At 1209 PM Fremantle, Australia time, the Yushin Maru 3 intentionally rammed the Sea Shepherd ship Bob Barker, penetrating it's hull and endangering the lives of it?s crew. The collision occurred at 65 degrees 21 South, 67 degrees 58 East, about 180 miles off Cape Darnley in the Australian Antarctic Territory.
The Bob Barker had been actively blocking the slipway of the Nisshin Maru, the Japanese whaling fleet's factory ship when the collision occurred. Four harpoon ships, the Yushin Maru 1, 2, and 3 and Shonan Maru 2, were circling and making near passes to the stern and bow of the Sea Shepherd vessel. The Bob Barker did not move from its position. At which point, the Yushin Maru 3 intentionally rammed the Bob Barker, creating a 3-foot long 4-inch deep gash in the mid starboard side of the Sea Shepherd vessel above the waterline.
No crew was injured during the collision. The Bob Barker continues to block the slipway of the Nisshin Maru, preventing the transfer of slaughtered whales and effectively shutting down illegal whaling operations.
The incident demonstrates a continued escalation of violence by the illegal whalers in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.
Said Captain Paul Watson from the bridge of the Steve Irwin, currently en route to join the action, "Because the whalers got away basically scot-free with the outrageous sinking of the Ady Gil, they now apparently think they can do whatever they want and they appear to have no qualms about endangering Sea Shepherd crew. What we really need is for the governments of Australia and New Zealand to step up and start enforcing maritime laws in these waters, or who know what the whalers will do next. Australian and New Zealand lives are at risk every day in these waters."
The crew of the Bob Barker noticed that the Yushin Maru 3 stopped moving in the water shortly after the impact, and appeared to be falling behind as the Bob Barker maintained its position on the stern of the Nisshin Maru. It's possible the Yushin Maru 3 damaged itself in the collision.
The Japanese whalers are far more aggressive this year than in past campaigns.
Bob Barker Damage from the Collision
photos: (top) Glenn Lockitch, (bottom) Lincoln Shaw