of two sister ships to the MV Ocean Drover.
"Imitation is the highest form of flattery and the new vessels will be largely based on the Drover's design due to the outstanding success of the vessel," Wellard director Steve Meerwald said.
"In an industry where animal welfare is paramount, the Drover has set the benchmark for livestock care."
Information gained from the operation of the MV Ocean Drover also aided the design of Wellard's new smaller vessels, the MV Ocean Swagman, which was launched in January 2010 and the MV Ocean Outback due for launch in late 2010.
Oman and Pakistan company managing director Tariq Mahmood Butt said the Drover had forged a reputation throughout the Middle East livestock industry during visits to Middle East ports.
"We are extremely pleased when the MV Ocean Drover has been nominated to carry our cargo, because we know the livestock will be delivered quickly and in excellent condition," he said.
"That is important for us as the sheep reach their destination in outstanding condition compared to livestock received from other vessels.
"We also know that the Drover will consistently deliver almost 100 per cent of the cargo loaded for us, all in peak condition.
"The quality of the ship matches the quality of the Australian livestock it carries."
On its 100th voyage, the vessel carried 72,000 sheep and 150 cattle from Fremantle to Muscat, Bahrain and Doha.
A celebration to mark the 100th voyage was held in Doha, with importers from across the Middle East joining Wellard to celebrate the achievement.