On 11th July, The Rainbow Warrior made port in Buenos Aires. It will remain docked in front of the Buquebús terminal in Puerto Madero for another week, offering tours and spreading environmental awareness.
The ship is the first in Greenpeace’s fleet designed and built specifically for the NGO, the first two Rainbow Warriors having been re-fitted for Greenpeace from commercial vessels. The Rainbow Warrior is not just one of the most environmentally-friendly ships ever made, but also a moving platform of environmental awareness.
It is 57.92 metres of activism and cutting-edge technology. The ship sails primarily under wind power. It has a 55 metre-high A-Frame mast system- allowing it to carry far more sail than a conventional mast of the same size. This is the first time this design has been installed on a vessel of the Rainbow Warrior’s size.
While The Warrior does have electric drive engines, for windless days or tricky navigation, these are also built with sustainability in mind.
It is capable of carrying up to 59 cubic meters of grey and black water, avoiding any need for damaging ‘at sea disposal’. A special biological filtering system helps clean and recycle grey water. Even the paint on the ship’s hull, its trademark rainbows, is environmentally safe.
The Rainbow Warrior III is the latest evolution of the Rainbow Warrior fleet, the first one being a former UK Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF) trawler that was purchased in 1977 by Greenpeace. The original Rainbow Warrior was sunk in harbour in New Zealand by operatives of the French intelligence service (DSGE) on 10th July 1985, killing one activist and leading to the arrest of a number of French agents.
The Rainbow Warrior II was a three-masted schooner built from the hull of a deep sea fishing vessel that Greenpeace purchased and re-launched with newly outfitted masts and equipment in 1989. Rainbow Warrior II was retired in August 2011 and refitted as a hospital ship operating from Bangladesh.
The latest Rainbow Warrior carries on the spirit of its predecessors. “Since setting sail in 1978 the Rainbow Warrior has been on the frontline of the struggle against environmental abuse,” Kumi Naidoo, Greenpeace International’s Executive Director, said at the keel laying ceremony, which took place on 10th July 2010 – the 25th anniversary of the bombing of the original Rainbow Warrior.
“She is an icon of non-violent direct action and a beacon of hope for millions of people around the world.”
Daniel Binyon is the 38-year-old first mate of the Rainbow Warrior III. Hailing from the UK, he has served as first mate of the ship since November 2011.
After spending Christmas in Barcelona on-board, he helped sail across the Atlantic to the US, piloting the vessel down the eastern sea-board and onto Manaus, in Brazil, where the Rainbow Warrior travelled up the Amazon spreading activism and awareness and attempting to block coal ships from passing and contributing to further degradation of the Amazon rain forest.
After spending time in Rio de Janeiro campaigning at the Rio+20 Earth Summit, which took place last month, Binyon travelled south to Buenos Aires where he will remain with the ship for the next week.
Binyon is a professional sea-farer who has been working on the oceans his whole life. He has held a captain’s licence for over 20 years. Before beginning work with Greenpeace he held a number of positions on various commercial ships, mainly tankers.
During his time at sea he began reading more and more on environmental issues “Eventually, I decided I had to get involved.” He began volunteering with Greenpeace five years ago.
Life aboard the Rainbow Warrior III is natural for Binyon. “I have been working at sea for 20 years, to me its natural.” However, it is different from his jobs on commercial ships. “On the tankers everyone is counting down the days until leave, here it’s different, people want to be on-board, and it’s an honour.”
On a typical day Binyon gets up very early- his first watch running from 4am until 8am. From 8am until 9am he usually gets a break for breakfast, then from 9am to 12pm it’s back to work looking after general maintenance. After that, he gets a break until 4pm when he begins his second watch running until about 8pm.
“It’s a ship that runs 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.” For Binyon it has been a very rewarding experience. “Everyone wants to be on-board. Sometimes you get heavy water, the worst in the Southern Ocean. People get nervous about that, the sea-sickness, then it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.”
What Binyon enjoys most about his work is the people. “We have had Xena The Warrior Princess on-board, the Dalai Lama… Everyone who comes on gets a job, they are happy to be there, positive; it’s a real honour.”
Working on the ship, being an activist with Greenpeace, has its risks. “This ship is a symbol of those before it, and of the need for change. We are usually very well received. But it does have risks.” Binyon has been arrested once, in Israel. “That wasn’t great, not at all to be honest.” Otherwise it has always been positive. “We have a Quaker philosophy: to observe, and to take action when we absolutely have to, from there its non-violent, direct action.” As often seen in the media, this frequently becomes heated.
In a week, Rainbow Warrior III sets sail again. The ship will cross the Pacific to South Africa, where it is going for maintenance. According to Binyon, “The ship is very new, the first of its kind really, I don’t think you will find anything like it on the ocean so we are still working some things out.”
Binyon will take leave here and go home to his wife with whom he has just moved to Spain. As for the future – “I want to stay on as long as I can, as long as I can be useful to the cause.”
Rainbow Warrior III will be open for tours Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, when there will also be activities for children. Find out more here.
The Rainbow Warrior III in Buenos Aires. Friday 20th and Saturday 21st July, 10am to 6pm; Sunday 22nd July, 10am to 4pm. Dársena Norte number 6 (Puerto Madero, next to Buquebús). See map here. Free admission. Bicycle parking available.