The Japanes say that the Robert Hunter rammed them. The eco-terrorists (sorry, I mean…uh..concerned environmentalists) say that the Japanese rammed them.
The Sea Shepherd ship, Robert Hunter, has been holed in its starboard bow, and its port stern section above the waterline, during a collision with the whale spotter ship Kaiko Maru , according to Sea Shepherd’s president Paul Watson. No injuries have been incurred by crew on both ships, and neither ship is in danger of sinking.
The Kaiku Maru (in foreground) approaches the Farley Mowat (Photo: Sea Shepherd)Exact details of the collision are still confusing. It appears the two Sea Shepherd ships caught the Kaiko Maru chasing a pod of whales near the Balleny Islands in Antarctica, south of New Zealand. Attempts were made by Sea Shepherd activists to disable the propellor of the Kaiko Maru, it appears with some success. Sea Shepherd say on their website “At one point during the confrontation, the Kaiko Maru turned to starboard and struck the Robert Hunter.” According to Dr Hiroshi Hatanaka from the ICR on their website “The Robert Hunter rammed the Kaiko Maru.”
“Sea Shepherd threw smoke pots onto the Kaiko Maru and released ropes and nets to entangle her screw. Its propeller has been damaged by them. The vessel is stranded at the moment and has already put out several distress calls.” said Dr Hiroshi Hatanaka, the Director General of the Institute of Cetacean Research on the ICR website.
After the collision between the Robert Hunter and Kaiko Maru, the Japanese vessel was effectively blockaded against sea ice.
The Japanese vessel issued a maritime distress call saying that it was under attack and in immediate danger. According to the Sea Shepherd website “Sea Shepherd acknowledged this distress signal, but they Japanese vessel refused to say what distress they were in.”
The Greenpeace ship also responded to the distress call, offering immediate assistance, heading at full speed to their position. According to Dave on the Greenpeace weblog “According to the Rescue Coordination Centre of New Zealand, first reports stated the Kaiko Maru was ‘under attack.’ Later reports claimed a collision between the Sea Shepherd vessel Robert Hunter and the Kaiko Maru, with the Robert Hunter receiving a hole in the hull above the water line and the Kaiko Maru suffering unspecified damage to its propeller.”
“At approximately 18.15, the Rescue Coordination Centre of New Zealand requested that the Esperanza ‘stand down’. We informed the Rescue Centre that we would remain within VHF range in case assistance was needed. At 20:15 we received what’s known as a ‘Seelonce Feenee’, which means that the distress call is now over.” concluded Dave from Greenpeace.
From a report on stuff.co.nz, Paul Watson said the Robert Hunter and the Farley Mowat had decided to confront the Kaiko Maru about 4pm (New Zealand time) as it chased a pod of whales.
“We scared the whales off. Both the Robert Hunter and the Kaiko Maru were stopped by the ice, but the Kaiko Maru backed up and it collided with the Robert Hunter. We’ve got a 1m gash in the hull, but it’s above the water,” he said.
“Then both vessels got under way, but the Kaiko Maru side-swiped the Robert Hunter to push it into the ice – that bent four beams on the inner hull. After that, they put out a distress signal.
“The Japanese are claiming they are in imminent and immediate danger. I don’t know why – they hit us. They’re down here trying to promote themselves as the victims.
“We have six cameras down here, we videotaped the incident. We can show who hit who.” said Paul Watson.
Both Sea Shepherd ships have been away from port for several weeks and are running low on fuel. Captain Watson said “We’re only probably good for the next few days,”
According to a report in The Age newspaper Captain Watson warned that unless anti-whaling governments such as Australia took stronger action, he might try to ram the stern of the Nisshin Maru.
“Do whale defenders have to die down here for the world to notice and take action against the criminal activities of the Japanese whalers?” he said. “For this reason it has been decided to stop the operations of the Japanese floating slaughterhouse, the Nisshin Maru, by ramming one of the ships up the slipway of that foul, sadistic piece of killing machinery.” he told a reporter for the Age.
Captain Watson has appealed to the Australian Government to enforce its territorial waters in the Antarctic against whaling, just as it has enforced laws against fish poaching in its territorial waters.
Both Sea Shepherd vessels do not have any current registration from a State, and have been labelled as ‘pirate ships’. Japan has pressured both the UK and Belize to cancel maritime registration of the two Sea Shepherd vessels.