Somali Pirates Outrun By Sea Shepherd Activists in Gulf of Aden

By MarEx 2011-05-11 14:18:35

Last week en route to the Red Sea, The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s flagship vessel, the Steve Irwin, was being chased for several miles by 3 suspicious skiffs, totaling 13 people dispersed among the boats.

The Steve Irwin has recently been outfitted with a new camouflage paint job, “77” largely branded on the bow of the vessel, and the United Nations flag waving from its mast.  Previously, a U.S. military Blackhawk helicopter has mistaken the Irwin for a Dutch warship.  It’s thought that maybe the illusion of a government ship could have helped keep the pirates at bay in the infamously dangerous Gulf of Aden where pirates are rampant. 

A Quartermaster aboard the Steve Irwin stated that they were aware of the potential risks of sailing off the coast of the horn of Africa, but even while the scene was unfolding through their binoculars, they stayed confident in that they were in no true imminent danger.  The Irwin’s crew is extremely trusting and reliant to their seasoned mariner and veteran navigator of the pirated waters, Captain Lock Maclean.  The Quartermaster reported that Captain Maclean remained cool, calm and collected through the ordeal while the entire crew of 20 took all necessary and possible precautions to make sure the vessel was secured.

Captain Maclean had notified the proper naval authorities as soon as the skiffs were in view, as well as alerting an adjacent Maersk ship via radio. 

Eventually, due to uncertain reasons, the skiffs retreated and both the Steve Irwin and the Maersk containership advanced into the Red Sea.  Maclean couldn’t stress enough how proud he was of the bravery exhibited by his crew of volunteers.  The paint job was part of a measure taken by the team to deter pirates as they do not carry weapons.  It was supplemented to be convincing with barbed wire, 4foot long steel spikes, water cannons, and imitation weapons. 

The Steve Irwin and the Sea Shepherds are often and ironically referred to as the “pirates of compassion” and are launching their 2nd annual Bluefin tuna campaign, Operation Blue Rage II, with a pilot whale slaughter campaign in the Faroe Islands to follow.