Neptune's Navy is the name that the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society uses to refer to the ships it operates. Most of these vessels are used to hinder or antagonize illegal fishing, whaling or sealing operations.
The group has historically operated a number of vessels. The Ocean Warrior, later renamed the RV Farley Mowat was purchased in 1996 but seized by the Canadian government in April 2008. Due to the age of the vessel, the Society has decided not to pursue any avenue of reacquiring it. Paul Watson in fact stated that they had intentionally utilised a vessel that had become too old for Sea Shepherd to keep in action further.
In June 2009 Sea Shepherd announced that the trimaran Earthrace, later renamed Ady Gil, would accompany its 2009-10 operations against Japanese whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. Pete Bethune, the operator of the vessel, said that an agreement was reached with Sea Shepherd for the boat to adopt a support role. On October 17, 2009, the Earthrace was presented to the media with a new black paint job, and renamed Ady Gil, after the name of a major sponsor. On January 6, 2010 the vessel was badly damaged in a collision at sea with the Japanese vessel Shōnan Maru 2. The Ady Gil sank on January 8 while she was being towed towards the French Dumont d'Urville Station in Antarctica after it filled with water and became too heavy to tow. The financial loss was estimated at about $1.5 million.
As of 2013, the conservation society operates four ships, the MY Steve Irwin, MV Brigitte Bardot, the MY Bob Barker and the MY Sam Simon. The Steve Irwin was obtained in 2006 and originally called the Robert Hunter. It was renamed in honor of Australian Steve Irwin ("The Crocodile Hunter"). Terri Irwin, his widow, gave her support to Sea Shepherd, saying, "Whales have always been in Steve's heart and in 2006 he was investigating the possibility of joining the Sea Shepherd on part of its journey to defend these beautiful animals."
The other ship, the 1200-tonne Bob Barker, was named after famous television game-show host and animal activist Bob Barker, who made the purchase of the retired Norwegian whaling vessel possible with a donation of US$5 million. This ship and the Irwin were both given new dazzle paint jobs in 2011. They are easier to tell apart now since the Irwin has a 77 painted on its bow and the Bob Barker has the old "cartoon shark mouth" design on its bow.
Sea Shepherd acquired the Ocean 7 Adventurer for its 2011 campaign against Japanese whaling in the Antarctic, renaming it MV Gojira. However, after a legal claim, Sea Shepherd have renamed the MV Gojira and the vessel is now known as MV Brigitte Bardot. On December 29, 2011 the vessel was damaged by a 6 m (20 ft) rogue wave whilst pursuing the Japanese whaling fleet during Operation Divine Wind off the western cost of Australia. The main hull was cracked and the port side pontoon needed to be held together by straps. In response to this incident and new tactics employed by the Japanese whaling fleet, Paul Watson has stated that he intends to procure more vessels to prevent themselves being outnumbered and shorthanded in future engagements. To this end, Sea Shepherd acquired the 56 m (184 ft) long MY Sam Simon in June 2012, the vessel being named after the co-creator of The Simpsons who made a sizable donation to finance the vessel's purchase. Sam Simon was formerly operated by the Japan Meteorological Agency at the Maizuru Marine Laboratory under the name Seifu Maru.
List of vessels
- MY Steve Irwin (formerly Robert Hunter)
- MY Bob Barker
- MV Brigitte Bardot (formerly Gojira)
- MY Sam Simon
- Sea Shepherd I (formerly Sea Shepherd)
- Sea Shepherd II
- Divine Wind
- Sirenian (formerly Edward Abbey)
- Cleveland Amory
- Whales Forever
- Farley Mowat (formerly Sea Shepherd III then Ocean Warrior
- Ady Gil
- Golfo Azzurro (chartered vessel)
The group has also operated smaller boats in its campaigns including jet skis, Delta RHIB and Zodiac inflatables deployed off of the larger vessels. In 1999 Sea Shepherd briefly obtained a small personal submarine in hopes of using it against tribal whalers. The sub however was never fully functional and Sea Shepherd decided to sell it instead for an undisclosed price.
In addition to their maritime assets, Sea Shepherd also operates several types of aircraft from their ships; these have included Sikorsky S-300 and MD 500 helicopters which typically are carried aboard the Steve Irwin, unmanned drones, and a microlight aircraft that was briefly used during their campaign in the Faroe Islands. The aircraft are used to conduct forward reconnaissance to search for targets beyond visual range, as well as to monitor operations once a target is acquired.
