A NEW propeller, panel beating and paint job means anti-whaling ship Steve Irwin will this week leave Launceston for more Antarctic confrontations with Japanese whalers.
The flagship of the three-strong Sea Shepherd anti-whaling fleet has been under repair at Southern Marine ShipLift for almost a month and is about to leave Launceston.
Steve Irwin ship manager Pia Klemp said yesterday about 18 Sea Shepherd volunteers had worked with specialists at Kings Wharf replacing the propeller, fixing hull scrapes from operating in Antarctic ice, replacing damaged steel fittings and ‘‘a million other jobs’’ that needed doing.
She said the ship should be back in the water on Saturday and then sail for Melbourne on Sunday.
The ship will be based there until heading to Antarctica in summer to confront the expected return of Japanese whalers to the Southern Ocean.
Sea Shepherd spokesman Adam Burling said the Japanese were expected back in the Southern Ocean this year to take ‘‘samples’’ from whales after losing an International Court of Justice case brought by Australia to end lethal scientific whale research.
Mr Burling said the Japanese were expected in September to ask the International Whaling Commission for permission to resume killing whales next year.
Ms Klemp said Launceston had given a warm welcome to the Sea Shepherd crew.
Health food shops Eumarrah and The Organic Grocer and the Launceston office of Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson are accepting donations of vegan perishable and non-perishable food for the crew.
Eumarrah health food shop manager Debbie Zuj said the business in Frederick Street was accepting donations because it believed in the goals of Sea Shepherd.