The MY Bob Barker is the Sea Shepherd's icebreaker vessel. It was secretly acquired in 2009. Its first campaign was Operation Waltzing Matilda, where it kept its disguise until confronting the whaling fleet mid-campaign.
The vessel's home port is Hobart, Australia.
The Bob Barker is a former Norwegian whaling vessel. Built in 1950 as the Pol XIV, the ship is the oldest vessel in the Sea Shepherd fleet. The ship was secretly purchased in 2009 and restored in Africa. The crew kept the identity of the vessel a secret, wearing plain clothes and leaving no indication that the vessel was affiliated with Sea Shepherd. The vessel is the only icebreaker ship in the Sea Shepherd fleet and played a crucial role in pursuing the whalers in icy areas. It also has the largest fuel tank, meaning it is able to pursue the whalers longer than any other ship.
Operation Waltzing Matilda
During Operation Waltzing Matilda, the identity of the ship was kept secret as it was repaired in Mauritius. Its captain was long-time Sea Shepherd Chuck Swift. The Bob Barker was not unveiled as a Sea Shepherd vessel until it encountered the Nisshin Maru. The crew painted their signature Jolly Roger emblem on their ship at sea and raised the Sea Shepherd flag. The Ady Gil assisted in slowing down the factory ship, but was severely damaged after being rammed by the Shonan Maru No. 2. The crew of the Bob Barker rescued the crew of the Ady Gil and attempted to tow the stricken boat, but the Ady Gil eventually sank. The Nisshin Maru also escaped. As the Bob Barker attempted to find the factory ship, tensions rose as members of the Ady Gil wanted to go home, having obligations to tend to. The Bob Barker met up with the Steve Irwin for the first time and transferred the Ady Gil crew, as the Steve Irwin was returning to port. During a storm, small boats from both ships were damaged. The Bob Barker continued its search and was eventually able to catch up, but four whaling ships circled the ship in an attempt to allow the Nisshin Maru to escape again. The Bob Barker made an attempt to shoot a gap between the whalers and collided with the Yushin Maru No. 3, creating a large gash in the hull. It followed the Nisshin Maru until the Steve Irwin arrived and the two ships kept on the tail of the factory ship. The Bob Barker worked as a wingman for the Steve Irwin, fending off the harpoon ships as the Steve Irwin deployed the helicopter. At one point, the Bob Barker deployed a metal-laced prop fouler in front of the Nisshin Maru, but missed. The Bob Barker remained on its stern for the rest of the season, effectively shutting down the hunt.
Operation No Compromise
In 2011, the ship had a major overhaul and was improved, including new paint and equipment. During Operation No Compromise, the Bob Barker, captained by Alex Cornelissen, and the Steve Irwin and Gojira left port to pursue the whalers. The Bob Barker was the first ship to encounter the whalers, spotting a whaling ship only days into the campaign. However, it was unable to locate the Nisshin Maru because it was being tailed by a harpoon ship. The Bob Barker deployed two inflatable boats in an attempt to free itself front its tail, but one of the inflatables was damaged. A prop fouler failed to release and the inflatable was dragged by the harpoon ship, tearing a hole in its side. The crew was left exposed to the Antarctic weather for more than twelve hours. Some of the crew developed hypothermia. The Bob Barker returned to pick up the crew. The small boat crews were deployed again and managed to place a tracking device on the Yushin Maru No. 2. The Bob Barker joined the Gojira and the Steve Irwin in pursuing the whalers' bunker ship, the Sun Laurel. Eventually, they decide to break off to search for the Nisshin Maru. The Bob Barker crew placed a tracking device on the Sun Laurel in the middle of the night. Later, the Bob Barker launched a small boat attack on their tail, and with the help of the Gojira, disabled the Yushin Maru No. 3, freeing itself of its tail. The Gojira then went on to locate the Nisshin Maru and slowed it down long enough for the Bob Barker to catch up. It pursued the factory vessel until it neared Chilean waters, where the Chilean Navy announced that it would arrest the Nisshin Maru if it came any closer. The Nisshin Maru then headed back to Japan with the announcement of the whaling season ending early due to the Sea Shepherds' actions.
