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Saturday, February 3rd 2018, 2:08am

Destroyer Pylkiy, 54 dgs 43 min North, 19 dgs 31 min East, Sunday, 25 July 1948

Captain Kozyukhin was trying to catch up on some report before the ships of the Thirteenth Flotilla arrived at Pillau to resume their training exercises with the German counterparts. He work was interrupted however by an urgent summons from the bridge. With his mind filled with questions he quickly made his way through the companionway and up the ladder to the bridge. There he found his executive officer grinning.

“I thought you would want to see this sir,” he said, a pointed to the splotch of white on the horizon ahead of them.

Kozyukhin immediately went to the nearest set of cruiser classes and trained them on the approaching object, which to his surprise resolved itself into a ‘Flying Dutchman’ under full sail. “They have finally completed her,” he muttered. Talk of the recreation of the East Indiaman König von Preußen had been circulating in the upper Baltic for the last several years, and Kozyukhin had once visited the yard in Königsberg where she was building. The sight of the Indiaman brought back memories of his cadet years on a sail training ship and conjured up thoughts of the generation of sailors who took such frail craft to the far corners of the world.

“Signal the squadron, ‘Form line ahead – prepare to render honors to port’.”

Aboard the Pylkiy sailors not on watch crowded onto the port railings to see the unusual sight – and the scene was repeated on the other ships of the flotilla. Kozyukhin could see the König von Preußen’s yards filling with her crew as the she neared the oncoming destroyers – though holding herself a good distance away in deference to the destroyers’ wake.

A cheer from the König von Preußen could be heard across the waves, which was answered by a hearty “Urrah!” from the Russian vessels. The traditions of the sea were re-enacted that Baltic summer’s afternoon, and in a few moments, the Russian ships and the East Indiaman parted, each to their own destination.


Saturday, February 3rd 2018, 3:36am

Neat. :)


Thursday, February 8th 2018, 4:28pm

Ronne, Bornholm, Thursday, 29 July 1948

The Fisherman’s Quay lay in Ronne’s inner harbour, and the buildings of the Old Town were tourist attractions in their own right. But the two tourists who had arrived on the morning’s ferry from Sassnitz paid the architecture little heed. Their eyes were fixed upon a smart-looking fishing trawler tied up to the quay – one which sported several wireless antennas and eschewed the familiar down-at-heels look of a commercial fishing vessel.

“It is a match for the trawler spotted in Helsingfors,” said Ludwig Fahrenkrog. He was the taller of the two, and his civilian clothes hung on him suggesting he wore such garb infrequently.

“Yes, it does,” replied his companion, Martin Kippenberger – much shorter than Fahrenkrog, but moving in a manner that projected unexpected strength. “Have you noticed they have two crewmen on deck as lookouts?”

“Sentry elimination will be an issue,” Fahrenkrog replied.

They made their way across the square and sat down at one of the tables outside a restaurant. They were soon joined by two more tourists. Kippenberger asked, “How many crew are aboard her?”

Johannes Baader answered, “We’ve seen six different individuals come and go this morning, and two men are on deck at all time. That suggested at least eight.” Baader was precise and diligent. “A few kroner slipped to the harbourmaster got us the information that she reported nine plus her master when she put in two days ago.”

Kippenberger’s eyes narrowed. “That was a risk; if the mission blows up, you might be identifiable.”

Nevertheless, the four Germans continued their discussions in low tones. They were all specialists from the Kommando Spezialkräfte. The rest of Kippenberger’s team had arrived in twos and fours over the last several days, and were even now keeping the trawler under watch from other vantage points.


The summer’s lingering twilight delayed putting Kippenberger’s plan into operation, but that turned out to work to the team’s advantage. A good number of the trawler’s crew went off to one of the taverns that lined the old harbour, trailed by a pair of Kippenberger’s team; these were briefed to delay or divert the trawler-men should such action be warranted. Other kommandos kept watch from the lengthening shadows. Near midnight Kippenberger and three other kampfschwimmer approached the trawler from across the harbour, the small boats which delivered them now retreating into the darkness.

