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Reality 'star' gets ship shape in Chula Vista Robert Moreno | Sat, Dec 21 2013 12:00 PM

A boat famously featured on Animal Planet’s hit television show “Whale Wars” is getting a tune-up at a Chula Vista shipyard before its next battle.

The MV Brigitte Bardot, one of four boats on the show, is getting mechanical and structural repairs done at Marine Group Boat Works at 997 G St.

The vessel, named after the animal rights activist and French actress Brigitte Bardot who donated the money to help buy the boat, belongs to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, a not-for-profit anti-whaling conservation group that harasses Japanese whalers off the coast of Antarctica.

“We interrupt the whalers whaling, we get in front of them so that they can’t shoot the whales,” said ship manager and member of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society Steven Lock. “We’re protestors.”

With 58 episodes aired throughout six seasons, “Whale Wars” follows a six-man crew of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society as they seek to end the destruction of habitat and killing of wildlife in the world’s oceans in order to conserve and protect ecosystems and species.

MV Brigitte Bardot’s home base is in Melbourne, Australia.

Among its repairs, the boat is getting a new color scheme so it can have more of a camouflage look in the waters, Lock said.

The 16-year-old boat weights about 30 tons dry and 50 tons when everything is loaded onboard.

Marine Group Boat Works is accustomed to fixing boats belonging to prominent individuals such as Rupert Murdoch and Larry Ellison.

But when the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society needed a few repairs, the vice president of  Marine Group Boat Works couldn’t believe his company was getting a boat he had often seen on television.

“When they called it was pretty funny because I watch it (“Whale Wars”) with my kids,” said Todd Roberts, vice president of Marine Group Boat Works.

Roberts admits that at first he was a bit reluctant to take the boat on because of its controversial nature.

“When I got the phone call we were a little mixed as to how we felt about it,” he said.

The controversy stems from people claiming that the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is illegally preventing whaling and questions some of the tactics it uses to preventing whaling.

Roberts said he was concerned that people would act aggressively toward the “Whale Wars” boat.

The MV Brigitte Bardot has been in the Chula Vista shipyard for about two weeks and, so far, Roberts said there haven’t been any negative actions toward the boat.

The boat is set to leave Chula Vista for Europe before the new year.

The boat was last seen on the Dec. 13 episode of “Whale Wars.” Animal Planet will be re-airing the show throughout the holiday season.

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