Navy eyes Greenpeace as ship nears base in Spain
March 11, 2003
NAVAL STATION ROTA, Spain — Greenpeace’s flagship sailed into the port city of Cadiz, Spain, on Monday, fueling speculation that the activist group will try to block U.S. military cargo ships traveling through the Mediterranean region.
The U.S. Navy and its Spanish counterparts are keeping an eye on the 179-foot schooner Rainbow Warrior, waiting to see what the group will do next in its push against a war on Iraq.
Spanish and American security forces at the nearby Navy base in Rota are standing by in case the group attempts a blockade of ships at the pier.
The naval station is a major stopping point for U.S.-charted cargo ships carrying military supplies to the Middle East. The shipments help support the more than 200,000 American troops deployed to the Persian Gulf region for a possible war with Iraq.
Spain and the U.S. military share the base, a 25-minute drive from Cadiz but only a few miles away by water.
Lt. Corey Barker, a base spokesman for the U.S. Navy, said U.S. security patrolmen are ready in case the Spanish harbor patrol forces need help moving ships in and out of the pier. Spanish security protects the harbor and the perimeter of the installation, while U.S. forces are in charge of the interior of the Spanish base.
Greenpeace, known for fervently supporting environmental issues, is against any military strike on Iraq and has organized anti-war demonstration across the globe.
Activists in canoes and inflatable boats tried to block a U.S. military cargo ship from leaving port Feb. 19 in Rotterdam, Netherlands.
Greenpeace members also have staged protests outside of gas stations, sailed past the United Nations in New York City with a “No War” banner and sent “veto war” Valentine’s Day cards to German, Russian, Chinese and French embassies in Norway.
Spain is the group’s first stop in its “No blood for oil” tour of Mediterranean ports supporting U.S. military cargo ships. The Mediterranean is a “key piece” of the U.S. military buildup, according to Greenpeace’s Spanish Web site on Monday.
The group’s anti-war stance has attracted headlines and hundreds of e-mails. Greenpeace’s international headquarters in the Netherlands is averaging 300 e-mails a day, according to www.greenpeace.org. About 90 percent of them are against the group’s anti-war campaign.
Greenpeace has scheduled a press conference on Tuesday aboard the ship in Cadiz to explain why it is against a war.