BREAKING NEWS: Drama On The High Seas As Sea Shepherd Saves Sinking Poachers


The Australian crew of the Sea Shepherd vessel Bob Barker have begun a rescue operation off the west coast of Africa this evening after the crew of an illegal poaching vessel which Bob Barker has been tailing for months abandoned ship.

Shortly before 4pm this afternoon, the illegal vessel Thunder – which was caught poaching Patagonian Tooth Fish in Australia waters in February – issued a distress signal.

The ship is inside the Exclusive Economic Zone of Sao Tome, a tiny nation several hundred kilometres off the coast of Gabon.

Sea Shepherd media reports that the Captain of the Thunder radioed the captain of the Bob Barker, Peter Hammarstedt, reporting that his vessel was sinking.

“The Sea Shepherd ship, Bob Barker, immediately answered the distress call,” a spokesperson for Sea Shepherd said.

New Matilda understands that 35 crew members from the Thunder have abandoned the ship, and are in life-rafts.”

“Sea Shepherd confirms that the Thunder appears to be taking on water,” the spokesperson said.

“The Bob Barker is currently coordinating a search and rescue operation.”

Captain Hammarstedt of the Bob Barker confirmed: “The Captain of the Thunder has radioed us and said their ship is sinking.

“It appears as though the ship and crew are in a serious situation.

“We have launched our small boat and are doing everything we can to assist.”

It's the latest run-in between Thunder and Sea Shepherd vessels, which have been tracking the ship for months, after it was caught poaching Patagonian Toothfish in the Great Southern Ocean below Australia earlier this year.

Another Sea Shepherd vessel, Sam Simon clashed with Thunder in February, and the crew of Sam Simon was attacked while trying to deliver a message to Thunder crew.

In other recent developments, late last month both the Bob Barker and Sam Simon received a radio report from Thunder that a crew member had attempted suicide. 

The vessel is wanted by Interpol and at least some of the crew – from Indonesia – are believed to be working against their will.

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Launched in 2004, New Matilda is one of Australia's oldest online independent publications. It's focus is on investigative journalism and analysis, with occasional smart arsery thrown in for reasons of sanity. New Matilda is owned and edited by Walkley Award and Human Rights Award winning journalist Chris Graham.