With heavy hearts, Sea Shepherd International have announced that their flagship, the M/Y Steve Irwin, or the Steve, will be retired.
M/Y Steve Irwin has conducted 18 campaigns during 11 years of service with Sea Shepherd in defence of the world’s oceans; from protecting pilot whales in the Faroes, bluefin tuna in the Mediterranean, and humpback whales off the Kimberley coast, to safeguarding one of the last intact marine ecosystems on the planet in the Great Australian Bight (knocking out BP and Chevron).
The Steve helped shut down six illegal Chinese drift-netters in the South Indian Ocean as well as the arrest of six illegal toothfish poachers in the Southern Ocean. Recently, the Steve sailed to the Great Barrier Reef in opposition of the Adani coal mine.
Not least, the Steve played a pivotal role in nine Antarctic Whale Defence Campaigns in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary helping to save over 6,000 whales from slaughter by the illegal Japanese whaling fleet.
Built in 1975 and formerly a Scottish Fishing Protection Agency vessel, the Steve has sailed for decades defending marine wildlife through some of the roughest seas; 11 of those on relentless Sea Shepherd campaigns.
After 18 life-saving campaigns with Sea Shepherd, the M/Y Steve Irwin will be retired
Sadly, following a recent assessment of the ship by engineers after Operation Reef Defence, a number of new issues were noticed and Sea Shepherd had to make the extremely difficult decision to retire the vessel. They reached out to several organisations as well as governments to consider whether the vessel could be maintained at a maritime museum or turned into a dive site.
However, as none of these options could be realised the Steve Irwin will be taken to an environmentally-friendly recycling facility.
The Steve will always hold a very special place in the hearts of her crew and the volunteers and supporters who helped keep her active on the high seas to defend, conserve and protect our oceans and precious marine life.
The organisation is grateful to the Irwin family for their permission to name the ship the M/Y Steve Irwin back in 2007 and feels proud to have been able to continue his legacy by honouring Australia’s great wildlife warrior.
Captain Paul Watson stands on the bow of M/Y Steve Irwin during a storm in Antarctica
"We worked the ship hard, through horrific storms and crushing ice and after eleven years, our engineers have determined that the Steve Irwin is no longer safe for sea. It is simply not wise to risk the lives of our crew beyond the boundaries of practicality. Despite the many risks we have taken over the years we have learned when to hold a ship and when to retire a ship and regrettably the time to retire the Steve Irwin is now. Battle scarred and damaged, regrettably she must be retired, but the memories, the campaign victories and the lives saved will be the lasting legacy of a ship that was as valiant and courageous as her namesake." ~ Captain Paul Watson
The flag will be passed to the M/Y Ocean Warrior, to become the new flagship of the Sea Shepherd Global fleet - the world's largest private navy.