The marine conservation organisation Sea Shepherd has announced that its flagship vessel – the Steve Irwin– is to be recycled.
The vessel conducted nine Antarctic whale defence campaigns in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary – helping to save more than 6,000 whales from the Japanese whaling fleet, according to Sea Shepherd.
TheSteve Irwinalso conducted campaigns protecting pilot whales in the Faeroes, blue fin tuna in the Mediterranean, humpback whales off Australia, protesting oil and gas exploration in the Great Australian Bight, protesting coal shipments through the Great Barrier Reef, stopping illegal Chinese drift-netters in the South Indian Ocean and stopping illegal tooth fish poachers in the Southern Ocean.
Built in 1975, the Steve Irwinwas a Scottish fisheries patrol vessel before being bought and converted by Sea Shepherd.
“It has been my honour to have been the master of this vessel for so many successful high seas campaigns,” says Sea Shepherd founder, Captain Paul Watson.
“The lives we have saved and the difference we have made with this vessel has been awesome.
“We worked the ship hard – through horrific storms and crushing ice – and after 11 good years our engineers have determined that the Steve Irwinis no longer safe to take to sea.
“It is not wise to risk the lives of our crew beyond the boundaries of practicality.
“Battle scarred and damaged, regrettably she must be retired – but the memories.
“The campaign victories and lives saved will be the lasting legacy of a ship that was as valiant and courageous as her namesake."
Sea Shepherd had hoped to us the vessel as a maritime museum or a dive site, but the ideas turned out be unviable.
The Steve Irwinwill depart Australia this week for a Hong Kong Convention-approved recycling facility in China.