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MV Steve Irwin: Wikis


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Steve Irwin docked in Hobart.JPG
MV Steve Irwin refuelling in Hobart, 2009
Name: 1975–2005: FPV Westra
Owner: 1975–1999: Secretary of State for Scotland
Operator: 1975–2003: Scottish Fisheries Protection Agency
Ordered: 1974
Builder: Hall, Russell & Company, Aberdeen, Scotland
Yard number: 962
In service: 1975-2003
Out of service: 2003–2005 (laid up for disposal)
Homeport: Leith, Scotland
Name: 2005–2007: MV Robert Hunter
Owner: Sea Shepherd Conservation Society
Operator: 2005– : Sea Shepherd Conservation Society
Builder: Hall, Russell & Company, Aberdeen, Scotland
Yard number: 962
In service: 2005
Homeport: Melbourne, Australia
Name: 2007– : MV Steve Irwin
Owner: Sea Shepherd Conservation Society
Operator: 2005– : Sea Shepherd Conservation Society
Builder: Hall, Russell & Company, Aberdeen, Scotland
Yard number: 962
Christened: 2007
In service: 2007
Homeport: Brisbane, Australia
General characteristics
Class and type: Island class patrol vessel
Tonnage: 885 grt
Length: 59.43 m (196 ft)
Beam: 10.97 m (36 ft)
Draught: 4.26 m (14 ft)
Installed power: heavy oil
Propulsion: 2 x British Polar Engines 12 cylinder 2,100 bhp (1,600 kW), driving a variable-pitch propeller
Speed: 12.5 knots (23 km/h) – 16.5 knots (31 km/h)
Notes: [1]

The MV Steve Irwin is a 59-meter (195 ft) ship owned by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, and used in their direct action campaigns against whaling and other activities the group animal rights group opposes. The vessel was built in 1975 and formerly served as a Scottish Fisheries Protection Agency conservation enforcement patrol boat, the FPV Westra, for 28 years.

Sea Shepherd had previously christened the vessel the MV Robert Hunter after Canadian Robert Hunter,[2] co-founder of the Greenpeace Foundation, but was renamed in honor of the late Crocodile Hunter host Steve Irwin on December 5, 2007.[3] Irwin had considered joining the vessel on a voyage to Antarctica shortly before his death, and the renaming was endorsed by his widow Terri.[4]


Registration Issues

Like Sea Shepherd's former vessel, the RV Farley Mowat, Steve Irwin has had issues with her registration. In January 2007, the ship was struck from the British Ship Register after a Japanese request.[5]

The ship has been registered in the Netherlands as of October 8, 2007.[6]


The FPV Westra[1] 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 Nisshin Maru from hunting in an action Sea Shepherd called Operation Leviathan. Sea Shepherd members threw bottles of butyric acid onto the decks of the Nisshin Maru. Allegedly three members of the Japanese whaler were injured in the attack. The Robert Hunter and Farley Mowat obstructed the path of the whaling boat,[7] 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.[8] 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.[9]

The Steve Irwin has also participated in "Operation Migaloo"[10] (named after Migaloo, the albino humpback whale) that started in November 2007,[11] 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.[12] Sea Shepherd, however, has denied this statement, saying that they are a non-violent organization.[13]



MV Steve Irwin arriving in Melbourne, 2008.

On January 15, 2008, after throwing packages of malodorous acid onto the decks and attempting to entangle a hunting boat's propeller,[14] two Sea Shepherd members boarded the Japanese whaling vessel Yushin Maru № 2. Paul Watson stated that it was his intention to create an international incident through the boarding and expected detainment.[15] They later stated that their intent had been to present a protest note[16] to its captain. Benjamin Potts, a 28-year-old cook from Sydney, Australia, and Giles Lane, a 35-year-old engineer from Leeds, United Kingdom, were detained by crew of the Yushin 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.[17] 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.[18] 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.[19] 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.[20]

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."[21] 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.[22]

On January 17, the Australian customs ship MV Oceanic Viking started preparation to transfer the two men held on the whaling vessel.[23] On the morning of January 18, the two men were safely transferred to the MV Oceanic Viking.[24] After an investigation by the Australian Federal Police, no criminal action was taken against the intruders.[25]

