The Greenpeace vessel the Rainbow Warrior was sunk by French Secret Service agents in 1985. The two responsible for placing the limpet mines on the hull of the ship were never charged. However, the support team of Alain Mafart and Dominque Prieur who posed as Swedish tourists, were caught at Auckland Airport. Why? Firstly, great work by NZ authorities. But allegedly, the critical break through in the capture was because the French agents needed to get the bond back for the camper van rental used as part of their cover to appease the "Money Penny" accountants back in France. The atrocity of their actions aside, the $15m paid in compensation, and the public relations disaster for France that ensued meant that bond was less than small change.
It was the second limpet mine that killed photographer Fernando Peirera. After the first exploded and cast the ship in darkness he went to his cabin in the bow to retrieve his gear which was directly above the second limpet mine. The French didn't expect this behaviour. After the first mine blew a car size hole in the hull, it was assumed that everyone would abandon ship.
The second sinking of the Rainbow Warrior occurred at a site some 35 minutes by fast boat from Matauri Bay near Paihia in the Bay of Islands NZ. For those who like precision: 34.9748°S 173.9349°E in Matauri Bay, near the Cavalli Islands. The RW was patched up, refloated and moved at a cost of $750,000 with the local Maori of Matauri Bay offering to protect the wreck and the memory of Fernando Pereira. On the hill overlooking Matauri Bay is this memorial sculpture that includes the propellor from the Rainbow Warrior.
Now thats a hole in the side... Sitting in around 26m of water, the wreck has plenty of marine life and the swim through is rather fabulous if rather sad when approaching Fernando's cabin.
It is suggested that in 10 years not much will remain of the wreck.
Paihia Dive are an awesome bunch of people. All hopelessly in love... with diving and keen to help everyone develop the same. Hire gear was in good nick and the boats were well equipped. Craig the owner even swam 50m over to a private sailboat that appeared at the site and lent them a map of the RW wreck so the enjoyment factor for the divers on that boat would be enhanced. It speaks volumes. Pictured below is the Aku-Maru or Red Boat. Smaller than the other.