In Memory of Joseph Nartey

Thursday, 24 Oct, 2019

Commentary by Captain Peter Hammarstedt

Joseph Nartey, a passionate whale defender and a Sea Shepherd engineer of many years, passed away after a period of illness and was buried in Ghana last Saturday. He is mourned by his wife and four children.

At 1200 hrs on the 24th of October, the Bob Barker sounded its ship’s horn in memory of Joseph as Sea Shepherd remembers the life of a fellow crewman who dedicated many years of his life to Sea Shepherd’s campaigns protecting whales in the Antarctic.

Joseph was an engineer on board the Bob Barker from before the time that Sea Shepherd purchased it in 2009. Under its previous name Polaris, Joseph had worked as the ships engineer, bunkering local vessels between his native country of Ghana and the Bonny Estuary in the Niger River Delta.

His local knowledge of the vessel ensured that he’d continue on board as engineer, instrumental in getting the ship from West Africa to the island State of Mauritius on the Bob Barker’s maiden voyage as a Shepherd ship. He would stay on board for many subsequent voyages south.

On our first expedition to the Antarctic, I remember Joseph joking with me with that few Ghanaians had ever traveled as far south as him, as we navigated fields of towering icebergs far from the multistory shipping container stacks of his hometown, the port city of Tema. Joseph would go on to make history as one of the Sea Shepherd crew members who served on the most Antarctic Whale Defense Campaigns.

Joseph was committed to the campaigns. When he wasn’t on a Sea Shepherd ship, his local internet café proprietor would print every campaign update from the Sea Shepherd website – and then bike it over to Joseph’s house in Tema, where a ‘Help Save a Whale’ sticker was posted on his front door. One of my fondest memories of Joseph is from that house, when we shared palm wine and bottomless bowls of groundnut soup that his wife had prepared. Large wedges of delicious tofu, that Joseph had sourced from a local manufacturer, circled a massive chunk of cassava root like sail ships circumnavigating an iceberg.

When we met with a Ghanaian journalist later the next day, Joseph punctuated the conversation by laying out an impassioned appeal for more to be done to clean up plastic waste from Ghanaian beaches.

Sea Shepherd commits to continue the fight for the values that we shared with Joseph as we acknowledge that the work that he put into the Bob Barker in its earliest days as a Sea Shepherd ship, continues to deliver the conservation successes of today.

Our most heartfelt condolences go out to his family – and the crew who had the privilege of sailing with him.

I will miss him greatly.

Joseph Nartey in front of the Sam Simon. Photo: Sea Shepherd
Joseph Nartey taking a break on the Bob Barker. Photo: Renaud Chassaigne / Sea Shepherd
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