MV Steve Irwin

MV "Steve Irwin" is a 59-meter (195 ft) former conservation enforcement ship owned by Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. The vessel was built in 1975 and served as a Scottish Fisheries Protection Agency patrol boat (FPV "Westra") for 28 years.

Sea Shepherd had previously christened the vessel the MV "Robert Hunter" after Canadian Robert Hunter, [ [ Neptune's Navy] , Sea Shepherd Conservation Society] co-founder of the Greenpeace Foundation, but was renamed in honor of "Crocodile Hunter" host Steve Irwin on December 5, 2007. [Cite web |url= |title=Sea Shepherd Renames Its Whale Defending Ship the Steve Irwin |publisher=Sea Shepherd |date=5 December 2007] Irwin had considered joining the vessel on an upcoming voyage to Antarctica shortly before his death, and the renaming was endorsed by his widow Terri. [ [,21598,22874137-948,00.html Sea Shepherd honours Steve Irwin] Perth Now, 5 December 2007] ]

Registration problems

Like Sea Shepherd's other vessel, the RV "Farley Mowat", "Steve Irwin" has had issues with its registration. In January 2007, the ship was struck from the British Ship Register after a Japanese request. [ Britain to deregister anti-whaler after Japan pipes up] , The Age, January 30, 2007]

The ship has been registered in the Netherlands as of October 8, 2007. [ Neptune’s Navy] , The New Yorker, November 05, 2007]


The FPV "Westra" was laid up ready for disposal in 2003 when Sea Shepherd purchased her and renamed her the "Robert Hunter".

In February 2007, the "Robert Hunter" and "Farley Mowat" attempted to prevent the Japanese whaling vessel "Kaiko Maru" from hunting in an action Sea Shepherd called [ Operation Leviathan] . Sea Shepherd members threw bottles of butyric acid onto the decks of the "Kaiko Maru" and one whaler was injured by a broken piece of glass and another received medical treatment for his eye. [ [ Update on Sea Shepherd Pursuit of Japanese Whaling Ship] , "Mother Jones", February 09, 2007] The "Robert Hunter" and "Farley Mowat" obstructed the path of the whaling boat, [ [ 2007.2.12 Sea Shepherd rammed The Kaiko Maru] , Institute of Cetacean Research] and the "Robert Hunter" and "Kaiko Maru" collided with each other. One Japanese official accused the Sea Shepherd organisation of behaving "like pirates". The "Robert Hunter" sustained a "3-foot gash in the hull above the waterline" at the stern of the ship. [ [ Japanese whaler, anti-whaling ship collide] , China Economic Net, February 15, 2007] Three days after the collision, an unrelated fire broke out in the engine room of the whaling factory ship "Nisshin Maru" and killed one crew member. [ [ Japanese whale hunt ended early ] , BBC News, 28 February 2007]

The "Steve Irwin" has also participated in "Operation Migaloo" [ [ Operation Migaloo: Antarctic Whale Defense Campaign 2007-08] , Sea Shepherd Conservation Society] (named after Migaloo, the albino humpback whale) that started in November 2007, [ [ Sea Shepherd Launches Campaign to Disrupt Japanese Whaling: Operation Migaloo] ,] and after repairs were completed in Launceston and a brief stop over in Melbourne, she was scheduled to depart for the Antarctic on December 1, 2007. Some media have reported that during this operation, Sea Shepherd vowed to ram Japanese vessels involved in the hunting of whales. [ [,23599,22789732-421,00.html Environmentalists vow to ram whaling vessels] ,, November 20, 2007] Sea Shepherd, however, has denied this statement, saying that they are a non-violent organization. [ [ Sea Shepherd News] , Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, November 20, 2007]


On January 15, 2008, after throwing bottles of malodorous acid onto the decks and attempting to entangle a hunting boat's propeller, [Citation
title = Japan to release whaling activists
newspaper = IHT/Asahi
year = 2008
date = January 17th
url =
] two Sea Shepherd members boarded the Japanese whaling vessel Yashin Maru No. 2. They later stated that their intent had been to present a protest note [ [,23599,23060426-29277,00.html Read the anti-whaling activists' letter] ,, January 17, 2008] to its captain. Benjamin Potts, a 28-year-old cook from Sydney, Australia, and Giles Lane, a 35-year-old engineer from Leeds, Great Britain, were detained by crew of the "Yashin Maru No. 2".

Sea Shepherd claimed that the two had been kidnapped and tied to the radar mast for several hours with ropes and zip ties. [ [,23599,23059320-2,00.html Whale protesters taken hostage] ,, January 15, 2008] Potts and Lane, however, later stated that they were tied for only fifteen minutes to the side of the ship and a couple of minutes to the radio mast before being taken below deck. [Citation
last =
title = Whaling protesters free on their ship
newspaper = The Australian
year = 2008
date = January 18th
url =,24897,23069680-601,00.html
] Glenn Inwood, a spokesperson for the whalers from the Institute of Cetacean Research (ICR), said that the activists were being held in an unlocked office, but were being guarded. [ [ Sea Shepherd demands activists' release] ABC News, January 16, 2008, accessed January 16, 2008] In another statement, they stated that the action of boarding their vehicle was illegal and that the men were being held pending decisions on their future. [ [ BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Japanese detain whaling activists ] ]

On January 16, the ICR issued a statement claiming that the protesters had thrown canisters of acid on board the ship and attempted to damage property. They also denied claims that the men had been assaulted and tied to the ship's mast. Hideki Moronuki further stated that "The ICR (Institute of Cetacean Research) is ready to release the two intruders provided that full security can be secured for our research vessel. Sea Shepherd is a very violent organization." In a letter faxed to the "Steve Irwin", the ICR stated that part of the handover conditions include that Sea Shepherd "must not take any violent action or video/photo shooting activities against us." [ [,22049,23063842-5001021,00.html Whalers won't release hostages] Daily Telegraph, January 17, 2008, accessed January 17, 2008] The acid in question was, according to Sea Shepherd, butyric acid, which was used not to damage the ship itself but to render the work-deck unusable due to its foul and long-lasting smell. [ [ Sea Shepherd - How We Destroyed the Nisshin Maru ] ]

On January 17, the Australian customs ship MV "Oceanic Viking" started preparation to transfer the two men held on the whaling vessel. [ [,25197,23064648-601,00.html Australian ship Oceanic Viking may end Japanese whaling hostage drama] Daily Telegraph, January 17, 2008, accessed January 17, 2008] On the morning of January 18, the two men were safely transferred to the MV "Oceanic Viking". [ Anti-Whaling pair return to Sea Shepherd] . The incident is being investigated by the Australian Federal Police. [,23599,23068974-2,00.html?from=mostpop Canberra casts off whaling activists]

Both sides accused the other of terrorism during the incident. The ICR called the butyric acid attack on the "Yashin Maru No. 2" an "inhumane terrorist attack" and called on the Australian Government to seize the "Steve Irwin". [ [ Protesters turn on each other in sea hunt for whalers - Whale watch - Specials ] ] Conversely, "Steve Irwin" 1st Officer Peter Brown stated that “the Institute of Cetacean Research is acting like a terrorist organization [...] Here they are taking hostages and making demands. Our policy is that we don’t respond to terrorist demands.” [cite web
title = Japanese Whalers Make Demands for Return of Hostages
publisher = Sea Shepherd News
date = 2008.01.16.
url =
accessdate = 2008.02.05.



External links

* [ Sea Shepherd Fleet]
* [ Photo of the Robert Hunter]

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