rainbow warrior phuket

The Rainbow Warrior, the iconic ship of Greenpeace, is set to visit Phuket from June 9 to 12, followed by a stop to Koh Phi Phi in Krabi on June 13 and 14.

The visit is part of the ship’s 2018 tour of Thailand entitled “Rainbow Warrior Ship Tour 2018: 100% Renewable Energy for All”. The visits are part of Greenpeace efforts “to join local communities in their call to end the age of coal, and to demand solutions through an inclusive and ecological economic development model based on just, affordable and sustainable renewable energy systems.”

In Phuket, the vessel will be open for public viewing at the Deep Sea Port in Cape Panwa, while in Krabi it will be moored just off Koh Phi Phi, where visitors will be ferried over to the ship.

The timing of Rainbow Warrior’s visit comes just days after Phi Phi’s Maya Bay closed to visitors for four months, from June 1 to September 30, to allow its reefs and beach to recover from overtourism.

rainbow warrior thailand
An imposing ship with a message of peace: The Rainbow Warrior on a visit to Songkhla, Thailand, in May 2018. © Baramee Temboonkiat/Greenpeace

Greenpeace – A History of Audacious Acts

Greenpeace was launched by a ragtag group in Vancouver, Canada, in the early 1970s. The non-governmental environmental organisation has long been known for its confrontational style and outrageous acts that attracted huge media coverage well before the concepts of “going viral” and social media sharing became methods for getting the message out.

The group’s first daring act was in 1971, when they sailed an old fishing boat to Amchitka island off Alaska with the aim to put the vessel right at the centre of a US nuclear bomb test site.

They were intercepted by the US Navy well before reaching their target location, but their insane plan soon became a media sensation. Within five months the Amchitka nuclear test program was cancelled and Greenpeace declared its efforts a success. Greenpeace has since grown into a global NGO with regional offices in 55 countries and nearly 3 million members worldwide, headquartered in Amsterdam.

The Rise (and sinking) of the Rainbow Warrior

The Rainbow Warrior is the third vessel of this name sailing for Greenpeace. The first Rainbow Warrior was a converted fishery research trawler built in 1955. Greenpeace bought the ship in 1978, painted it up in rainbow patterns and made its first voyage from the UK to Iceland to protest the country’s whaling program.

In 1985, the ship travelled to New Zealand, and was about to set sail to the Moruroa atoll in the South Pacific to protest France’s nuclear testing there. Just before it was set to depart, French agents bombed and sank the Rainbow Warrior in Auckland harbour, killing a Greenpeace photographer. The damaged ship was later sunk in Matauri Bay and now serves as a living reef explored by scuba divers.

rainbow warrior greenpeace
Promotional image by Greenpeace for the Rainbow Warrior tour of Thailand. (Photo: Greenpeace)

The second Rainbow Warrior was a three-masted schooner built from the hull of a 1957 deep sea fishing vessel and launched in 1989. Greenpeace says on its website that, before it was retired in 2011, the second Rainbow Warrior “has challenged the legal system and won, she’s confronted environmental crimes, relocated the population of a South Pacific Island contaminated by radiation, provided disaster relief to victims of the 2004 Tsunami in South East Asia, and sailed against whaling, war, global warming, and other environmental crimes on every ocean of the world.”

The current Rainbow Warrior launched in Germany in 2011, and runs mostly on wind power. Designed to be as eco-friendly as possible, the Rainbow Warrior has a biological treatment system for sewage and grey water and an energy-efficient hull shape, among other features.

rainbow warrior thailand
Colourful ceremonies during the Rainbow Warrior’s visit to Songkhla, Southern Thailand, in May 2018. © Baramee Temboonkiat/Greenpeace

Rainbow Warrior Phuket Events

The Rainbow Warrior will be open to the public for viewing tours at the Phuket Deep Sea Port on June 9, 10 and 12, from 9am to 6pm.

Other side events include a photo exhibit on the impacts of climate change, Greenpeace and the environmental movement, and the history of the Rainbow Warrior. There will also be games, green markets, mini-concerts and a showcase of 1,000-Watt solar energy kits.

Forums, public talks and performances in Phuket include:

Saturday, June 9

10:30am to 11am – Traditional Ronggeng performance by Orang Laut ethnic group. Opening ceremony led by Yeb Sano, Greenpeace Southeast Asia’s Executive Director, Hettie Geenen, Captain of the Rainbow Warrior, and a representative of the Governor of Phuket.
4:30pm to 6pm – Forum: “Conservation of Marine Biodiversity in Phuket as a World Tourism City” led by Dr. Arpa Wangkiat of Rangsit University, Chote Tangvinit of Phuket Civic Group, Pradit Puangket of Ao Kung Bay Conservation Group, and Rattanaporn Jangjaidee, Phuket environmental activist.
6:30pm to 7:30pm – Mini concert by Job Bunjob.
7:30pm to 9pm – Mini concert by Tattoo Colour.

Monday, June 11

10:30am to 12 noon – Cooking competition by elementary school students from Phuket and neighboring provinces. This session will be conducted in Thai and English.
2pm to 4pm – Talks on the theme of “Less Meat More Veggies” (in Thai): “Broken Food system” by Kingkorn Narintarakul Na Ayuthaya, Biothai; “Less is more: Reducing meat and dairy for a healthier life and planet” by Watcharapol Daengsubha, Greenpeace Southeast Asia; “Environmental impacts of livestock: from mountain to sea bed” by Ply Pirom, WWF-Thailand; “How eating plant based meals can support local communities” by Amnaj Maiyodkrang, President of Wang Nam Khiao Non-toxic Agriculture Cooperative under the Royal Initiative; “Diet for climate – a solution to the world’s major problem that begins with one’s plate” by Maria Poonlertlarp, Miss Universe Thailand 2017.

Tuesday, June 12

10am to 11am – Launch of the report, “Thailand Renewable Energy Job Creation” with Dr. Decharut Sukkumnoed, Faculty of Economics, Kasetsart University; Dr. Somnuck Jongmeewasin, International College, Silpakorn University; Asst. Prof. Dr.Usa Onthong, Research Centre for Energy and Environment, Thaksin University; and Somchet Chaiyalap, Sustainable Energy Research Centre for Communities, Kalasin Province.

11am to 12:30pm – Forum: “Renewable Energy Investment in Thailand” with Luepong Luenam, Faculty of Agricultural Technology, King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Ladkrabang; Asst. Prof Chedsada Mingchai, Uttaradit Rajabhat University; Suphakit Nantavorakarn, the Healthy Public Policy Foundation; and Nathee Sitthiprasart, Renewable Energy Industry Club, The Federation of Thai Industries.

For more details, visit http://www.greenpeace.org/seasia/th/ or the Greenpeace Thailand Facebook page.