The MY Steve Irwin (formerly Robert Hunter) is the current flagship of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Originally named the Robert Hunter, the ship was acquired 2006 and participated in Operation Leviathan. In 2007, the ship was renamed Steve Irwin after the late Crocodile Hunter.
The Steve Irwin is an Island-class patrol vessel, originally built for the Scottish Fisheries Protection Agency as the Westra. It was sold to Sea Shepherd in 2006 and renamed the Robert Hunter after the Greenpeace founder and friend of Captain Paul Watson.
The Robert Hunter joined the Farley Mowat in Operation Leviathan, where it pursued the Japanese whaling fleet. The Robert Hunter encountered the whaling spotter ship Kaiko Maru and deployed an inflatable boat to engage it. The small boat crew successfully prop-fouled the Kaiko Maru but the whaling ship collided with the side of the Robert Hunter and declared a mayday. The Farley Mowat and Greenpeace's Esperanza both arrived on scene shortly after. The Esperanza refused to make contact with the Robert Hunter, so Emily Hunter, the daughter of Robert Hunter, radioed the Greenpeace crew, telling them that they are proud to have named their ship after the Greenpeace founder, and that the Greenpeace crew now were just a sham.
In 2007, the ship was painted solid black and renamed Steve Irwin after the famous Crocodile Hunter who had passed away. Steve Irwin had expressed interest in joining the crew, and his wife approved of the renaming. After Sea Shepherd lost possession of the Farley Mowat, the Steve Irwin became the new flagship, and the only ship of the fleet for a period of time. The Steve Irwin sailed alone in Operation Migaloo in 2007-08. It also carried a film crew for the first season of Whale Wars. On January 15, 2008, Steve Irwin crew members Benjamin Potts and Giles Lane, boarded the Yushin Maru No. 2 via inflatable boats. The two were detained for two days until the Australian customs vessel Oceanic Viking retrieve them and transported them back to the Steve Irwin. Shortly after, the Steve Irwin encountered a Japanese ship, the Fukiyoshi Maru No. 68. The Delta boat and helicopter launched a mission to identify any Japanese military personnel onboard, but did not spot any. Convinced that the ship was a spy for the whaling fleet, the crew attempted to launch a night assault of the Fukiyoshi Maru No. 68 and board the ship to sabotage their communications. However, the crane onboard the Steve Irwin was damaged and the mission was aborted. In March, 2008, the Steve Irwin encountered the factory ship Nisshin Maru and proceeded to engage it, with crew throwing butyric acid and slippery powder onto the deck of the ship. The whalers retaliated with flashbang grenades. Sometime during the engagement, Paul Watson claimed to be hit by a bullet, but saved by his bullet proof vest. This claim has been disputed by the whalers.
Operation Musashi Edit
In 2008 the Steve Irwin took part in Operation Musashi and attempted to stop the whalers. when they got to Antarctica it was too late the Nisshin Maru already killed three whales and attempted to kill a fourth. Chris Altmen caught the the whole thing on tape and it was the most gruesome sight ever. The Steve Irwin then got into a head on collision with the Yushin Maru No. 3 and both sides are accusing each other of the collision.
Operation Waltzing Matilda Edit
In 2009 the Steve Irwin took part in Operation Waltzing Matilda but this time she was not alone. Sea Shepherd recently bought two ships and during the long voyage Paul Watson was promoted to Admiral. Joining the Steve Irwin this year are the Bob Barker and the Ady Gil. When the Steve Irwin reached Antarctica the whalers were waiting for them. Japanese spy planes and local boats who were loyal to Japan were relaying their location to Nisshin Maru who at the time was being escorted by the security ship. Nisshin Maru sent Shonan Maru No. 2 to ambush the Steve Irwin behind an ice burg and to tail them so Nisshin Maru could do what it did last year which is poach a whale right in front of them. The Steve Irwin tried to lose them in the ice and then sent Chris Altman up in the chopper to search the ship. Once over the ship Shonan Maru No. 2 turned on the LRAD and blasted it into the cockpit and Chris was forced to return to the ship because the LRAD was making him lose control of the chopper. With Shonan Maru No. 2 still on their tail the Steve Irwin was forced to returned to port and lost the security ship in a storm and Shonan Maru had to turn back because warships and whaling vessels are prohibited in Australian Waters. When the Steve Irwin returned to Hobart they received a tip from a group called Taz Patrol that Yushin Maru No. 3 was lurking near an Australian base and they went there to investigate. Around this time the Bob Barker and the Ady Gil have located Nisshin Maru and started chasing it. In January 2010 the Steve Irwin was called on a rescue mission. Shonan Maru No. 2 sank the Ady Gil and the Steve Irwin was sent to pick up the crew and return them to port. When shore leave in Fremantle was over the Steve Irwin met up with the Bob Barker and chased Nisshin Maru. Pete Bathune the captain of the Ady Gill wanted revenge on the Shonan Maru No. 2 for sinking his boat and he boarded the ship during the night on a jet ski launched from the Steve Irwin. When Pete got on the Shonan Maru No. 2 he was arrested and sent to a Japanese jail. The Steve Irwin stayed with the Bob Barker until it had to return to port.
Operation No Compromise Edit
In 2010 the Steve Irwin took part in Operation No Compromise. At the start of the season Sea Shepherd was introduced to their new boat Brigitte Bardot who at the time was operating under the call sign Godzilla but was forced to change it at the end of the season because of a legal dispute with the owners. A day after setting sail all three ships spotted a harpoon boat and began chasing them. The start of 2011 was a bad year for Sea Shepherd and ICR heavy winter storms rocked the fleets and caused injury and even death. on the Nisshin Maru a crew member fell overboard and drowned, on the Bob Barker the small boat crews go their pontoons popped when trying to plant a tracking device on the Yushin Maru, and the Brigitte Bardot had to be sent back to port when it got prop fouled and blew a turbo charger refueling. Near the end of the campaign the whale wars are put on hold when a distress call is issued by the Berserk which sank along with all its crew. The Steve Irwin sent Chris in a chopper to Shackleton's Hut but did not find Jarle Andhoy or his companion. Later Andhoy radioed the New Zealand Navy informing them he is at Amundsen Scott Station and needs a pickup back to the mainland. The search for Berserk was called off after the Steve Irwin found their life raft it was empty and punctured indicating that the crew has drowned and went down with the ship. Day later the Steve Irwin finds Nisshin Maru but loses her in an ice field forcing the Steve Irwin to return to port. once refueled the Steve Irwin met up with the Bob Barker and the Brigitte Bardot and they chased Nisshin Maru around Antarctica. Nisshin Maru tried to sail into Chilean waters and was ordered out by the coastguard. Then the whalers got word that got word that the home islands were under attack by the Tohoku Tsunami and were ordered home by the Japanese Government with ICR calling Sea Shepherd Eco-terrorist in the press.
Operation Ferocious Isles Edit