1971. This was the year it all began. You’ve heard the story about how a boat load of (very brave) volunteers and journalists sailed to Alaska to stop the American government from running nuclear tests? The U.S government started feeling the pressure from all directions and was forced to abandon the nuclear tests the following year.

This courageous act birthed action packed campaigns enhanced by the Greenpeace ships, that till this day, sail across oceans to stop environmental crimes and injustices. This work spans from stopping oil drilling in the Arctic, defending the Amazon, supporting ecological food to launching renewable energy projects everywhere! However, it’s been tough…

…like the time when French secret service agents helped bomb and sink the first Rainbow Warrior ship.

This didn’t break our spirit, instead it made us realise that our work was very necessary and imperative for the survival of our planet. Let’s take a walk down memory lane at some of the work and victories our ships have made possible. 


After the bombing of the first Rainbow Warrior ship, came Rainbow Warrior II. She pushed a good 22 years before settling in India doing relief work as a hospital ship. Meanwhile, the Rainbow Warrior ship III took over on October 14, 2011. This became our first environmentally friendly ship and came in just in time to take on more campaign actions.

Not Just Tuna! Here Greenpeace activists peacefully confronted marine operations at the heart of Thai Union’s supply chain. The action was a protest against the tuna giant’s destructive fishing practices. Activists in inflatable boats deliver a cease and desist letter to the deck of the Explorer II, a supply vessel using an underwater seamount to perch on and contribute to massive depletion of ocean life.

Helping hand: Greenpeace activists from the Rainbow Warrior ship hold banners in Gokova bay in front of the Kemerkoy coal power plant in protest against the use of coal. Greenpeace was calling on the Turkish government to invest in greener sustainable energy options.


Designed to cut through ice, the Arctic Sunrise has accompanied activists to the Arctic and Antarctica in a quest to end whaling, oil drilling, the killing of sharks and more.

In cold and in sunshine: Activists documenting the oil drilling operations of the Austrian OMV in the Arctic Ocean near Bear Island in winter are protesting this irresponsible venture with banners. The banner is reading in Hungarian: “mentsük mega sarkvidéket!” which means “Save the Mega Arctic!”.

Bound to happen! Russian security services abseil from a helicopter onto the deck of the Arctic Sunrise and seize the ship at gunpoint. This was after an attempt by five Greenpeace International activists to climb the ‘Prirazlomnaya’, an oil platform operated by Russian energy giant Gazprom, in the Pechora Sea. 

This action also resulted in the “Arctic 30” being arrested for charges of piracy and hooliganism for a peaceful protest against oil drilling in the Arctic.


While it is currently exploring and defending the newly discovered Amazon Reef, the Esperanza has seen many successes and amplified campaign messages.

Stop oil exploration: The Greenpeace ship Esperanza was preventing the installation of Statoil’s northernmost oil rig in the Arctic. To do so they it occupied the exact spot where the company planned to move the Transocean Spitsbergen.

No room for palm oil: Here Greenpeace activists closed off access for all imports and exports from palm oil trader IOI in the harbour of Rotterdam, palm oil’s gateway into Europe. The Greenpeace ship Esperanza has moored to the dock at the back of the refinery, preventing palm oil being unloaded from incoming oil tankers. 
Nothing says action packed like when Greenpeace Rigid Inflatable Boats or inflatable boats stand between a whaling harpoon and whales or literally stopping toxic waste being dumped at sea. This is where the real action is. 

On a mission: Here the Greenpeace boat crew partnered with Medecins Sans Frontiers (MSF) on a rescue operation when around 890 000 immigrants and refugees from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq headed to Europe fleeing from war, human rights violations and persecution. A total of 83 people were rescued, while two people drowned – an 80-year-old man and nine-month old girl. 


Greenpeace was founded by passionate volunteers and activists and that spirit is still alive seeking justice for our voiceless planet. Sailing a ship to stop crimes happening at sea is no easy task but thanks to our fierce on board teams, we’re able to do more for our environment. Join a local volunteer group near you.

West Africa get ready, the Esperanza ship will be headed over to you soon, to protect our waters from overfishing and IUU fishing!


Leave your reply


It's heart touching


I would like to ask if there are any arrangements available whereby we can book a small group of kids in to visit the Arctic Sunrise in Cape Town, on the 19th or 20th October? I don't want to have to keep a small group (8-10 kids) standing in a long queue in order to visit the ship. Is there any way of pre-booking a time to be able to come aboard? Kind regards Simon Tatt (Creative Consultant) Earth School 1 Mountain Road Noordhoek


Hi, I would like to join Greenpeace Rainbow Warrior ship. I live in Durban, South Africa. I am willing to travel any where any time. I am healthy, willing and able. I love a challenge.Out door person.


Hello Glen Please sign up to be a volunteer at https://www.greenpeace.org/africa/en/act/volunteers/ You will receive all the information you need and you can also join the Durban group.


Hi Glen, Unfortunately The Rainbow Warrior was available for public viewing only.