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COLLISION REPORT RELEASED

From our Press Release folder comes comment from the Sea Shepherds on the Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) Report, released on November 18, 2010, into the collision between the Japanese and New Zealand vessels in the Southern Ocean.

Following a revised Policy at NAUTICAL LOG we are listing the sources used to research and compile this Post. MNZ Report of November 18, 2010 summarized, and the Sea Shepherds Press Release of Tuesday, November 23, 2010. Additional comments are based on extensive seagoing experience, maritime accident investigation, and instructing in maritime law.

From the MNZ Report:

"The Director of MNZ, Catherine Taylor said its report into the collision between the New Zealand registered whaling protest vessel Andy Gil and the Japanese vessel Shonan Maru 2 on January 06, 2010 found no evidence that either vessel master had deliberately caused the collision. However both were responsible for contributing to and failing to respond to the "close quarters" situation that led to the incident."

Be that as it may NAUTICAL LOG cannot see how any reasonable person with just the minimum nautical knowledge can reach this conclusion. From the beginning we have always believed the Japanese Master rammed the Andy Gil because that vessel had been placed to cripple his vessel by deploying trailing lines to foul his propeller. We further believe the available videos show that action quite clearly.

"MNZ reiterates the Government's and the international maritime community's calls for all masters to take their responsibilities seriously and exercise appropriate restraint, particularly when operating in an environment as isolated and as unforgiving as the Southern Ocean, where access to any assistance is extremely limited. We also echo the International Maritime Organization's denouncement of any action that puts lives at risk and reaffirm the responsibility that all vessel masters have to ensure the safety of lives at sea."

One way or another a paragraph similar to this is found in just about every maritime accident report all over the world. It is the paragraph which is supposed to indicate what a fine job the maritime authorities are doing to protect the seafarers. In actual fact it is virtually totally meaningless. At no time has the Australian Government sent its Navy to detain either or both the Sea Shepherds and the Japanese. As for the New Zealand Government they were dragged kicking and screaming into investigating the incident at all and that only because they had too the Andy Gil being NZ Flag State.

"The report is the culmination of an extremely robust and through investigation, based on the facts and information made available, and we acknowledge all parties who came forward and assisted us."

This borders on the asinine because the entire Japanese personnel involved refused to be interviewed at all. NZ investigators were denied access by the Japanese Authorities. The entire Report is a piece of Government spin and from the beginning it was a foregone conclusion to being merely a Political Report. This report is therefore valueless to the seafaring community. It is doubtful that citing this case and its Political Report, in future maritime collision trials under Common Law, would be helpful to the parties involved.

As to the Sea Shepherds one can read in their press release to see what they think. However one point is worth quoting here as it is absolutely hilarious, particularly since the facts are recorded in those Whale Wars videos:

"Sea Shepherd Conservation Society was shocked and deeply saddened to discover that Captain Bethune was responsible to a significant degree for loss of his own vessel".

Where does one begin to comment on this piece of absolute nonsense, even by 'Wats-his-names' standards this is really deck sweepings.

Good Watch.

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