Since 1977, a number of vessels have served in the Sea Shepherd fleet to protect and defend the world's marine wildlife. We are proud to present the current fleet and historical information on those vessels that have come before them... some of which float no more.
The Current Fleet
SSS Steve Irwin
On December 5, 2007 just before the 2007-2008 Antarctic Whale Defense Campaign: Operation Migaloo began to defend the whales of the Southern Oceans, the Sea Shepherd vessel M/Y Robert Hunter was officially re-named the Steve Irwin in honor of the late Australian conservationist. The name change was announced at a press conference by Irwin's widow Terri Irwin and Captain Paul Watson at the Melbourne Docklands just prior to the ship's departure to the Antarctic Whale Sanctuary.
Sea Shepherd is proud to partner with Terri Irwin for this name change as she and Steve have been world renowned for their conservation work. At the press conference, Terri stated that Steve would have been extremely honored to be acknowledged in this way as he shared Sea Shepherd's passion for saving whales.
"Whales have always been in Steve's heart and in 2006 he was investigating the possibility of joining the Sea Shepherd on part of its journey to defend these beautiful animals," Terri said.
The objective of Sea Shepherd's Antarctic whale campaigns is to intervene against illegal whaling actions by the Japanese whaling fleet. The 2007-2008 Operation Migaloo campaign was very successful and the whalers only got about ½ their quota, due to the Steve Irwin's intervention.
"Steve Irwin's life demonstrated how one person can make a significant difference in the world," said Watson. "Steve wanted to come to Antarctica with us to defend the whales and now he is able to join us in spirit with his name emblazoned on the fastest and most powerful whale protection ship in the world."
The ship, formerly known as the M/Y Robert Hunter was originally named after Canadian Robert Hunter, who along with President and Founder of Sea Shepherd Captain Paul Watson was a co-founder of the Greenpeace Foundation. Bob Hunter died in May 2005, and at his funeral, Captain Watson pledged to name an ocean conversation ship in his honor. That dream came to pass with the purchase of the M/Y Robert Hunter, a 53-meter, former Scottish Fisheries Protection Service vessel.
Carrying on her father's activist genes, Robert Hunter's daughter Emily Hunter joined the ship's crew for Operation Leviathan; Sea Shepherd's 2006-7 campaign to stop the Japanese whaling fleets' illegal slaughter of over a thousand whales in Antarctica. The Robert Hunter has the long-range capability and fast speed needed to locate and keep up with the whalers. The new ship joined the Society's flagship Farley Mowat in the Ross Sea of Antarctica with over 60 international volunteer crewmembers, a helicopter, and numerous smaller vessels.
"Bob and I were in the very first inflatable that blocked the harpoons of the whalers in 1975," said Captain Watson. "He was my shipmate from 1971 onward with Greenpeace and later joined me on many Sea Shepherd campaigns. With this ship, he was by my side once again in spirit continuing to defend whales.
The Operation Leviathan campaign succeeded in stopping the Japanese whaling fleet from getting their self-appointed quota of whales.
SSS Bob Barker
On January 5, 2010, another Sea Shepherd anti-whaling ship arrived in the Southern Ocean to join the 2009-2010 Antarctic Whale Defense Campaign, Operation Waltzing Matilda unexpected and right on time: the Bob Barker.
Thanks to a $5,000,000 contribution from American television personality and icon Bob Barker, Sea Shepherd was able to quietly purchase and refit the former Norwegian whaler in Africa. The ice-strengthened, fast, chaser boat quietly departed from Mauritius on December 18th to join up with the Sea Shepherd ships Steve Irwin and Ady Gil in the Southern Ocean.
Barker has also funded the cost of a helicopter that will accompany the societys ships. The aircraft is named The Nancy Burnet after the president of United Activists for Animal Rights, an organization Barker also supports. This new helicopter will participate in future campaigns.
"I'm delighted to be able to help the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society in its mission to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the worlds oceans," said Barker. "There is lot of talk about preserving our ecosystems and species, but this is one organization that puts these words into action."
SSS Brigitte Bardot
• Vessel Type: stabilized, monohull trimaran
• Max Speed: 24 knots
• First Expedition: 1998 successful circumnavigation in 74 days, beating the previous record of 84 days held by the USS Triton, a nuclear-powered submarine [Note: In 2008, the 60-day world record was set by the Earthrace, which later become Sea Shepherd’s vessel the Ady Gil]
• Former Job: South African-based charter vessel
• First Sea Shepherd Expedition: Operation No Compromise
• SSCS Name: Brigitte Bardot
SSS Sam Simon
• Beam: 9.8 meters
• Draught: 4.5 meters
• Date Built: 1993, Tokyo IHI Shipyard
• Max Speed: 16 knots
• Most Interesting Fact: It was once a part of the Japanese whaling fleet.
