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A letter to old friends,

In 1985, I was sent by the Associated Press, my new employer, on board the M.V. Greenpeace, which was going to replace the sunken Rainbow Warrior in the campaign against the horrors of French nuclear testing in the south pacific.

Less that one year after having chosen to resign from my post at the International Greenpeace photo library, (which I founded in the Paris bureau in 1980), to be reunited with friends I had sailed with many times during the previous five years was a real treat of destiny. To do so as an « impartial roving french photographer » working for the world biggest Press agency felt a bit ironical… but I did it! 

Like in a fairy tale, I recently rediscovered an old trunk covered with dust, which contained photo material which I had considered for many years « lost in action ».

There are still big gaps in my archives, but at least the collection of the wire photos I send from the MV Greenpeace to AP while in the Pacific ocean, using the very first Greenpeace marine satellite system is pretty complete. Quality is low as most of those argentic prints were made on board while the never ending vibrations coming from the engine room were shaking my enlarger, but the captions, in my broken english AP style, are very precious : Who, When, Where, What, Why…

I used the satellite line up to one hour every day for 43 days (the astronomical cost was 20 us$ per minute ! ). When we arrived in Auckland, the amount of my inmarsat account was high enough to buy a house.

The deal in between Greenpeace and Associated Press was that I should be the only press photographer while on board covering the aftermath of a huge international story (the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior). My exclusive pictures were widely used and AP happily paid for my phenomenal communication expenses.

So dear friends with whom I shared this incredible voyage of 43 days at sea, those photos are for you. And in memory of those who are not with us anymore…

In order of appearance in the portfolio : David Mc Taggart, Kjeld Olssen, Jon Castle, Gavin Mc Millan, Henri Strydom, Leontine Wenneker, Ton Kocken, Dermot Hopkins, Anders Stenson, Dorothée Piermont, Ken Ballard, Gerd Leipold, Jeanne O’Gorman, John Sprange, Laura Mitrani, Bunny Mc Diarmid, Santiago Gonzales, Hugh Stirling, Franck Charriere, Wolfgang Lampe, David Woolman, Mary Hide, Fernando Batista, Jonathan Thomas (Welsh Jon), Tony Marriner, Kevin Downing.

Off Moruroa we had a rendezvous with a peace flotilla, including the iconic sailing boat Vega and her crew : Peter Willcox, Chris Robinson, Grace O’Sullivan, Tehema (leg 1) and Sue Ware (leg 2).

The press corp on board  was : ( strange to remember that journalists used to fight to get a bunk on Greenpeace boats during those crazy years. Now if you don’t pay for their plane tickets, you do not see anyone, which is a real ethical question for the professional press ! ) Gianlingi Da Rohl (Corriere della Sera), Lon Appleby (USA today, Toronto Star), Roger Cans (Le Monde), Pierre Bourgeois (Gamma TV), Bob Simpson (BBC) and Rolf Ridderinghof (Volkskrant).

More on that story for french reader in my book « Rainbow Warrior mon Amour » (Glénat 2011).

With warm wishes from Pierre Gleizes o/b of the Nicephore presently moored on the calm canal of Roanne in the upper Loire valley, France.

December 13, 2020

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