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Former Earthrace trimaran a casualty of ‘Whale Wars’

whale_inside2Earthrace, the biodiesel-powered multihull that in 2008 broke the record for the fastest powerboat circumnavigation, is now at the bottom of Antarctic waters - and at the center of the "Whale Wars."

The 78-foot wave-piercing trimaran, now named Ady Gil and owned by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, sank in Antarctic waters after being struck Jan. 6 by the Japanese whaling vessel Shonan Maru 2. (Play the accompanying videos to see the collision from Sea Shepherd and from the Shonan Maru 2.)

Sea Shepherd was trying to disrupt the annual whale hunt conducted by Japan's Institute of Cetacean Research. The conservationist group says the Shonan Maru, which it accuses of illegal whaling activities, deliberately rammed Ady Gil, shearing off 8 feet of the bow. The Japanese say the New Zealand-registered trimaran was struck as it pursued its mission of attacking the ship the Japanese refer to as a "whale research vessel."

Click below for video from the Japanese vessel.

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There were six crewmembers aboard Ady Gil, and no injuries were reported. Maritime New Zealand says it is investigating the incident, as well as a complaint lodged against Ady Gil and Sea Shepherd by the Japanese whaling fleet prior to the incident.

Ady Gil sank two days after the collision, despite attempts to tow it to a nearby base, according to Sea Shepherd. The group says environmental hazards were removed before it sank.

Sea Shepherd's efforts to end whaling by the Japanese - a practice the Japanese insist is for research purposes - has been transformed into a television show on Animal Planet called "Whale Wars."

Click below for video filmed from the Sea Shepherd vessel Bob Barker.

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Sea Shepherd acquired the former Earthrace last June from Pete Bethune after the New Zealander's circumnavigation record was ratified. Bethune's biodiesel-fueled Kevlar-and-carbon fiber trihull circled the globe in 60 days, 23 hours, 49 minutes, ending his record-breaking run June 27, 2008 in the Spanish port of Sagunto.

Earthrace was reportedly purchased for $1 million through a donation by Ady Gil, co-owner of a company specializing in constructing production facilities for television programs. The vessel was said to be worth $2 million when it was launched in 2006.

As Ady Gil - the boat - was sinking, Ady Gil - the Hollywood executive - was already raising money for another Sea Shepherd Conservation Society vessel, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.

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Comments (4) Comments are closed
4 Saturday, 13 August 2011 00:40
As a 3rd officer in the Masters, Mates, & Pilots Union I want to thank "Joseph Pugliese" for your comment. It clearly indicates to us merchant mariners that you USCG fellows have no concept or understanding for the Rules of the Road, yet do not fail to make the work of us real sailors that much more difficult. You clearly know nothing about how a marine fire pump system operates, nor do you seem versed in anti-piracy procedure.

Please re-read "BOATGEEKS" comment and watch the video again, you will notice from the prop wash of the eco terrorist vessel that it intentionally increased speed as the Japanese fishing vessel veered away. Please stop blocking our legislation to carry arms, it would help our interactions with the Somali's, drug runners, and these similar terrorist to go much more smoothly. Updating the licensing exam for the modern era and getting rid of the TWIC card/tax would go a long way too. Enough is enough, you need to read the publications you issue.
3 Saturday, 18 June 2011 21:43
Gene Leonard
Another boatman's comment; Unless I'm missing something, the Japanese vessel was 'firehosing' overboard in the direction of the trimaran, and from their own camera's view, a deliberate course change caused this collision. I'm curious, I haven't read much about it, don't follow the show. LLoyds must be havin' fits over this, The Whaler is liable...
2 Friday, 28 January 2011 17:39
It's all fun and games . . . until somebody loses a bow. I agree with your position on whaling but I am not convinced that the Japanese vessel bears all the responsibility for the ramming.

Watch the Japanese video again and pay close attention to the prop wash of Ady Gil. At first they are moving slowly and then in the last seconds before the collision the wash is much more agitated which means he probably accelerated at the last second. They were the right of way vessel but if there intention was to harass and not collide they acted way to late. As the stand on vessel they were obligated to hold their course, but if they failed to take evasive maneuvers, then they can be considered partially at fault. If the Japanese ship's intention was to avoid collision, Ady Gil made it impossible by accelerating.

In the other video, it does appear that the Japanese ship veered, but that does not mean it was intentional. Watch again and you'll notice that the vessel is rolling from side to side. That could be because they were making radical course changes, but it could also be because they were encountering a quartering sea, which would also cause the ship to veer from side to side.

Also in the Japanese video we catch a glimpse of another ship ahead of the whale ship. Was that another whale ship, or was that Ady Gil's support vessel that was doing the filming? If there were other vessels in the area they could have affected the Japanese vessel's ability to veer to port to avoid collision. If Ady Gil's true intent was to harass, their best tactical position would have been on a parallel course, just ahead of the bow of the whale ship, close enough to be below the line of sight from the ship's bridge. It put's Ady Gil in control, it's far more safe, and makes it very hard for the whale ship to do its job.

If intentionally ramming a vessel is illegal, then it should also be illegal to intentionally try to impede a vessel. A sudden roll of the whale ship could just as easily have caused a Japanese sailor to lose his life while handling heavy machinery, falling down a stairwell, or even falling overboard.

Stopping the whaling is an honorable cause. The Ady Gil's crew took the position that the ends justify the means and it came back to bite them. just think if every activist group chose that tactic? You'd have people making your life miserable on a daily basis because they think their cause is more important than the rule of law. I happen to like cows. Does that give me the right jump in front of you on the sidewalk and block your path until you discard your belt shoes and wallet? The honorable way to win this battle is with a lot of hard work and perseverance in political and legal realm, not on the high seas. We shouldn't confuse eco terrorism with honor.
1 Sunday, 07 February 2010 18:59
Joseph Pugliese
As a life long Boater and retired 30 year member of the USCG Aux.
I am horrified at what the Japanese Fishing Fleet is getting away with. After watching both videos, it appears that the Japanese ship deliberately turned into a collision course to ram the Sea Shepard Vessel Ady Gil. Even after the ramming the Japanese ship continued it's Fire Hose Assault. I would like to know if at any time they offered assistance to the Ady Gil Crew? I feel some criminal prosecution is in order against the Japanese. In addition to illegal whale slaughter they now have committed an act of attempted murder of the Ady Gil Crew. Enough is enough it's time for justice.
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