Silently the four kampfschwimmer made their way to the trawler – two approaching the stern and two the bow. With practiced skill they silently made their way to the deck, where weighted coshes were used to render the posted sentries unconscious. Kippenberger left two of his kommandos on deck and with Baader went below, dealing silently with the trawler’s master in his cabin and the wireless operator at his station.

Methodically they gathered up any documents they found – Kippenberger noted that the majority were kept in English, though he knew this meant little. The extensive wireless equipment was of a mix of Nordish, Danish, Dutch, and even German manufacture – Baader secured as many of the identification labels as possible, together with call lists, message flimsies – written in what seemed to be Swedish – and a pouch-full of other useful documents. Ten minutes later the four Germans slipped back into the water, swimming out towards the waiting boats.

“Everything seems quiet,” Fahrenkrog whispered as the swimmers came back aboard the boats.

They made their way through the darkness to a deserted mole across the harbour, where the boats were sunk and any incriminating equipment consigned to the deep. A pre-positioned lorry, driven by another member of the team, hurried them to a safe house.

The following evening, with no alarm having been given by the trawler’s crew to the Danish authorities, the team departed on the evening ferry back to Sassnitz, where they were met by a representative of the Abwehr who was quite pleased to examine the intelligence material they had recovered.


Monday, February 19th 2018, 4:10pm

Marinestützpunkt Warnemünde, Monday, 2 August 1948

On the one hand Oberstleutnant Walter Koehler of the Abwehr wished that the Kippenberger’s team from the Kommando Spezialkräfte had brought back a prisoner, or two, for interrogation; on the other, he was thankful that there was no apparent fallout from the operation. Whoever it was running the surveillance trawlers had – it seemed – not made a complaint to the Danish authorities. That ‘who’ was his problem; the documents and other material recovered gave no clear answer.

Research had shown that the trawler itself had been built in the Aaland Islands – Nordish territory – but conveniently the record of who owned it had been expunged. This fact suggested connivance of the Nordish authorities but it was not an impossibility that a third-party could have arranged it. Most of the records taken aboard the trawler had been written in English – mostly reports of encounters with German, Russian, and Scandinavian warships in the four corners of the Baltic. Some of the more technical notes were actually in Polish – mostly relating to ciphers and wireless frequencies. From all Koehler knew of their intelligence services though he felt the Poles could not have brought this off by themselves.

Using the labels removed from the trawler’s equipment however Koehler found a pattern – purchased in a number of countries much of it had flowed through London in the names of several firm of questionable validity – he had forwarded the names to Schellenburg with a request to ascertain details on them. If the equipment flowed through London before ending up aboard the trawler that strongly suggested a link with British intelligence services. With the failure of their submarine expedition earlier in the year, Koehler felt certain that England would want to continue to try to monitor the Kriegsmarine’s training activities there – and the pattern of the trawlers – and he recall that there were at least two – pointed in that direction.

With the lack of definitive evidence however his report merely identified the British intelligence services as the probable perpetrators of the scheme. So he wrote Berlin, with the suggestion that if the opportunity arose that stronger action be taken to identify who was behind it.


Saturday, February 24th 2018, 1:18am

Marinestützpunkt Warnemünde, Friday, 6 August 1948

When Pavel Kozyukhin arrived at the headquarters of Konteradmiral Maximilian Glaser he was surprised to discover that Glaser already had a visitor – the former commander of the Lehr Division, Vizeadmiral Siegfried Engel.

“Good to see you Kozyukhin,” said Engel affably. “I understand that you continue to give our ships a worthy standard to live up to.”

“Thank you Admiral,” the Russian officer replied. “I believe my men have learned as much as they have taught.”

“Excellent,” Engel acknowledged. “I regret that Captain Morozov was unable to join us today, but we will have an opportunity to discuss matters with him.”

Kozyukhin detected that something was up. He noted that the chart tacked to the wall was not that of the Baltic but rather of the North and Norwegian Sea. For that matter, Engel had been reassigned to the German’s Atlantic Fleet, ending his official relationship with the training establishment in the Baltic. These speculations were suspended when Engel asked Glaser and Kozyukhin to take a seat.

“Gentlemen,” he began, “our French allies will be sending us a pair of cruisers that will join the Lehr Division temporarily for combined operations exercises. I expect that they will arrive later this month; the exact dates depend in large measure on their own training programme.”

