The Outlaw Ocean Project

Storming the Thunder

By: Ian Urbina

In December 2014, the longest pursuit of an illegal fishing vessel in nautical history began. It spanned 110 days, across more than 11,550 nautical miles, crossing three oceans and two seas. 

A non-profit maritime environmental group called Sea Shepherd was doing what government’s should have: pursuing the world’s most notorious fishing scofflaw, a ship called The Thunder, which at the time topped Interpol’s most wanted list. This cat-and-mouse pursuit would take Sea Shepherd’s crew through an unforgiving obstacle course of stadium-sized ice sheets, a ferocious storm, violent clashes and a near collision.


I joined the pursuit in early April 2015 and what became immediately apparent was that this was more than just a story about a vigilante conservationist organization trying to bring a recalcitrant criminal ship to justice. It was also an attempt by this group of advocates to highlight the core problem facing the world’s oceans: a shocking lack of enforcement of what few laws even exist on the high seas.

The full story of the Thunder chase is found in “Storming the Thunder,” a chapter in The Outlaw Ocean.

Support the Journalism

Reporting of this type is rare, expensive and urgently needed. The Outlaw Ocean Project is a non-profit organization solely dedicated to publishing more of these stories. Please consider supporting the work by donating to the non-profit or subscribing to our newsletter on Substack.

Subscribe© The Outlaw Ocean Project ALL RIGHTS RESERVEDSite Credit
Show Player