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'Batboat' Sheared In Half After Being Rammed By Japanese Vessel

PTI 09 Jan 2010, 12:07:15 PM IST

A conservation group's boat had its bow sheared off and was taking on water after it collided with a Japanese whaling ship in the frigid waters of Antarctica, the group said.

The boat's six crew members have been rescued. Video of the incident appears to show the Japanese vessel deliberately rammed the tiny speedboat, reports the Daily Mail, Londoa.

The clash was the most serious in years, during which the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has sent vessels into far-southern waters to try to harass the Japanese fleet into ceasing its annual whale hunt.

The bow was sheared off after the carbon fibre boat collided with the Japanese ship

Clashes using hand-thrown stink bombs, ropes meant to tangle propellers and high-tech sound equipment have been common and collisions between ships have sometimes occurred.

The society said its vessel Ady Gil - a high-tech speedboat that resembles a stealth bomber - was hit by the Japanese ship the Shonan Maru near Commonwealth Bay and had about 10 feet of its bow knocked off.

Locky Maclean, the first mate of the society's lead ship, said one crewman from New Zealand appeared to have suffered two cracked ribs but the others were uninjured.

The crew was safely transferred to the group's third vessel, though the Ady Gil's captain remained on board to see what could be salvaged, he said.

'The original prognostic was that it was sinking, but at this point it is flooded with water but it seems to still have a bit of buoyancy,' Maclean told reporters by satellite phone from the ship, the Steve Irwin.

The trimaran's outrigger was also damaged in the collision. Sea Shepherd claimed the Japanese ship rammed their boat intentionally

The Ady Gill is almost driven beneath the waves by the Japanese whaler