Esperanza still on watch over disabled whaling ship

Feature story - 22 February, 2007
The Greenpeace ship Esperanza maintains its watch over the Japanese government's whaling factory ship Nisshin Maru, which was disabled by fire.

The Esperanza (foreground) and the Japanese whaling ship Nisshin Maru, disabled by a recent fire.

The Esperanza  arrived at the location in the Ross Sea at about 07.00 (New Zealand daylight time) on the 17th of February. Two ships - the re-supply and re-fuelling vessel Oriental Bluebird and one of the harpoon, or catcher boats  - were tied either side of the Nisshin Maru.  Nearby were two more catcher boats.

Shortly after the Esperanza arrived, a US Coast Guard icebreaker, the Polar Sea appeared. They said they were also here to assess the situation. The Yushin Maru then asked our campaigner from Japan, Sakyo to help translate between the two.

Offer of help

We have offered to tow the Nisshin Maru north, in order to assist and ensure there was no further threat to the environment from the disabled vessel.

The Nisshin Maru is secured to two other ships, which takes care of short-term difficulties. It's been reported that one of them, the Oriental Bluebird, could tow the Nisshin Maru. However, Frank Kamp, the Esperanza's captain, says that the Oriental Bluebird clearly isn't the best option - and he has ten years experience on salvage vessels. The Oriental Bluebird is too big and too difficult to manoeuvre should more problems arise. As it stands, we're still the best option should the Nisshin Maru need to be towed out of the Ross Sea.  The New Zealand Prime Minister and more than 10,000 Greenpeace online activists have asked the Japanese government to accept our offer to remove the crippled ship from Antarctic waters.

Glenn Inwood, a Public Relations spin doctor who represents the Institute of Cetacean Research, has claimed that the Nisshin Maru has restarted its engines and will recommence whaling.  However, crew aboard the Nisshin Maru have told us differently.  Read more about the diverging facts at the weblog.

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