SSS Sam Simon intercepts the whaler’s refuelling tanker, the Sun Laurel
MELBOURNE, Australia — This morning at 0630 AEDT Sea Shepherd Australia’s ship, the SSS Sam Simon,found the refuelling tanker for the Japanese whaling fleet, the Panamanian registered and Korean-owned vessel Sun Laurel, 1,250 miles South of Albany, Australia (at 55 Degrees 41 Minutes South and 119 Degrees and 08 Minutes East).
The Sea Shepherd ship SSS Steve Irwin has changed course to meet up with the Sam Simon and plans to block access to the tanker by any illegal whaling ships attempting to refuel.
The Sun Laurel refuels the Nisshin Maru several times during the whaling season. By intercepting the Sun Laurel, the Sam Simon has literally cut off the fuel supply to the whaling fleet with the potential of forcing the whalers to cut their season short.
Director of Sea Shepherd Australia, Jeff Hansen, has made the following comment: "A massive blow has been dealt today to these illegal whale poachers from Japan. To have an Australian registered vessel, the country whose federal laws these poachers are in contempt of, shut down their fuel supply is a crippling result. What’s more, the Sam Simon was once part of Japans’ research program, so to have one of their own vessels turned against them must be a psychological blow. It’s time to rein in your fleet Japan and head back to Tokyo."
The SSS Bob Barker continues to pursue the factory ship, the Nisshin Maru. "The whale butchering ship Nisshin Maru can run, but it cannot hide. With an aerial fleet of drones and a helicopter assisting our fleet, we can continue to track, chase and disrupt these poachers," said Captain Peter Hammarstedt, aboard the Bob Barker. Since Sea Shepherd intercepted the whaling fleet on January 29th, the whalers have scattered and fled westward. Based on the course of the Sun Laurel when it was located, it is believed that the Nisshin Maru has run for approximately 1,500 miles. This works out to an average of 200 miles per day, giving the whalers very little time to stop and kill whales.
The harpoon vessel Yushin Maru No. 3 continues to be unable to kill whales, as it tails the Steve Irwin and reports the ship's position to a fleeing Nisshin Maru.
“This entire affair down here is like a giant game of battleship over hundreds of thousands of square nautical miles,” said Sam Simon Captain Luis Manuel Pinho, of Ocean Reef, Western Australia. “There's blocking, intercepting, bluffing, manoeuvring for positions and advantages, cutting and maintaining supply lines, avoidances and precautions. The objective of the Japanese whalers is to kill the whales and our objective is to make sure they don’t.”
Operation Zero Tolerance Co-Campaign Leader Bob Brown said, "The Sun Laurel was located just over 1,000 miles South of Albany. One must not forget that just over 30 years ago, Australia was a whaling nation and the last whale, a female sperm whale, was taken on 20th November 1978, off Albany. Now days, Australia is one of the most passionate defenders of whales in the world and I hope that one day soon, Japan can be seen as the same."
Despite informing the Australian Government that their operations would be in the Ross Sea this season, the whaling fleet has spent the entire time in Australian Antarctic Territorial waters and in waters near Macquarie Island.