Greenpeace’s icebreaker has a colourful history; before we chartered the Arctic Sunrise it was used as a sealing vessel, and activists had once confronted the ship while it was delivering equipment for the French government to build an airstrip through a penguin habitat in the Antarctic.
The Arctic Sunrise began its Greenpeace life during the 1995 North Sea Brent Spar campaign, where it was used to prevent dumping oil installations at sea. Since then it has worked everywhere from within 450 miles of the North Pole, to Antarctica’s Ross Sea, and has navigated both the Congo and the Amazon.
Designed as an icebreaker, its rounded, keelless hull allows it to navigate through sea ice - but also makes life rather interesting in rolling seas. In 1997, The Arctic Sunrise became the first ship to circumnavigate James Ross Island in the Antarctic, a previously impossible journey until a 200m thick ice shelf connecting the island to the Antarctic continent collapsed. This was just one of the many signs of climate change which the Arctic Sunrise has helped document.
The Arctic Sunrise has returned repeatedly to the Arctic to work on a variety of issues, included several visits to Alaska to study climate change and to oppose Northstar, British Petroleum's project to open up a new offshore oil frontier that threatened oil spills in this vulnerable region, and further contributing to global warming.
In 2009, the ship spent many months working around the coast of Greenland and Arctic sea ice, documenting the effects of climate change on the region.
In the Southern Oceans, the Arctic Sunrise, along with its sister ship the Esperanza, thwarted Japanese attempts to pursue its so-called "scientific" whaling programme; it also chased pirate vessels fishing illegally for Patagonian Toothfish to the pirate port of Mauritius.
Manoeuvring directly into the missile's path did not prevent the US from proceeding in 2000 to test its "Star Wars"missile defence system, which threatens to ignite a new nuclear arms race.
Fortunately the Arctic Sunrise survived to tell the tale and continued on to Argentina for the start of the Latin America toxics tour in 1998.
Port of registry: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Former name: Polarbjorn
Date of charter: 1995
Number of berths: 28
Inflatable boats: 2 Ribs and 2 inflatabes
Helicopter capable: Yes
Type of ship: Sea-going motor yacht
Call sign: PCTK
Built: 1975 by AS Vaagen Verft
Gross tonnage: 949 tonnes
Length O.A: 49.62 m
Breadth: 11.50 m
Maximum Draught: 5.30 m
Maximum Speed: 13 Knots
Main engine: MAK 9M452AK 2495 IHP 1619kW
Aux engines: 2 x Deutz BF6M716 208hp (175 kva)
Bow & stern thrusters: 400 hp each