MY Esperanza © Steve De Neef / Greenpeace

It’s strange how just the sight of the M/Y Esperanza’s green hull seemed to vanquish part, if not all of that stress from those months of making arrangements for its arrival.

Perhaps there really is something about arriving ships that’s inexplicably exciting. After all, before budget airlines came into the picture, ships were the harbingers of news from yonder, the return of loved ones, a renewal of ties and the start of another chapter in the ship’s log.

Or maybe the thrill comes from the memories of past battles and the significant role that the Esperanza--sometimes called the “Espy,” played in them. Vivid images, such as that of the vessel protecting the whales against Nishin Maru in the high seas, or of activists on rubber boats being hit by water cannons, never fail to inspire.

It’s not the first time that this Greenpeace ship visited the shores of Filipinas. Just last December, we were at this very port, loading the Espy with tons of relief goods which would be transported to Davao. That trip was actually a detour thought up in a span of two days, as a response to the devastation caused by typhoon Bopha. Because we couldn’t turn a blind eye to the crisis, we had to deviate from our initial plan to survey the state of the Philippine seas as part of the continuing Oceans campaign.

This time around, though, Espy will finally be able to go on the journey it was originally meant to take. It will patrol the Philippine waters, assist in water and reef checks, and support local communities in their struggle against destructive fishing, all to call for a change in the way we manage our seas. You can view the ship’s detailed itinerary here.

For years, the Greenpeace fleet of ships have been vital to our campaign work, serving as our platform for advocacy, direct action and peaceful protest. But I find that to ocean defenders like me, the ships tend to hold more and more meaning over the years, beyond their uses as watercrafts.

The M/Y Esperanza may be the biggest among the Greenpeace vessels, but it’s more than just a machine now. It’s actually an even bigger symbol of our losses, triumphs and more importantly, our determination. And such an embodiment can only be propelled by a collective willpower that’s just as vast.

Vince Cinches is Greenpeace Southeast Asia's ocean campaigner based in the Philippines.