Ady Gil, formerly Earthrace, hit by Japanese whaler in Southern Ocean
The powered trimaran Ady Gil, known as Earthrace during her biofuelled circumnavigation, has had 8ft of its bow sliced off by Japanese whaling vessel the Shonan Maru II. Five of her crew, one with cracked ribs, have been airlifted off but recent reports suggest her skipper, Kiwi Pete Bethune, is staying onboard to salvage either the boat or some equipment.
Paul Watson, head of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, new owners of the Ady Gil, told Kyodo News the Shonan Maru II, a vessel sent by Japan to ensure the security of its whaling fleet, deliberately rammed his group’s US$1.8 million vessel Ady Gil and ”sheared the bow right off.”
”It ripped 8 feet of the front of the vessel off,’ Watson said. ‘At this point it does not look salvageable, it’s taking on water.’
According to his account, both vessels has been stationary in the water when the Shonan Maru II started up and then steered deliberately into the Ady Gil, which had been harassing the fleet, at around 1530. Australian time.
Watson, speaking from aboard the ship Steve Irwin, also said Sea Shepherd put out a mayday distress signal ‘but the Japanese fleet refused to acknowledge that and just kept going. It was a hit and run.’
The Japanese Fisheries Agency blamed the collision on Sea Shepherd, saying the Shonan Maru II crew had tried to ward off the approaching Ady Gil with water cannon but the anti-whaling vessel employed maneuvers such as suddenly reducing speed, which resulted in the collision.
Glenn Inwood, the spokesman for the Institute of Cetacean Research, told Kyodo News his information was the Ady Gil was idling in the water and then went ‘full steam ahead’ to cut off Shonan Maru II.
He said the Ady Gil skipper miscalculated and the fault lies with Sea Shepherd vessel for the collision.
Inwood added the anti-whaling organisation is responsible for towing the stricken ship back to New Zealand or Australia.
Picture: HWT Image Library