Kozyukhin nodded. Doctrine and training between the French and Russian navies was similar enough that there should be little difficulty on that score, but between the French and German navies there was much familiarisation required.

“Once they arrive, we will begin training for a major exercise, which will be known as Pegasos – or Pégase as our allies would say. It will involve elements of the Lehr Division, as well as elements of the Atlantikflotte – and your destroyers as well Kozyukhin. If you will join me at the chart I shall explain…”


Tuesday, March 6th 2018, 6:02pm

Berlin, The Russian Federation Embassy, Sunday, 15 August 1948

Captain First Rank Konstantin Konstantinovich Khrenov took his duties as naval attaché quite seriously, and rather than enjoy a beautiful summer’s afternoon he had immured himself in his office, finishing his most recent report for transmission to Petrograd. He had returned the previous evening from Memel, where he had witnessed the completion of the German Navy’s latest submarines, the Engelhai and Fleckhai; as well as the ‘graduation ceremony’ of the leading pair of Type XXIII boats, the Koboldhai and Kragenhai.

He noted that German submarine doctrine had undergone a rapid evolution, and the distinctions between ‘oceanic’ and ‘coastal’ was now one of function rather than mere size. He was quite familiar with the fleet submarines of the Type XXI, which served as spearheads to German task forces. The new boats were much smaller, optimised for operating in constricted waters – the Baltic or, as he suspected, the North Sea. From all the he had been able to learn – and the Germans played their cards close to their vest in this instance – the Type XXIII were far more quiet than the previous generation of German submarines, with a great emphasis on submerged speed and agility. As he wrote he categorised them as a first-strike weapon; their radius was limited, as was their armament. But their stealth would serve them well in allowing them to reconnoitre an enemy’s waters with a good chance of escaping detection. He referred to Kozyukhin’s own observations on the difficulty his destroyers had in tracking Type XXIII boats during training exercises and the several times submarines had ‘ambushed’ his flotilla.

Khrenov also noted the novelty of the method under which the Type XXIII boats were constructed – the Schichau works build the boats in sections that were subsequently welded together. While his allies were somewhat evasive on the subject, he also believed that the Type XXIII boats had been constructed using a new type of steel alloy with superior yield strength, allowing them to dive deeper with greater safety. This, he suggested, might be better investigated by the scientific intelligence sub-section of Naval Intelligence independently of his own office, so as not to give offence.


Saturday, March 17th 2018, 12:30am

Artillery School Ship Brummer, Gdynia, 23 August 1948

It had been nearly a month since the Brummer had encountered one of the mysterious ‘fishing’ trawlers that had long shadowed the ship’s movements around the Baltic. Benzino found it unexpected and quite unusual that this would be so – unless someone had taken action to dissuade the operators of the trawlers to cease their activities.

In the highly compartmented world of naval intelligence it was not Benzino’s place to formally inquire as to what may or may not have happened. If it was necessary for him to know, he would be told. Privately though he speculated what could have happened.


Monday, March 26th 2018, 1:05am

Marinestützpunkt Warnemünde, Friday, 27 August 1948

Konteradmiral Maximilian Glaser was not entirely enamoured with the command arrangements of the Kriegsmarine; he preferred the older methods where shore-based administrative commands were entirely responsible whatever happened within their sphere. Now the operational task forces had much greater freedom to schedule their training cycles at their discretion; and that in turn had disrupted the training cycles for the Lehrdivision.

At the present moment Einzatzgruppe 71.2 was carrying a major amphibious training exercise off the southern shores of the island of Rügen, which interrupted the normal traffic out of Warnemünde as well as the civilian traffic out of Sassnitz. Several weeks ago it had been Einzatzgruppe 71.1, and Glaser had barely reordered the schedules of the ships under his command to make good the disruption before having to do so again for the current exercise. Protests to Konteradmiral Bachmann had gone unanswered.

He understood that operational training for the units of the fleet was important, but he could not understand why large-scale manoeuvres involving the naval landing forces was necessary at this point in time.


