Whaling conflict tensions continue with Conservation ship rammed

The Japanese whaling harpoon vessel the Yushin Maru 3 has rammed the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society ship Bob Barker about 180 miles off Cape Darnley in the Australian Antarctic Territory. The ramming penetrated the Bob Barker's hull creating a 3-foot long 4-inch deep gash in the mid starboard side of the Sea Shepherd vessel above the waterline. The Yushin Maru suffered minor damage to its hand rail and hull. No crew from either ship were injured.

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For the last day the Bob Barker has been following the Nisshin Maru whaling factory ship actively blocking the stern slipway where whales are transferred to be butchered. According to Sea Shepherd four harpoon ships - the Yushin Maru 1, 2, and 3 and Shonan Maru 2, menaced the Bob Barker by circling and making near passes to the stern and bow of the Sea Shepherd vessel. At which point the Yushin Maru 3 came intentionally alongside from behind and rammed the Bob Barker.

The Japanese Institute for Cetecean Research responded blaming Sea Shepherd for the collision "Bob Barker suddenly approached from the Yushin Maru No. 3 port side launching a number of butyric acid-containing bottles and other projectiles. To avoid a collision the Yushin Maru No. 3 put hard to starboard but the Bob Barker starboard came into contact with the port stern of the research vessel."

Yushin Maru 3 stopped moving in the water shortly after the impact, and appeared to be falling behind as the Bob Barker maintained its position on the stern of the Nisshin Maru.The Bob Barker continues to follow the Nisshin Maru blocking the slipway, effectively shutting down the illegal commercial whaling operations.

Captain Paul Watson said from the bridge of the Steve Irwin, currently en route to join the action, "Because the whalers got away basically scot-free with the outrageous sinking of the Ady Gil, they now apparently think they can do whatever they want and they appear to have no qualms about endangering Sea Shepherd crew. What we really need is for the governments of Australia and New Zealand to step up and start enforcing maritime laws in these waters, or who know what the whalers will do next. Australian and New Zealand lives are at risk every day in these waters."

Watch a video from the Sea Sheherd site of the ramming