Greenpeace’s Arctic Sunrise Detained, Again.

rowan renaissance drillship
Rowan Renaissance drillship, Image (c) Javier Barbancho/Greenpeace

A year after being detained by Russian authorities, Greenpeace’s vessel Arctic Sunrise is once again under the control of government authorities.  This time the Spanish government is seeking to fine the activist group for encroaching on a drilling campaign by Repsol off the Canary Islands.

In violent confrontation last week near the Rowan Renaissance drillship, a Greenpeace activist was flown to a local hospital after suffering a broken leg.  The video posted on YouTube has stirred an intense debate and Greenpeace has expressed outrage at what they interpret to be an “unjustified use of force.”

Many have expressed support of the Spanish response however noting they were in their right to use the RHIBs to defend the known 500 meter security zone around the drillship.

Defending a 500 meter security zone around a drilling rig such as this is perhaps a vague tasking however which opens up the debate to questions such as, “What sort of escalating force protection measures were taken prior to the confrontation?” and “When is use of deadly force authorized?”

As a former naval officer that has had a significant amount of force protection training, I would interpret the deliberate ramming of another boat at high speed as using deadly force.

Was that their only option to defend this security zone? If not, what other options did they have?

Considering the huge amount of gCaptain readers who have expressed disdain for Greenpeace and their mission, it’s perhaps important to consider these questions an important pieces to the puzzle that have not been filled in yet.

The Spanish government has launched an investigation against the captain of the Arctic Sunrise, for an alleged “infringement against marine traffic rules”, detailed in Art. 308 of the Law on State Ports and Merchant Marine and punishable with a fine of up to 300,000 euros, according to a statement by Greenpeace today.

The vessel is being held until a 50,000 euro bond has been paid and the captain and crew have not been detained.