Sea Shepherd vows to continue campaign after destruction of Ady Gil by whalers

Yesterday was a hectic day in Commonwealth Bay, near Antarctica, in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. The Ady Gil, while stationary, was puposefully rammed at speed by the Japanese whaling security vessel, the Shonan Maru 2. And the Japanese whaling fleet, and the world discovered Sea Shepherds surprise new conservation ship, the Bob Baker, an ex-Norwegian Antarctic ice-class whaling vessel that was bought in 2009 and secretly refitted in South Africa.

Updates: Ady Gil sinks, Sea Shepherd pursuing Whaling Fleet | Sea Shepherd sues Japanese whalers for Piracy in Dutch Court | Real reasons for weak Australian Government response | Legality of Whaling | Legal action over spy flights

In the Antarctic early morning twilight at 0300 Hours, 6 January, the Bob Baker and Ady Gil found the Nisshin Maru and her four harpoon vessels. The Japanese whaling operation had been caught unawares. They had been focussing on the location of the Steve Irwin, paying New Zealander Glenn Inwood's Omeka Public Relations company to hire charter flights first in Albany, and then in Melbourne and Hobart to locate and follow the Steve Irwin.

Related: Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin resumes pursuit of whaling fleet | Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

The 'spy flights' from Albany were able to direct the Shonan Maru 2 to shadow the Steve Irwin when it left Fremantle so that the main whaling fleet could avoid a conflict and do their whale slaughter in peace. The straegy worked for two weeks, until the Steve Irwin returned to Hobart to refuel and reprovision. Leaving Hobart on New Years Eve, the Steve Irwin was able to slip past undercover of a thunderstorm. The spy flights from Melbourne and Hobart organised by Glenn Inwood, estimated to cost about $18,000, could not locate the Steve Irwin due to the low cloud cover.

The Sea Shepherd also had some unexpected assistance departing Hobart from six people on a small motorboat, self identified as 'Taz Patrol', who patrolled the perimeter of the Australian Economic Exclusion Zone (EEZ) locating the Yushin Maru and twittering it's location to the world (and Sea Shepherd).

Back to the Southern Ocean. So with the whaling fleet located, New Zealand skipper of the Ady Gil, Pete Bethune, drove his powerboat around the Nisshan Maru whaling factory ship, attempting to foul the factory ship's propellors. Evidently only one bauble of rotten butter reached the deck of the Nisshan Maru, but the green laser photonic disrupters were also used. In return the Nisshan Maru fired up its LRAD acoustic weapon and used its water cannon. Stalemate.

So the Ady Gil retreats with the Nisshan Maru fleeing. Three harpoon ships and the Sea Shepherd's new vessel the Bob Baker passes the Ady Gil to chase the Nisshan Maru, while most of the Ady Gil crew sit on the roof with the vessel in a stationary idle. The videos show the Japanese harpoon vessel, the Shonan Maru 2 charging the Ady Gil with water canons blazing. Peter Bethune tells his crew to prepare for a drenching, little realizing the danger he and his crew were facing. While the water cannon sprays the roof of the Ady Gil blinding the crew, the Shonan Maru turns sharply to starboard right at the Ady Gil. In the few moments before impact Peter Bethune appears to gun the Ady Gil, but it is far too late with Shonan Maru 2 slicing 4 metres off the bow of the Ady Gil, forcing the powerboat momentarily underwater and immersing the crew in the icy waters holding on to the roof for their lives.

According to Peter Bethune the Ady Gil was dragged 10-15 metres before shearing the hull with the Shonan Maru tacking back to port.

Even after impact and seperation of the ships, the Shonan Maru 2 continues to pound the bedraggled crew hanging on to the top of the Ady Gil with water canon blasts.

Video: Japanese Whalers film Ady Gil being rammed by Shonan Maru 2

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Video: Ady Gil rammed by Shonan Maru 2 filmed by Sea Shepherd from Bob Barker

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The Institute for Cetecean Research refused to accept responsibility fo the ramming saying in a media release "At about 12:30JST today the New Zealand-registered watercraft Ady Gil collided with the Japanese Antarctic whale research (JARPA II) vessel Shonan Maru No. 2. The collision resulted in damage to the Ady Gil disabling it for navigation."

The Ady Gil's skipper, New Zealander Pete Bethune, insisted the vessel was stationary and farewelling fellow activists on the Bob Barker when the incident happened. Mr Bethune told The Age that the 490-tonne Japanese ship turned toward the 18-tonne Ady Gil from about 75 metres away. ''We thought they were going to turn a water cannon on us and I told my crew to brace for that,'' he said. ''Then they T-boned my boat. It was just massive ... It's a miracle we all survived.''

Initial reports indicated the six aboard were uninjured and able to board the Bob Barker from the floating rear section, however one person has been diagnosed with some broken ribs sustained in the ramming.

''Today is a clear example of how the Japanese don't give a shit,'' Mr Bethune said. ''But this is the end of whaling. You can't go around saying you're trying to conduct scientific research when you're prepared to drive into other people's boats.''

Fellow crew member Laurens de Groot said: ''They were trying to kill us, ramming us like that in one of the most hostile environments in the world.''

Sydney-born activist Jason Stewart, a former policeman who now lives in New Zealand who was on board the Ady Gil. He said the protest vessel had become low on fuel and it was forced to stop its pursuit of the Nisshun Maru "We were basically disengaged and we were waving goodbye to the other Sea Shepherd vessel, the Bob Barker, which was going to continue the pursuit of the Nisshin Maru," he said. "I was inside the boat at this point and suddenly I could hear one of the Japanese boats coming at us. I took a look through a window and I could see the bow of the Shonan Maru No. 2 coming straight at us and then it just hit us and there was a big crunch, a hell of a bang. The next thing I remember was seeing daylight through a big hole."

