Thousands of cattle are in limbo on board a live export ship that has been broken down off Rottnest since Friday.
Live exporter Wellard is reeling from the latest mechanical failure on one of its vessels and trying to fast track approvals to redirect 7000 cattle, originally bound for Israel, to Vietnam.
Wellard's Ocean Outback has been anchored north of Rottnest since Friday after one of its two engines broke down soon after leaving Fremantle. The vessel was on its first voyage after engine repairs.
The breakdown continues a shocking run for Wellard, which suffered a higher-than-normal mortality rate when the Ocean Drover hit engine trouble on a voyage to the Middle East earlier this year. It is also caught up in an investigation into the alleged forgery of import documents.
Wellard said yesterday that it had opted to abandon the long voyage to Israel because of concerns about the cattle and crew.
The Ocean Outback is expected to take two weeks to reach Vietnam operating on one engine.
The future of the shipment depends on Australian and Vietnamese authorities issuing the necessary approvals and how long that takes. The Ocean Outback could return to port to take on feed or to unload the cattle.
"The welfare of the animals and the crew is our priority so we have taken the decision to sail to South-East Asia where our customer continues to require increased numbers of Australian cattle," Wellard chief executive Mauro Balzarini said.