February 06, 2009 | Graham

Japanese whalers are slow learners

When Japanese whalers were rammed in Antarctic waters by Greenpeace three years ago it took them days to get the evidence to support their side of the story up on the web. Today is the third time that they claim to have been rammed, but only the first time that photos have gone up reasonably quickly.
But not quickly enough.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported this morning that the Sea Shepherd had “collided” with the Yushin Maru No1. The story was full of direct quotes from Sea Shepherd Captain Paul Watson who claimed:

  • the Yushin Maru swept in front of him
  • he could not turn to starboard because the Yushin Maru was there
  • he tried to slow down

Here’s the video so you can see whether any of those claims stands up (hint: they don’t, and thanks to David below).

In fact, you can quite clearly see a rope running in the sea between the two ships which has been used to transfer a minke whale. Sea Shepherd has interfered with the two while they were working together at sea, which is totally illegal
Will any of the newspapers who have reported this story tidy it up for tomorrow’s hardcopy editions? Probably not. So readers will be left with the totally false impression that the Japanese were at fault.
And will any be campaigning to have this ship impounded for piracy and endangering human life next time it docks in Australia? I doubt it. They showed not the slightest inclination when the Steve Irwin docked in Australian waters just after Christmas, so why now?
You don’t have to approve of whaling to defend the Japanese right to the protection of the law. If you’re worried about the law you understand that it applies irrespective of whether you approve of the person it protects, whether they’re Japanese whalers, or boat refugees.
And a media which can’t be bothered getting its facts straight because they don’t approve the activities one of the protagonists (who is also a little slow with its video evidence) is not what we need when the world appears to be slipping into its first depression for 80 years.
If you can’t trust them on the small and concrete things, how can you trust them on the large and abstract?
Added 7/2/9: Honourable mention to ABC Online who carried the other side of the story last night, although without a link to the video.

Posted by Graham at 9:58 pm | Comments (10) |
Filed under: Media


  1. I’ve uploaded the video to YouTube, so you can embed it here if you want to. It’s at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_b_IYQMSvM

    Comment by David Jackmanson — February 7, 2009 @ 9:15 pm

  2. I’ve waited until SeaShepherd posted some video of the collision. The “Steve Irwin” certainly does veer to starboard and connects with the “Yushin Mary #3”. I am not convinced that it was a deliberate act. There are two orange-clad crew on the foredeck who approach the bow just before contact is made. This is not how a vessel intent on ramming would behave.
    I expect the incident was unavoidable. The “Nisshin Maru” was flanked on both sides by the harpoon vessels. The wash from “Nisshin Maru” would have been contained by that proximity, and it was quite a confused patch of water that SeaShepherd entered into.
    This is a possible explanation, not an excuse. In a world of floating bodies, nothing is for certain.
    As to Graham’s vendetta with the mainstream media, I think he is yet to land a blow, try hard as he might.

    Comment by CLink — February 18, 2009 @ 3:11 pm

  3. I assume that the video you refer to is http://www.seashepherd.org/images/stories/video/2009-02-06_Confrontation_with_Japanese_whaling_fleet_public.wmv. And if that is your interpretation of it, you’ve obviously never been to sea. There’s no reason for the Steve Irwin to be positioned where it is in the first place, and it is travelling faster than the other two ships. Clear case of ramming.

    Comment by Graham Young — February 18, 2009 @ 3:37 pm

  4. The various video accounts are best downloaded from source and viewed with local tools.
    The SeaShepherd video is very haphazard and “wild” footage. Initially from within the wheelhouse, and then from the bridge deck. There was no apparent preparation for an assault. It initially also shows “Nisshin Maru” going hard to port, with a whale being hauled.
    The crew of “Yushin Maru 3” are on deck and chucking stuff.(Yes, and so is SeaShepherd!)
    It is the longer video from ICR that best shows what happened. At 1 minute 13 seconds, the “steve Irwin” begins to yaw. The ICR camera(from the crow’s nest) pans down, and shows the “SI” bow slew sideways and make contact. At the time of contact, both vessels were at the same relative velocity. What is clearly visible: the wake of the “Nisshin Maru” impacting on the port side of “Steve Irwin”‘s bow.
    Sure Graham! “Steve Irwin” rammed the “Yushin Maru 3”, but you again ascribe some intent where there was none.

