Sea Shepherd converts Japan ship

JIJI

Radical conservation group Sea Shepherd said Tuesday it has converted a former Japanese government ship for use in its campaign against the nation’s Antarctic whale hunts.

The group bought the ship, which is 56 meters long and weighs 484 tons, from a U.S. company, raising its number of antiwhaling patrol vessels to four.

The ship, originally called the Seifu Maru, was operated by the Meteorological Agency’s Maizuru Marine Observatory in Kyoto Prefecture from 1993 until it was retired in March 2010.

Sea Shepherd renamed the ship the SSS Sam Simon in honor of the cocreator of the U.S. cartoon series “The Simpsons,” who donated funds to buy the ship. It is now in Hobart, Tasmania.

Sea Shepherd said on its website that the vessel was responsible for “a considerable amount of real ocean current data” used by Japan’s whalers. Japan, however, said the ship plied the Sea of Japan for nonwhaling activities.