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Greenpeace launches new vessel

Greenpeace has launched a new Rainbow Warrior, a 33 million dollar (£21 million) schooner that replaces its battered 50-year-old campaign vessel, which saw numerous encounters with whalers, seal hunters and illegal loggers.

The new schooner's first mission is likely to be in the United States to campaign against burning coal for electricity. It will then head south to the Amazon to draw attention to rainforest destruction.

The 190-foot (58-metre) ship, with two A-frame masts soaring almost as high over deck, is equipped with a helicopter pad and rapid-action release system for its inflatable boats, which in the past have carried activists into confrontations at sea.

Melina Laboucan-Massimo, of the Cree nation in Canada, blessed the ship with smoke from sage and braided sweetgrass and with a prayer in the Cree language.

Ms Laboucan-Massimo, 30, a Greenpeace campaigner whose grandmother was a traditional healer, was to follow a different tradition later - breaking champagne over the bow at the German port of Bremen.

The name Rainbow Warrior is drawn from an apocalyptic Cree prophesy that in the days when the Earth faces man-made destruction, mankind will join together for its salvation and will be known as warriors of the rainbow.

Greenpeace's flagships bear the name of the first ship that was sunk by French intelligence agents in a New Zealand harbour in 1985 for opposing nuclear testing.

The second Rainbow Warrior was retired this year to become a hospital ship in Bangladesh. Its last mission was to conduct radiation tests off the Japanese coast following the Fukushima nuclear reactor disaster.

Greenpeace director Kumi Naidoo said the environmental movement is more engaged in talking to business and government leaders than in earlier days, when the organisation became known for its showdowns with the US Coast Guard and the French navy protecting exclusion zones for nuclear testing.


From Belfast Telegraph