This is Captain Paul Watson's official report regarding the incidents surrounding the conflict between the Sea Shepherd vessel, M/Y Whales Forever, and the Norwegian warship the K/V Andenes. (K/V stands for "Kystvakt", which means "Coast Guard" in Norwegian.)
This Report Begins on:
July 3, 1994
0042 Hrs: Approaching the Norwegian economic zone. We have an unidentified U.S. warship within radar range. The warship will only identify itself as a U.S. warship. It did not give name or number and refused to answer to calls from Lisa Distefano, a U.S. citizen and the Expedition Leader for the Whales Forever Project. Radio communication between U.S. warship and Norwegian Coast Guard. Coast Guard vessel approaches to three miles, U.S. warship departs at 200 mile limit. Norwegian Coast Guard refuses to identify itself. Warship never approaches closer than 2 miles. Identified by profile. The vessel apparently is the K/V Volstad Jr. First Officer Bj?rn Ursfjord on watch.
0100: Position: 56'43"N & 005'04"E The Coast Guard kept an average of 3 miles off for the remainder of the day.
July 4, 1994
0100: Position 60'11"N & 003'40"E 1200: Position 61'58"N & 004'02"E The Norwegian Coast Guard vessel continued to escort the M/Y Whales Forever. Numerous Norwegian media interviews throughout the day.
July 5, 1994
0100: Position 63'18"N & 006'16"E 0515: Arrival of an uninvited reporter from Radio 4 in Norway. Position: 63'43"N & 7'26"E. Captain Watson on watch. The reporter is informed that he has not been cleared by the ship's security officer and will be escorted until he can arrange for a pick-up. The reporter leaves with a charter boat at 1615 Hrs at 15 minutes north of 65'05"N & 010'08"E. Communication with Australian Broadcasting Corporation, (ABC), in Reine in the Lofoten Islands. ABC wants to know if we will agree to debate George Blitchfield of the High North Alliance on the ship off Reine tomorrow. Captain Watson agrees. Norwegian Coast Guard vessel continues to escort the ship. The Coast Guard vessel is replaced by the warship K/V Andenes.
July 6, 1994
0100: Position 66'15"N & 011'23"E First Officer Ursfjord on watch. 0200: Position 66'24"N & 011'37"E K/V Andenes continues to pursue. 0300: Position 66'24"N & 011'47"E 0400: Position 66'42"N & 011'55"E Captain Watson relieves First Officer.
0550: Position 66'52"N & 012'12"E The warship K/V Andenes calls on channel 16 and warns that we are entering Norwegian territorial waters. Captain Watson checks the chart and the radar and puts our position some 17 miles from the nearest land. As our intention is to proceed to Reine, Captain Watson orders that the Q flag be raised. This is done at 0600 Hrs.
0615: The K/V Andenes moves closer and crosses our bow from the Starboard side at a distance of 50 meters. Captain Watson notices a long yellow and blue hawser trailing in the wake of the warship. Captain Watson turns to the starboard to put the props furthermost away from the rope. No warning was given by Norway. The K/V Andenes makes three unsuccessful attempts to foul the props of the M/Y Whales Forever. Captain Watson makes the same evasive maneuver each time. He orders the main engines cut, then turns hard to starboard with the gill-jet bow thruster to move the props the furthest distance from the rope. Captain Watson is very much aware that a move to starboard is contrary to the rules of the road. However, Captain Watson believed that the immediate security of his ship from an aggressive attack from the hostile vessel negated adherence to the rules of the road. The K/V Andenes with her speed and maneuverability easily avoids contact with the M/Y Whales Forever.
0730: Captain Watson is informed that his ship is under arrest. Captain Watson requests the nature of the charge. The commander of the K/V Andenes refuses to identify himself and informs Captain Watson that he has unlawfully entered Norwegian territorial waters. Captain Watson denies this and refuses to submit to Norwegian authority in International waters. After three passes, the Norwegian warship falls back for about fifteen minutes.
