The Esperanza is ready to tow the stricken Japanese whaling vessel the Nisshin Maru out of danger and prevent potential Antarctic environmental disaster.
The MY Esperanza in the Southern Ocean. The Greenpeace vessel is on its way to offer assistance to the Japanese Whaling fleet's factory ship Nisshin Mauru after it caught fire. Greenpeace has offered to tow the factory ship out of the Whale Sanctuary and the pristine Antarctic Environment.
Onboard the Greenpeace ship Esperanza in the Southern Ocean -
campaigning against illegal whaling - we find ourselves in an
unexpected situation. The vessel we had been searching for - the
Japanese factory whaling ship Nisshin Maru - issued a distress call
after a serious fire broke out on board.
Esperanza on course
The Esperanza is now less than a day's sailing from the disabled
whaling ship. We've made a commitment to the fleet to assist the
crew in any way possible, and make an environmental impact
assessment if needed. One crewmember of the Nisshin Maru is still
missing, and it's reported that the ship could be carrying
approximately 1,000 tons of oil and sitting 100 nautical miles from
the largest Adelie penguin colony in the world.
The Fisheries Agency of Japan has already refused help from
Greenpeace, labelling us "terrorists". However, the Esperanza is
continuing on its course to the stricken vessel.
Greenpeace Japan's Executive Director and Whales Campaigner offer help to the Japanese Environment Ministry
"Our first thoughts are for the missing crewman and the rest of
the people on board. This is not a time to play politics from
behind a desk in Tokyo," said Karli Thomas, expedition leader on
board the Esperanza. "This is a human tragedy and a potential
environmental disaster. We have a moral obligation to act and there
is a legal obligation under the Antarctic treaty for the Nisshin
Maru's owners to accept our help." Thomas added.
Offer of help
We have offered to tow the whaling factory ship out of the
pristine Antarctic environment of the Southern Ocean Whale
Sanctuary. The Esperanza's captain, Frank Kamp, had ten years
experience working on salvage vessels before joining Greenpeace.
Another vessel may be required to tow the 8,000-ton Nisshin Maru
beyond Antarctic waters through the stormy "Roaring Forties"
weather, though we'll be making every effort to take the Nisshin
Maru all the way into port.
"While we recognise the humanitarian and environmental need to
assist the Nisshin Maru, we are not in the business of salvaging a
whaling ship in order for it to start whaling again next season,"
added Thomas. "This tragedy should mark the end of this terrible
business and the government funding should be invested not in a new
or repaired ship, but in something that the Japanese people can
truly benefit from."
The Esperanza crew weblog has the latest updates from the Southern Ocean
See what the Esperanza sees on the live webcam