The Sea Shepherd scout vessel Brigitte Bardot was struck by a rogue wave that has cracked the hull and severely damaged one of the pontoons of the vessel, while fighting heavy seas in pursuit of the Japanese whaling fleet.
Captain Paul Watson onboard the Sea Shepherd flagship Steve Irwin reports that they are fighting heavy seas to reach the position of the Brigitte Bardot some 240 miles to the southeast. It is expected to take twenty hours to reach the damaged vessel.
The Brigitte Bardot is at 51 degrees 42 minutes South and 99 Degrees 21 minutes East or 1500 miles southwest of Fremantle, Western Australia. Brigitte Bardot Captain Jonathan Miles Renecle of South Africa was pursuing the Japanese factory ship Nisshin Maru in six meter swells when the wave slammed into the port side of the vessel cracking the hull. The crack has been getting wider as the seas continue to pound the vessel. Captain Renecle is confident that the ship will stay afloat until the Steve Irwin arrives.
The Brigitte Bardot has a crew of ten: Three British, three Americans; one Australian, one Canadian, one Belgian and one South African.
The Sea Shepherd ship Bob Barker will continue in pursuit of the whaling fleet. The Steve Irwin will assist the Brigitte Bardot, first to see to the safety of the crew and then to see to escorting the vessel to Fremantle for repairs.
'This is disappointing but these are hostile seas and we have always been prepared for situations like this,' said Captain Paul Watson from the Steve Irwin.
'Right now the safety of my crew on the Brigitte Bardot is our priority and we intend to reach the crew and then do what we can to save our ship.'
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society website