0745: The K/V Andenes begins to approach the M/Y Whales Forever from the starboard side. For the fourth time, Captain Watson turns hard to starboard to avoid the fouling rope. Captain Watson shuts down both main engines and puts the gill jet bow-thruster hard to starboard. This time the K/V Andenes turns hard to port. The Norwegian vessel is moving over 20 knots. The M/Y Whales Forever is moving at 04 knots sideways with the bow-thruster. Captain Watson is already into the turn starboard. The K/V Andenes has the maneuverability. The K/V Andenes is leaning hard over to port and steering into and towards the M/Y Whales Forever. The K/V Andenes strikes the M/Y Whales Forever at full speed, ripping away the bow and crushing the petrol compartment. Deckhand Frederik Shelver was standing on the bow and managed to jump clear. Lisa Distefano and Marc Gaede were on the deck in front of the wheelhouse. The bow petrol compartment ruptured and 40 liters of fuel spilled across the deck. Fortunately, the intense heat of the impact did not ignite the fuel. Our bow net cutter severed the hawser. Captain Watson immediately ordered a fire team to the bow to wash away the fuel. Another damage control team began work to free the props from the entanglement with the hawser. The ramming by the K/V Andenes took place at 0825 hours. The K/V Andenes stood off until 0920 hours. Captain Watson's crew spent this time freeing the ship of the hawser. This included readying a diver, (Jonathan Mayer). At 0920, the M/Y Whales Forever began to move. A section of the hawser still stuck beneath the ship began to tighten as it wound about the shaft. Captain Watson left the bridge, grabbed an ax and severed the hawser at amidships. The line parted and the section in the water began to corkscrew towards the stern. Chief Engineer Jeremy Coon began to manipulate the engines back and forth and thanks to the blades that we had previously attached to the propeller shaft, the rope was partially severed and both screws were freed.
The ramming was recorded from the top of the wheelhouse on 16mm film by Derek McCurdy, a Canadian citizen shooting film for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Marc Gaede recorded the ramming from the starboard side of the wheelhouse on 35mm transparency film. Gaede, an American citizen, was shooting for Outside magazine in the United States. Marc Cleriot recorded the ramming from the top of the main mast on 35mm transparency film. Cleriot, a citizen of France, was shooting for L'Express, Focus magazine of Germany and the Daily Telegraph of Great Britain. Markus Ruth recorded the ramming from the starboard midship area with a beta video camera. Markus, a citizen of Germany, was shooting for R1 television in Germany.
0922: The K/V Andenes resumed its pursuit. Captain Watson set a course of 260' to the open sea. At 1007, the course was changed to 230'.
1100: Position 67'13.3N & 012'21.5"E. Norwegian warship in pursuit 1210: Position 67'03"N & 012'038"E. K/V Andenes continues to pursue. Captain Watson officially requests that the K/V Andenes escort the M/Y Whales Forever to the Shetland Islands. The Norwegian commander refuses and orders Captain Watson to stop his ship and submit to arrest. Captain Watson repeats that he has broken no law and he will not submit to arrest and the confiscation of his ship.
1215: Captain Watson asks the Norwegian commander if he is ready to sink the ship and take the lives of the crew. The commander answers that "Norway are willing to go or to use whatever means we need to take your ship under arrest." (Quoted as recorded on tape and video.)
1319: Captain Watson asks if that included killing people. The commander responded by saying "by whatever means." He also said that he was authorized by the highest authority in Norway to do whatever it takes to arrest the M/Y Whales Forever. Captain Watson determined this to be a life-threatening situation and ordered Radio Officer David Ziskin to transmit a Mayday distress signal.
1325: The K/V Andenes fires a warning shot which strikes 20 meters to the starboard side of the M/Y Whales Forever. The impact is between the two ships and it was not a shot across the bow. The shot was fired at 66'55"N & 011'34E. Our course was 242 and our speed was 11.3 knots. K/V Andenes radios that they will fire upon the ship. The Norwegian Commander orders Captain Watson to order his crew to the stern so that he can fire a shell into the bow. Captain Watson relays the message to the crew. The crew then voluntarily moved to the bow, waist and stern to take a stand against the Norwegian gun.
1400: Second shot fired from the K/V Andenes on the starboard side of the M/Y Whales Forever. The 2nd shot passes over the wheelhouse and lands 30 meters to the port side midship. Captain Watson informs the warship that he is proceeding to the Shetland Islands.
1430: The Norwegian Commander orders Captain Watson to evacuate his engine room so that he can fire a shot into the engine compartment. Captain Watson refuses.
1440: Expedition Leader Lisa Distefano begins attempts to reach a representative of the United States State Department.
1554: Position 66'37"N & 010'51"E by GPS, (Global Positioning System). State Department informs Lisa Distefano that they stand by Norway and they insist that we are in Norwegian waters and that we have not been fired upon. In response, Captain Watson orders Radio Officer David Ziskin to trigger the EPIRB, (a satellite distress signal), to prove our position without a doubt. The Radio Officer proceeds to do so.
