According to a video posted online by the environmental group and an accompanying statement, about 25 volunteers attempted to climb onto the ship on Thursday morning.
Greenpeace said the volunteers “won’t give up until VW commits to send its toxic cars away from the UK and ditch diesel for good”.
Separately, the campaign group said that 41 volunteers had scaled the fences at Sheerness port in Kent, which is the intended destination of the ship. It said they had gained access to the vehicle park, where several thousand VW diesel cars are awaiting distribution to suppliers.
It said those protestors were attempting to confiscate car keys of thousands of diesel cars.
Opposition against diesel vehicles has swelled since 2015 when Volkswagen admitted it had fitted software to diesel models that manipulated emissions tests.
It eventually was forced to announce that about 11 million of its vehicles were affected worldwide, including almost 1.2 million in the UK.
The scandal rocked the global car industry, triggered a host of investigations at other manufacturers and spurred a major rethink of how big corporations can develop clean, efficient technology to fuel cars of the future.
A tougher emissions regime for newly launched cars came into force this week across the EU and several countries, including the UK and France, have committed to phasing out petrol and diesel vehicles.
Earlier this month Volkswagen launched a scrappage scheme under which UK drivers of old diesel cars can trade in their old vehicles and get money off a new non-diesel model.
That scheme represents an extension of an offer already in place in the company’s home market of Germany, where customers can benefit from a discount of up to €10,000 (£8,800) if they trade in their old diesel for a new car.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies