The environmental protest icebreaker 'Arctic Sunrise' has sailed back into Dutch territorial waters after over 300 days in Russian custody. The ship had been held illegally since taking part in a peaceful direct action against state owned oil company Gazprom, as it tried to drill the world’s first oil well in icy Arctic waters, says Greenpeace.
Several members of the so called ‘Arctic 30’ were there to greet the ship and boarded the vessel in Beverwijk, near Amsterdam.
“This is a joyous day for me, for my friends and for the millions of people around the world who campaigned for the release of the Arctic 30 and the Arctic Sunrise”, says Dutch climate and energy campaigner Faiza Oulahsen, who spent two months in Russian prison last year on piracy and then hooliganism charges following the protest.
The activists saw the ship for the first time since it was seized by Russian security agents on September 19th 2013. The ship will then sail to the harbour of Amsterdam, accompanied by a fleet of Greenpeace supporters in small vessels.
Greenpeace adds that in Amsterdam the Arctic Sunrise will host a humble, but festive homecoming ceremony. On board the ship is a samovar, a traditional Russian tea-pot. The tea-pot, engraved with the words ‘MY Arctic Sunrise - From Russia with love’, will stay on board, as an ongoing symbol of support and care from the Russian Arctic defenders. Once the Arctic Sunrise arrives in Amsterdam, members of the Arctic 30 will drink the ceremonial first cups of tea from the samovar.
Later the ship will be moved to a shipyard in Amsterdam for much needed repairs. Even though captain Daniel Rizzotti and his crew have worked hard for several weeks in Murmansk to make the Arctic Sunrise seaworthy again, a lot of work still needs to be done. Within two weeks Greenpeace says it expects to have a thorough idea of the extent of the damages.