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January 6, 2010

Whalers ram activist boat

Antiwhaling activist group Sea Shepherd said yesterday that the Japanese security ship Shonan Maru No. 2 deliberately rammed and caused catastrophic damage to the Sea Shepherd catamaran Ady Gil.

Six crew crewmembers, four from New Zealand, one from Australia, and one from the Netherlands were immediately rescued by the crew of the Sea Shepherd ship Bob Barker. None of the Ady Gil crew was injured.

The Ady Gil was believed to be sinking and chances of salvage were said to be "very grim."

According to eyewitness Captain Chuck Swift on the Bob Barker, the attack happened while the vessels were dead in the water. The Shonan Maru No. 2 suddenly started up and deliberately rammed the Ady Gil ripping eight feet of the bow of the vessel completely off, he said.

The incident took place at 64 Degrees and 03 Minutes South and 143 Degrees and 09 Minutes East

"This is a substantial loss for our organization," said Captain Watson. "The Ady Gil, the former Earthrace, represents a loss of almost two million dollars. However the loss of a single whale is of more importance to us and we will not lose the Ady Gil in vain. This blow simply strengthens our resolve, it does not weaken our spirit."

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is requesting that the Australian government send a naval vessel to restore the peace in the waters of the Australian Antarctic Territory. The group has 77 crew from 16 nations on three vessels, six of them were on the Ady Gil. Of these, 21 are Australian citizens: 16 Australians on the Steve Irwin and five on the Bob Barker. Sea Shepherd believes that the Australian government has a responsibility to protect the lives of Australian citizens working to defend whales from what it says are illegal Japanese whaling activities.

"Australia needs to send a naval vessel down here as soon as possible to protect both the whales and the Australian citizens working to defend these whales," said Steve Irwin Chief Cook Laura Dakin of Canberra. "This is Australian Antarctic Territorial waters and I see the Japanese whalers doing whatever they want with impunity down here without a single Australian government vessel anywhere to be found."


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