Sea Shepherd claims night 'ambush' by Japanese whalers
SYDNEY (AFP) - Militant anti-whaling campaigners Sea Shepherd said on Monday they were ambushed under the cover of darkness by a Japanese whaling fleet in a "ruthless assault" to disable their ship in the Southern Ocean.
Sea Shepherd said two Japanese harpoon ships attacked their Bob Barker vessel on Sunday night, using steel cables in an attempt to jam its propellers and rudders from close range in violation of laws aimed at preventing collisions at sea.
Bob Barker captain Peter Hammarstedt said he had been tailing the Japanese factory ship Nisshin Maru since Sunday morning but the harpooners waited until night fell - "launching their onslaught under the cover of darkness".
High-seas confrontations are common between Sea Shepherd and the Japanese, who hunt whales off Antarctica under a "scientific research" loophole in the moratorium on whaling. Sunday's incident marks the second such showdown in a month.