Greenpeace Arctic Sunrise ship returns to warm welcome

August 10, 2014 - 12:00:00 am

AMSTERDAM: Greenpeace’s Arctic Sunrise ship arrived home to a warm welcome in The Netherlands yesterday, almost a year after it was seized by Russia during a protest against Arctic oil drilling.

“It’s great to have her back,” veteran Greenpeace skipper Pete Willcox, who captained the Arctic Sunrise at the time of the seizure, said by telephone. “We were missing a big member of our family for many months,” he said.

Russian commandoes seized the Dutch-flagged Arctic Sunrise in September 2013 and detained 30 Greenpeace activists and journalists after a protest at an offshore oil rig owned by Russian state oil giant Gazprom.

Russia released the ship in June and it then took around a month to get it seaworthy for the trip back to The Netherlands, with Greenpeace saying equipment including navigation and communication aids “disappeared or had been severely damaged.”

The activists, including four Russians, were arrested after two campaigners attempted to scale the giant Prirazlomnaya offshore platform, which environmentalists warned poses a threat to the pristine Arctic ecology.