The former protest ship Farley Mowat sailed out of Halifax this morning on a tow line. Atlantic Spruce is towing the ship to Lunenburg, with an expected arrival time of early this afternoon.
Built in Norway in 1958 as the ice strengthened fisheries research and enforcement vessel Johan Hjort, she was sold in 1983 and carried the names Skandi Ocean, STM Ocean, CAM Vulcan, MVulcan and Scandi Ocean while in use as in research and standby duties. In 1996 the Sea Shepherd Society acquired the ship and she was renamed Sea Shepherd in 1997. In 2000 she became Ocean Warrior and in 2002 Farley Mowat.
The ship was present for the 2005 Seal Hunt in the Gulf of St.Lawrence, but when she started to leak, the Canadian Government responded with three aircraft and two Coast Guard ships and she was escorted safely in to Port aux Basques. She had earlier been held in Halifax for compliance repairs and the Society accused the government of harassment.
By January 2006 she was in South Africa and was detained as unseaworthy. The Society claimed that the ship was a Canadian yacht and did not need to meet the rules set for commercial vessels. In June of that year the ship sailed without clearance and showed up in Australia to continue harassing the Japanese whaling fleet.
There was a report in 2007 that she was flying the flag of Iraq.
In May 2008 she was back in Canada, this time with the Dutch flag and was escorted to Sydney for interfering with the seal hunt. The ship was seized and finally sold at auction.
She spent the winter in Halifax, and is now apparently headed for a refit in Lunenburg. She is still painted all black, and has remnants of the Sea Shepherd "hit list" painted on her house.
In tow, with no power and no riding crew, she was caught crabbing down the harbour this morning.
Her old foes the Canadian Coast Guard were quietly tied up in the background. With little ice in the Gulf this spring it looks very much like there will not be a commercial seal hunt of any consequence.