Greenpeace Action Puts Ship, Cargo & Crew in Harm's Way

May 01, 2014, 10:11AM EST
Greenpeace Action Puts Ship, Cargo & Crew in Harm's Way
Politics aside, interfering with a fully laden tanker in a busy port is unconscionable

In case you missed it, Greenpeace and Russia are together again in the news this morning, not onboard Gazprom's Prirazlomanaya oil platform but in port in Rotterdam, where apparently the environmental activist group was attempting to disrupt the delivery of a shipment of Arctic oil.

There are obviously many facets to this and any story, but to distill away all of the noise for this targeted crowd the issue is fairly simple: The interference and potential catastrophic consequences of messing around with a fully laden tanker in one of the world’s busiest ports.

According to a Reuters report, Dutch police stormed the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior on Thursday to prevent the group from blocking delivery of the first oil from Russia's new Arctic drilling platform reaching port in Rotterdam. Police claim the activists reneged on an agreement made with harbor authorities to not interfere physically with the ship during their protest.

The activists were reportedly detained in a room on the Rainbow Warrior until it docked, when the captain was arrested. The oil-tanker Mikhail Ulyanov entered the harbor unhindered, and moored at about 0915 GMT. The vessel, which had come from the Russian Arctic port of Murmansk, according to Thomson Reuters data, is carrying some 70,000 tonnes of oil from Gazprom's Prirazlomanaya oil platform in the Arctic Pechora Sea.

Realizing that already Greenpeace has likely met its objective – rapid fire and global coverage of the action with Greenpeace in the headline – from the pure maritime industry point of view there should be unified condemnation. I think the Mikhail Ulyanov ship’s master, Stanislav Chichin, summed it up best:

“As a Master I know that the actions of Greenpeace have needlessly distracted our highly professional crew from its normal work in an area of highly intensive shipping traffic. The crew of tanker Mikhail Ulyanov made its scheduled voyage from the point of loading in the Pechora Sea towards the discharge port of Rotterdam. At the entrance of the port and in the port during the process of mooring operations they were met by Greenpeace vessels. The actions of Greenpeace break the fundamental principles of international conventions for safety at sea as well as environmental safety.”

I’m interested to hear your thoughts, either in this forum or in confidence at What do you think?
Filed under: Arctic, Greenpeace, Oil, Russia, tankers
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Mark Sales
Puts me in mind of the midwatch conversations we used to have on the old USCGC Buttonwood (WLB 306) in the late Seventies. The general topic in those days was who would you save if you had to chose between a whaler in the water or a Greenpeace "activist". Of course in those day the Greenpeace RHIbs were doing a lot of porposing around trying to keep the whalers of the day from taking the shot at a whale. Buttonwood was a mainly Californian crewed cutter, but the answer was invariably to rescue the whaler and let the activist reap what they had sown.

Unfortunately in this day and age, the pendulum has swung to a position where any environmental casualty will be taken as the responsibility of the seafarer since even activists' detrimental activities are an almost normal hazard of the trade.
5/2/2014 3:11:38 PM

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