Both sides accused the other of terrorism during the incident. The ICR called the butyric acid attack on the Yushin Maru № 2 an "inhumane terrorist attack" and called on the Australian Government to seize the Steve Irwin.[26] 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.”[27] [28]

Following the March 3rd clashes between Sea Shepherd members aboard the Steve Irwin and Japanese whalers, the Dutch government announced that it was investigating the incident as the vessel sails under the Dutch flag.[29]


On February 6, the MV Steve Irwin collided with the vessel Yushin Maru No. 2 (Japanese: 第2勇新丸) and later with the vessel Yushin Maru No. 3 (Japanese: 第3勇新丸) while they were whaling in the Southern Ocean.[30] The Japanese-based Institute of Cetacean Research claimed that MV Steve Irwin deliberately turned into the stern side of the vessel Yushin Maru No. 3 to ram her. Video footage of the incident was later released by the institute showing the incident.[31] MV Steve Irwin's operator Paul Watson denied the ramming, saying "They weren't rammed, two vessels collided - the Yushin Maru 3 and the Steve Irwin when they shot in front of us to transfer whale."[32]

Whale Wars

The MV Steve Irwin is featured in Whale Wars, a weekly reality television series that premiered on November 7, 2008 on Animal Planet. The show follows Paul Watson, founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, as he and his crew attempt to deter Japanese ships that hunt whales in the name of research. The crew of the MV Steve Irwin believe that the Japanese whaling fleet in the Antarctic Ocean take advantage of international laws allowing up to a predetermined amount of whales to be killed each year for research. They accuse the Japanese whaler Nisshin Maru of going up to the maximum limit of killed whales while doing minor research to justify the deaths (noted at around 1000 whales in 2007).


  1. ^ a b "Fishery Protection Vessel List", Scottish Fisheries Protection Agency
  2. ^ Neptune's Navy, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society
  3. ^ "Sea Shepherd Renames Its Whale Defending Ship the Steve Irwin". Sea Shepherd. 5 December 2007.  
  4. ^ Sea Shepherd honours Steve Irwin Perth Now, 5 December 2007]
  5. ^ Britain to deregister anti-whaler after Japan pipes up, The Age, January 30, 2007
  6. ^ Neptune’s Navy, The New Yorker, November 05, 2007
  7. ^ 2007.2.12 Sea Shepherd rammed The Kaiko Maru, Institute of Cetacean Research
  8. ^ Japanese whaler, anti-whaling ship collide, China Economic Net, February 15, 2007
  9. ^ Japanese whale hunt ended early , BBC News, 28 February 2007
  10. ^ Operation Migaloo: Antarctic Whale Defense Campaign 2007-08, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society
  11. ^ Sea Shepherd Launches Campaign to Disrupt Japanese Whaling: Operation Migaloo,
  12. ^ Environmentalists vow to ram whaling vessels,, November 20, 2007
  13. ^ Sea Shepherd News, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, November 20, 2007
  14. ^ "Japan to release whaling activists" ( – Scholar search), IHT/Asahi, January 17th,  
  15. ^
  16. ^ Read the anti-whaling activists' letter,, January 17, 2008
  17. ^ Whale protesters taken hostage,, January 15, 2008
  18. ^ "Whaling protesters free on their ship", The Australian, January 18th,,24897,23069680-601,00.html  
  19. ^ Sea Shepherd demands activists' release ABC News, January 16, 2008, accessed January 16, 2008
  20. ^ BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Japanese detain whaling activists
  21. ^ Whalers won't release hostages Daily Telegraph, January 17, 2008, accessed January 17, 2008
  22. ^ Sea Shepherd - How We Destroyed the Nisshin Maru
  23. ^ Australian ship Oceanic Viking may end Japanese whaling hostage drama Daily Telegraph, January 17, 2008, accessed January 17, 2008
  24. ^ Anti-Whaling pair return to Sea Shepherd
  25. ^,23599,23068974-2,00.html?from=mostpop Canberra casts off whaling activists
  26. ^ Protesters turn on each other in sea hunt for whalers - Whale watch - Specials
  27. ^ "Japanese Whalers Make Demands for Return of Hostages". Sea Shepherd News. 2008.01.16.. Retrieved 2008.02.05..  
  28. ^
  29. ^ "The Netherlands investigates anti-whaling campaign". 5 March 2008. Retrieved 2009.12.09..  
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^

External links


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