REYKJAVIK, Iceland (AP) _ Pump failure thwarted three tries to refloat two Icelandic whaling ships scuttled in Reykjavik harbor by anti-whaling activists, the director of the salvage operation said Monday.

Kristbjorn Thorarinsson, owner of Kofunarstodin salvage company, said he would keep trying.

''We didn't put enough pumps the first time and then they kept breaking down,'' he explained to reporters. ''We still hope to make a reasonable profit of it.''

Kofunarstodin offered the raise the scuttled ships for $30,000. The vessels sank about one yard into the sandy harbor floor with their masts still above water.

Kristjan Loftsson, owner of Hvalur whaling company, said the scuttled ships were insured for $4 million each.

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, an international group with followers in Canada, the United States and several other countries, says it sank half of Iceland's four-ship whaling fleet Nov. 9.

The Sea Shepherds claim that Iceland kills whales illegally. The Icelandic government rejects the charge and says it takes a small number of whales for research without breaking an international moratorium on commercial whaling.

The activists also wrecked an unguarded whaling station in Hvalfjordur, 50 miles north of Iceland's capital, damaging processing equipment for whale byproducts like oil.

Iceland has issued arrest warrants for an American and a Briton and has asked Interpol to arrest the two men in connection with the attacks. Thgetwo were identified here as Rodney Coronado, 20, of Morgan Hill., Calif., and David Howard, 21, of Plymouth, England.