After three months of repairs costing more than $250,000 and hundreds of hours of volunteer labour Sea Shepherd’s Brigitte Bardot was relaunched in Fremantle this morning.
Two 500 ton cranes were used to hoist the ship into the water at Rous Head to the cheers of onlookers, supporters and crew.
The vessel will spend the next few days undergoing sea trails in Cockburn Sound before sailing to Melbourne for the start of its next direct action environmental campaign.
Sea Shepherd is preparing to spend the Australian winter cruising the south Pacific to track down and hinder the shark hunters that kill an estimated 100 million sharks every year.
Many of the creatures have their fins sliced off alive and die an agonising death on the sea floor to feed a market hungry for shark fin soup, a broth prized for its luxury value and high cost.
The Brigitte Bardot is the group’s fastest vessel but sustained serious damage late last year after heavy seas cracked one of its carbon fibre pontoons while the vessel was chasing Japanese whalers in the Southern Ocean.
The damage forced the ship to return to Fremantle escorted by the group’s flagship Steve Irwin hampering the group’s plans to stop Japanese whaling in Antarctic waters.
Experts in the design and reconstruction of some of the world’s fastest composite race yachts were flown into Fremantle to start work on repairing the damaged boat.
The process included encasing the vessel in a hermetically sealed chamber at Rous head.
Sea Shepherd’s 18 Australian chapters raised the money necessary to repair the vessel.