Jason Stewart made a mayday call from the Ady Gil and said the Japanese made no effort to help. "We were just sitting ducks and they just took us out," he said. "I was only 4m from where the hull took the nose off our boat. "It can't have been anything but a deliberate attack."

So what was the response of the Australian Government? Peter Garret faced a gaggle of journalists and said "we call on all parties to exercise absolute restraint, because safety at sea is the number one priority." To a question asked about what the Government is doing regarding the Japanese whaling fleet breaching the Antarctic Treaty by refuelling in an area not far from a major penguin colony, Garrett deflected by not answering.

While the Rudd Government deployed the Oceanic Viking in 2008 to collect evidence on Japanese whaling, two years of "diplomatic talking" have passed with no change. Garrett said "in the event that we cannot resolve this issue, the option for legal action against the Japanese, which has been made clear by the Prime Minister." Peter Garrett continues to waffle on with the Government increasingly being seen as ineffective on this issue, despite a Federal Court decision finding whaling in the southern ocean whale sanctuary and Australian Antarctic territory is illegal under Australian law.

"The Japanese whalers have now escalated this conflict very violently," said Captain Paul Watson. "If they think that our remaining two ships will retreat from the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary in the face of their extremism, they will be mistaken. We now have a real whale war on our hands now and we have no intention of retreating." Captain Paul Watson is onboard the Steve Irwin racing towards the area at 16 knots but still some five hundred miles to the north.

"This is a substantial loss for our organization," said Captain Watson. "The Ady Gil, the former Earthrace, represents a loss of almost two million dollars. However the loss of a single whale is of more importance to us and we will not lose the Ady Gil in vain. This blow simply strengthens our resolve, it does not weaken our spirit." he said.




List of Japanese embassies and consulates in Australia

Embassy of Japan
112 Empire Circuit, Yarralumla, Canberra A.C.T. 2600, Australia
phone: (61-2) 6273-3244
Fax: (61-2) 6273-1848

Consulate-General of Japan
Level 34, Colonial Centre, 52 Martin Place, Sydney, N.S.W. 2000, Australia
(G.P.O. Box No. 4125, Sydney 2001)
Phone: (61-2) 9231-3455
Fax: (61-2) 9221-6157

Consulate-General of Japan
21st Floor, The Forrest Centre, 221 St. George's Terrace, Perth, W.A. 6000, Australia
(P.O. Box 7347, Cloisters Square, Perth W.A. 6850)
Phone: (61-8) 9480-1800
Fax: (61-8) 9321-2030

Consulate-General of Japan
17th Floor, 12 Creek Street, Brisbane, Queensland 4000, Australia
Phone: (61-7) 3221-5188
Fax: (61-7) 3229-0878

Branch Office in Cairns, Consulate-General of Japan at Brisbane
Level 15, Cairns Corporate Tower, 15 Lake Street, Cairns, QLD 4870, Australia
Phone: (61-7) 4051-5177
Fax: (61-7) 4051-5377

Consulate-General of Japan
45th Floor, Melbourne Central Tower, 360 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne, Victoria, 3000, Australia
Phone: (61-3) 9639-3244
Fax: (61-3) 9639-3820

Contact Kevin Rudd and Peter Garrett

Tel: 001181-3-3536-6521

Reason for Australian Govt. pathetic response.
Hello Sea shepherds,
You need to enlighten the public on the economic issues to explain the Luke warm response by the Australian Govt. to the recent ramming of the Ady Gil.
I would rather eat my own feces than rely on any jap trade to survive. Put the Aust Govt on the spot and show how gutless they are.
Can the japs get the iron ore and uranium from alternate sources. Political pressure should result in the Jap govt banning whaling if they would have supply problems for their steel market etc.
Japan has been, and still is, Australia’s largest export market. Australia’s trade surplus with Japan amounts to 15 billion US dollars.
Japan values Australia as a reliable and stable supplier of energy, mineral resources and food stuffs. If we look at imports of coal, natural gas and crude oil expressed in oil equivalent tonnes, Australia is Japan’s largest exporter of energy. Australia’s share is 20%, followed by Saudi Arabia with 17% and the United Arab Emirates with 15%. For uranium, used for the production of nuclear power, Australia supplies about 36% of our requirements. Australia also provides 52% of Japan’s requirements of iron ore.
With regard to trade in food stuffs, Japan imports 22% of its wheat, 40% of its sugar, 89% of its beef and 37% of its natural cheese from Australia.
Additional SUGGEST Marketing campaign:
BOYCOTT JAP PRODUCTS & SERVICES: Don’t buy jap cars. Don’t buy jap electronics. Don’t fly jap planes JAL until the whaling stops..

Also more Publicity on the Jap Blue Fin tuna quotas imposed on the Japanese
Last since there is doubt about the legal jurisdiction in the Antarctic maybe friend of your organization could outfit the equivalent to Somali Pirates who board and sink the Jap fleet. Very costly but if there was a legitimate group doing it out of a non extradition treaty country then I think the contributions would be huge.

Best of luck and may all good things come to you and your group of decent human beings.

Apparently some of the research done by the Japanese has been to find out the average weight of a whale's liver and this requires the killing of the whales. I wonder what the average weight of a whale-hunter's liver is and should we be trying to find out?

I have no time for these godless, war-mongering heathens. But the protestors did try and wrap a line around their propellor. If you bring a knife to fight, don't whinge if the other guy cuts you with a blade. 'Direct action' is a two way street.

I have never seen anything more cowardly than the behaviour of the