• Country of Origin: Japan
• Former Job: Meteorological Observation Ship for Japan Government
• Former Name: Seifu Maru
• Current Name: Sam Simon - named after the co-creator and executive producer of “The Simpsons,” a member of Sea Shepherd’s Board of Advisors, and longtime champion of animals.
• First Sea Shepherd Expedition: November 2012, Antarctic Whale Defense Campaign, Operation Zero Tolerance
Small Vessels and Watercraft
Many other small vessels and watercraft serve Sea Shepherd on the frontlines, defending the animals. These smallcraft are launched from our bigger vessels, and have the speed and maneuverability to keep up with and intercept whaling and fishing vessels. Regardless of the hull type, every vessel flying the Sea Shepherd colors will continue to strike fear and trepidation in the hearts of those who engage in illegal whaling, fishing, and other destructive marine activities.
Donated Vessels in Service
Sirenian / Yoshka
This former U.S. Coast Guard patrol boat, built in 1955, was purchased by Sea Shepherd in 1991. She had powerful new engines installed in 1979 and can catch just about anything on the water.
In service with Sea Shepherd, she went up against Japanese pirate driftnetters and played a leading role in the efforts to protect gray whales from being hunted off Neah Bay, WA. In the fall of 1999, during a stand-off with whale hunt advocates, the Sirenian was sabotaged while in port in Seattle.
Recovered and fully overhauled, she left Seattle at the end of November 2000 for guard duty in the Galapagos National Park (GNP). Sea Shepherd entered into a five-year contract with the GNP to provide our fast boat as an enforcement patrol vessel. During that time, the Sirenian intervened against hundreds of illegal activities and seized numerous poaching vessels. These actions prevented the slaughter of thousands of sharks and other marine species. The Sirenian became an indispensable part of the Marine Reserve, and therefore, in October 2005, Captain Paul Watson signed a new agreement with the director of the GNP to keep the ship in the Galapagos on a permanent basis. Sea Shepherd donated the vessel to the GNP so that she could carry on her important enforcement duties. The ship will continue to display the Sea Shepherd logo and Sea Shepherd continues to play a vital role in its activities.
In 2006, the ship was renamed "Yoshka" and underwent an overhaul. The Yoshka is crewed by Galapagos National Park rangers and works in partnership with other vessels such as Guadalupe River, the Sierra Negra and several other smaller boats to protect the GNP from illegal fishing activities.
The Historical Fleet
The first vessel
Our first ship was a British-registered fishing trawler purchased in 1978 with a grant from the Fund for Animals.
Her major action was ramming and damaging the outlaw whaler Sierra. The campaign to find and disable the Sierra was Sea Shepherd's first direct action.
Captain Paul Watson scuttled the ship rather than let it fall into the hands of pirate whalers.
Read the honorable history of our beloved ship... MORE
Sea Shepherd II
The replacement for the Sea Shepherd was a nearly identical 657-ton fishing trawler purchased in 1980 with money received for the film rights to the story of the Sierra campaign.
In 1992, the Sea Shepherd II was sold in Ucluelet, British Columbia, rather than pay an outrageous pilotage bill that would have gone to subsidize the logging industry. All valuable equipment was removed and the hull was sold later.
The Sea Shepherd II had an astounding record of success prior to her sale. Her lineage of actions and campaigns include:
- 1981 - Iki Island, Japan -- Dolphin Protection Campaign
- 1981 - Soviet Siberia -- Exposed illegal whaling activities
- 1983 - Blockade of St. John's Harbor to stop the Canadian sealing fleet. [She was rammed by the Canadian Coast Guard there.]
- 1989 - Confrontation with illegal Mexican and Venezuelan tuna fleets.
- 1990 - Rammed illegal Japanese driftnet boats and sheared the power blocks used for the nets.
- 1991 -Mexican outlaw tuna boat rammed in Guatemalen waters with government thanks.
- 1991 - Boarded the replica ship Santa Maria during Columbus voyage anniversary in protest of 500 years of injustice to Native American Peoples. Spanish Government eventually apologized.
- 1992 - Caught American tuna seiners fishing illegally.
- 1992 - Caught Costa Rican fishing boats poaching sharks and dolphins in the Cocos Islands.
- 1992 - Second major confrontation with illegal Japanese driftnet fleet.
Rest in peace Sea Shepherd II -- you served us well!
This ship was previously a buoy tender with the Canadian coast guard. It was renamed Cleveland Amory after Sea Shepherd's first benefactor. Cleveland Amory was the founder and president of the Fund for Animals, and was instrumental in providing funding so that Captain Watson could purchase Sea Shepherd's first ship. For many years, Cleveland served on the Sea Shepherd Advisory Board.
