Sea Shepherd Captain Gives His Recount
Following the attack from the three harpoon vessels of the Japanese whaling fleet on the Sea Shepherd ships The Bob Barker and The Steve Irwin, Sea Shepherd says the Yushin Maru No. 3 instigating the collision and hitting the starboard side of The Bob Barker. The harpoon vessel was crossing the bow and steering into The Bob Barker, attempting to foul their propellers in one of 86 such assaults that day. The Yushin Maru No.3 hit the conservation ship at high speed, causing damage to the starboard side bow of the Sea Shepherd vessel.
In his summary of unprovoked attacks fully documenting the events of February 2, 2014, Captain Peter Hammarstedt of The Bob Barker called the attack “unprovoked, ruthless and pre-meditated.”
The assault, which lasted for nine hours early Sunday morning, was a clear escalation in the aggression shown by the whalers, says Sea Shepherd. The harpoon vessels approached the Sea Shepherd ships shortly after midnight, and began encircling The Steve Irwin and The Bob Barker, weaving through and around the vessels to disrupt their course behind the Nisshin Maru. The harpoon ships passed within three metres of the Sea Shepherd ships, crossing their bows and towing 300 metre-long steel cables, with intent to ensnare and damage their propellers. These ships are faster and more manoeuvrable than the Sea Shepherd ships, making a collision situation for them easily avoidable.
Rule 13 of the International Collision Regulations states clearly that “any vessel overtaking any other shall keep out of the way of the vessel being overtaken.” Further, “a vessel shall be deemed to be overtaking when coming up with another vessel from a direction more than 22.5 degrees abaft her beam.” The Japanese harpoon ships disregarded Rule 13 at each of 86 passes, attempting to damage the rudder and propeller of The Bob Barker and The Steve Irwin.
During the attack, the harpoon vessels crossed the bow The Bob Barker and The Steve Irwin 41 and 45 times, respectively. Sea Shepherd launched three small boats during the incident, in order to defend against the attack and to attempt to cut the trailing steel cables from the harpoon vessels. The crew of the harpoon ships threw projectiles at The Steve Irwin’s small boat crew and turned water cannons on The Bob Barker’s small boat crew.
The assault was a calculated midnight ambush, aimed to oust the Sea Shepherd ships from non-violently blocking the slipway of the Nisshin Maru, barring the factory ship from being able to butcher and process poached whales. The Sea Shepherd ships held the position for eight consecutive days, ensuring that no whales were killed in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.
Following the attack, the Sea Shepherd ships lost visual on the Nisshin Maru. However, Sea Shepherd is able continue long-range pursuit of the whaling fleet’s factory ship by deploying The Steve Irwin’s helicopter, which has been successful in locating the Nisshin Maru on nine occasions during Operation Relentless.
This season, Sea Shepherd’s direct intervention has led to a disastrous January for the illegal operations of the Japanese whaling fleet. Early interception and a persistent chase have enabled the Sea Shepherd Fleet to effectively suspend whaling operations. The three harpoon vessels remain with the Sea Shepherd ships, during which time Sea Shepherd can confirm that the whale-poaching fleet remains unable to kill whales.
The Japanese whaling fleet is operating in the Southern Ocean violation of the 1986 global moratorium on commercial whaling, and in contravention of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, established in 1994.
The captain’s account can be read here: http://www.seashepherd.org.au/images/stories/news/2014/news-140203-1-Peter-Hammarstedt-Attack-Summary-February-2-2014-NSI-1.pdf