Greenpeace Ships Greenpeace began on the sea. It earned its first fame by sailing into the US atomic test site in the North Pacific and through the fights to save the seals and the whales. The sea — with its vast expanses and murky depths, home of leviathan, burial ground for atomic reactors and toxic wastes, its very immensity a cloak for the un scrupulous, belonging to everyone but no one, and so to be seized and used at the will of the mighty — the deep sea and its inhabitants have no neighbours and no witnesses to protest what is happening to them. The Greenpeace fleet attempts to be that witness and good neighbour, checking to see that agreements are observed, to protest and when possible prevent destruction of marine life and resources. Greenpeace’s ships – and some of the fast and manoeuvrable in flatable dinghies that have proved so effective in Greenpeace protest actions – are the organization’s unique contribution to the environmental movement. The larger ships are all equipped with complete satellite communications facilities, as well as all the day to day needed items to run a professional sea going vessel at sea.
The name Rainbow Warrior was inspired by a North American Indian legend which prophesies that when man has destroyed the world through his greed, the Warriors of the Rainbow will arise to save it again. The new Rainbow Warrior replaces the original sunk by the French secret service in 1985. The three mast schooner was rebuilt on the hull of the former fishing vessel Grampian Fame, and launched on July 10, 1989, the anniversary of the sinking of her predecessor. Equipped with the latest in electronic navigation, sailing and communication equipment, she is an oceangoing vessel intended for assignments in the Pacific. Sirius is named for the star Sirius, the brightest star in the firmament and a positive potent since ancient times. The Sirius was built to naval specifications at Boele shipyard in the Netherlands in 1950 as one of 7 pilot vessels.
In early May of 1981, the ship was dry-docked in Scheveningen, where a handful of volunteers cleaned the hull, and gave it a thorough checking over to give it a clean bill of health. The following week, in Amsterdam, the former pilot ship began to be transformed i nto a Greenpeace vessel. The former owners – the Royal Dutch Navy – had maintained the ship well and the engine room appeared to be in good condition, but getting the ship ready for her first campaign in just 10 weeks was a haunting task. During this period volunteers of all ages and from many countries came on board for a few days or a few weeks to help out. The ship’s colour scheme was soon changed to a green hull and rainbow colours and a white dove of peace with an olive branch was painted on the bow.
Many companies and suppliers contribute d their advice and goodwill to help the transformation take place. The galley was equipped; additional navigation and communication equipment was installed on the bridge; and inflatables, life rafts and fire-extinguishers were put in place. One of the pan tries was transformed into an outboard-engine workshop; the forward mess room was changed into a store-room for campaign equipment and inflatables, when not in use; and the wash room midships was made into a fresh food store. On July 13, the Sirius left t he berth in Amsterdam and the volunteers, who had made the maiden voyage possible, wished it ‘bon voyage’ at the locks to the North Sea. In 1985 the aft mast was removed and the hydraulic system renovated, so that the old cranes could be scrapped and repl aced by one new one. In 1986, to prepare the ship for a long campaign in the Mediterranean, the midships food stores were changed into a chill room, a satellite communications system was purchased and the small mess room was converted into a campaign off ice with a computer.
Since that time the vessel has operated almost continuously in the Mediterranean, with occasional campaigns in the North Sea. Over the course of the years, the engine room wasn’t forgotten: apart from normal maintenance and upgrading, the old auxiliary engines were replaced by new ones and an oily-water-separator and sewage treating plant were installed. Since starting with Greenpeace in 1981, the Sirius has built up its own reputation as an action and information ship. It is well known all from Iceland to Italy. Even the Soviet harbour of Leningrad had the pleasure of a visit. MV Greenpeace, a Dutch-built former deep sea salvage tug, was bought by Greenpeace in 1985.
It was the readied for Antarctica where it has now already been six times for campaigns against whaling and the establishment of Greenpeace’s World Park Base. It has been a very active ship in the Greenpeace fleet, straight from it’s first involvement in the anti-nuclear testing demonstartion in Moruroa in 1985, where it had taken over from the Rainbow Warrior which had been bombed by the French secret service. Having travelled several times around the world, it has exposed Russian dumping of nuclear waste in the Japan Sea, brought to light dangers that the Brazil faces up the Amazon river, and whaling activities by the Japanes in Antarctica. It also has made several research trips, to the Gulf after the war, to see environmental damage that had occured, and many fisheries and whale research, to highlight the plight of our seas. A helicopter pad was added in 1986, and the ship has been continually upgraded since its purchase.
You can view the ship’s specification here. The Arctic Sunrise is Greenpeace’s latest addition to its fleet. A vessel that has spent most of its life in ice regions, has now been converted to be a fully fledged campaigning vessel. It has al ready been a very active ship in the fleet, having started its Greenpeace life doing an oilrig tour in the North Sea exposing some of the major pollution that is happening from these platforms. It then moved into the Mediteranean visiting many of the cou ntries along its shores highlighting issues that are close to many peoples hearts in the region. Towards the end of 1996 the vessel was prepared for its first visit to the Antarctic under its new banner, showing the world some of the consequences that climate change is causing to our home.
Simple facts like the first ever rain in the polar region, t he breaking up of centuries old icefloes, and the melting of the icecaps show us that there are serious changes afoot. Moby Dick was built in the Netherlands in 1959 and spent 27 years as a fishing vessel before joining Greenpeace. Greenpeace bought her in 1986. In just two weeks Greenpeace converted the ship to a Greenpeace ship. The trawler winch was removed, additional berths were put in up forward, the fish-hold was re-ballasted, communication equipment was installed and cradles were welded on deck to carry the indispensable Greenpeace inflatable dinghies.
With a fresh coat of green paint on the hull, the rainbow and white whale on the bow, the Moby Dick left Hamburg for its first campaign on 31 May 1986. Moby Dick operates mainly in the North Sea and in the Baltic although she also spend a long time in the USA, campaigning on the Great Lakes, the Mississippi and in the Gulf of Mexico. This has brought it right around to the beautiful forestry areas on the Canadian Pacific coast. Beluga, a river ship, is named for the small white whales that used to appear in European rivers before pollution. The Beluga was built in 1960 and purchased from the city of Bremen in 1984.
Greenpeace workers and some 40 volunteers spent over 10,000 hours converting the former in-shore fire-fighting patrol boat into a laboratory ship for work in rivers, estuaries, harbours and coastal waters. They removed service pipes and fire-fighting apparatus and strengthened the aft part of the cabin so that the deck can support a rigid-hull inflatable. They built in a hydraulic crane to lift the inflatable in and out of the water and made improvements in the ship’s communications and steerage systems. Twin propellers make the ship particularly manoeuvrable and ideally suited for river work. The mess area for the crew doubles as a reception room where the press and public are informed about protest actions and research.
Her territory has been the Rhine, Elbe, Schelde, Weser, Thames, Humber, Tyne, Tees, Mersey, Meuse, and Seine rivers; the Westerschelde and the Waddensee; the coasts of England, Sweden, and Denmark; the Great Lakes and the Mississippi. The Beluga, being an inshore vessel, is usually berthed overnight. Only on rare occasions, like crossing the North Sea, will it sail all night. Environmental Issues.