NOW AVAILABLE ! Published by:
An imprint of Pietas Publications

ISBN 0978549511
155 pages - hardbound

The seal-hunting 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.

Copyright by Jim Burns, 2006

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