Operation No Compromise Update: Report from the Bob Barker
Commentary by Gary Stokes, Photographer onboard the Bob Barker
Early morning on January 30th, 2011, the Bob Barker launched its two small boats, the Hunter and the Delta. The Bob Barker has been tailed by first the Yushin Maru No. 2, and more recently by the Yushin Maru No. 3, since the beginning of the campaign. Over the past few days, the Yushin Maru No. 3 has come dangerously close to the Bob Barker, on several occasions within one mile of our ship, which has been proceeding on a steady and consistent course. This may not sound close, however, in such a wide expanse of open ocean this distance is indeed in very close range.
Therefore, Captain Alex Cornelissen ordered the small boat crews to ward of the offending vessel, whose skipper also happens to be the former captain of the Shonan Maru No. 2, the very vessel that cut the Ady Gil in half during last year’s Antarctic campaign. This captain has not even been interviewed or questioned about his aggressive actions last year, so we are very much aware that if he has gotten away with this once, he may very well do so again. This history only makes it that much more dangerous for our crews, when carrying out our non-violent actions to intervene against the illegal whale slaughter in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.
We were dropped off near a large iceberg, while the Bob Barker continued on its course. The Yushin Maru No. 3 (YM3) immediately changed its course, so we jumped between icebergs using them as cover until we got close enough to the YM3. The Delta then took the lead and raced in to engage the YM3, as we followed in the Hunter. The Delta made several passes across their bow as we made for their stern.
Closing in at 20-plus knots, we came up the wake before veering off and moving up the port side of their ship while trying to avoid the automated water turrets that have been recently installed. The YM3 has been designated as the so-called security ship of the whaling fleet this year; we noticed several crewmembers completely dressed in black up on the bridge wings and aft bridge. They stand out from the rest of the whaling crew who can be easily distinguished by their white or chrome helmets.
After an hour or so, the sea conditions were becoming increasing rough, which meant we had to drop our speed considerably. Without having the speed advantage over the YM3, we radioed back to the Bob Barker, and Captain Cornelissen made the decision to cease the engagement, and ordered us to return to the Bob Barker in the best interest of our safety.
Since the start of this year’s Antarctic campaign, we have seen some breathtaking and beautiful sights, and it really amazes and angers me that any human would want to come down here and unleash the sort of carnage that the whalers do for three months of every year.
Thankfully each year, our direct action campaign is becoming more effective, and we believe that this year will be our most effective yet. Hopefully this will be the last Antarctic whale defense campaign, and this sanctuary will truly be a sanctuary where these wonderful, sentient creatures will be in safety for generations to come.