In 1980 the team at the non-governmental environmental organization Greenpeace were looking out for a second boat to supplement the Rainbow Warrior. A scoping team was across all European ports in order to find a ship. When they returned to the headquarters they recommended an old North Sea pilot boat called the Sirius, a ship originally owned by the Royal Dutch Navy. That name of course rings a bell with more than just one Tintin fan because the Sirius is also the name of the boat in the 1944 Tintin album “Red Rackham’s Treasure”. The Sirius was the ship used by Tintin, Captain Haddock and Cuthbert Calculus during the treasure expedition searching for the treasure of Red Rackham.
Rémi Parmentier, founding member of Greenpeace International (1979) and several Greenpeace national organisations, but also Tintin fan, contacted the Hergé Studios in Brussels and met with Bob De Moor. Parmentier wanted to know if Tintin’s Sirius was ‘their’ Sirius. The answer was no. Hergé had sketched the Sirius from a boat in Antwerp that wasn’t called the Sirius. Rémi Parmentier posted about this event on his blog in 2007, but he mixed up quite a few details in that post, for instance claiming that Bob De Moor was behind the sketch of the Sirius. De Moor wasn’t even working with Hergé when the Sirius was drawn in 1943.
Nevertheless, the story doesn’t end there. Parmentier suggested that Tintin could be used for a Greenpeace campaign. Bob De Moor said he’d discuss it with Hergé but things took longer than expected though. According to Parmentier Herge’s “finance guys made an initial offer that looked extravagant to the tiny Greenpeace organization of the time” and by then Hergé had gotten increasingly sick, eventually succumbing. Jean-Marc Pias, one of the main Greenpeace designers at the time, in the end succeeded in finalizing a deal whereby Tintin became a virtual crew member of Greenpeace’s Antarctica campaign.
As a result Bob De Moor was asked to create a design for a poster holding Tintin, Captain Haddock and Snowy on the Greenpeace zodiac. In the background on the left you see Thomson and Thompson waving for help (it looks like it that Tintin and Captain Haddock left the duo on an iceberg). In the background on the right you see the Sirius. As Parmentier recalls: “It sold faster than croissants on a Saturday morning in a Paris bakery.” Until today the poster remains a favorite item with Tintin fans.
So what happened to the Sirius? When Greenpeace bought the ship in 1981 it was refitted, repaired, and repainted adding a green hull and rainbow colours. A white dove of peace with an olive branch was painted on the bow (as you can see on the poster). The Sirius served as the flagship of Greenpeace Netherlands through 1998, after which she was retired. She is now docked at Amsterdam, where she serves in an educational capacity, offering shipboard tours and environmental education.
And to add some back-to-the-past info, you might remember that the first Rainbow Warrior was sunk whilst in the port of Auckland, New Zealand by operatives of the French intelligence service (DGSE) on 10 July 1985, during an operation codenamed ‘Opération satanique’. During the operation (which included 2 timed explosions) one of the activists, photographer Fernando Pereira, was killed. As the truth came out the resulting scandal resulted in the resignation of the French Defence Minister Charles Hernu.