|Sunday, December 05, 2010|
Fleet in Full Force
With the Steve Irwin and Bob Barker at anchor in the Derwent River, downstream from the city of Hobart, it could be considered the calm before the storm but in reality, both vessels are a hive of activity. Onboard the Bob Barker, the crew is busy tying up loose ends, stowing for sea and fine-tuning equipment. Although the ship has been ready to sail on her second campaign to save the Southern Ocean's whales from poachers, there is always work to do. Having an extra day or two for last minute preparations will allow the crew to confidently gear-up physically and mentally for what could potentially be a solid three months of direct confrontation and heavy weather.
The break from preparations came in the early afternoon when the menacing silhouette was spotted on the horizon. The black vessel with white-water spraying from the outriggers was moving quickly. There was no confusing this ship with any other - the Gojira had arrived. As the crews of the Bob Barker and the Steve Irwin eagerly greeted them with waving and cheering, I was reminded of the time earlier in the year when the Ady Gil met with the Bob Barker in the remote Southern Ocean. This time, however we were in the company of friendly ships in the relative safety of the anchorage.
We are nearly ready for battle. The three-ship fleet, each with its own strengths, is all in one place. First, the Steve Irwin is the command centre, complete with sophisticated communications equipment, helicopter and the larger rigid inflatable. The Bob Barker has superior fuel capacity and all-important ice-class strength. They are now joined by the Gojira, Sea Shepherd's high-speed interceptor vessel. It is clear that this will be Sea Shepherd's strongest Antarctic campaign to date.