Friday, November 19, 2010

High Seas Responsibilities

The word's come down from on high... if you play with matches, expect to be burnt.
As I speculated back in January, the Maritime NZ investigation has now blamed both Sea Shepherd's protest vessel Ady Gil and the Japanese whaler Shonan Maru 2 for their Sthrn.Ocean collision earlier this year.
Yesterday's report says both vessels disobeyed international anti-collision rules for "close quarters" encounters: "The collision resulted from a failure on the part of both masters and crews to appreciate and react appropriately to the potential for collision."
The report says SM2 kept at an unsafe speed and turned starboard to put itself in a collision course with AG. As the overtaking vessel, SM2 was responsible for avoiding a collision and had sufficient room to do so - the report says it's near certain the ship's captain knew AG was there and did not adjust his course despite having ample opportunity.
But the report also criticises Pete Bethune and the AG crew for not keeping a good lookout and thus contributing to the collision. It says the AG helmsman did not monitor the ship's radar and left himself little time to take evasive action.
Although Bethune accepts the report's findings, he is adamant the ship turning in "the last 10 seconds" to adopt a collision course was a deliberate attempt to damage AG: "In many regards the sinking of Ady Gil has done more for stopping whaling than anything else we could have done there. Whaling is a big issue in Japan now. It's put the spotlight on (it)."

Maritime NZ says the incident shows the need for all vessels to act responsibly in the Southern Ocean. With Sea Shepherd departing for Antarctic waters before the end of this month, it's anyone's guess as to how the action will play out this season...

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