    Comment by CLink — February 19, 2009 @ 2:54 pm

  5. I’ve inspected the damage done to the “Steve Irwin”, and talked to the crew.
    The point of initial contact is some six metres behind the bow. This is where most damage was done. Toward the bow, including the anchor itself, damage is superficial.
    This leads me to withdraw my concession that Steve Irwin in any way “rammed” Yusshin Maru no.3.
    As Graham is fond to contend, ramming involves the bow of an offending vessel being used wilfully and intentionally to inflict damage. The ICR footage shows the bow of Steve Irwin being thrust sideways by the agency of the Nisshin Naru’s wake, not through any wish of the Captain of Steve Irwin. Glenn Inwood is wrong, as usual.

    Comment by CLink — February 26, 2009 @ 1:38 pm

  6. CLink, do you think you could stop your trolling? The Steve Irwin thrust itself in _against_ the wake, it wasn’t thrust in _by_ the wake. If it didn’t hit the ship with the point of its bow that reflects the difficulty in ramming a ship from the side when you are both travelling at reasonable speed in the same direction.

    Comment by Graham Young — February 26, 2009 @ 1:58 pm

  7. Tell me, Graham, have you been to sea? If not, on what basis do you form your opinion? A less than substantive video clip? A clear bias against conservationists/activists? The reports at the time were quite clear that the Yishin Maru forced the collision. And after all, Sea Shepherd was there doing what the Australian government has failed to do, despite its pre-election promises. While we’re on the subject, to whom does the Australian Federal Police report? Tokyo or Canberra? Will the invaluable records of the Sea Shepherd mysteriously get “lost” in the course of “kow-towing” (i.e. the Australian government prostituting itself in the name of trade) to the Japanese government?

    Comment by Nicky — February 27, 2009 @ 8:53 pm

  8. Yes Nicky, I’ve been to sea. But you don’t need to have been to sea to see what is going on. The video clip isn’t “less than substantive”. It is very clear.
    I don’t recall the Australian government promising to ram ships in international waters, but perhaps I saw a different election campaign.
    So, why do you allege that the Federal Police are corrupt?

    Comment by Graham Young — February 27, 2009 @ 9:33 pm

  9. Graham is right; the video evidence is unequivocal. The video clips from ICR in particular:
    2009.02.06 Dutch vessel rams Japanese ship for second time (Part.1) (6.92MB)
    2009.02.06 Dutch vessel rams Japanese ship for second time (Part.2) New footage from the Yushin Maru No.3’s crow nest (16.1MB)
    show the collision to be accidental. The first clip is a view from the stern of the Nisshin Maru, beginning just as the bow of the Steve Irwin is caught by the combined effects of wash from the Yushin Maru No3, and the wake of the Nisshin Maru. The wake from Nisshin Maru is clearly impinging on the port-side bow of the Steve Irwin
    A vessel far astern is tracking the path of Nisshin Maru . Over the few seconds involved here, it provides a convenient reference point. If the Steve Irwin was intending to collide with the Yushin Maru No3, then it’s stern would have to move to port. There is no such movement.
    I’m not sure how Graham can accuse the Media of sloppy reportage, when the ICR’s own video so clearly refutes his assertions.
    The video posted by SeaShepherd is at:
    or http://preview.tinyurl.com/awormf
    What I find most interesting is the sound; not of the female voice (which is not a commentary), but the string of expletives after the time of contact. No celebration here!
    Nicky, The Australian Federal Police might legitimately have acted at the behest of the Netherlands Government, but the raid on Steve Irwin as she berthed in Hobart, has the stench of obeisance to an aggrieved party.

    Comment by CLink — March 3, 2009 @ 4:32 pm

  10. Clink, port is the left-side. That’s the side to which their stern moves. The only wake on their port is also moving away from them. Just give it a rest. I think we’ll close comments on this thread because they are going nowhere.

    Comment by Graham Young — March 3, 2009 @ 9:59 pm

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