Militant anti-whaling campaigners Sea Shepherd on Sunday said one of its ships was rammed during “aggressive” and “unprovoked” confrontations with the Japanese whaling fleet in the Southern Ocean.
Sea Shepherd said one of its vessels, the Bob Barker, was struck during a coordinated attack by the fleet’s three harpoon ships in an attempt to drive the campaigners away from its factory ship, the Nisshin Maru.
“The Bob Barker was hit by the Japanese whaling fleet’s harpoon vessel, the Yushin Maru No. 2, as the harpoon vessel crossed in front of the bow of the Sea Shepherd ship,” the activist group said. “The assault is an attempt to deter the Sea Shepherd ships from their current position, blocking the slipway of the Nisshin Maru, preventing the whalers from loading whales poached from the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.”
The group has three ships out this season, the Bob Barker, Steve Irwin and Sam Simon.
Sea Shepherd said the Japanese has attempted to damage the fleet’s propellers with steel cables, thrown projectiles including grappling hooks at the Steve Irwin and fired water cannons at the Bob Barker’s crew as they tried to cut the cables from a small boat.
Bob Barker skipper Peter Hammarstedt said the Sea Shepherd vessels were “unprovokedly attacked” by the Japanese harpooners in a “ruthless” fashion.
“These harpoon ships came in heavy and hard. They hit my bow with about 300 meters of steel cable with the express intent of causing damage to my rudder and propellers,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Fisheries Agency announced the same day that three Japanese vessels engaged in so-called research whaling “have been obstructed” by two Sea Shepherd ships in the Antarctic Ocean.
The anti-whaling group lowered several small boats into the sea to block the navigation of the Japanese fleet from Saturday evening to Sunday morning Japan time, the agency said.
While one of the Japanese vessels suffered damage to its stern, its navigation was not affected, the agency said.