Thursday, March 29th 2018, 6:27pm

Marinestützpunkt Kiel, Tuesday, 31 August 1948

Vizeadmiral Siegfried Engel allowed himself a moment’s respite with the arrival at Kiel of the French cruisers Marseilles and Suffren; all the pieces of the game were now on the board and the task before him was to assure that the ships assigned to his command for the forthcoming operation were ready to work together – the ultimate test of Wachsame Entschlossenheit.

He flew his flag from the aircraft carrier Wallenstein, and would be accompanied in their mission by her sister Pappenheim; the air defence cruiser Lissa with the frigates Stockach, Gailingen, Chemnitz, and Mohlsdorf, would provide the inner screen for the aircraft carriers, while the destroyers of Captain Kozyukhin’s Thirteenth Destroyer Flotilla would provide the outer screen. Morozov’s Admiral Kolchak, with d'Estienne d'Orves’ cruisers and the heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper would form a scouting group loosely attached to the main body.

A knock at the door of his day cabin heralded the start of the conference at which he would lay out the details of the training programme for the next fortnight, and the general outline of Unternehmen Pegasos for the newcomers.


Monday, April 9th 2018, 8:38pm

Cruiser Marseilles, 56 dgs 6 min North, 18 dgs 46 min East, Monday, 6 September 1948

Capitaine D'Estienne d'Orves stood on the bridge of his ship and scanned the lowering horizon; here in the mid-Baltic summer was already beginning to fade – and the halcyon weather his crews had enjoyed since their arrival would soon change. To port was Marseilles’ squadron mate, the Suffren, to starboard the German cruiser Admiral Hipper, each at four or five cables length. The Russian rocket cruiser Admiral Kolchak was two miles ahead. Their present mission was to intercept a ‘convoy’ of ‘enemy merchantmen’ that had been sighted by search aircraft from Wallenstein.

“Signal from Admiral Kolchak mon Capitaine. Enemy in sight – two destroyers, four merchantmen – Bearing 020, distance five miles.”

“Signal to all ships: All ahead flank, intercept and open fire when in range.”

D'Estienne d'Orves smiled. If this were not a wargame the ‘convoy’ would be dead meat for his ships. Even Kozyukhin’s Pylkiy would be hard pressed to put up a serious fight against four cruisers. Thus far the crews from the three allied navies had worked well together; Admiral Engel had expressed his satisfaction at their last debriefing on the subject. He had sailed with the expectation of more difficulties from the Germans – the Russians and French having exercised together many times. But the exchange of liaison officers had quickly smoothed out the few issues that arose. He looked forward to commencing the next phase of their training.


Friday, April 27th 2018, 8:00pm

Cruiser Marseilles, The Sound, Friday, 17 September 1948

The Marseilles led the column into the waters betwixt Nordmark and Denmark – the Suffren followed, then the Admiral Hipper, then the Admiral Kolchak, and the Russian destroyers of the Thirteenth Flotilla in turn. In the narrow and busy channel close attention had to be paid to proper station-keeping; so too was it necessary to mind protocol, and offer the salutes to the Danes and to the Nords that tradition demanded; both bridge crews and deck crews were kept busy.

Capitaine D'Estienne d'Orves kept an easy eye on the Marseilles’ crew – he did not expect any difficulties with the passage through the Sound, nor the more open Kattegat and Skagerrak. All proper notice had been sent to advise both nations of the ship movements, and patrol craft of both the Danish and Nordish navies provided a watchful if distant escort. His mind however was on the rendezvous his ships would make in the North Sea once their transit was complete.


Friday, August 3rd 2018, 8:05pm

Port of Warnemünde
Wednesday, October 27, 1948

Two old men sat at the end of the Mittenmole, chain-smoking, tossing fishing lines in the water, and watching ships pass. It was one of the last pleasant days of the year, but both men had brought their coats, tossed over the back of their chairs, just in case the wind proved too much for them.

"Big one coming," Georg declared.

"We've seen that one before," Franz pointed out. "That's the big Russkie."

"Is it? Looks like one of ours." Georg had served his time in the Heer, and his eyesight was going. "You sure?"