Cleveland, who was a best-selling author and one of the world's leading advocates for animals, died in his sleep on October 14, 1998. He was 81.
In 1993, Sea Shepherd brought worldwide attention to the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans' mismanagement of the East coast cod fishery when Captain Watson took the ship Cleveland Amory to the Grand Banks. He chased foreign trawlers out of the area where they were fishing illegally and cut the trawl net of a Cuban vessel. The Canadian government arrested Watson and a lengthy trial ensued (in which Watson was eventually found not guilty of the major charges brought against him). What was especially interesting about this event was that Watson and Sea Shepherd were cheered and thanked by many local fishermen who were happy to see that someone was doing what their own government should have done.
The ship was sold in late 1993 to help raise funds to purchase the Whales Forever.
This former British seismic research ship, built in 1970, was purchased in 1994 thanks to a contribution from Europaisches Tierhilfswerk, a German animal protection organization.
The M/Y Whales Forever, registered as a yacht under the flag of Belize, is 187-feet long and weighs 774 tons. She has a range of 15,000 miles and can carry 42 people. The ship was severely damaged in her engagement with the Norwegian Navy in 1994, and the ship was sold in 1995, repairs being too expensive.
More history and her epic battle with the Norwegian Navy... MORE
R/V Farley Mowat
In August 1996, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society purchased a new long-range, ice-class, heavy-duty, conservation enforcement ship in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Originally christened Sea Shepherd III, she was re-named Ocean Warrior in 1999 to reflect the missions and campaigns that face her in the new millennium.
She was definitely up to withstanding the ice floes of the Labrador coast, the harsh unpredictable waters of Antarctica and challenging any pirate whaler on the high seas.
The ship was built in 1956 as a Norwegian Fisheries research and enforcement ship. At 54 meters (180 ft) in length and 657 tons (displacement), her one-inch thick riveted, welded steel hull was built to withstand the violent pounding of the storm-haunted North Sea.
The ship's massive German-built diesel engine drives a variable pitch propeller that is protected inside a Kort nozzle. This means 1400 horsepower, coupled with the swift maneuverability of bridge control of he pitch.
In 2002, after months of bureaucratic paper shuffling and payments of extortionist demands by the Cayman Islands Bureau of Shipping, the Ocean Warrior was re-registered in Canada. She was renamed the Farley Mowat after Sea Shepherd's International Chair, Farley Mowat, Canadian author and animal welfare advocate.
The Sea Shepherd flagship, the R/V Farley Mowat officially began her career in the waters off Costa Rica appropriately immersed in controversy over policing actions against illegal fishing activities. Afterwards, she spent years defending whales and seals in the Antarctic and Canada before being seized in 2008 by the Canadian government.
M/Y Ady Gil
At a fundraising event in Los Angeles on Saturday, October 17th, 2009, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society unveiled their newest ocean defense vessel: the Ady Gil. The vessel, previously known as the Earthrace, is a fast, futuristic looking trimaran that recently set the world record for global circumnavigation. The vessel renaming reflects the ship’s benefactor, Ady Gil, who helped acquire the vessel.
Due to its speed capabilities, up to 50 knots, Captain Paul Watson (Sea Shepherd Founder) will use the Ady Gil to intercept and physically block the harpoon ships from illegally slaughtering whales.
Captain Watson said before Operation Waltzing Matilda, “We’re very excited that the Ady Gil will be joining the Steve Irwin in Antarctica this campaign. With these two ships, we will mount the most ambitious and aggressive effort to date to obstruct the slaughter of the whales in the Southern Ocean.”
Says Chuck Swift, Deputy CEO in charge of ship’s operations, “The Ady Gil gives us the speed necessary to catch and stay with the Japanese whaling fleet. We are very optimistic that with these two ships, and some other surprises, we will shut down whaling in the Antarctic Whale Sanctuary.”
During the 2009-2010 Antarctic Whale Defense Campaign, Operation Waltzing Matilda, on January 5, 2010, in an unprovoked attack captured on film, the Japanese security ship Shonan Maru No. 2 deliberately rammed and caused catastrophic damage to the Sea Shepherd trimaran Ady Gil. The vessel was cut in two.
Six crew crewmembers, four from New Zealand, one from Australia, and one from the Netherlands were immediately rescued by the crew of the Sea Shepherd ship Bob Barker. None of the crew Ady Gil crew were injured.
January 8, 2010 at 17:20 (GMT) the Bob Barker reported the last known position of the Ady Gil to the Australian Rescue Coordination Center (ARCC). This report was made because the Ady Gil - which was going to be towed to a nearby base - was sinking.