Greenpeace arrives with Nisshin Maru

Press release - February 17, 2007
The Greenpeace ship Esperanza sighted the stricken Japanese government whaling factory ship Nisshin Maru at approximately 07.00 (New Zealand daylight time) this morning.

February 14th 2007. Southern Ocean. 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.

The ship was close by two of the hunter vessels from the fleet. The Nisshin Maru is tied to the re-supply and re-fuelling vessel the Oriental Bluebird and another hunter vessel.

The US Coastguard icebreaker the Polar Sea is also in the area to assess the situation and Greenpeace is helping with translation.

The weather conditions were clear but there were icebergs and loose ice around. Weather reports indicate that the weather could worsen in the next couple of days.

Greenpeace Japan campaigner Sakyo Nado radioed the Nisshin Maru, but received no answer. He then radioed the Yushin Maru and repeated the assurance that the Esperanza had come to help. They responded asking us to standby and also to assess the ice conditions.

The helicopter from the Esperanza is now undertaking an initial aerial assessment of the situation.

Yesterday Greenpeace offered to tow the Nisshin Maru out of the Southern Ocean, in order to assist and ensure there was no further threat to the environment from the disabled vessel.

According to Esperanza skipper Frank Kamp, who has ten years salvage and towing experience, the Oriental Bluebird could tow the Nisshin Maru - if it were the only vessel there, but was large and would be difficult to manoeuvre if any problems arose.

Other contacts: Contact in NZ
Cindy Baxter, media coordinator 021 772 661
Bunny McDiarmid Greenpeace NZ Executive Director 021 838 183

Contact on board the Esperanza: + 872 324 469 014
Sara Holden, Greenpeace International Communications
Karli Thomas, Greenpeace International expedition leader

Contact for Video: Maarten Van Rouveroy, in Sydney, Australia: +61 438 422 572
For Photos: Michelle Thomas, in Sydney, Australia: +61 404 096 556

Exp. contact date: 2007-03-17 00:00:00