On Thursday the 10 July 1985 the-British registered Greenpeace vessel Rainbow Warrior was sunk in Auckland harbour by French saboteurs of the DGSE. Greenpeace Photographer Fernando Pereira was killed when the limpet mines exploded. The Navy’s initial response was just 2 hours alter the explosions, when leading Diver (LDR) Schmidt of the Operational Diving Team (OPT) entered the wreck and recovered Pereira’s body. The Diving Team also conducted a search of the hull and wharf for any other explosives; none were found.
Beginning the following Monday the ODT, under the command of LT Hugh Aitken, conducted a survey of the wreck, reporting a huge hole in the engine room, and extensive damage around the propeller and propeller shaft. In the subsequent two weeks the naval dockyard team assessed various options for salvage, while the Divers began clearing the interior of the ship, moving some 30 tons of equipment and fittings out of the wreck. For the divers it was continuous hard work. LT Aitken reported that, “The salvage was a challenging task, conducted in conditions of nil visibility and often involving a high degree of difficulty. ”
At 0245 on 21 August the final lift began, by dawn Rainbow Warrior was partially afloat and almost upright, she was moved south and the pumps rearranged for the harbour crossing. At 121,5 on 22 August Rainbow Warrior was docked in Calliope Dock; as the water drained down the full extent of the bomb blast could be seen.
On 25 September the Rainbow Warrior was undocked and the Navy’s part in her salvage came to an end.
Today the Rainbow Warrior lies in Matauri Bay, Northland, accessible to sports divers.