The first fact is that it is not technically possible for the Sea Shepherd ships Bob Barker and the Steve Irwin to attack or ram a Japanese harpoon vessel. The reasons are simple: every ship in the Japanese fleet except the Nisshin Maru is faster and more manoeuvrable that the two Sea Shepherd ships. The top speed of the Steve Irwin and the Bob Barker is around 17 to 18 knots. The top speed of all three Yushin Maru vessels and the Shonan Maru 2 is 22 knots. These harpoon vessels can catch the Sea Shepherd vessels but the Sea Shepherd vessels cannot catch them.
Only our vessel the Ady Gil was capable of superior speeds and the Shonan Maru 2 neutralized the Ady Gil by ramming it while it was stationary in the water, splitting it in two, and destroying it.
Our ships can match the speed of the Japanese factory ship Nisshin Maru, and this is the vessel we interfere with. We have never rammed it, and it would be suicide to attempt to ram it because what the Nisshin Maru lacks in speed it more than makes up with size, being some ten times larger and heavier than the Steve Irwin or the Bob Barker.
Below is the latest media release by the ICR. It is interesting that they did not release any video of the collision yesterday with the Bob Barker. Our video clearly shows the Yushin Maru 3 as the vessel responsible for the ramming.
But despite this the ICR issued the following release to which I will add my commentary:
The Japanese Antarctic whale research mother ship Nisshin Maru was subject to attack today by the Bob Barker, a Togo-registered antiwhaling vessel. The Bob Barker has been approaching abnormally and shooting a high-power green laser device against the Nisshin Maru crew.
Captain Paul Watson: The Bob Barker in accordance with my instructions positioned themselves directly behind the Nisshin Maru to block all whaling activities. The Nisshin Maru responded with water cannons and LRAD’s (Long Range Acoustical Devices). The Bob Barker crew retaliated with stink bombs and photonic disrupters to discourage the water cannon operators
The Nisshin Maru had been drifting overnight in preparation for the next morning’s research when, around 0140JST 6 February, the Bob Barker appeared in the vicinity. As an avoidance of danger measure, the Nisshin Maru and other research vessels immediately started moving.
Captain Paul Watson: The Bob Barker located the Nisshin Maru from a trail of offal being dumped by the factory ship. Floating chinks of blubber, bloated intestines, and blood led the Bob Barker to that floating abattoir. It is amusing that the Japanese refer to their slaughter as research.
However, the Bob Barker kept approaching from the Nisshin Maru stern coming dangerously close up to a few dozen meters. The Bob Barker has been repeatedly firing a high-power green laser device against the Nisshin Maru crew.
Captain Paul Watson: The four harpoon vessels circled the Bob Barker at close quarters until the Yushin Maru 3 came alarmingly close and then struck the Bob Barker ripping a one meter gash into the hull. Sea Shepherd admits to deploying photonic disrupters to defend themselves from attacks by the whalers.
The attack was still ongoing at 1200JST. Neither injuries to the Japanese crew nor damage to the Nisshin Maru have been reported from the Bob Barker attack.
Captain Paul Watson: At least they are honest in this respect. Sea Shepherd has never caused a single injury to any person in our history and we don’t intend to.
The Bob Barker had abandoned and left adrift the fuel-leaking Ady Gil, a New Zealand-registered watercraft that was disabled in a 6 January collision with the research vessel Shonan Maru No. 2.
Captain Paul Watson: This paragraph is priceless. The Shonan Maru 2 deliberately rams and sinks our vessel Ady Gil and they then accuse us of leaking fuel into the sea. As it was, not a drop of fuel was spilled no thanks to the whalers. The ramming split open the main fuel tank that was fortunately empty at the time. The Ady Gil had only 200 litres of fuel in its 12,000 litre capacity tanks. The ship was about to depart to refuel from the Steve Irwin when it was struck. The Bob Barker and the Ady Gil crew then removed the remaining fuel and oil lubricants before the vessel sank.
Although the Shonan Maru No. 2 had been monitoring the Bob Barker activities, the antiwhaling ship disappeared on 19 January after taking refuge in Heard Island’s Australian territorial waters.
Captain Paul Watson: The Bob Barker did indeed lose the tail of the faster Shonan Maru 2 by entering the territorial waters of Australia’s Heard Island. The Japanese whalers are legally prohibited from entering Australian waters, which is certainly an indication of their criminal activity.
Thereafter the Bob Barker met the Dutch-registered Steve Irwin within the French territorial waters of the Kerguelen Islands to transfer the Ady Gil crew and receive fuel and water from the Dutch vessel.
Captain Paul Watson: The whalers are also not allowed into French Territorial waters. It is interesting that the Japanese continue to insist their activities are legal when the nations of France and Australia disallow them to enter their waters. Sea Shepherd ships may freely enter Australian and French territorial waters but the Japanese ships cannot legally do so. That fact in itself establishes the legitimacy of Sea Shepherd actions and the illegitimacy of the Japanese actions.
After making a refuelling port call on 28 January, the Dutch vessel left from Fremantle, Australia on the 30th and is sailing toward the JARPA II research area. The Japanese Antarctic whale research vessels are making efforts to shake off the Bob Barker.
Captain Paul Watson: The Japanese security forces are becoming increasingly violent in their efforts to “shake off” our ships from their tail. We intend to stick to the Nisshin Maru like glue and if they attempt to load dead whales there will be collision but only if the harpoon vessels make the decision to initiate confrontations with Sea Shepherd ships.