Careful sailing in close quarters

An update from the Nuclear Free Seas Flotilla as the plutonium shipment reaches port.

Feature story - 17 September, 2002
When the Pacific Pintail left the open sea and headed through the Walney channel this morning the ship was met by five members of the Nuclear Free Irish Sea Flotilla who had been lying in wait. The flotilla boats obeyed all maritime safety practices and orders from the harbour authorities, but still managed to sail within 50 yards (45.5m) of the Pacific Pintail carrying the first sea shipment of plutonium since the September 11th attacks.

The Nuclear Free Seas Irish flotilla made up of yachts and vessels from England, Wales and Ireland supported by the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior.

This contingent of the flotilla was made up of four boats between 10 and 16 metres, and one small sailing dingy. The skippers and crew came from a variety of backgrounds including a doctor, a lawyer, a retired Irish Army Commandant and a member of the European Parliament. These people took time away from their daily lives to protest the Pintail's lethal cargo.

At the start of the channel the flotilla boats sailed abreast of the Pintail, which was surrounded by police boats. "We had 'Irish Sea Nuclear Free' banners along our railings, and were flying 5x5 metre flags reading 'Stop Plutonium Transport'. It was an absolute success," said one skipper Dr. Warren Scott.

The flotilla did not turn back until the Pintail approached the first set of locks, and needed manoeuvring room.

Swn y Mor.This marks the final end of an 18,000-mile journey for the Pintail. It, and its cargo of rejected plutonium MOX fuel, has been hounded at every turn. Confronted by independent protest flotillas in the Pacific ocean and Irish sea; by Greenpeace ships as it left Japan, again rounding the tip of Africa and yesterday as it approached the home stretch. It has been condemned by 80 countries world wide; banned from their territorial waters and exclusive economic zones.

It's somehow fitting that in the last mile global opposition was represented by a handful of individual seafarers, from a variety of backgrounds, who stood up to the Pintail and would not let her come to port unopposed.

Nicely done.

Listen to John's final thoughts on the flotilla's success.