Greenpeace: Era ending for Yorkshire's own Rainbow Warrior

Yorkshire has a long association with sea-going heroism.

Now an era is to end when a Yorkshire built ship which has seen 22 years of campaigning on the high seas goes out of service.

Environment group Greenpeace's well-known vessel Rainbow Warrior 2 has been rammed, boarded, impounded and shot at during her missions at the sharp end of protest.

The ship was commissioned by Greenpeace to replace the original Rainbow Warrior which was blown up and sunk in harbour in New Zealand in 1985 by French secret agents, to prevent Greenpeace using her to interfere with nuclear tests in the Pacific Ocean.

A photographer, Fernando Pereira, was killed in the incident. Two French agents served prison sentences for the attack and French Defence Minister Charles Hernu resigned as a result of the international scandal.

Greenpeace vowed to replace the stricken vessel to continue its work and began to look for a suitable ship. Funds poured in internationally from sympathisers outraged at the sinking. Within two years a vessel was found.

Rainbow Warrior 2 started life as a fishing trawler built at Cochrane's shipyard at Selby, in North Yorkshire. She was launched in 1957 with the name Ross Kashmir and worked out of Grimsby as part of the fleet of the deep-sea fishing firm Ross Group, of Ross Frozen Foods fame. She was later renamed the Grampian Fame.

Greenpeace bought her in 1987 and, using her Hull, converted her into a three-masted schooner with a new engine and environmentally-friendly systems for waste disposal and heating.

She was re-launched in Hamburg, in Germany, in 1989. The date was symbolic – July 10, the fourth anniversary of the sinking of the first Rainbow Warrior.

Since then Rainbow Warrior 2 has sailed the world carrying out Greenpeace protest actions, often facing conflict with national authorities.

Now Greenpeace chiefs are deciding her fate after commissioning a custom-built third Rainbow Warrior to be built in Germany. Her current mission in Taiwan could be her last voyage for the pressure group.

A Greenpeace spokeswoman said: "We are in the final stages of deciding what will happen to this ship."

The new vessel will use wind energy instead of fossil fuels, and incorporate green marine technology.

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