Nine months after being illegally seized at gunpoint Gazprom’s Prirazlomnaya Arctic oil platform in the Pechora sea – our Arctic Sunrise has been released. Colin Russell, one of the Greenpeace activists on board the ship when it was boarded last September, has been working with our ships for the past 15 years. We asked him more about himself and what it’s like to work on Greenpeace’s ships.
1. What’s your favourite Greenpeace ship, and what was your favourite ship tour?
I have sailed extensively on all the Greenpeace ships over the years. The ship I have sailed most on is the Esperanza, but the MV Greenpeace would have to be my favourite as it was really old like me!
Colin Russell aboard the MY Esperanza, heading for the Southern Ocean to try and bring the whaling hunt to an early end.
As for my favourite tour, it would be impossible to pick a single one. The thing with sailing on the ships is that every tour is different, as you’re with different people each time and the outcomes can vary from great to not so great.
If I were to choose my favourite tour based on the overall impact it had, it would have to be our last trip, simply because it was the most intense and had an incredible outcome.
2. Where does this whole experience rate in your career so far?
I have had many moments that I’d place in my personal ‘hall of fame’, and I’d find it difficult to separate one from another. Throughout my time at Greenpeace there has always been work to do, and while that hasn’t always involved campaigning it has all been for the greater good. I would consider the fifteen years I’ve spent trying to preserve what we have left as my greatest single achievement, as it encapsulates many of those smaller ‘hall of fame’ moments. I am proud to have contributed in making the world a better place to live for future generations.
3. Out of the places you’ve campaigned so far, where would you like most to return?
I think that if I were to return anywhere it would be down south, to Antarctica. It’s the most remote place I’ve ever been to and it has the most extraordinary scenery and amazing wildlife.
Crews of Greenpeace ships MY Arctic Sunrise and the MY Esperanza crew uses their bodies to write “Help End Whaling !” on the ice of Antarctica, after completing a 2 month campaign against the whaling fleet of Japan.
This is from 2005/6. I’m in one of the ‘N’s, and of course there’s the old girl in the background. This was a fond memory as I remember the penguins just curiously wandering up to us for a look.
4. What is your biggest love?
My wife, Chris and daughter, Maddy. They are the back-stop that keeps me going. Maddy is the one who inspires me to persevere in trying to change the way we treat the world and preserve what remains.
Colin with his wife Christine Russell and daughter Madeleine.
5. If you ruled the world, what would you change?
I would eliminate greed and ignorance, as I believe these are the two things that underlie the problems we’re fighting against.
6. What’s your guilty pleasure?
7. What’s the favourite present you’ve ever received?
I remember being incredibly appreciative of people in the Pacific Islands sharing their food and love with the crew of the Esperanza. It’s very humbling to think that despite their struggle against rising sea levels brought about by climate change, they were able to display such immense generosity.
8. Where would you most like to be right now?
9. Your life in five words?
Diverse, interesting, confronting, loving, conscientious.
10. What’s the worst job you’ve done?
Installing pay television.
Want to work on our ships like Colin? Find out how you can get involved here.