While we’ve known since late June that the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society was on the verge of adding another ship to its fleet, the actual identity of the vessel has remained a closely-guarded secret.
Turns out it’s all by design as the SSCS are not keen to unwrap the new M/V Sam Simon (named after “The Simpsons” co-creator that’s funding its purchase) until Operation Zero Tolerance is underway in the Southern Ocean. As Sea Shepherd’s Senior Media Relations Manager Lisa Agabian told me, the hope is that “we may retain the element of surprise against the Japanese whaling fleet.”
It’s a smart move – and one that has paid off before. Back on January 6, 2010, the Sea Shepherd surprised everyone by unveiling the M/V Bob Barker, a $5M vessel funded by the former “Price is Right” host. Strategically, it threw off the Japanese fleet who were keeping tabs on the other known vessels and thought the Barker might be a Norwegian vessel there to assist.
“The Japanese could be forgiven for thinking that the pro-whaling Norwegians had sent a ship to support their illegal whaling activities in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary,” the org related. “But any excitement turned to disappointment quickly as the Norwegian flag was hauled down and the black and white skull with crossed Trident and Shepherd’s crook was raised to announce the arrival of the Bob Barker, the latest ship acquired for the Sea Shepherd ocean defense fleet.”
The timing of addition also proved to be fortuitous – only a day later, the Ady Gil was struck by a Japanese whaling vessel and later sank.
Having the M/V Sam Simon remain incognito until the last moment will allow the org an opportunity to sidestep Japanese attempts to track the movement of the entire fleet. In this high stakes game of cat-and-mouse, any advantage can make a big difference in saving the lives of whales.
Based on what Sam Simon himself said during a SSCS fundraiser, the new fourth ship will be fast with a reinforced hull. “The ‘Sam Simon’ will be bashing through ice, and hopefully we can end the atrocity of whaling in the southern ocean forever,” he added.
According to a recent post by Paul Watson, who remains safely hidden away at sea, Operation Zero Tolerance will include four ships, a helicopter, eight small RIB’s, three drones and more than one hundred international volunteers.
The campaign officially kicks off on November 5th.