After a promising start to their 2011 anti-whaling campaign, the Sea Shepherd fleet appears to have suffered a major blow to one of their vessels.
According to a posting on the Planet Ocean Alliance boards, (now confirmed by Sea Shepherd) the Brigitte Bardot issued a distress signal after being damaged by a rogue wave.
“Steve Irwin responds to a distress call issued by the Brigitte Bardot. Brigitte Bardot was very seriously damaged by a powerful wave which has cracked the bow and the pontoon. The Steve Irwin reported that they are currently facing the storm to reach the position of Brigitte Bardot, some 240 nautical miles South West. It will be on-site in approximately 20 hours. The Steve Irwin and will ensure the safety of the crew and then plans to escort the ship damaged in Fremantle for repairs.”
The MV Brigitte Bardot, formerly named the Gojira, is one of three ships the Sea Shepherd currently have en route to intercept the Japanese whaling fleet. The $4M vessel was acquired last year as a successor of sorts to the Ady Gil – which sank after a collision with a whaling vessel in January 2010. The Bardot is the fastest SSCS vessel and was instrumental last year in sending the Japanese fleet home early.
This is a developing story, so we’ll update as we learn more. Right now, our thoughts are for a safe rescue of the ship and her crew.
UPDATE: Sea Shepherd has released news regarding the state of the Brigitte Bardot.
“Brigitte Bardot Captain Jonathan Miles Renecle of South Africa was pursuing the Japanese factory shipNisshin Maru in six meter 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.
Captain Renecle is confident that the ship will stay afloat until the Steve Irwin arrives.”
The Brigitte Bardot is at 51 degrees 42 minutes South and 99 Degrees 21 minutes East, or 1500 miles southwest of Fremantle, Western Australia.
You can read the full release here. More as we get it.
Update 2: Sea Shepherd is saying that a rogue 33 ft. wave smashed into the side of the Bardot – knocking many crew straight out of their beds. Some pictures of the damage are below.
The good news is that the Steve Irwin is now escorting the damaged Brigitte Bardot back to Fremantle, Australia. We’re glad to hear all are safe.