I’ve seen a couple episodes of Whale Wars, watching primarily for the SWO-stuff I could catch, but found the episodes lost their novelty pretty fast. That said, the Sea Shepard group is a group that should absolutely be studied and understood – between piracy, human trafficking and drug-smuggling, non-nation state maritime actors are becoming more and more concerns of the national security community.
Those groups, however, are typically pretty opaque to study – the Sea Shepards on the other hand, are at least somewhat legal, so are much more press-friendly. In the past they used ship-borne helicopters and experimented with maritime UAVs, so they are definitely worth watching. In that light, this interview with Annapolis Grad and Navy Officer-turned crew-member of the Whale Wars’ Steve Irwin is an interesting perspective on the group and their composition:
USNI: What were some of the differences between being on a Navy ship and the Steve Irwin?
Taylor: On the Steve Irwin, in storms we were allowed to go topside in thirty foot swells so long as we were attached to the railing. You can drink on the ship. It was regulated. Captain Watson would open it during certain hours but we made sure we weren’t impaired before watch. It was in real moderation, maybe a drink or two a week. Music on the bridge. A deck log that could have drawings instead of having to be re-written after three mistakes. It was decorated. We had a drawer with a hundred stamps – penguins, specific types of whales. Logged visually as well as written. We had a logbook for the ship and the other to be sold in a beautifully bound book. Those were more precise – how many butyric bottles thrown, who was on the bridge, etc.
USNI: Were there similarities?
Taylor: Anything organic – the helm, radio control, radar. Those would be familiar to a Surface Warfare Officer. Whatever is organic to the ships is the same – nothing else.