A new Rainbow Warrior sets sail

Feature story - October 15, 2011
The Earth has a new champion. In Bremerhaven, Germany, we’ve held the naming ceremony for the world’s first purpose-built, crowd-bought, eco-sleek sailing vessel, the new Rainbow Warrior.

The new Rainbow Warrior during sea trials.

If you’re one of the 100,000 donors who bought a bolt, an action boat, an anchor, a chart, a soap dish, a piece of her sail or the whole of her wheelhouse, thank you and obrigado. If you’re one of our 3 million regular annual donors, merci bien and Xie Xie! If you’re one of our 17 million email or mobile subscribers, Facebook fans or Twitter followers, gracias and shukran.  If you’re one of our 14,000 volunteers, danke schön and kinanâskomitinawaw.

We said the Earth needed a new warrior, and each of you answered that call: today we smash a bottle of champagne across the bow, and launch the world’s first ship built from the keel up to win the battle for the future of the Earth.

Two A-frame masts exclaim that this is no ordinary sailing ship: it is a sleek, efficient eco-vessel, every detail crafted with sustainability in mind, from the silicon-based paint on her hull to the FSC wood of her cabins, to the onboard recycling systems and biological sewage treatment. The new Rainbow Warrior will primarily be powered and propelled by the sun and wind , with the option in unsuitable weather to switch to efficient diesel-electric power. The revolutionary mast design allows her to carry more sail, and makes room for the radio masts, antennas, and domes that provide internet and satellite communications -- allowing us to broadcast video from remote locations and tweet from any ocean. She boasts a video editing suite, a conference room, a campaign office, two fast action boats, webcams fore and aft and a helicopter hanger and helideck. She can accommodate up to 30 people.

Melina Laboucan-Massimo is from the Cree First Nation from Northern Alberta, Canada. She is the Godmother of the ship. The Rainbow Warrior prophecy (that the ship is named after) comes from Indigenous nations in North American, like the Cree.

The first ship to bear her name was a rusting fishing trawler scraped and sanded down by hand and painted with a dove and rainbow. She made history saving whales, stopping radioactive waste dumping, and sailing straight into the forbidden zone around nuclear weapons tests from the Pacific to the Arctic.

Her voyage into history was cut short by two limpet mines in 1985, when frightened politicians in Paris ordered French agents to sink the ship in New Zealand, believing this would stop our protests against nuclear weapons tests. One crewmember was murdered in the attack – photographer Fernando Pereira. It was a massive miscalculation, catalyzing opposition throughout the Pacific, strengthening Greenpeace, and hardening our resolve to rebuild and return. A supporter in Auckland coined the phrase that became a motto of opposition: “You Can’t Sink a Rainbow.”  When we returned to Moruroa in a refurbished sister ship, the legacy of the Rainbow Warrior as a parable of persistence was sealed. Today the Rainbow Warrior II is doing relief work in India as a hospital ship.

As a purpose-built campaigning ship, the new Warrior will be a voice for our oceans, our forests, our climate, and our future. Built to last for at least 50 years, she is a promise to you, our supporters, to never give in, never give up.

Kumi Naidoo, Greenpeace International Executive Director, said at the ceremony: “The new Rainbow Warrior is the perfect ship with which navigate the perfect storm of ecological, economic and democratic crises lashing our world.”

“Carrying an international crew, the Rainbow Warrior will confront environmental criminals across the world, she will investigate and expose destructive activities, but perhaps most of all will provide a beacon of hope and an inspiration to action wherever she goes.

“If you’ve not yet been a part of the journey of building the Rainbow Warrior, please come onboard and be part of her voyage. The world needs another warrior: you.”

>> Find out more about the Rainbow Warrior I and Rainbow Warrior II.

Catch our web video series "Stories from the Rainbow Warrior" and see the maiden voyage through the eyes of our newest activists, the New Hands on Deck: www.facebook.com/newhandsondeck It's our way of saying "Thank you" and to show off what 100,000+ of you bought when you funded the ship bolt by bolt, cleat by cleat, and sail by sail.