Greenpeace Retires its Largest Ship

Esperanza in her earlier blue-white livery (Glen / CC BY 2.0)

Published Mar 18, 2022 7:10 PM by The Maritime Executive

A Greenpeace International ship that has been the face of environmental protection and humanitarian missions across the globe has been retired after two decades of service.

As an organization focused on environmental issues, Greenpeace said that it has concluded that its largest ship, the Esperanza, does not align to its mission due to its large carbon footprint. 

“As the world changes, so must Greenpeace’s maritime operations. The Esperanza, even with its electric drive, had a much larger carbon footprint than other Greenpeace vessels and despite the constant efforts of dedicated crew, technicians, volunteers and supporters to hone and improve the ship’s technical features, its fundamental biology does not allow it to be consistent with Greenpeace’s vision for a zero-carbon future,” said Greenpeace in a blog.

The NGO said that it wants to lead the way on carbon emissions by finding more flexible and local maritime resources. The Esperanza has arrived at her final port stop in Gijón, Spain, where she will be retired before being responsibly recycled.

Built in 1984 in Gdansk, Poland as a firefighting vessel for the Soviet Navy, Esperanza (ex name Echo Fighter) was acquired by Greenpeace in 2000. Over the years, she has conducted operations on whaling, nuclear transport and illegal fishing, among other missions. In her two decades of service, Esperanza confronted illegal fishing and whaling from the polar regions to West Africa, exposed illegal activities and conducted studies centered on environmental protection and conservation.

The ship also undertook humanitarian missions, including delivering aid and humanitarian relief in Haiti following the devastating 2010 earthquake and the Philippines after the 2012 Typhoon Bopha.

With a top speed of 16 knots, Esperanza was the fastest ship in Greenpeace's fleet, and she was often used to chase higher-speed suspect vessels. Her ice-class rating also meant she had the ability to work in Antarctic and Arctic waters.

“[Esperanza] was, and always will be, a symbol of hope, born from the support of millions of people around the world and put into action by those who risked their safety and lives to stand against impossible odds for the protection of our shared environment,” said Greenpeace.

Top image: Esperanza (Glen / CC BY 2.0)