"Ja. The flag's Russian." Unlike his fishing buddy, Franz had been in the Navy - long enough to have his leg smashed in an accident, earning invalid status right as the Great War had started. He'd counted himself lucky, as he spent the entire war shore-side, cooking potatoes and keeping the girls company, rather than getting sent to die in some muddy trench or some chilly ocean. He liked to fancy himself a ship-watcher.

They stubbed out their cigarettes and lit new ones. Franz reeled in his line and tossed it out again; neither really fished for anything beside the fun of it.

The Russian ship waited for the harbor pilot and then picked up steam, heading into Warnemünde harbor. Franz cocked his head. "You know, I think that's a different ship."

"I thought you said it was Russian."

"It is. But I think it's a different Russian. This one's painted different. The other one's all camouflaged up in green and gray; this one's got more dark colors." He couldn't read Cyrillic, but squinted at the name painted on the bow: Адмирал Лазарев.

* * * * *

When the ceremonies were completed and all of the many tasks of arrival had been finished, the captain of the Admiral Lazarev crossed the gangway to board the Admiral Kolchak.

The two rocket cruisers were tied up side-by-side in Warnemünde, an unbelieveable sight that was likely to draw spies from half of Europe. The two brother ships had only been together once before, in the port of Tallinn, where the GRU kept a firm watch on foreigners with cameras. Here, in Germany, the efforts were merely confined to a doubled watch of Russian Marines patrolling the decks, armed to the teeth with SVT-36 rifles and PPSh submachine guns, and a rowing patrol in a launch.

Fyodor Morozov, commander of the Admiral Kolchak, welcomed the Lazarev's captain into his stateroom. "And now we may talk freely, Alexei Ivanovich," he said. "It's good to see you again."

"Likewise!" Captain Alexei Andreyev replied. They had been the two top officers out of the five who competed for command of the new ships. Andreyev, despite being junior in rank by only a few days, had received command of the Lazarev a year prior to Morozov taking up the helm of the Admiral Kolchak.

"Tell me, Fyodor Sergeyivich," Andreyev said, "How has it gone here, with the Germans and the French?"

"It's gone quite well," Morozov answered. "We recently completed Operation Pegas, out in the Atlantic. Good sea-training time..."

They chatted for a few minutes about the litany of exercises, and finally Andreyev asked, "How about the Germans? How is their professionalism? I've not worked with them before..."

"They're professional. I think they spend as much time at sea as we do - they just spread it out over more of the year. Engel's bound for the top, I think - ten years, fifteen, he'll command the Kriegsmarine. Kozhyukin - he's got the 13th Destroyer Flotilla - agrees with me. You'll meet Engel tomorrow. He'll have good questions, and you can challenge him - as long as you're right!"

Andreyev nodded. "Good. Now this little exercise we're starting - Shaka?"

"Shaka. Yes. Engel's still in overall command, but this will be our demonstration," Morozov said. "I'm in charge of the planning. Amedee came out from France. There are a group of Germans who arrived on Monday - observers. I'll have all four of them aboard Kolchak, so you needn't worry about clearing room. I give them a tour tomorrow."

"Very well," Andreyev said. "What's the plan for next week?"

"Two days, out and back," Morozov said. "I'll have a draft plan written up by this time tomorrow; feel free to shoot holes in it."


Monday, August 20th 2018, 7:14pm

Port of Warnemünde
Thursday, October 28, 1948

Kapitän zur See Friedrich Poske kept a critical eye open as the tour of the Admiral Kolchak started. As a former cruiser commander himself, he was curious to see how the Russians put together one of their ships. Granted, the Kolchak was not truly representative; it was built like a large destroyer, with no armor belt or deck. But the ship surprised him.

Of the five Kriegsmarine officers assigned to participate in Exercise Shaka, Poske viewed himself as the representative of the 'sea officers'. Kapitän von Bülow, the leader of the delegation, had plenty of sea experience, but now served as a staff officer. Korvettenkapitäns Howaldt and Hiehle were a technical specialists, in rocketry and electronics respectively. And then there was the skeptical Korvettenkapitän Werner von Rheinbaben, an ordnance officer who would serve as the Range Safety Officer for Exercise Shaka.

Hiehle was plying Captain Morozov, their tour guide, with questions about an electronic system, and Poske took a few moments to collect his thoughts. von Bülow must have been doing the same thing. "What do you think, Friedrich?"

