Timeline of Greenpeace’s Arctic Sunrise seizure in the Arctic

by Cassady Craighill

September 23, 2013

From peaceful action to dramatic seizure: a timeline of events since the Arctic Sunrise took action September 18.

September 18, 2013

02.34Four inflatables leave theArctic Sunriseheading towards Gazprom’s oil platform, thePrirazlomnaya. Activists attempt to climb and establish themselves on the outside structure of the platform to protest against imminent drilling.

They are here to peacefully protest against the Arctic oil rush, which threatens grave harm to the Arctic environment, as well as extracting more oil that humanity cannot afford to burn. ThePrirazlomnayais the first oil rig to start oil production in the ice-filled waters of the Arctic.Safety culture on the rig is a joke.

The nearby Russian Coast Guard ship quickly responds bylaunching inflatablesmanned with agents masked in balaclavas. They proceed to ram and slash the Greenpeace inflatables, threatenactivists at gun and knife pointand fire warning shots from automatic weapons. Further, the remaining crew onboard theArctic Sunrisecount 11 shots fired across the bow from the Coast Guard vessel’s artillery cannon.

Action Against Gazprom's Arctic Drilling. 09/18/2013  Denis Sinyakov / Greenpeace

The Coast Guard seizes activists Sini and Marco, who had managed to climb some way up before being forced to retreat by water cannons, taking themaboard their vessel.

The remaining activist returns to theArctic Sunrisethat stays in the vicinity but no closer than 3 nautical miles to thePrirazlomnaya.

17.28– Camila, a 21 year-old activist from Argentina,describesthe action in a blog post.

September 19, 2013

13.30– The Coast Guard describesMarco and Sini as ‘guests’but requests to speak to them from theArctic Sunriseand their lawyer go unanswered. As far as is known, no charges are read out.

16.35– TheArctic Sunrisealarm system is activated.Phone calls andtweetsfrom the ship report a helicopter hovering over the ship. FSB agents descend onto the deck by ropes. The boarding happensoutside Russian territorial watersin the Russian Exclusive Economic Zone. No legal basis is announced for several days.

Three people manage to lock themselves into the radio room from where they providean eyewitness account of developments on the ship.

They report an estimated 15-16 armed agents on board, who round upthe rest of the crew on the helicopter deck.

15.15– Around 40 minutes after boarding it appears the radio roomhas been broken into.

19.43– We receive aphone call from the ship on a bad line.The activists and crew are being gathered in the mess by the FSB agents.Sini and Marco have been brought backon theArctic Sunrise.

22.00– Thefirst protest in front of a Russian embassytakes place in Washington DC. More than30 countries followover the next day.

22.16Russian state media reporttheArctic Sunriseis going to be taken to Murmansk, Russia.

September 20, 2013

12.03– Greenpeace confirms that theArctic Sunrisehasbegun to move Westin the direction of Murmansk, Russia. The phones on the ship are not answering.

13.00Greenpeace respondsto aRussian media report,quoting a senior official on Gazprom’sPrirazlomnayaoil platform who describes a Greenpeace safety pod used in the protest as ‘resembling a bomb’. In reality the safety pod designed to keep the activists warm measures 3 meters long by 2 meters wide, is brightly coloured, and heavily branded with Greenpeace logos.

Greenpeace Training with the Safety Pod. 09/09/2013  Denis Sinyakov / Greenpeace

14.01 – Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Netherlands, flag state of the Arctic Sunrise, says that Russian authorities should have contacted the Netherlands before attempting any boarding of the ship.

September 21, 2013

15.20 – Professor Geert-Jan Knoops, a professor of international criminal law at the University of Utrecht, the Netherlands, is quoted in Dutch media saying:

“As far as the facts are known to me exactly, the Russian coast guard was not entitled [to board the ship]”.

15.45 – Still without any news from the Arctic Sunrise crew, Greenpeace International strongly rejects any allegation of piracy. It appears that the Russian government is grasping at straws to justify what was clearly an illegal boarding of the Arctic Sunrise in international waters.

September 22, 2013

16.35 – It has been 72 hours since Russian authorities seized the Arctic Sunrise in Russian EEZ without any legal basis.

September 23, 2013

11.57 – More than 40 environmental groups call for the immediate release of the 30 Greenpeace International activists being held under armed guard on the Arctic Sunrise under tow towards Murmansk.

Cassady Craighill

By Cassady Craighill

Cassady is a media officer for Greenpeace USA based on the East Coast. She covers climate change and energy, particularly how both issues relate to the Trump administration.

We Need Your Voice. Join Us!

Want to learn more about tax-deductible giving, donating stock and estate planning?

Visit Greenpeace Fund, a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) charitable entity created to increase public awareness and understanding of environmental issues through research, the media and educational programs.