Change of tack for ‘Warrior’ captain

A flotilla of supporters welcome the Rainbow Warrior to Dunedin on Saturday afternoon. Chilly...
A flotilla of supporters welcome the Rainbow Warrior to Dunedin on Saturday afternoon. Chilly temperatures and strong southwesterlies failed to deter nearly 20 kayaks, paddle-boarders and a sailing catamaran waka from welcoming the vessel. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
Some may find it difficult to believe the captain of the Rainbow Warrior used to work on a gargantuan oil tanker.

The two nautical careers are like oil and water - they don’t mix.

But Spaniard Fernando Romo said he could not fully appreciate the work he does on the Rainbow Warrior today, without first experiencing the dark side.

Capt Romo said he started his maritime career working on oil tankers for several years.

Fernando Romo loves his new job as captain of the Rainbow Warrior. Photo: Gregor Richardson
Fernando Romo loves his new job as captain of the Rainbow Warrior. Photo: Gregor Richardson

"I was very young, and then I realised we were cleaning tanks in the Mediterranean and dumping [residue] oil. Now days, there are more regulations and it is more difficult to do things like this.

"But a big tanker with so much fuel, they can create a big mess. I decided I did not want to be part of that."

So he changed to cruise ships which he believed were more environmentally friendly; and more recently, he discovered Greenpeace.

He started as a volunteer in Spain, and since then he has worked his way up the command chain.

Two months ago he was named captain of the Rainbow Warrior.

"It’s very exciting. I’m very happy, proud and I don’t know how to explain ... a ship like this is very iconic."

The vessel was in Port Chalmers over the weekend for public open days, and was scheduled to depart this morning for Stewart Island.

It is on a tour of New Zealand to celebrate the Government’s off-shore drilling ban and to promote clean energy.

Capt Romo said the vessel and its crew received regular metaphorical shots across the bow, but the response from New Zealanders to its visit had been heartwarming.

More than 5000 people had visited the vessel as part of public open days during the tour.

"In New Zealand, we always feel very welcome, but this trip, it has been even better."

He was impressed with Dunedin’s welcome.

"There was a lot of people on top of the hill. I did not notice at first because I was focused on my manoeuvre, and then suddenly I could hear people shouting and I looked up the hill and it was full of people."

Following the Rainbow Warrior’s visit to Stewart Island, it would head to Australia’s south coast where the crew would work closely with the Australian Greenpeace organisation to campaign against oil exploration in the Great Australian Bight.

john.lewis@odt.co.nz

Comments

Got to ask how many people amongst the flotilla of supporters that welcomed the Rainbow Warrior are employed by the DCC? or a company contracted to the DCC.
IMO it could be considered a conflict of interest - Wait for it............

 

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