I'm feeling a bit nostalgic and also grateful that I got the chance to sail on her as, after 52 years at sea (22 years as a Greenpeace ship), the current Rainbow Warrior is heading for a new life.
Over the last few days, the bell was removed, the ship's mascot dolphin was taken down and the Rainbow Warrior’s named has been painted over. Finally, today at a ceremony in Singapore, the Rainbow Warrior was transferred to Friendship, a Bangladesh based NGO which will refit it for use as a hospital ship.
The ship will be renamed Rongdhonu, Bengali for Rainbow. She will serve the coastal belt of Bangladesh and the Bay of Bengal, delivering primary and secondary medical assistance to some of the most vulnerable communities of the world, communities that have little or no access to basic health care facilities. The Rongdhonu will also serve as an emergency medical ship around the region, bringing medical aid to areas which are already experiencing the effects of climate change.
Speaking at the hand over ceremony, Mike Fincken, Captain of the Rainbow Warrior II, quoted the Cree Indian prophecy from which the ship got its name: “There will come a time when the Earth grows sick and when it does a tribe will gather from all the cultures of the world who believe in deeds and not words. They will work to heal it... they will be known as the "Warriors of the Rainbow’.” Adding, “This ship has carried people from around the world and has stood as an icon of hope over pessimism and as an emblem of action over complacency, it is time to pass that task on."
The Rainbow Warrior II first sailed for Greenpeace in 1989 and replaced the original Rainbow Warrior, after it was bombed and sunk by French government agents in 1985. Read more about the work the Rainbow Warrior has done over the last two decades.
But don't worry; we will not be long without a Rainbow Warrior, as construction of a new ship, the third to bear the name, is nearly complete. The vessel will join our fleet in October as we celebrate our 40th anniversary!