The Arctic Sunrise

Ironically, before Greenpeace chartered the Arctic Sunrise it was once a sealing vessel. Greenpeace also had previously confronted the ship while it was delivering equipment for the French government to build an airstrip through a penguin habitat in the Antarctic.


The hull is rounded with no keel, so that the ship lifts out of the ice instead of being crushed by it.

At the end of 1996, Greenpeace had prepared the Arctic Sunrise for the icy conditions of Antarctica.


The Arctic Sunrise began its Greenpeace life during the Brent Spar campaignwhere it was used to prevent dumping oil installations at sea.

In1997 it became the first ship to circumnavigate James Ross Island in the Antarctic, which previously was an impossible journey until a 200mthick ice shelf connecting the island to the Antarctic continent collapsed. This was just one of the many signs of climate change whichthe Arctic Sunrise has helped document.

The Arctic Sunrise has returned repeatedly to the Arctic to oppose Northstar, British Petroleum's project to open up a new offshore oil frontier threatening oil spills in this vulnerable region and further contributing to global warming.

In the Southern Oceans it thwarted Japanese attempts to pursue its so-called "scientific" whaling programme and chased pirate vessels fishing illegally for Patagonian Toothfish to the largest pirate port of Mauritius.

Manoeuvring directly into the missile's pathdid 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


Personal Accounts

Captain of the Arctic Sunrise Arne Sorensen during the Southern Ocean expedition in December 1999

We are peacefully protesting against illegal Japanese whaling in the waters around Antarctica when we hear a mighty crash and the ship rolls heavily. The chief engineer David de Jong rushes to the bridge shouting"That didn't sound like ice"!
He's right - it's neither sea ice nor an iceberg, but the Japanese whaling factory ship Nisshin Maru, 10 times the Arctic Sunrise's weight, ramming us.
Despite risking the lives of both crews, fortunately no one is hurt.

Professor Peter Wadhams of Cambridge University after the Arctic Meltdown expedition in 2009

"The offer by Greenpeace to use the ship and her helicopter, and the assistance offered towards the cost of the ice mass balance buoys, demonstrate Greenpeace's commitment to supporting critical climate research in the vital area relating to changes in Arctic ice volumes and thickness - the theme that underlay all of the ship's work this summer. The support offered by the whole crew on board was amazing - unstinted, professional, and far better than I normally find on government-owned research ships."

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