The disabled Japanese whaling ship Nisshin Maru with a re-fuelling vessel and hunter vessel tied alongside. Fire broke out on the Nisshin Maru on Thursday and one man is still missing. The Greenpeace ship Esperanza is close by, and has repeated the offer to assist the whaling fleet including possibly towing her out of the Southern Ocean.
Our media officer on board the Esperanza, Sara Holden, said the
weather got marginally worse today. "It's still not bad by
Southern Ocean standards, but the wind is picking up, visibility is
reduced and the temperature is falling," she said.
Early in the morning, the whaling "spotter" vessel the Kaiko Maru
arrived in the area and we were told that the second such vessel
is on route.
We are continuing to offer assistance, including towing if
necessary, and are urging the Japanese authorities to do whatever
is needed to get the disabled vessel out of this area as soon as
possible. If the weather worsens, which is fairly likely in
Southern Ocean conditions, a ship the size of the Nisshin Maru
can easily flounder and sink and with an estimatedthousand tons
of oil aboard, it could present a major environmentaldisaster in
the pristine Antarctic environment.
The Esperanza is a former Russian firefighting vessel and has
the equipment on board necessary to tow the Nisshin Maru
, as well as a captain with 10 years' salvage experience. It is
unknown whether the ships in the Japanese fleet have the right
equipment, and our captain informs us that in any case the
, the whaling fleets' refuelling vessel, is too large to
to safety in rough weather.
Meanwhile we have been using our helicopter, Tweety, for aerial
surveys to assessthe ice conditions nearby. The pack ice to the
south of our positionhas moved 3 miles north in the last 24 hours
and is now only 10 milesaway.
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Our webcam from the bridge of the Esperanza