The vessels being engaged in controversial activities has caused registration issues with multiple governments, and the ships of the fleet have flown the flags of several different nations.
In August 2006, the Farley Mowat had its registration revoked by Canada. Later that year, Japan requested that the United Kingdom strip the Robert Hunter of its flag and for Belize to strip the Farley Mowat of hers. The Robert Hunter was removed from the shipping registers of the United Kingdom since its activities were "inconsistent with her status as a pleasure vessel." The International Merchant Marine Registry of Belize withdrew the use of the nation's flag after finding the Farley Mowat was not being used as a pleasure craft and stated that "it could not condone acts that threatened life and property at sea." The Mohawk Traditional Council of Kahnawake offered support and flags of the Iroquois Confederacy to fly on the Farley Mowat and the Robert Hunter.
In early 2010, the Bob Barker briefly falsely flew a Norwegian flag with the intent to deceive Japanese whalers.
The Steve Irwin now sails under the Dutch flag, but legislation was introduced to ban the group from using it. However, the junior transport minister later noted that there was no further intention of deregistering the Steve Irwin. In February 2010, however, after repeated requests by Japan, a new bill was introduced which would modify the registry law to allow ships to be struck from the registry if their conduct harmed the Netherlands' reputation.
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- "High speed on the high seas for sea shepherds". National Post. November 10, 2009.
- "The Tar Baby Farley Case is Now Closed". Seal Savers Sentenced for "Egregious Crime" of Seeing a Seal Slain. Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. September 30, 2009. Retrieved January 25, 2010.
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- ABC News, January 8, 2010, Ady Gil sinks after whaling skirmish
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- Darby, Andrew (November 18, 2010). "Ady Gil and whalers both at fault for collision: inquiry". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved November 18, 2010.
- "The Beast Transforms into a Beauty as Godzilla Becomes the Brigitte Bardot". Sea Shepherd. May 25, 2011. Retrieved December 30, 2011.
- Jiji Press, "Sea Shepherd scouting vessel badly damaged", Japan Times, December 30, 2011, p. 2.
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- "The M/V Sam Simon to Join the Sea Shepherd Fleet for the Next Voyage to Antarctica". Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. June 21, 2012. Retrieved June 22, 2012.
- The Age Conservationist Admits Ramming 'Whaler' Accessed 090731
- "The Return of the Walls of Death". Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Retrieved January 11, 2010.
- "Complete List of Sea Shepherd Voyages". Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Retrieved December 30, 2012.
- Sea Shepherd Vessel Departs US for Five-Year Patrol & Relief Mission in Galapagos Islands Business Wire, Accessed August 6, 2009.
- "Neptune's Navy". Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Retrieved December 30, 2012.
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- "Ady Gil and Japanese whaler both blamed for collision". The Guardian. November 18, 2010. Retrieved December 30, 2012.
- "Death in the Ferocious Isles: Sea Shepherd under Escort by the Danish Navy". Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. August 18, 2010. Retrieved December 30, 2012.
- Sorensen, Eric (October 8, 2005). "Test-diving a personal submarine". The Seattle Times. Retrieved September 21, 2009.
- Stuart, Myiow (February 13, 2009). "Five Nations Confederacy Flag Flying Proud on Earth’s Oceans". Mohawk Traditional Council. Retrieved September 21, 2009.
- Neighbour, Margaret (February 3, 2007). "Whaling protesters are pirates of the Antarctic as ships deregistered". The Scotsman. Retrieved September 21, 2009.
- Darby, Andrew (January 6, 2007). "Buccaneer a badge of honour for whaling opponent". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved September 21, 2009.
- Sea Shepherd kom med norsk flagg - Norsk rikskringkasting AS, published 2010-01-08. (Norwegian)
- "Govt Wants Emergency Act against 'Environmental Pirates'". NIS News. June 27, 2009.
- "Shut ports to terror ship, whalers say". The Canberra Times. January 5, 2009. Retrieved September 21, 2009.
- DutchNews November 27, 2009 Anti-whaling ship can remain Dutch
- "Dutch bill would hit Sea Shepherd". The Japan Times. February 6, 2010. Retrieved February 6, 2010.
- "Detained antiwhaling activist in good health: Okada". Kyodo News International. February 19, 2010. Retrieved February 22, 2010.
- "The Bob Barker Goes Dutch". May 25, 2010. Retrieved November 2, 2010.
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