Whalers ram Greenpeace ship

Feature story - January 8, 2006
This morning our ship the Arctic Sunrise was deliberately rammed and damaged by the Nisshin Maru, the factory ship of the Japanese whaling fleet. Straight after the ramming, the Nisshin Maru began to steam away from the "scene of the crime". However both the Arctic Sunrise and the Esperanza are in pursuit with every intention of continuing to peacefully protest the hunt.

Damage to the bow of the Greenpeace ship MV Arctic Sunrise following a collision with the factory ship of the Japanese whaling fleet, Nisshin Maru. The Nisshin Maru cut across the bow of the Arctic Sunrise, causing the collision.

Speaking from onboard the Arctic Sunrise, expedition leader Shane Rattenbury said, "There is no way to describe this as anything but a deliberate ramming which placed the safety of our ship and the lives of our crew in severe danger." The Nisshin Maru is more than twice as long and six times heavier than the Arctic Sunrise. The impact has left the Sunrise "battered and bruised" but luckily no crew members were injured.

Overnight the Nisshin Maru had been offloading accumulated whale meat onto a supply vessel and early this morning our activists, in inflatables, began to paint the words "whale meat from sanctuary" on the side of the supply ship. This action in no way impeded the transfer of the meat and the tiny inflatables did not represent a threat to either vessel.

As the activists completed painting the slogan, the Nisshin Maru suddenly disengaged from the supply vessel coming around a full 360 degrees before making for the Arctic Sunrise, which was about a kilometre away, and striking it on the port side. The captain of the Sunrise tried to pull out of the way of the oncoming whaler.

Back on December 21, when the catcher ship the Kyo Maru bumped the Esperanza, the Japanese Institute for Cetacean Research (ICR) said "the same thing occurred five years ago when in 1999 another collision occurred between Japan's research vessels and a Greenpeace vessel".

However, it was the Nisshin Maru, not the Arctic Sunrise, which was at fault for the collision in December 1999 also, as officially recorded in the Lloyd's database (the international record of maritime movements and casualties). International maritime law states that "any vessel overtaking any other shall keep out of the way of the vessel being overtaken."

Watch video of the incident:

We have repeatedly informed the whaling fleet and its controlling organisation in Tokyo, the Institute for Cetacean Research, of our peaceful intentions and explained the purpose of the protest against the hunt.

But despite the ramming, we are not going to be deterred. "No amount of bullying or intimidation will prevent us from defending the whales, nor from broadcasting images of the kills to the world," said Shane.

Read the weblog for a first-hand account from Andrew on the Esperanza and Shane on the Arctic Sunrise. The video is also available in Quicktime, Real Media and Windows Media versions. .-noscript-blocked { -moz-outline-color: red !important; -moz-outline-style: solid !important; -moz-outline-width: 1px !important; background: white url("chrome://noscript/skin/icon32.png") no-repeat left top !important; opacity: 0.6 !important; cursor: pointer !important; margin-top: 0px !important; margin-bottom: 0px !important }

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