Operation Divine Wind
In 2012 The Bob Barker was deployed to Antarctica to stop the Nisshin Maru from killing whales. The Nisshin Maru took a different route to Antarctica to avoid Sea Shepherd patrols. On the last day of the season the Bob Barker intercepts the Nisshin Maru and two harpoon boats. The Yushin Maru No. 2 and the Yushin Maru No. 3 tried to prop foul the Bob Barker with steel cables but the Bob Barker stood it's ground and chased the Nisshin Maru out of Antarctica leading to the whaling season being called off.
Operation Zero Tolerance
In 2013 The Bob Barker is sent back to Antarctica to stop the Nisshin Maru. this year they have a new mission stop the Sun Laurel from refueling the Nisshin Maru and chase both out of Antarctica. Early in the campaign the Bob Barker found the Nisshin Maru but lost it in an ice storm. a few days later the Bob Barker spots the Yushin Maru No. 2 and the Nisshin Maru attempting to do a transfer and blocks it. The Yushin Maru No. 2 attempted to ram the Bob Barker and they were forced to back down. The whale was transferred and butchered with the Bob Barker watching the whole operation. On February 20, 2013 the Bob Barker, the Steve Irwin, and the Sam Simon intercepted the Nisshin Maru and parked next to the Sun Laurel in an attempt to stop the factory ship from refueling. The Nisshin Maru rammed all three vessels including the Sun Laurel causing severe damage to each ship. Days later on February 25th the Nisshin Maru attempted to refuel again and crushed the Bob Barker like a beer can causing damage to the hull. The Nisshin Maru pointed her water cannons into the Bob Barker's engine room and flooded it before throwing flash bangs and tear gas grenades at the Bob Barker and the Sun Laurel causing one to land on the deck of the Sun Laurel starting a fire which was quickly put out. The Nisshin Maru also turned into the Sun Laurel and damaged her lifeboats. Fueling was called off along with the whale hunt because of a pending injunction in the International Court.
In 2014 Bob Barker returned to Antarctica after spending a year in drydock to repair the damage caused by the Nisshin Maru. Three days into the campaign the Bob Barker finds the Nisshin Maru but because of a blown turbocharger the Nisshin Maru gets away. Days later the Bob Barker finds the Nisshin Maru but they get tailed by the Yushin Maru No. 3 and the Shonan Maru No. 2. The Steve Irwin meets up with the Bob Barker and they attempted to plug the discharge vents. When this fails they successfully prop fouled the Shonan Maru No. 2 and the Steve Irwin escapes. The Bob Barker tries this on the Yushin Maru No. 3 but this plan fails and the whalers throw spears and grappling hooks at the small boat crews. The Nisshin Maru escapes again and they spend the next three days finding it. On the last day of the season the Bob Barker finds the Nisshin Maru but all three harpoon boats and the Shonan Maru No. 2 form a picket around the Nisshin Maru and threaten to disable the Steve Irwin and the Bob Barker with steel tow cables. Both ships launch small boats to cut the cables but fall behind and a mutiny on one boat leads to the operation being called off. Just as the Bob Barker speeds up to shoot the gap between the harpoon boats Yushin Maru No. 3 turns hard to starboard and the stern hits the Bob Barker causing a head on collision. Damage to both ships is a side handrail on Yushin Maru No. 3 and a cracked hull and broken ribs on the Bob Barker. Days later on March 31, 2014 the Institute of Cetacean Research and parent company Kyoto Senpaku are sued by the International Court of Justice and forced to suspend operations. The whalers go home defeated.
