Sea Shepherd Getting Ready to Return to the Whale Wars

The Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin is scheduled to depart from Melbourne on February 14th to return to the Southern Ocean to resume the pursuit and harassment of the illegally operated Japanese whaling fleet.

The Steve Irwin arrived in Melbourne on February 2nd.  It will take approximately 12 days to undergo emergency repairs on the port engine, to refuel, re-provision and replace departing crew members.

We had 16 volunteers from the crew of 34 departing and we have approximately 22 international volunteers joining for the third leg of this epic campaign to the Antarctic coast to protect whales.

The Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin will be alone this time. The Greenpeace ship Esperanza will not be returning. The Australian Customs and Fisheries Patrol vessel Oceanic Viking will be leaving within a few days and also will not be returning.

The Steve Irwin is expected to be gone four to five weeks after departing from Melbourne.

"This has been an incredible campaign so far," said Captain Paul Watson. "We stopped all whaling activities for three weeks, we cost the Japanese fleet over two and a half million dollars in fuel spent in running from us and we made this into an international incident and an international media story. Most importantly we breached the veil of media silence in Japan and provoked a discussion in that country about the merits of supporting such an insignificant industry at the cost of giving Japan an international black eye."

The objective in returning to the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary is to stop whaling activities for another three to four weeks and to keep the Japanese whalers on the run, wasting fuel and further exposing their illegal poaching activities to the rest of the world.

The captain, chief engineer and other key officers on the Steve Irwin have not been able to go home to their families since October.

"It's been a long haul," said 2nd Officer Peter Hammarstedt. "But it has been worth it. There's no rest when you're a shepherd to the whales."

The Steve Irwin will be berthed at Pier 3 in Victoria Docklands until departure.