3rd illegal refueling operation by whale poachers blocked – Japan sends military ice breaker into Australia waters to intervene; Canberra remains silentPosted by Jim at Monday, February 25, 2013
25 February 2013 (Sea Shepherd Australia) – Sea Shepherd Australia has successfully blocked a third attempt to refuel the Japanese whaling fleet, which is illegally operating in contravention of an Australian Federal Court ruling prohibiting whaling in Australian Antarctic Territory.
During the process, Captain Tomoyuki Ogawa of the whale butchering ship Nisshin Maru rammed the Sea Shepherd Ships Bob Barker and Sam Simon.
During the previous night, the Korean-owned, Panamanian-flagged fuel tanker Sun Laurel and the Nisshin Maru headed due south through waters peppered with large growlers and icebergs at 12 knots in the darkness without searchlights. The Sun Laurel is not an ice-classed ship and it is now 420 miles South of Sixty Degrees with their illegal cargo of heavy fuel oil, HFO.
Accompanying the Sun Laurel was the Sam Simon, flanked by the armed security ship, Shonan Maru No. 2 and the Yushin Maru No. 3. The Nisshin Maru was being tailed by the Steve Irwin and Bob Barker, with the two remaining harpoon ships of the Japanese whale poaching fleet in tow. There were six ships with the whalers and three with Sea Shepherd.
At 2:00 AEDT, the two parties met up and the three agile Yushin Maru harpoon ships began to trail propeller fouling lines while crossing the bows of the Sea Shepherd ships. The Bob Barker took and held position to the port side of the Sun Laurel to block the refuelling of the Nisshin Maru, and held the position as the Nisshin Maru twice approached and caused collisions between itself, the Bob Barker and the Sun Laurel.
The Nisshin Maru sandwiched the Bob Barker between the two massive ships, and in the turbulence of the combined wake, the Bob Barker was slammed back and forth between the Nisshin Maru and the fuel tanker Sun Laurel at 1448 AEDT and 1516 AEDT.
The Nisshin Maru shot its high-powered water cannons down the exhaust vents of the Steve Irwin, Bob Barker, and Sam Simon, attempting to flood their engines. All engine rooms suffered heavy flooding, but no mechanical failures.
The Nisshin Maru launched “flash bang” concussion grenades towards the Bob Barker, one of which struck and exploded on the Sun Laurel, leaving a black smolder mark.
The Steve Irwin's water cannons were engaged and the Sea Shepherd crew was instructed not to aim them at any people on the poaching vessels.
In their last feeble attempt to reach the Sun Laurel, the Nisshin Maru turned into the Sam Simon, causing hull damage along most of the port side of the ship and smashing their satellite communications dome. After ramming the Sam Simon, the Nisshin Maru turned away from the Sun Laurel at 1720 AEDT, and the Sun Laurel packed up their crane and fenders for the day.
In a dramatic turn of events, the six ships are currently being approached by a massive Japanese Naval ship. The Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force vessel Shirase (MMSI #: 431999533) is an icebreaker, designated as type 'Military Ops'. It carries approximately 250 crew and three helicopters. It is 12,500 tons, 138 metres and can do 15 knots. Its last known port was Fremantle.
Regarding the Shirase, former Australia Environment Minister, Ian Campbell, says, “This summer this vessel was in Freemantle, West Australia. Now it’s assisting in the Japanese whaling fleet in its illegal operations. It should be banned from all Australian ports from now on.”
Despite numerous requests from Sea Shepherd as well as political forces, Australia has not sent a ship to monitor activities here in the Australian Antarctic Territory, but an armed Japanese war ship is arriving imminently to defend a whaling operation that is in contempt of the Australian Federal Court and a tanker that is illegally in these waters with heavy fuel oil and operating in a dangerous manner.
Director of Sea Shepherd Australia, Jeff Hansen, states, “Back in December of 2007, like the Shirase, the Shonan Maru No. 2 was granted permission to dock in Fremantle by the Australian Government, who stated that it was not part of the whaling fleet. Then in January 2010, the same vessel, the Shonan Maru No. 2, went on to ram and destroy the New Zealand registered vessel the Ady Gil. Australian diplomats were quick to absolve Japanese whalers of blame, telling the U.S. Embassy in Canberra the Japanese would ‘come away clean’ from any investigation. Effectively, we expect that once again, Japan will come away clean from any Australian investigation into these recent, blatant ramming attempts by the massive factory whaling ship, the Nisshin Maru. What effectively is happening is that the Australian Government is giving Japan the green light to do what ever it wants in endangering the lives of Sea Shepherd's international crew in Australia's Antarctic Territory.” [more]
(News.com.au) – A Japanese military ship has joined its whaling fleet in the Southern Ocean, increasing tension between whalers and activists after collisions last week.
The 140m-long Shirase icebreaker, operated by the navy and described by activists as "intimidating", arrived near the Nisshin Maru whaling ship and Korean-flagged fuel tanker Sun Laurel in Australia's Antarctic territory early yesterday morning, Sea Shepherd Captain Paul Watson said.
Before daylight, it sent a helicopter into the sky above the Sun Laurel, which is being prevented from refuelling the Nisshin Maru by activists who believe it is illegally carrying heavy oil, he said.
"They're heavily armed helicopters," Mr Watson told News Limited from the Steve Irwin, one of three Sea Shepherd boats in the area.
"They carry three of these big helicopters.
"It is intimidating, but we're going to hold our ground and make sure they don't kill any whales."
A spokesman at the Japanese Embassy said there were "no factual basis" to the reports and refused to comment on "statements made by Sea Shepherd", but Australian Environment Minister Tony Burke said he had questions.
"Japan has told the Government that the Shirase is not involved in supporting their so-called scientific whaling fleet," he said.
It was true the Shirase often had a genuine research role in the area, he said.
"But the reports today of helicopters flying from the Shirase to the South Korean tanker being used for the refuelling of the Japanese whaling fleet mean there is a further question to be answered," he said.
Mr Burke said he wanted to know whether there had been any link, support or transfer of Japanese personnel to the oil tanker.
"Let's face it, without fuel there is no whaling fleet," he said.
"The tanker is the life blood for the rest of this disgusting operation." [more]