In 2015 Sea Shepherd was deployed to Antarctica to assist INTERPOL and the navies of New Zealand and Australia to hunt down a fleet of fishing boats known to the world as the Bandit 6. The main highlight of the campaign was the capture and unfortunate sinking of the Thunder. Operation Icefish was declared a success because in weeks after the Thunder sank the Bandit 6 surrendered and the illegal fishing industry was shut down for good.
On December 17, 2014 the Bob Barker intercepted the Thunder with their gillnets in plain sight. Captain Peter Hammerstandt ordered the Thunder to surrender their vessel but they refused and the Thunder dropped their gillnets and ran. For 110 days the Bob Barker chased the Thunder to Africa and on the morning of April 6, 2015 it sank off the coast of Sao Tome and Principe with a full boat load of toothfish deliberately sank by her captain and crew. The Bob Barker and the Sam Simon rescued the crew and transported them to Sao Tome and Principe where they were arrested by INTERPOL for poaching and piracy.
Operation Sleppid Grindini
In 2015 the Bob Barker, Sam Simon, and Brigitte Bardot were deployed to the Faroe Islands to stop the local Grind Hunt but they faced opposition along the way. The crews of all four small boats from each ship were arrested by the Faroe and tried in a kangaroo court where they were found guilty of interfering with a Grind Hunt. The Faroe seized the four small boats and a scooner that was also taking part in the campain. Each ship was boarded by the Coast Guard and the Dennish Navy with the Sam Simon held in port until Sea Shepherd had it released. 490 whales were killed by the Faroe without Sea Shepherd doing anything to stop it but they did get media attention and the case is being debated in the International Court.
Fallowing Operation Sleppid Grindini the Bob Barker was sent to Germany where it entered drydock. The engine was replaced and the fuel tanks repaired along with most of the ribs on her cracked hull plus some of the hatches and the radar mast. The Bob Barker has also been repainted to make it look like a navy destroyer but the shark jaws on the bow have been kept and repainted on. The small boats have also been replaced and each has been fitted with a radio and compartments to store the equipment. The Bob Barker is on her way to Italy where it will be restocked before it returns to Hobart in 2016. The Bob Barker has been assigned to tuna patrols in Gabon until it receives word that the Japanese Whaling Fleet is on its way to Antarctica.
The Bob Barker is now in Gabon tracking down tuna poachers as part of Operation Albacore. The goal is to intercept these vessels and drive them out of Gabon and prevent declines to Bluefin and Albacore tuna stocks. During the campaign the Bob Barker boarded 50 vessels, delivered 30 fines, arrested 4 IUU Chinese vessels who were fishing for tuna illegally, and one Spanish vessel named Alemar Primero that was hauling shark instead of tuna. The Bob Barker is now in its second yearly patrol and the goal is still the same arrest IUU vessels and seize their catch.
The Bob Barker is down for repairs in Africa and will not take part in Operation Nemesis. With repairs on going she has returned to the island port of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria where Sea Shepherd bought her in 2009. According to Sea Shepherd's website she is down for an engine overhaul and generator repair and will not take part in Operation Nemesis but will participate in Operation Sola Stella which is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2017.
Operation Sola Stella
The Bob Barker is now in Liberia tracking down and arresting poachers. 15 UN countries are taking part in this campaign along with INTERPOL and the NGOs Bisofera I and MATTS. To date the Bob Barker has arrested three IUU vessels and has seized their catch and two who are licensed trawlers but do not have a permit to fish in Liberia. Later in the campaign Bob Barker was assisted by the Sam Simon bringing the total number of illegal vessels caught to six. With Operation Sola Stella wrapping up the Bob Barker is headed in for an overhaul before next year's campaign.
Operation Sola Stella 2
In 2018 The Bob Barker and the Sam Simon have done the impossible they have arrested 7 vessels two of which where part of the same fleet that The Bandit Six were part of these being the Hai Lung and the Labiko 2 which are wanted and crewed by the same pirates who operated the Bandit Six. With the success of Operation Sola Stella Sea Shepherd has cleaned up the Atlantic around Africa and fish and sharks have returned to Liberia and Gabon to be caught and regulated by legal fishermen instead of poachers. With the campaign wrapping up The Bob Barker and the Sam Simon are headed in for overhauls before their next campaigns.
