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THE SILLY SEASON ?

A generic Corvette-sized Ocean Patrol Vessel
A generic Corvette-sized Ocean Patrol Vessel

A couple of weeks ago NAUTICAL LOG received some information that frankly we thought was a bit far out in left field. This being the time of the year when we hear of preparations for the coming whaling season in Southern waters on both sides of the issue. Then came some other announcements from Sea Shepherds that their anti-whaling patrol vessel MS Bob Barker had completed a major refit in Hobart, Tasmania. Also that there would be a Hollywood event October 23, 2010 to announce their new Darth Vader 2 "interceptor craft". While there has been no Press Release to date about the MS Steve Irwin she is due soon to voyage from the Mediterranean to the Southern seas once again. So where does all this leave the Japanese and what can they do to protect themselves. We turned to that information received to see what could be put together.

According to the data there is an organization named Oceans Guardians, they offer private maritime security to protect vessels from piracy and defend against terrorists. It appears they have acquired three vessels which are described as "Ocean Guard Vessels, corvette sized ocean patrol vessels with fast response capability". Named OGV Defender, OGV Protector, OGV Preserver they are available by charter agreement for unit or fleet protection. While the data was rather vague we did manage to get an answer on whether the vessels are armed. NAUTICAL LOG was informed that suitable modules could quickly be loaded aboard in preassigned positions similar to the procedure used for the armed merchant vessels and famous Q-ships of World Wars 1 & 2.

So something is available to the Institute for Cetacean Research (ICR) that operates the Japanese Whaling Fleet (JWF). The problem that the ICR has is Japan's Constitution does not allow its Armed Forces to engage other than in defensive mode. This is why the Japan Armed Forces are always described as 'Self-Defence Force'. How this applies to the Japan Coastguard is a little vague under both Japan National and International Law. The last two seasons one of the JWF vessels was operated by the civilian whaling crew but had a Japan Coastguard armed team on board. There was considerable discomfort in many circles in Japan about this being done. Now it appears a possible solution has emerged by the hiring of non-Japanese private maritime security and the chartering of their OGV's.

So silly season - maybe not.

Good Watch.

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