AVAILABLE ! Published by:
An imprint of Pietas Publications
155 pages - hardbound
vessel Godønes slipped quickly out of the Bergen navy yard and
headed north. For five days she sailed along the spectacular Norwegian
coast. Then, near the northern tip of Norway, 900 miles from where she
began, she rolled and tossed at anchor, buffeted by a cold wind and
a choppy sea. She was ready to leave the protected coastal waters and
cross the open sea, still headed north.
To this point the voyage might have seemed ordinary. Now some remarkable
things took place. Electric generators and radio antennas were uncrated.
The skipper was allowed for the first time to enter his own cabin, where
he saw stacks of electronic equipment. He learned that the "scientific
expedition" for which he thought the ship had been leased was,
in fact, an intelligence mission. There would be electronic sweeps of
Russian settlements in the Norwegian territory of Svalbard, and then
along nearby coasts of the Soviet homeland itself. While in Svalbard,
teams would be put ashore to look into the possibility of building large
airfields and developing harbors to supply them.
It was impressed upon the skipper that this was a dangerous mission
and that Russians might capture the ship. In such a case, the people
on board should expect to end up in Siberia. The year was 1955. The
Cold War was in full swing. Remarkable things like these often happened
during the Cold War.
Sixty-five days after she sailed from Bergen, the Godønes limped
back into the port of Tromsø, mechanically disabled and under
tow. This Norwegian-American intelligence operation would remain a closely
guarded secret for more than forty years. Only since the mid-1990s have
a few factual accounts of it appeared in the public record.
This book is a personal memoir speaking to those too young to remember
the Cold War, as well as to all who never knew the largely vanished
culture of the seal hunters. It creates a picture of a little niche
where those two worlds intersected - what things looked like, how the
people felt, how they spent their days, and what difficulties they faced.
by Jim Burns, 2006