A controversial group opposing Japanese whaling in the Antarctic region on Monday released video showing one of its ships, the Bob Barker, being sandwiched tightly between two larger vessels: a Japanese whaling ship and a Korean refueling tanker. It also shows what’s said to be a flash-bang grenade explosion near the stern of the refueling ship, Sun Laurel. The dramatic incident surely ranks as among the most tense in the years-long history of clashes between the whalers and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.
The latter group, which annually opposes Japan’s whaling effort with harassment techniques, reports that the Bob Barker has been badly damaged but its crew is safe. Sea Shepherd also stated that another of its vessels, the Sam Simon, was dinged during another collision with the Nisshin Maru, and that there was a third collision that involved the Nisshin Maru.
All three Sea Shepherd vessels are experiencing engine room flooding caused by water cannons, the group claims.
“The Bob Barker has sustained major damage from being sandwiched between the Nisshin Maru and the fuel tanker Sun Laurel,” Sea Shepherd stated on its Facebook page. “The engine room is now visible through a crack in the floor of the galley. The Sam Simon has massive scratches and dings along their hull, and a smashed satellite dome.”
Sea Shepherd’s boats, trying to thwart refueling attempts, had been trailing propeller-fouling ropes when the collisions occurred.
This is the second set of collision incidents that occurred during the whalers’ attempts to refuel. After last week’s incidents, the government of Japan and the Institute of Cetacean Research, which manages the annual minke whale hunts, announced that they had temporarily suspended whaling operations.
The ICR blamed Sea Shepherd for last week’s collisions.
Japan annually targets nearly 1,000 whales, claiming the missions are scientific and using a lethal research loophole in the wording of an international moratorium on commercial whaling to skirt the ban.
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