The sinking of the Greenpeace Rainbow Warrior was a major event that occurred on July 10, 1985, in Auckland, New Zealand. The environmental group Greenpeace’s ship, the Rainbow Warrior, had docked in Auckland as a part of a campaign against French nuclear testing in the South Pacific.
On the night of July 10th, two agents from the French intelligence agency, the Directorate-General for External Security (DGSE), placed two limpet mines on the hull of the Rainbow Warrior. The explosions sank the ship, killing one crew member, Portuguese photographer Fernando Pereira.
The crime was apparent when a New Zealand Auckland Police deep-sea diver saw the effect of the damage on the ship’s hull. The metal pointed inwards, instead of outward (if it had been an internal explosion), indicating that an external combustion device, a bomb had been planted on the body of the ship.
The French government initially denied any involvement in the sinking, but it was later revealed that the DGSE had authorized the operation, and several agents were arrested and charged with murder and other crimes.
The sinking of the Rainbow Warrior caused international outrage and strained relations between France and New Zealand, as well as other countries that had been part of Greenpeace’s anti-nuclear campaign. The incident also led to increased scrutiny of the French government’s nuclear testing program, and it is considered a turning point in the history of the environmental movement.
In the aftermath of the sinking, the Rainbow Warrior was re-floated and towed to a nearby port, where it was examined by investigators. The ship was eventually scuttled off the coast of New Zealand to create an artificial reef.
The recent BBC Series “Murder in the Pacific” that examines the ships destruction and the murder inquiry that ensued by New Zealand’s Auckland Police can ve viewed on BBC iPlayer here.