For All Nails #14B: A Cold North-easterly Breeze, Freshening
By Henrik Kiertzner
- Royal Scandinavian Navy Base, Riga, Grand Duchy of Latvia
- 5 August 1971
The reinforced concrete walls of the huge submersible haven were raw and unfinished. More attention had been paid to function than form and the aesthetic values of the building were generally consistent with this; despite the attempts to render the scene festive with the Scandinavian flag and the national flags of all the component states and statelets, the brutal mass of thousands of tonnes of concrete overhead and the stark pools of profound shadow where the painfully bright electrics failed to illuminate combined to create an atmosphere of sterile menace.
In the centre of the long dock loomed a dark grey leviathan -- S.M.U. Narhvalen -- the fourth in class of large naval submersibles being deployed into the North Atlantic. The deck was lined with sailors, petty officers, officiants and officers of the Royal Scandinavian Navy, immaculate in their blue uniforms, trimmed at the shoulder seam with flashes in the colours of their national contingents and brightened by medal ribbons and gold-, silver- and red-braided rank badges.
The sailors had just relaxed from the position of attention and were dispersing under the control of the petty officers. Narhvalen had completed the commissioning ceremony and was about to proceed to its operational base location -- Elduvik in the Faroe Islands. All three of its classmates in the Delfinen class had, it was thought, successfully transited to Elduvik without detection, exploiting the ability shared by the whole class of fuelless sailing and long-term submersion.
Before Narhvalen lay a long submerged transit of the Baltic, safely away from prying German eyes, before a night-time dash across the North Sea, a safe entry into the huge camouflaged naval fortress at Elduvik and a year's tour, patrolling the sea lanes from Brittany to the Caribbean.
Kaptajn Baron Einar Larsson von Linnkoeping, commander of the Baltic Fleet Logistics Squadron and de facto Chief Engineer of the RSN Baltic Command, was leaning on the roughly-finished wall at the back of the haven, watching the scene of furious activity. A tall, Latin-looking civilian wearing a RSN windbreaker was similarly occupied next to him. Both men looked tired, but content.
Larsson wore the uniform of the RSN and the wide ribbon of a Knight of the Dannebrogsorden, gained, unusually, in the ground fighting on St Thomas during the brief (and utterly unpublicised) incursion by "pirates" fraudulently wearing the uniform of the USM Marine Corps at the end of the Global War. Larsson's rallying of the survivors of the Falsterske Fodregiment's 5th Battalion and the Norrlands Dragonregiment's terramobiles had repulsed the invaders, at the cost of massive casualties on both sides, significant destruction to property and Larsson's left leg and manhood. Larsson was consequently not an enthusiast for the USM or its citizens and he took a particular grim pleasure in his work -- the training and commissioning of an entirely new type of vessel, dedicated to scouring the seas clean of the merchant marine and navy of any Power willing to take on Scandinavia.
Massive restitution payments by the USM (while in no way admitting any liability for what was privately described as an excess of enthusiasm by a USM Marine Colonel) had done little to repair relations between the states past a chilly and distant froideur, and nothing to stop Larsson blaming the entire USM for the loss of his dignity and, as he saw it, value as a man.
Forward to FAN #15: More Island Life.
Forward to 22 August 1971: Uneasy Lies the Head.
Forward to Scandinavia: A Copenhagen Welcome to Visitors!
Return to For All Nails.