On July 10, 1985, an explosion aboard the Rainbow Warrior sank the ship, our hearts, and left one man dead. But out of this tragedy eventually came triumph, and an end to nuclear testing. Twenty years later, we invite you to look back at the legacy of the Rainbow Warrior,and learn how a sinking ship set course to change the world.
Days earlier, the crew of the Rainbow Warrior had rescued and relocatedthe people of Rongelap. The United States government had just detonatedthe largest nuclear bomb since Hiroshima, and radiation poisoningimpacted 95 percent of the villagers.
After a successful evacuation, the ship docked in Auckland, New Zealandto prepare for the second part of its mission: to challenge the Frenchgovernment’s nuclear testing plans on the island of Moruroa.
The Rainbow Warrior never completed that mission. On the night ofJuly 10, the crew awoke just before midnight to an explosion. Beforethey had time to grasp the situation, a second explosion rocked theboat and the ship immediately began to sink. Following orders to“abandon ship” all but one of the crew made it to safety. Trappedbelow deck and knocked unconscious by the second blast, Greenpeacephotographer Fernando Pereira drowned.
By dawn, the magnitude of the situation came to light, and an investigation began leading directly to the French government.