[MARINE_BIOLOGY_INTERNATIONAL] Rogue wave damages Sea Shepherd vessel


(Sydney Morning Herald)

Heavy seas hit whale crusaders' ship

Andrew Darby
December 29, 2011 - 7:10AM

The Sea Shepherd scout ship, Brigitte Bardot, is said to have been severely damaged in heavy seas overnight, forcing it and flagship Steve Irwin to abandon pursuit of the Japanese whaling fleet.

The conservation group's leader, Paul Watson, said the Brigitte Bardot, an advanced design monohull vessel with twin outer pontoons, was struck by a rogue wave that cracked the main hull and severely damaged one pontoon.

Mr Watson said the Steve Irwin was fighting heavy seas towards the Brigitte Bardot, and was expected to take about 20 hours to reach the damaged vessel, about 1500 nautical miles south-west of Fremantle.

He said the Brigitte Bardot's captain, Jonathan Miles Renecle, of South Africa, was pursuing the Japanese factory ship Nisshin Maru in six metre swells when the wave slammed into the port side of the vessel cracking the hull.

"The crack has been getting wider as the seas continue to pound the vessel," Mr Watson said in a statement. "Captain Renecle is confident that the ship will stay afloat until the Steve Irwin arrives."

The 35-metre-long Brigitte Bardot has a crew of 10: three Britons, three Americans and an Australian, Canadian, Belgian and South African.

The Steve Irwin will assist the Brigitte Bardot, first to see to the safety of the crew and then to see to escorting the vessel to Fremantle for repairs.

An Australian Maritime Safety Authority spokesman said the third Sea Shepherd ship Bob Barker was also expected on the scene this morning.

"This is disappointing but these are hostile seas and we have always been prepared for situations like this," said Mr Watson.

"Right now the safety of my crew on the Brigitte Bardot is our priority and we intend to reach the crew and then do what we can to save our ship."

He said Sea Shepherd's third ship, Bob Barker, will continue in pursuit of the whaling fleet.

This story was found at: http://www.smh.com.au/environment/heavy-seas-hit-whale-crusaders-ship-20111229-1pdbb.html


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