Dave reports from the bridge of the Rainbow Warrior, in New Zealand, on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the bombing of the ship’s predecessor…
I’m currently using my laptop to connect to the ‘net via GPRS, while standing at the chart table on the bridge of the Rainbow Warrior. We’re currently docked in Whangaroa (pronounced ‘fangaroa’) up the very north tip of New Zealand. It’s been a strange few days. We left Auckland yesterday in a flurry of media and in a flotilla of sailing ships, almost 20 year to the day since the first Rainbow Warrior was bombed by the French Secret Service, just a few hundred metres from our berth.
Last night we sailed north, with a ship full of visitors. Our skipper is Pete Willcox – skipper of the old Warrior 20 years ago, on the night it was attacked. Also on board is Marelle Pereira, who father, Fernando died in the bombing, Abacca Anjan-Maddison, a senator from Rongelap in the Marshall Islands. Rongelap was the Rainbow Warrior’s last mission before it was sunk in 1985 – the entire population had been evacuated by the ship’s crew, after deciding to forsake their home – which was riddled with radioactive contamination from American nuclear bomb testing. We’ve two four other crew members from that night in 1985 – Martini Gotje is here, and on board the yacht Tiama are Bunny McDiarmid, Hank Haazen and Steve Sawyer.
This morning we passed Matauri Bay, where the old warrior is guardian of the sea bed. We’re going back there tomorrow for a ceremony – follow the story here:
It’s weird – I remember the bombing when I was 12 years old. I never thought I’d be writing about it, on board the RW’s sucessor…
At home in rural Ireland, I remember images of a green ship, listing to one side in a harbour at the other side of the world. I didn’t understand all the details, but it struck me as a terrible wrong. I was appalled that unarmed people were who were doing a good thing had been attacked by soldiers supposedly representing the French government – and perhaps the French people too. Perhaps it was one of those realisations that hails the beginning of adolescence, and the loss of childlike innocence.