16 August 2011

Greenpeace hands Rainbow Warrior ship to Bangladesh:

Environmental campaign group Greenpeace said on Tuesday it had handed over its iconic protest ship Rainbow Warrior II to a Bangladeshi charity which will turn it into a floating hospital.

Greenpeace said it hoped that the charity, Friendship, would continue to use the ship as a beacon of hope.

"This ship has carried people from around the world and has stood as an icon of hope over pessimism and as an emblem of action over complacency. It is time to pass that task on," said Mike Fincken, Rainbow Warrior II captain.

Friendship has renamed the vessel Rongdhonu, which also means Rainbow, and will turn it into a hospital ship.

From plying the high seas to protest against whaling and nuclear testing, the ship will now stay close to shore to deliver medical assistance to impoverished communities in Bangladesh, Mr Fincken said.

"The Rongdhonu will enable Friendship to bring aid to inaccessible parts of Bangladesh that are already experiencing the effects of climate change," he said.

Greenpeace's original Rainbow Warrior was sunk by French intelligence agents in 1985 in New Zealand in a bid to stop activists from protesting against France's nuclear tests in the Pacific Ocean.

It was replaced by Rainbow Warrior II, which first sailed for the organisation in 1989.

The ship confronted environmental crimes and nuclear testing, provided disaster relief to victims of the 2004 tsunami in southeast Asia, and blocked shipments of illegal timber from the world's rainforests, Greenpeace said.

The vessel also "sailed against over fishing, whaling, war, global warming and other environmental crimes on every ocean of the world," it said.

Before coming to Singapore for the handover, the ship carried out radiation sampling in waters off Fukushima, the site of the nuclear power plant damaged during the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in March.

It will set sail for the Bangladeshi port of Chittagong after the handover.

Construction of a new Rainbow Warrior, the third ship to bear the name, is nearly complete in Germany. It will join the Greenpeace fleet in October when the organisation marks its 40th anniversary.

Source: The Telegraph. 16 August 2011

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