Pirate Fishing Vessel Sinks With Its Illegal Haul After Epic Chase

Source: Slate/Christopher Pala - April 8, 2015 in Adventure, Featured

Pirate Fishing Vessel Sinks With Its Illegal Haul After Epic Chase
Photo: Simon Ager/Sea Shepherd

A remarkable adventure came to a dramatic end Monday: The captain of a rogue fishing vessel that had been tailed by activists for more than three months apparently sank his ship off West Africa rather than face arrest with a load of illegally caught fish.

The pirate fishing ship’s crew was rescued by its pursuers, two ships belonging to the Sea Shepherd fleet, the Sam Simon and the Bob Barker, named after the late co-founder of The Simpsons and the former host of The Price Is Right.

Siddharth Chakravarty, the captain of the Sam Simon, said in a telephone interview Monday that the captain of the rogue ship Thunder, a Chilean, had told him that it sank because it had suffered a collision, an unlikely story. “We had crew on their boat and they noticed that all the doors had been tied open, which is the opposite of what you do if you’re taking on water after a collision,” he said. “Then the officers had neatly packed bags, so I have no doubt this was a planned, very intentional scuttling designed to remove evidence,” Chakravarty said.

Peter Hammarstedt, the captain of the Bob Barker, wrote in an email: “Our small boat crew reported that that the crew of the Thunder, including the officers, were cheering and chanting from the life rafts as it sank—hardly the actions of people who were shocked by the sinking of their vessel.”

The crew was placed on the back deck of the Sam Simon, which is piled with illegal nets that the Sam Simon’s crew had pulled out three months ago in the area where the Thunder was found laying illegal nets. The ships first encountered one another off Australian waters, where fishing is managed by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources.

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