Crews aboard an anti-whaling protest ship in the Southern
Ocean have escaped injury but are struggling to mend
"significant damage'' to their vessel after it was rammed by
Two protest ships belonging to anti-whaling organisation Sea
Shepherd were hit by Japanese whale-processing factory ship,
Nisshin Maru, this afternoon.
The boats, Steve Irwin and Bob Barker, have
been following the vessel in the Southern Ocean to try to
prevent the slaughter of whales.
Speaking from onboard Steve Irwin, Captain Paul Watson said
the crews and boats were targeted in an aggressive attack -
the first of its kind from the Japanese vessel.
"The Nisshin Maru came in to push us away from
blocking their attempts to refuel at the Sun Laurel,''
The Japanese vessel hit the Steve Irwin twice and then
hit Bob Barker several times, pushing it into the Sun
Laurel, which was also damaged in the collisions.
"This is a massive vessel. When it hit the Bob Barker
it was like a tank hitting a car; it just rolled right over
it. I thought they were literally going to crush the Bob
Barker and sink it.
"Nobody's been injured amazingly enough, because while they
were hitting the boats they were also throwing stun grenades
at the crew and hitting them with water cannons.''
There are 34 people on the Bob Barker and 42 on the
Bob Barker was initially taking on water in the engine
room, but crews had stopped the leak and were trying to
restore power to the ship, said Mr Watson.
Lifeboats aboard the Sun Laurel had also been damaged,
Mr Watson said.
The fuel ship was heading north and the two protest boats
would continue to hold their positions.
"We follow the whaling vessels wherever they go to make sure
they don't kill any whales.''