Greenpeace threatens to block U.S. warships
March 7, 2003
NAVAL STATION ROTA, Spain — U.S. military cargo ships bound for the Persian Gulf from European ports might have more to worry about than rough seas and terrorist attacks.
They may have to watch for Greenpeace.
The activist group — known more for its stance on environmental issues — attempted last month to block one U.S. ship loaded with military supplies and has not ruled out doing it again.
While members typically do not comment on advance demonstrations and protests, a spokesman for the group hinted on Wednesday that members could try similar stunts as the U.S. military continues its buildup in the Middle East.
“Greenpeace will do the utmost to oppose the military buildup,” spokesman Mike Townsley said by telephone from the Netherlands. “We will use all of the tactics and strategies we’re famous for: nonviolent, direct action.”
The group’s flagship, Rainbow Warrior, along with activists in canoes and inflatable boats tried to block a U.S. military cargo ship from leaving port Feb. 19 in Rotterdam, Netherlands.
In a video clip on the Greenpeace Web site, activists in the inflatable boats tried to dodge harbor patrolmen in an almost comical cat-and-mouse chase around the transport ship. As the activists got closer to the ship crewmen sprayed them with water hoses. Protesters were able to delay the ship for four hours, according to an account posted on www.greenpeace.org.
Nineteen members were arrested and later released, the group said.
The U.S. ship was reportedly loaded with military trucks and supplies from Germany and on its way to the Gulf. The U.S. military has more than 200,000 troops in the region for a possible confrontation with Iraq over Iraq’s disarmament.
Greenpeace is against any military attack against Iraq, stating that a war would have devastating human and environmental consequences and claim that it is a guise so President Bush can control Iraq’s oil.
Cmdr. Bob Ross, spokesman for the Navy’s 6th Fleet in Gaeta, Italy, said he did not have any specific information regarding Greenpeace attempting disrupt cargo ships in the Mediterranean Sea. But he added that ships would take action if confronted by protesters.
“We will take appropriate steps to deal with the reckless antics by Greenpeace vessels,” Ross said.
Townsley would not say exactly where Greenpeace’s Rainbow Warrior is located, but said it is currently in the Atlantic Ocean.