Former Sea Shepherd Ship still causing problems
Farley McGill Mowat* was a Canadian novelist and a pretty good one. Odds are you may have read People of the Deer or Never Cry Wolf (which was made into a film in the 1980s that wasn’t all that bad a retelling). His non-fiction account of the HMS Frisky/ salvage tug Franklin, The Grey Seas Under, is one of the best ship tales ever written.
Mowat also chipped in a fair amount of bread late in life to the Sea Shepherd anti-whaling fleet of piratical environmentalists and the group repaid the honor by naming a couple of their “Neptune’s Navy” patrol ships after him. The most current is the former USCGC Pea Island (WPB-1347), bought by the group earlier this year. (Somewhere a Coastie CPO is twitching.)
The first Mowat, however, was a 172-foot (650-ton) Norwegian fisheries research and enforcement trawler who started her career as the R/V Johan Hjort in 1956. The Norwegians laid the old girl up after 40 years of hard times in the Arctic and Barents Seas and the S/S group picked her up for a song.
In service to the pirates she carried the moniker Sea Sherpherd III, the Ocean Warrior, then finally Farley Mowat as well as a number of various groovy paint jobs as she shuttled her port of registry at least four times in her 12 year career as a hooligan afloat, conducting 100 cruises for the group all over the world. (Images via Shipspotter et.al.)
Well in 2008 the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans seized the S/S flagship over Fisheries Act violations during the seal hunt off the west coast of Newfoundland and she sat tied up at dock for a year when Ottawa ordered her sold at auction, where she brought just C$5000. A breaker picked her up and she apparently changed hands again to a group looking to put her back in the oceanography game in 2011, which never materialized and she sank at her moorings in Nova Scotia last week while being scrapped.
The scrapper owes some C$14,000 in dock fees on her and she is leaking oil.
According to the National Post :
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, for the most part, has expressed delight its former flagship has become an administrative headache for marine and municipal authorities.
“Farley would be smiling to know that the ship that bears his name continues to be an annoying irritation for Canadian authorities,” wrote Sea Shepherd’s founder, Paul Watson, in a 2014 social media post.
However, Watson has since claimed his plan all along was to have the ship seized by Canadian authorities, arguing that it was cheaper than paying to have the Farley Mowat decommissioned.
“The retirement didn’t cost Sea Shepherd a dime and for that we thank the Canadian government,” wrote Sea Shepherd member Alex Cornelissen in a 2008 post to the group’s website.
*(As a sidebar, Mowat was a subaltern in the Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment during WWII and helped bring back tons of captured German kit for museum use all over Canada after 1945, so when in the Great North and you see something heavy and Teutonic on display, thank Farley)