The Sea Shepherd scout vessel Gojira found the illegal Japanese whaling ship Sea Shepherd calls the Cetacean Death Star at 2115 NZST on February 9th. The Nisshin Maru was caught in the process of unlawfully flensing a whale on their aft deck at the position of 74 degrees 16 minutes south and 149 degrees 2 minutes west.
The Gojira immediately gave chase as the Nisshin Maru attempted to escape by entering a field of ice. The Gojira attempted to block the huge factory ship to buy time for the Bob Barker to arrive from some 28 miles away. Captain Locky MacLean engaged the Nisshin Maru in a skirmish, and notified the Japanese whalers that they were not to continue their illegal whaling.
The Nisshin Maru seemed to be engaged in flensing operations at the time it was discovered. Work lights illuminated the deck as water was being flushed over the sides and brown-red stains were visible along the aft deck of the vessel around the scuppers/ drain holes, while black smoke bellowed from the factory smoke stack.
The Gojira was stopped in an area of growlers and floe ice as the Nisshin Maru proceeded to bear down on her. Despite several VHF calls to alter course, the Nisshin Maru closed in on the Gojira. When the Nisshin Maru was 40 meters away, Captain MacLean fired a flare to signal the Nisshin Maru to alter course. The Japanese factory ship altered course to starboard, as the Gojira slid 20 meters down her port side.
At 0220 on February 10th, the Nisshin Maru and one of the harpoon boats entered thick pack ice after several hours of zigzagging through loose floe ice. The Gojira kept up skirting the ice edge, meeting the Nisshin Maru on the far side of each floe using her speed advantage.
The Nisshin Maru proceeded to the south towards an area of pack ice. It appeared as if the Gojira was about to lose the factory ship in the thick ice when the Bob Barker arrived just in time to take over the pursuit.
At 0400 hours, the Bob Barker placed itself immediately aft to the stern slipway of the Nisshin Maru to block any further attempts to offload dead whales. The Bob Barker is now easily pursuing the Nisshin Maru through thick pack ice with the Gojira continuing to skirt around the ice looking for harpoon vessels.
The Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin departed from Wellington, New Zealand at 1800 hours on February 9th and is expected to meet up with the Sea Shepherd fleet and the Japanese whaling fleet in about five days.
The Bob Barker needs to hold position on the stern of the Nisshin Maru until the Steve Irwin can assist it. By blocking the stern slipway, the factory ship is unable to load dead whales from the harpoon vessels, allowing Sea Shepherd to effectively shut down their illegal whaling operations.