Operation Sola Stella 3
In November 2018 and in February 2019 The Bob Barker and the Sam Simon have returned to Liberia to continue their fight against poachers. To date Sea Shepherd has arrested 15 vessels two of which were IUU. In November Sam Simon arrested the Bonheur. This vessel was operating out of Côte d'Ivoire but did not have a licence to fish in Liberian waters and by the state of the vessel it was IUU and when it was bordered all the documentation was forged. Sam Simon escorted the vessel to Liberia where it was seized and the catch confiscated and destroyed. In April the Bob Barker arrested the Solvent. This vessel has a history of IUU fishing and was arrested before by the Liberian Coast Guard in 2012 for the same crimes. The Solvent had forged papers, a counterfeit licence they stole from a detained vessel, a forged registration number, and a forged flag to Senegal. Senegal does not allow poaching or registration of IUU vessels and the flag was struck. The vessel was detained and its catch of tuna and shark were seized bringing the total number of detained vessels to 15. The Bob Barker is now headed to Benin to patrol their waters.
In 2019 Sea Shepherd has launched Operation Guegou. Working with the Benin government Sea Shepherd is policing their waters and the waters of Gabon and Liberia for illegal poachers. To date the Bob Barker has arrested eight vessels and made three IUU arrest.
COVID-19 Lockdown and Drydock
In 2020 Neptune's Navy was forced into lockdown. Coming off Operation Guegou the Bob Barker was drydocked in Las Palmas to repair the ship and repaint the vessel fallowing months at sea. Lockdown lasted three months and when it was over in October Operation Guegou 2 was launched and the target for the 2021 campaign was Brenan and Sierra Leone.
Operation Guegou 2 Benin and Sierra Leone
Starting in October 2020 and spring 2021 the Bob Barker is back on patrol assisting the militaries in Benin and Sierra Leone. For decades illegal fishing has gone on in these waters and the fish is illegal caught and exported on the black market to countries like Congo, Namibia, and Angola to name a few and it is sold as legal fish but we know it is illegal. Sea Shepherds goal is to partner with Benin and Sierra Leone and arrest these IUU vessels and drive them out of their waters so they don't plunder these fishing grounds which are designated for artisanal fishing and a national park. To date the Bob Barker has arrested 15 vessels and the Rouges Gallery is growing.
Operation Albacore 6
In 2021 the Bob Barker took part in Operation Albacore 6 the mission is the same as the past few years find and arrest fishing trawlers in Gabon and escort them back to port. On August 4, 2021 The Bob Barker found a serener with its nets in the water and they were using humpbacks as bait. For an hour Sea Shepherd had to watch as the whales tried to escape the net and finally broke free but their chances of survival are now slim. After the whales were released the Gabonese minister of fisheries joined the campaign and Captain Peter Hammarstedt arrested the vessel and sent them back to port where they were detained.
On August 30, 2021 the Bob Barker arrested the Renovation 2 a shrimp trawler who was fishing with illegal nets. The vessel was using tuna nets it was not licensed to haul tuna it was licensed to haul shrimp and most of the sea life on deck was bycatch. Most of the dead tuna was tossed overboard and the vessel was detained and escorted back to port.
On September 17, 2021 The Gabonese minister of fisheries delivered his verdict in these two cases. The two shrimp trawlers were detained in port and the shrimp fishery was temporarily closed until regulations could be drawn up Renovation 2 had their license revoked and the vessel is now impounded. The serener whom the Bob Barker caught at the start of the campaign was released but they are now barred from entering Gabon because of the illegal capture of whales and their license is also revoked.
The Bob Barker is now drydocked in Lisbon Portugal right next to the Sam Simon. Both vessels will go down for repairs before next years campaigns in Africa and in France.