Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Greenpeace to start build of $23 million dollar flagship

Rainbow Warrior III will be one of the greenest ships afloat

Work will start soon on Greenpeace International’s new flagship ‘Rainbow Warrior III’. The sailing ship, which will be launched in time for the environmental organisation’s 40th anniversary in 2011, will include cutting edge green technology and facilities to help the organisation fight catastrophic climate change. This is the first time in the history of Greenpeace that a purpose built high seas ship will be commissioned; earlier vessels were all second hand and converted.

To be constructed at German and Polish shipyards, the Rainbow Warrior III will be one of the biggest yachts to have been commissioned in the last decade. It will have a staggering 1,300 sq metres of sail flying on two A frame masts, its own helipad and satellite video systems that will enable activists to stream videos from anywhere on earth. With numerous inflatable craft at their disposal, the crew of 30 will have an easier time going about their efforts than they had onboard the earlier flagships that were, basically, converted fishing boats.

The ‘Rainbow Warrior III’ will have diesel engines in addition to sails, but will use them for less than 10% of the time at sea. This is in line with the organisation’s mission to reduce greenhouse emissions. Says Greenpeace spokesman Ulrich von Eitzen, "We have converted ships for 30 years and it's time we practised what we preach. Upgrading the existing ship was not technically or financially feasible and converting a second hand ship would compromise our campaigning and energy conservation needs. The aim is to drastically reduce emissions and to burn far less fuel, and so its main propulsion will be by wind."

Eitzen’s statements assume significance in view of two recent developments: the spotlight on fossil fuel emissions by commercial ships in Copenhagen and criticism of Greenpeace by other environmental groups that it was holding back from addressing industry emissions because of its own fossil fuelled fleet.

The first Rainbow Warrior was sunk by the French government secret service in 1986 in New Zealand. Since then, the Greenpeace fleet has grown to six ships that operate across the world. Many of the crews are volunteers, facing up to whalers, illegal fishing boats and protesting nuclear testing. The organisation has three million supporters worldwide, and so raising funds for the Rainbow Warrior III should not be a problem. Other environmental groups like the Sea Shepherd and Oceana are also planning to increase their fleets; Ady Gil, a Sea Shepherd trimaran, sank recently after a collision with a Japanese whaler in Antarctica.

Officials at Greenpeace are understandably excited about the Rainbow Warrior III’s green technology. The A frame design of the mast and the sail positions have been optimised for efficiency and the shape of the hull has been designed for maximum fuel conservation. Heat created by the generators will be reused to heat water on board and for engine preheating.

Its predecessor, the Rainbow Warrior II, is 52 years old and will be retired after twenty years of environmental campaigning. The new ship has been designed by a company in Amsterdam, Netherlands and will be primarily built by Fassmer, Bremen, Germany.


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