By Emma Jolliff
An attempt to salvage Ady Gil after it collided with a Japanese whaling ship has failed. The former Earthrace vessel sunk in Antarctic waters.
Its Kiwi captain, Pete Bethune, says he is devastated by the whole experience.
After the dramatic collision between the Ady Gil and the Shonan Maru 2, crew removed any fuel or contaminants from the Ady Gil before attempting to tow it to a French research station to see what could be salvaged. But at 3am, it took onboard too much water and went down.
"To see it have its final resting place down here in Antarctica was certainly an incredibly emotional moment," says crew member Peter Hammarstedt.
Captain Bethune says he wasn't there to see it.
"I had my suspicions, and I said to the guys when I went to bed last night if the boat goes down. don't wake me."
He says he's gutted. The uninsured vessel was regarded as crucial to Sea Shepherd's anti-whaling campaign.
"I think the Japanese whaling fleet looked on the Ady Gil as a severe threat, because it enabled us to block the harpoons," says Sea Shepherd's Captain Paul Watson. "It was faster than a harpoon vessel, it was the perfect interceptor vessel."
The Japanese maintain it was the Ady Gil crew who were at fault, and say the act should be condemned.
Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully was not commenting on the matter today, saying it is now up to Maritime New Zealand to investigate the collision. The minister's office said reports of an official complaint from the Japanese were a "mistranslation", and denied there is any political stoush over the incident.
The Greens say the Government should be doing more.
"Not only is the Japanese whaling fleet illegally trying to kill whales in the Southern Ocean, they're now also trying to kill the people protecting the whales," says co-leader Russel Norman. "What will it take for the New Zealand government to stand up and do something?"
"Our objective is to sink the Japanese whaling fleet economically," says Capt Watson. "That is, to bankrupt them. That's the language they understand."
Protestors gathered outside the Japanese embassy in Wellington today
"We're here to protest against what the Japanese government are doing in Antarctica, killing 1000 of our whales this year," says protester Lisa Baines.
So will we see another Ady Gil?
"It was simply too effective at shutting down their operations, so we'll certainly exploring the possibility of maybe building a second Ady Gil, and we may see the reincarnation of that ship in the future," says Mr Hammarstedt.
It's a reincarnation that's one step closer today with a new donor reportedly offering $1 million dollars towards building the Ady Gil 2.