Greenpeace Goes Bananas as Sovcomflot Tanker Arrives in Rotterdam

Mikhail Ulyanov shuttle tanker gazprom sovcomflot
The Mikhail Ulyanov loading crude, Image: Gazprom

Sovcomflot’s ice class shuttle tanker Mikhail Ulyanov has been the target of a huge Greenpeace protest today upon arrival in Rotterdam.

The tanker, which is rated to operate in waters covered by ice up to 1.2 meters thick, has just arrived from the Pechora Sea where it had loaded 67,000 tonnes of crude oil from the Prirazlomnoye production platform owned by Gazprom.  What the ship’s crew didn’t expect (or more likely they did) was that Greenpeace would be waiting for them, prepared to launch their next publicity stunt in opposition of arctic oil production.

As the Mikhail Ulyanov was preparing to dock, the Greenpeace protesters were everywhere, painting messages on the side of the ship, flying around in the sky, and ultimately stopping the ship from docking when the Rainbow Warrior slipped in and docked at the same terminal the tanker was approaching.

greenpeace Mikhail Ulyanov protest

Commenting on the Greenpeace action, Mr Mikhail Suslin – Vice President, Head of Safety Department of OAO Sovcomflot notes in an emailed statement:

“We are extremely disappointed that our vessel has been the subject of an irresponsible publicity stunt by Greenpeace, which occurred despite the measures taken by our ship and the port authorities, including the Coast Guard and the Marine Police. Mikhail Ulyanov is an ultra-modern high ice class shuttle tanker, with a technical specification above most of her peers, including conventional tankers transporting crude from oil-fields on the continental shelf of the North Sea.

The actions of Greenpeace have caused unnecessary extra stress for the ship’s captain and potentially unsafe operating conditions for the vessel when manoeuvring in the restricted area of the port waters, and especially by the Greenpeace actions preventing the safe mooring of the tanker to the oil terminal.

Over many years Sovcomflot has built a reputation, within the international maritime community, for providing safe and reliable energy transportation for our clients across the globe. We put safety and quality operations at the heart of everything we do.“

Stanislav Chichin, Master of the Mikhail Ulyanov, was perhaps even more critical.  He notes:

“The actions of Greenpeace cause nothing but profound disappointment. As a Master I know that the actions of Greenpeace have needlessly distracted our highly professional crew from its normal work in an area of highly intensive shipping traffic. The actions of Greenpeace break the fundamental principles of international conventions for safety at sea as well as environmental safety.

My responsibility in manoeuvring in the confined waters of a port is no less dangerous than sailing in the Arctic, especially when another vessel is trying to interfere with a tanker transporting 67,000 tonnes of crude oil in an area of ??high intensity shipping. During the process of final voyage and during the mooring operations to the terminal of the port, the Greenpeace vessel Rainbow Warrior deliberately tried to prevent the safe mooring of the vessel, putting herself between the hull of the tanker and the berth, risking their people and of the port.

From the seafarers’ point of view the inadequacy of their behaviour in marine waters is unprofessional and can only be explained by the desire to make an impression on the general public without thinking about the consequences”.

Richard Sadler, Chief Executive Officer of Lloyd’s Register Group added:

“Sovcomflot’s fleet is routinely surveyed by Lloyd’s Register (LR) and other members of the International Association of Classification Societies. This helps ensure that the fleet carries the necessary high standards of regulatory environmental and safety certification enabling international trading. Lloyds Register, which certifies the majority of the fleet, additionally certifies Sovcomflot to ISO quality standards including environmental protection and energy management.”

Dutch authorities have arrested 30 of the estimated 80 Greenpeace protesters involved in today’s demonstration and have taken custody of the Rainbow Warrior.

The Mikhail Ulyanov is currently moored at the terminal.