The Sea Shepherd vessels Ady Gil and the Steve Irwin met on the high seas at 0030 Hours on Wednesday, December 23rd.
The Japanese security vessel, Shonan Maru No. 2, was seven miles astern of the Steve Irwin and was unable to see the Ady Gil approach. The Ady Gil is painted with radar deflective paint and is an effective stealth boat. The radar on the Steve Irwin was unable to detect the Ady Gil's approach.
Taking advantage of the two hours of relative darkness, the crew of the Ady Gil did a quick transfer of materials and crew, and then the Steve Irwin headed off leaving the Ady Gil to harass and slow down the Shonan Maru No. 2 in order to allow the Steve Irwin to lose the Japanese tail that has prevented Sea Shepherd from locating the whaling fleet to date.
At first it looked good, and the Steve Irwin was able to put twelve miles between the Shonan Maru No. 2 and itself. But despite being harassed by the Ady Gil for two hours, the Japanese slowly worked their way back to a six-mile distance. To accomplish this they had to increase their speed to over twenty knots, a speed at which, unfortunately, the Steve Irwin cannot outrun.
During the encounter, both the Ady Gil and Shonan Maru No. 2 each achieved speeds over 20 knots in 2-meter swells.
The Shonan Maru No. 2 pursued the Ady Gil as soon as the ship came into view with water cannons and LRADs. The Ady Gil crew defended their ship utilizing photonic disrupters in an effort to get the Shonan Maru No. 2 to back off to a safe distance.
The Ady Gil currently carries five crewmembers: four New Zealanders and one Dutch citizen.
Says crewmember Laurens De Groot, "This is a finely trained crew to uphold international conservation law. On board we have 2 ex-policemen, 1 ex-navy and a professional fireman, all determined to end illegal Japanese whaling in the Southern Whale Sanctuary."
Photos: Laurens De Groot / Sea Shepherd