Fears of a deadly battle increased yesterday as a Greenpeace ship began to close in on a Japanese whaling fleet intending to kill 1,000 whales. Also steaming through the Southern Ocean off Antarctica was a far more militant "eco ship," planning to ram the whaling vessels. "We are not down here to protest—we're here to stop them," ominously warned a spokesman for Sea Shepherd International.
Greenpeace officials have disavowed violence and say they refuse to "put whalers' lives at risk." Members of the organization's ship the Esperanza plan to harry the whalers and interfere with attempts to harpoon the minke and fin whales the Japanese are claiming to hunt for scientific research. Greenpeace crew members have refused to share the coordinates of the whaling ships with the militants.