After months of subterfuge akin to the launch of a new Apple product, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society finally revealed the new member of its anti-whaling fleet. 

Dubbed the SSS Sam Simon, after the wealthy television producer and animal activist who funded its purchase, the 183-foot vessel will start its maiden voyage to impede the Japanese whaling next week. A role, that only a few years earlier, was the exact opposite. 

That’s right — the SSS Sam Simon’s previous life was in service to Japan’s meteorology department, obtaining ocean data that benefited Japan's North Pacific Whaling Program. The Sea Shepherd worked for months to keep the Japanese in the dark about the real buyers, going so far as to setup a dummy U.S. company to mask their identity. 

“After months of secrecy, it is such a great feeling to finally be able to fly the Sea Shepherd flag from the main mast, and yes, Sea Shepherd now owns a real Japanese research ship!” exclaimed the boat’s new captain, Locky Maclean. 

With more than $500,000 in engine upgrades and other additions, the estimated $2 million ship will now join the vessels Bob Barker, Steve Irwin and the Brigitte Bardot in confronting the whaling fleet in the Southern Ocean. Japan has set a kill quota of 1,000 minke whales and 50 endangered fin whales this year. 

“Thanks to the generosity of Sam Simon, co-creator of TV’s 'The Simpsons,' our fleet is stronger than ever with the addition of this new vessel,” said Capt. Paul Watson in a statement. “We have four ships, one helicopter, drones and more than 120 volunteer crew from around the world ready to defend majestic whales from the illegal operations of the Japanese Whaling Fleet.”

Check out a video of Captain Maclean showing off the new vessel below. To learn more about the Sea Shepherd’s latest campaign down under, visit their official site here

Michael d'Estries ( @michaeldestries ) covers science, technology, art, and the beautiful, unusual corners of our incredible world.

Sea Shepherd unveils the SSS Sam Simon
New vessel becomes the fourth member of the organization’s fleet to fight Japan’s whaling industry.