The Rainbow Warrior III

Was the first ship in our fleet designed and built specifically for Greenpeace. That means the Rainbow Warrior is not just one of the most environmentally-friendly ships ever made; but also a campaigner’s dream.

Tuvalu is one of the most climate-vulnerable nations in the world. With much of the country sitting at less than three metres in elevation, sea level rise and storm surges are not only leading to tidal inundation, food insecurity and cultural loss, but present an immediate threat to Tuvalu’s future. © Greenpeace / Bianca Vitale
Climate Impact Documentation in Norway, Svalbard. © Greenpeace / Christian Åslund

Retiring of Rainbow Warrior II

After 22 tireless years at the campaigning frontline, the second Rainbow Warrior retired from Greenpeace life on 16 August 2011. It was the replacement for the original Rainbow Warrior which was bombed in 1985 by French agents (read more here).

Rainbow Warrior II  helped end nuclear testing in the Pacific, blocked coal ports and closed down destructive fishing operations (to name but a few).

It’s a very proud legacy – and the third Rainbow Warrior, which entered operation on 14 October 2011, is better equipped to carry it on than any Greenpeace ship before.

A purpose-built campaigning ship

Ever since the first Greenpeace expedition set off in a ramshackle old fishing vessel we have relied on existing vessels refitted to meet our needs. With the new Rainbow Warrior, we had the chance to start with a blank canvas for the first time.

All Greenpeace ships are special, but our new Rainbow Warrior is one of a kind. It plays a key role in our campaigns, allowing us to bear witness and take action to prevent environmental crimes around the world.

A fast and reliable vessel

The new Rainbow Warrior is as fast as many industrial vessels, with action boats that can be deployed in minutes – even in waves up to 3.5 metres high. The helicopter landing pad means we can deploy a vital eye in the sky, enabling us to spot illegal fishing operations and shipments of illegal wood.

A base for science

The ship can carry specialised equipment up to 8 tonnes in weight. It’s designed so that scientists can work on board. By supporting original scientific research we help build understanding of what is happening to our planet’s ecosystems.

A floating communications hub

The on-board satellite communications system – featuring a built-in satellite uplink – means the new Rainbow Warrior is able to stream live footage from the scene of environmental crimes directly to the world’s media.

A shining example for green shipbuilding

We wanted the third Rainbow Warrior to be as environmentally-friendly as possible for a ship of its type and Greenpeace has worked with some excellent engineers to make it happen.

The ship sails primarily under wind power. Its 55m-high A-Frame mast system can carry far more sail than a conventional mast of the same size. This is the first time this design has been installed on a vessel of the Rainbow Warrior’s size.

The Warrior does have electric drive engines to help out when the weather isn’t suitable, but these are also built with sustainability in mind.

Up to 59 cubic meters of grey and black water can be stored on board, avoiding any need for at-sea disposal. A special biological filtering system helps clean and recycle grey water.

The new Rainbow Warrior’s eco-credentials include:

A hull shape designed specifically for superior energy efficiency
A-frame mast and sails – optimised for highly effective sailing
Electric drive system (10 knots on only 300kW)
Extended environmental assessment of the Ship
Highest environmental standards of all engines (IMO Tier-II)
Green ship class notation with Green Passport
Voluntary environmental protection class notation
Exhaust gas treatment, minimising NOx emissions and Particulate Matters (PM)
Biological treatment of sewage and grey water
Central filling and venting system for fuel and oils to prevent spills
Environmentally friendly paint system

The making of a Warrior

The construction of the ship was a (welcome) challenge for everyone involved – the experts were not only constructing a high-tech ship; it also had to meet the highest environmental standards.

The shipyard in Gdansk, Poland, started work on the hull in the summer of 2010. 340-tonnes of steel were then transported to the Fassmer Shipyard near Bremen, Germany, where the ship was fitted out.

Here, the hull’s rusty brown also gave way to a much more suitable colour – the Greenpeace green. A dove of peace and the striking colours of the rainbow finally made the new ship our Rainbow Warrior.

The Rainbow Warrior entered water for the first time in July 2011 and was officially launched in Hamburg, Germany, in October of the same year.

The iconic Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior anchors near Bohol to surface the stories of communities in islands struggling with sea-level rise, a symptom of the climate crisis largely fuelled by oil and gas companies. © Geric Cruz / Greenpeace

Rainbow Warrior Specifications

Port of registration:Amsterdam, Netherlands
Vessel Type: Motor Sail yacht with helicopter landing deck
Class:Germanischer Lloyd, Notations include Green Passport
Length Overall:57.92m
Beam (Max): 11.30m
Draught (Max): 5.15m
Air Draft: 54.25m
Gross Tonnage: 855
Sailing Rig: Staysail Schooner, 2 A frame mast with 5 sails
Sail Area: 1255 sq metre
Service Speed / Max Speed: 7 knots / 15 knots
Main & Auxiliary Engines: Caterpillar, IMO Tier II Certification
Cruising range: up to 9,500 nm
Accommodation: 30 persons
The Rainbow Warrior around Ceduna in South Australia. © Alana Holmberg / Greenpeace

“Since setting sail in 1978 the Rainbow Warrior has been on the frontline of the struggle against environmental abuse. She is an icon of non-violent direct action and a beacon of hope for millions of people around the world.”

Kumi Naidoo, Greenpeace International’s Executive Director, said at the keel laying ceremony, which took place on 10 July 2010 – the 25th anniversary of the bombing of the original Rainbow Warrior.