Ben Stewart, comms officer onboard the Esperanza writes...
Well I have to say, I didn’t expect that. Yesterday afternoon I was on the rowing machine at the back of the ship as we bobbed along somewhere north of Scotland when Helena tapped me on the shoulder and told me there was a journalist asking for me on the satellite phone. I made an undignified attempt to get to my feet but my legs didn’t work, then I realised my shoes were still strapped into the machine but I couldn’t reach them so I sort of flapped around a bit like an Emperor penguin on an iceberg until I managed to slide along the floor and out of the door.
A minute later I was in the campaign office on the top deck, phone plugged to ear, heaving for breath with a ruddy red face. It was Radio Faroe Islands on the line and they wanted our reaction to the news that the Danish government has sent a team of special forces navy SEALS to the islands to ‘take on’ the Esperanza.
Er, what? Crikey. Special forces? Exhausted after my pathetic attempt on the ship’s 10km rowing machine record, I wheezed and coughed then told the (very polite) interviewer that the deployment of the military was extremely premature. After all, we still haven’t even announced our final destination. It might be the Faroe Islands, and then again it might not be. It might be Angola or the Gulf of Mexico or any of the other places where the oil industry threatens eco-systems and people’s livelihoods with BP-style reckless deepwater drilling. The Esperanza is an entirely peaceful protest ship on an expedition to challenge dangerous drilling projects in the wake of the Macondo well disaster off the U.S. coast, I said, and our aim is to shed a light on an industry that puts profit before the planet, so the Danish response is a teensy bit of an over-reaction.
Well, this morning the Espy is steaming on towards its final destination. I don’t expect the government in Copenhagen will have any reason to deploy its crack team, and we won’t be distracted by the news reports about their plans. It’s our plans we’re concentrating on today - highlighting the huge potential benefits to society from finally moving beyond oil and re-ordering our transport infrastructure so many more of our cars and buses and trains are powered by renewable electricity sources like the wind, wave, tidal and solar. Now those are special forces.