Year
1985
Month Day
July 10

A bomb sinks the Rainbow Warrior, Greenpeace’s flagship vessel

In Auckland harbor in New Zealand, Greenpeace’s Rainbow Warrior sinks after French agents in diving gear plant a bomb on the hull of the vessel. One person, Dutch photographer Fernando Pereira, was killed. The Rainbow Warrior, the flagship of international conservation group Greenpeace, had been preparing for a protest voyage to a French nuclear test site in the South Pacific.

Two days after the incident, French authorities denied responsibility in the bombing and continued to do so even after New Zealand police arrested two French secret service agents in Auckland. Under pressure from New Zealand authorities, the French government formed an inquiry to investigate the incident and after several weeks concluded that the French agents were merely spying on Greenpeace. Later in the year, however, a British newspaper uncovered evidence of French President Francois Mitterrand’s authorization of the bombing plan, leading to several top-level resignations in Mitterrand’s cabinet and an admission by French Prime Minister Laurent Fabius that the agents had sunk the vessel under orders.

In Auckland, the two agents pleaded guilty to the lesser charges of manslaughter and willful damage and were each sentenced to 10 years in prison. Following negotiations with the French government, New Zealand released them a year later. In 1992, President Mitterrand ordered a halt to French nuclear testing, but in 1995 it was resumed, and Greenpeace sent The Rainbow Warrior II to French Polynesia to protest and disrupt the tests.

READ MORE: How the First Earth Day Was Borne From 1960s Counterculture

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Last of Thai soccer team rescued from cave

In a search and rescue scramble that gripped the world’s attention for more than two weeks, the last of 12 Thai youth soccer players and their coach are safely rescued and transported to a local hospital on July 10, 2018. On June 23, 2018, Ekkapol Chantawong, 25, and his players, ...read more

Allies land on Sicily

On July 10, 1943, the Allies begin their invasion of Axis-controlled Europe with landings on the island of Sicily, off mainland Italy. Encountering little resistance from the demoralized Sicilian troops, the British 8th Army under Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery came ashore ...read more

U.S. patent issued for three-point seatbelt

The United States Patent Office issues the Swedish engineer Nils Bohlin a patent for his three-point automobile safety belt “for use in vehicles, especially road vehicles” on July 10, 1962. Four years earlier, Sweden’s Volvo Car Corporation had hired Bohlin, who had previously ...read more

Scopes Monkey Trial begins

In Dayton, Tennessee, the so-called Scopes Monkey Trial begins with John Thomas Scopes, a young high school science teacher, accused of teaching evolution in violation of a Tennessee state law. The law, which had been passed in March, made it a misdemeanor punishable by fine to ...read more

The Battle of Britain begins

On July 10, 1940, the Germans begin the first in a long series of bombing raids against Great Britain, as the Battle of Britain, which will last three and a half months, begins. After the occupation of France by Germany, Britain knew it was only a matter of time before the Axis ...read more

Millard Fillmore sworn in as 13th U.S. president

On July 10, 1850, Vice President Millard Fillmore is sworn in as the 13th president of the United States. President Zachary Taylor had died the day before, five days after falling ill with a severe intestinal ailment on the Fourth of July. Fillmore was only the second man to ...read more

“Buckskin” Frank Leslie murders a prostitute

In a drunken rage, “Buckskin” Frank Leslie murders his lover, the Tombstone sex worker Blonde Mollie Williams. Leslie was an ill-tempered and violent man, especially when he drank. He told conflicting stories about his early life. At times, he said he was from Texas, at other ...read more

Dam collapses in Switzerland, kills 70

On July 10, 1887, a dam breaks in Zug, Switzerland, killing 70 people in their homes and destroying a large section of the town. The dam at Zug was 80 feet high and made of concrete. When the dam was built, concrete-making and setting techniques were not as advanced as they ...read more

The Exxon Valdez captain’s conviction is overturned

The Alaska court of appeals overturns the conviction of Joseph Hazelwood, the former captain of the oil tanker Exxon Valdez. Hazelwood, who was found guilty of negligence for his role in the massive oil spill in Prince William Sound in 1989, successfully argued that he was ...read more