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Raising the masts on the Rainbow Warrior III

by Guest Blogger

July 11, 2011

It was a thrilling weekend in Fassmer shipyard, near Bremen in Germany, where many of us watched a revolutionary mast design being installed on the new Rainbow Warrior.

It’s not only a key milestone in the Greenpeace flagship’s construction – this weekend also marked 26 years since the first Rainbow Warrior was sunk in New Zealand.

The highly efficient 55m-high A-Frame mast system, created by the famous Dutch naval architecture firm Dijkstra and Partners, can carry far more sail than a conventional mast of the same size, is optimised for maximum efficiency, and is the first time this design has been installed on a vessel of the Rainbow Warrior’s size.

William Sykes, our project manager on the shipyard, was very excited all weekend, although he did grow concerned about how the weather seemed a bit unstable on Friday, as it went from sun, to rain, to wind, and how that might affect the schedule. But whatever the weather, all of the people here remained in good spirits. Finally, after three long days (everyone started work at 06.30am and finished at 10.30pm), the shipyard workers celebrated a job well-done, with applause, words of congratulations and smiles from everyone.

However, the job is not entirely done as there are many other technical details to be sorted before the ship will finally start her campaign work in October. But this step is an important one, as it gives us all a flavour of how she’ll look like.

William told me that the ‘user-friendly’ A-frame rig will provide more space on board for antennas, radars and satcoms – all the tools of Greenpeace communications; also, the design allows for a helicopter hangar on the aft deck – something that which would have been impossible with a more normal single-stick mast arrangement.

And maybe the most important thing for activists: the massive legs of the masts offer a perfect opportunity to hang huge banners that will help us get our message across!

The Rainbow Warrior III is our first purpose-built vessel, and will play a key role in future campaigns, allowing the organisation to continue bearing witness and taking action to prevent environmental crimes around the world. She will be officially launched in Autumn 2011, to mark the Greenpeace’s 40th anniversary.

I heard Marcus, a worker in the shipyard, speaking on his mobile: “It’s getting really cool… She’s beautiful… she’s unique,” he kept saying on the phone to his girlfriend. After the call, he said it “seems she’s getting a bit jealous as I don’t tell her things like that.”

People in the shipyard now want to know more about Greenpeace and its campaigns and keep asking me what will be the first mission of the Rainbow Warrior III. “We never did something like that, we do lots of ships but they are always the same… and now we see this, which is totally different, not only for the design, but also for the purpose,” says Marcus while he shares a coffee with his colleagues during a short break.

And it really is. She’s different. She’s beautiful.

Note: if your interested in what we do here at Greenpeace, check out our Global Warming and Climate Change page as an example.

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