Southern Ocean- Sea Shepherd's ship Steve Irwin is ten days at sea after departing Fremantle, Australia, and has had a Japanese tail ship for nine of those days, the Shonan Maru No. 2. This Japanese security ship is reporting the Steve Irwin's location, preventing them from closing in on the whaling fleet.
Sea Shepherd entered French Antarctic territorial waters after graciously receiving permission from the French Base at Dumont D'Urville in an attempt to lose the tail ship. The Shonan Maru No. 2 followed the Steve Irwin into French waters without permission in illegal pursuit. The French Base confirms that the Japanese ship neither requested nor received permission to enter French waters.
At 1730, the Steve Irwin helicopter flew back to film the Shonan Maru No. 2 in its illegal pursuit. In response, the crew of the Japanese ship activated their Long Range Acoustical Device (LRAD) at the Sea Shepherd helicopter. LRAD is a military class weapon.
"This was an extremely irresponsible thing to do," said helicopter pilot Chris Aultman. "That device can cause nausea and disorientation and the use of it against an aircraft is both extremely dangerous and grossly irresponsible."
The Sea Shepherd helicopter returned to the Steve Irwin for safety from the LRAD, at which point, the Shonan Maru No. 2 increased speed and aimed their water canons in an attempt to destroy the helicopter on the landing pad. This occurred while the crew was attempting to secure the helicopter.
Captain Watson responded by deploying a 150-meter line aft of the vessel to force the Shonan Maru No. 2 to maintain a safe distance. The Sea Shepherd ship is undamaged and the crew safe.
Sea Shepherd has reported the incident to the French authorities. The pursuit continues.
"The situation is now very dangerous," said Captain Paul Watson. "We have deliberately led the Japanese ship into thick ice in order to lose them in the ice. The ice bergs could easily damage either vessel."