|Monday, January 03, 2011|
I had a ringside seat during our confrontation with the whaler’s killing ships on New Year’s Day.
I could see the spectacular chase unfolding while stationed on the bow near our water cannon team. Harpoon ships steaming at full speed away from us as the Bob and Steve bore down on them with the small boats harassing them like annoying wasps. Although the day was sunny, the wind from Steve Irwin’s passage blasted under the face shields of our helmets numbing our skin.
As we chased the Yushin Maru ships, the Steve Irwin was often forced to run straight into small icebergs - the shuddering and noise from the impacts was very unsettling. I spent time leaning over the bow watching as we smashed into endless amounts of ice, trying to see if any of the growlers were doing damage to the ship. The deck team would often be called to go into the holds and forward compartments to check for any breaches in the hull. Standing down there below the water line, and feeling the ship violently vibrate was definitely an uncomfortable feeling. It seemed as if at any moment a huge hunk of ice the size of a house could punch through the deck and flood the compartment. After surviving the ravages of that ice field, it seems safe now to reclassify the Steve Irwin as an ice class vessel!
It was with great satisfaction that we hoisted the Delta boat back onto the bulwarks and safely stowed away our gear. The operation went seamlessly and showed that all the training we’ve been doing in the build-up to the campaign was paying off. Three ships, a helicopter, and small boats all working as a well-coordinated and effective fleet, is a pleasure to watch in action, and an honor to be a part of.