1630: A small inflatable boat is dispatched from the K/V Andenes with three crew members. The small boat approached the M/Y Whales Forever and proceeded to drop four depth charges in front of the bow. On the first pass, the inflatable crew fumbled a depth charge and dropped it into their own boat. This was potentially a very dangerous situation, aside from the actual physical attack on the ship. If the depth charge had exploded in the boat and injured or killed the Norwegian crew, the blame for this would most certainly have fallen on us and the K/V Andenes would have potentially sunk us in revenge. The depth charges are felt by all crew on board the M/Y Whales Forever.
July 7, 1994
0220: K/V Andenes falls back and abandons pursuit. The M/Y Whales Forever continues on to the Shetland Islands
July 8, 1994
1720 GMT: Entry into Lerwick Harbor in the Shetland Islands
Ramming: the ramming by the K/V Andenes caused extensive structural damage to the bow of the M/Y Whales Forever. The plates and supports were buckled and crushed and need to be replaced.
Rope Damage: The net cutting teeth on the bow of the M/Y Whales Forever were effective in severing the hawser. One of the teeth was bent. The rope was caught in the port shaft. Rope was tightly wound about the shaft for the duration of the trip to the Shetlands. This caused problems when docking when the engine had to be reversed. Rope pieces were kicked out by this maneuver. The port engine transmission was damaged and parts need to be replaced.
Depth Charge Damage: The four depth charges detonated beneath the M/Y Whales Forever were meant to stop the ship. They were powerful explosives and would have caused extensive damage if not for the fact that the M/Y Whales Forever was built as a seismic research vessel. The bottom ballast tanks were full of water and this water absorbed most of the impact from the four blasts. One diesel fuel tank was ruptured. The fuel was transferred quickly. Many lube oil and cooling water pipes were broken. Overall however, the ship's hull held up quite well.
Situation Assessment: The campaign was more successful than anticipated. Our objective was to engage in a political confrontation with the government of Norway. We anticipated an encounter with a whaling vessel outside of the Norwegian territorial waters which would provoke a Norwegian military response. George Blitchfield's agreement to debate Captain Watson provided an unexpected opportunity to focus international attention on the issue. Norway's premature provocation led to a confrontation some 17 miles from the closest point of land. Our hoisting the yellow Q flag gave legitimacy to our intentions to enter Norwegian territorial waters, although we had not yet entered their waters at the time of the unprovoked attack on the M/Y Whales Forever by the Norwegian warship K/V Andenes.
The confrontation between the K/V Andenes and the M/Y Whales Forever was a classic example of the successful application of non-violent resistance. The crew of M/Y Whales Forever faced the guns and violence of the heavily armed warship K/V Andenes and won the day! The crew of the M/Y Whales Forever displayed great courage and demonstrated their dedication and their commitment to the protection of the whales.
It is the position of Captain Paul Watson, Expedition Leader Lisa Distefano, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, Europaeisches Tierhilfswerk, the crew and media representatives on board that the attack by the K/V Andenes on the M/Y Whales Forever was unprovoked and extremely hostile, that the lives of the crew of the M/Y Whales Forever were placed in serious jeopardy and that deadly force was used against the M/Y Whales Forever.
It is also the position of the above that the Captain and crew of the M/Y Whales Forever acted properly and non-violently against an unlawful and hostile attack by a foreign naval power which was directed against an unarmed civilian yacht operating in international waters.
This statement is a true and factual account of the incident between the M/Y Whales Forever and the K/V Andenes as witnessed by the crew and media, including the following officers:
- Signed: Captain Paul Watson, Citizen of Canada, Founder, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society
- Signed: Lisa Ann Distefano, Citizen of the United States of America, Expedition Leader of Project Whales Forever. Director of the Oceanic Research and Conservation Action Force.
- Signed: Bj?rn Morten Ursfjord, Citizen of Norway, First Officer of the M/Y Whales Forever
- Signed: Jeremy Edward Coon, Citizen of the United Kingdom, Chief Engineer of the M/Y Whales Forever
The M/Y Whales Forever is of Belize registry. Registration No. 07941007. Call letters: V3MG8. Gross Tonnage: 771.44. Net Tonnage: 224.71. Length: 48.90 Meters. Breadth: 11.43 Meters. Draft: 4.73 Meters. Built in 1970 in the U.K.