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Anti-whalers' stealth boat sinks after Antarctic crash

The boat of a group of anti-whaling protesters was sinking today after a collision with a Japanese whaling ship in Antarctica.

Six crew members were safely rescued from hi-tech "stealth boat" the Ady Gil.

The clash was the most serious in the several years that the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has sent vessels into far southern waters to harass the Japanese fleet into ceasing its annual whale cull.

Clashes using hand-thrown stink bombs, ropes meant to tangle propellers and hi-tech sound equipment have been common in recent years, and collisions between ships have sometimes happened.

The society said its boat -- which resembles a stealth bomber -- was hit by the Japanese ship Shonan Maru near Commonwealth Bay.


"The condition of the Ady Gil now is that it is inoperable and the crew of the Ady Gil has been transferred to our other vessel, the Bob Barker," Locky Maclean, the first mate of the society's lead ship said.

The Ady Gil's captain had stayed on board to try to save equipment from the boat "before it floods too severely," he said.

Sea Shepherd sends boats to Antarctic waters each year to try to stop the Japanese whaling fleet killing whales in the region under what it calls a scientific whaling programme.

Conservationists and many countries say the programme is a front for commercial whaling.