As the Bob Barker was closing in on the fleeing Nisshin Maru, the floating Japanese abattoir illegally hunting whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, two harpoon vessels Yushin Maru No. 2 and Yushin Maru No. 3, turned and headed straight for the Sea Shepherd ship, Bob Barker, which was under the command of Swedish captain Peter Hammarstedt.
Darkness was rapidly closing in and snow was beginning to fall, when in a desperate move to throw the Bob Barker off the back of the Nisshin Maru, the two harpoon vessels began passing dangerously across the bow of the Bob Barker dragging 300 meter long, thick cables to foul the prop of the Bob Barker.
The harpoon ships trained their spotlights on the bridge of the Bob Barker, in an effort to blind the crew but backed off when the Bob Barker crew retaliated with lasers. Flares were fired and angry radio messages exchanged in Japanese and English.
The Yushin harpoon vessels illegally turned off their running lights during the incidents contributing to the danger of their reckless maneuvers.
The Yushins, much faster and more maneuverable than the Bob Barker harried the Sea Shepherd crew at close quarters for hours in their effort to prevent the Bob Barker from pursuing the Nisshin Maru.
Captain Peter Hammarstedt (27), a veteran of numerous Sea Shepherd campaigns deftly avoided the fouling lines as he kept the pressure on the Nisshin Maru.
There were no injuries on any of the ships involved and the Bob Barker continues to pursue the Nisshin Maru, having totally disrupted their illegal whaling activities.
With only a few weeks left in the whaling season the Japanese are determined to kill as many whales as possible and the Sea Shepherd crew are equally as determined to stop them.
“The Bob Barker is 1600 miles south of Tasmania,” said Captain Paul Watson on board the Steve Irwin, presently approaching the Bass Strait and due to arrive in Melbourne within twenty-four hours. “Captain Hammarstedt and his crew are bravely taking on the entire whaling fleet and keeping them on the run. There is no question that this is an exceedingly dangerous conflict but there is also no doubt that it is being highly effective. The Japanese whaling fleet’s kill quota will be greatly reduced this season and we are ready to return once again next season if they decide to continue their illegal slaughter of whales in the Australian Antarctic Territory and the Australian Economic Exclusion Zone.”
The Steve Irwin was forced to return due to lack of fuel. The Bob Barker was able to refuel in Wellington, New Zealand and can remain in pursuit of the Japanese fleet well into April if need be. The whaling season will close within weeks due to the onslaught of the extreme Antarctic winter conditions.
Operation Divine Wind
site for information about our
2011-12 Antarctic Whale Defense Campaign