Keel Laid for Sea Shepherd's Antarctic Patrol Vessel

Published Oct 14, 2015 7:13 AM by Wendy Laursen

The keel has been laid for environmental group Sea Shepherd’s new Antarctic patrol vessel under construction at Damen Shipyards Antalya in Turkey.

In January this year, the Dutch Postcode Lottery granted 8.3 million euros ($9.4 million) to Sea Shepherd for the construction of the vessel.

“Over the next 12 months, what is now just a shell of steel works will be transformed into a custom-designed, state-of-the-art vessel,” says Sea Shepherd Global’s CEO Captain Alex Cornelissen. “The new ship will be capable of achieving speeds that far exceed any of the vessels in our current fleet, and will be able to operate in extreme weather conditions.

“The dream ship will also be equipped with a hybrid propulsion system, providing an extended range and drastic deduction of fuel consumption. This will lower the fuel costs as well as limit the CO2 expulsion.”

During the keel laying ceremony, the Golden Banner, an official artifact from the Dutch Postcode Lottery, was welded into the hull of the ship. 

Since 2002, Sea Shepherd has been confronting whalers and illegal fishermen in the waters surrounding the Antarctic continent. Sea Shepherd’s actions have obstructed activities there, but the organization says its fleet is aging and the vessels are lacking speed.

For many years, Sea Shepherd has looked for a vessel that has the range and capability of reaching high top speeds to be the Southern Ocean Patrol flagship. To date, however, budget restrictions have made such a purchase impossible.

“After researching possible ship builders for the last two years, negotiations with Dutch ship builder Damen have resulted in a blueprint of our ideal ship”, said Cornelissen.

The Southern Ocean is one of the last regions of untouched natural beauty on the planet. Unfortunately, we are seeing an increasing number of illegal activities that aim to spoil this pristine environment, says Sea Shepherd. Unregulated and illegal extraction of marine wildlife is disrupting the Antarctic eco-system and urgent action is needed.