Sailing through Green campaigns

Battling pollution.  

THE FLAGSHIP of Greenpeace, `MV Arctic Sunrise', which docked at Kochi port on Saturday, has been involved in several heroic battles against environmental pollution.

The sea-going motor yacht type ship began its journey during the Brent Spar campaign where it was used to prevent dumping of oil exploration equipment at sea.

In 1997, it became the first ship to circumnavigate James Ross Island in the Antarctic. Greenpeace activists on board the ship had opposed `Northstar', British Petroleum's project to open up a new offshore oil frontier which threatened oil spills in the Arctic region.

The flagship of Greenpeace berthed at the Mattanchery wharf on Saturday as part of the `Thousand Bhopals jatha' organised by the international NGO in the country.

Arctic Sunrise docked at the Kochi port after a long journey from Melbourne, Australia.

Sailing through Green campaigns

Led by Andy Troia, Captain, the ship has as many as 16 crew on board comprising environmentalists and technical engineers.

``We travel around the world as part of the Greenpeace campaign against pollution. The ship is completely equipped with all facilities required for checking environmental pollution'', says Mr. Andy.

Greenpeace had purchased the ship in 1995 from its Norwegian owners. Its equipment include five inflatables and a four-seater helicopter used for taking aerial photographs and data collection from sites of oil spillage.

Special boat cranes are also fitted to launch the inflatables into the sea.

``The ship is also equipped with engineering workshops, dark rooms, hospital facilities, video-edit room and space for conducting exhibitions on environment protection'', says Mr.Erkut, technical engineer of Arctic Sunrise.

The ship with 30 berths has a gross tonnage of 949 tonnes.

Arctic Sunrise had checked Japanese whaling attempts in the Southern Oceans. It also chased pirate vessels fishing illegally.

Before Greenpeace owned the MV (Motor Vessel) Arctic Sunrise, it was used as a sealing vessel. It was formerly known as `Polarbjorn'.

Greenpeace had previously confronted the ship while it was delivering equipment for the French Government to build an airstrip through a penguin habitat in the Antarctic.

It was built in 1975 by `AS Vaagen Verft'. The ship has a length of 49.62 metres and a breadth of 11.50 metres.

"Ships owned by Greenpeace have been continuously working against attempts by global giants to pollute the environment. Arctic Sunrise would exhibit photographs of the Bhopal tragedy in the coming days'', says Manu Gopalan, Toxics campaigner of Greenpeace.

Other ships owned by the NGO include ``MV (Motor Vessel) Esperanza'' which is the latest and largest vessel in the Greenpeace fleet and ``SV (sailing vessel) Rainbow Warrior''.

MV Arctic Sunrise will be open to the public from November 25 to 27 at the BTP dock.

By Krishnakumar G.

Photos: H. Vibhu