"I like the ship," Poske said. "I prefer the internal layout of our newer cruisers and destroyers, and we pay better attention to detail in design of enlisted crew spaces."

von Bülow nodded and reached up to touch one of the low-hanging overhead pipes. "And God help the Russian who's taller than one-eight-five centimeters."

"It's certainly not comfortable, no," Poske agreed. "But look at it from the standpoint of an enlisted man who is assigned to repair work..."

For a few moments, von Bülow looked around, evaluating. "Actually, you're right. All of this is designed for easy maintenance. Less space for crew comforts, and more room for repair work."

"I toured one of the Russian destroyers earlier this year," Poske said. "It was much the same. And a lot of attention paid to effective heating, and dealing with ice buildup."

Hiehle's electronics questions finally answered, the party moved on, further aft. Poske noticed Howaldt straining forward, like an eager dog on a leash, as they got closer to the experimental rocketry systems that made the Admiral Lazarev class so unique. Poske had seen photographs and even a few technical drawings, but nothing quite prepared him to see it in person.

"And this, of course," Morozov announced, "Is Systema-10 Amur rocket."

Poske took a good look. The rocket-launching hardware was simultaneously simple and complex. Mounted on a 13cm gun turret base, it had six rails in a 2-1-1-2 layout, all separated by a centimeter-thick steel divider. The launchers took the positions that would normally be reserved for 'C' and 'D' turrets.

von Rheinbaben immediately kicked a fixture mounted in the deck at half-meter intervals. "Is this a firefighting system?"

Morozov nodded. "After a rocket launch, it sprays a small layer of firefighting foam down on the deck. The rockets don't always burn cleanly."

Poske was more interested in the bone-white rockets that hung on the rails. Up close, the alleged 'wunderwaffe' did not look very impressive. For that matter, they looked extremely crude. "These Amur rockets..."

"Ah," Morozov said, smiling. "I see Kapitän Poske has spotted our volchoks."

"Volchoks?" Howaldt asked. The Kriegsmarine's rocketry expert also looked confused, which made Poske feel better.

"It means 'spinning top', one of the Russian translators offered.

Morozov agreed. "Volchoks are fake rockets made of wood," he said. "We use them for launcher-loading practice, and we keep them on the rails when there is a risk of spies with cameras." He smiled, in good humor. "So far as we can tell, no spies have ever photographed actual Amur rockets on the launchers."

"Do you carry live Amur rockets?" Howaldt asked. "From my discussions with your naval attache, Khrenikov, I was under the impression that Admiral Kolchak did not carry them..."

"That is correct," Morozov stated. "We have Volchoks for loading practice, and usually carry six to twelve practice rounds in the magazine. The practice rounds operate by radio command only, so their range is less than five kilometers. Prior to this exercise, we haven't ever carried a live Amur rocket."

Poske scratched his head. "What is the range of the full Amur rocket? If the practice round has a five kilometer range..."

"In theory..." Morozov said, "Amur can hit a target at twenty kilometers range and eight thousand meters altitude." Poske and the other officers were quiet for a few moments. They'd received an initial briefing on the Amur rocket system, but certain details were lacking. Poske, for his part, had spent the last few days considering how drastically the weapon system might change the appearance of naval warfare. If the Russians could field enough of these rockets, what might it do to carrier-based aviation...?

"I must emphasize my statement 'in theory'," Morozov continued. "You'll doubtless already know that the French pulled out of the joint project. Truth be told, the entire Amur system is... somewhat ineffective."

von Bülow spoke up. "Can you elaborate, Captain?"

Morozov nodded. "The intent was to provide a weapon system to shoot down aircraft launching guided glide-bombs from a distance. For example, your Henschel Hs 293, or the French Albatros-BP, just among the ones I know about. The Amur rocket can defend a fleet against such attacks... if it worked reliably. But it requires almost ideal circumstances to score hits."

"Ah," von Bülow said. "And we all know that naval warfare tends to involve... less than ideal circumstances."

"Absolutely," Morozov agreed. "The attacking aircraft must approach head-on, with no major changes in course and speed. For the best radio-wave return, it must be at an ideal altitude, greater than three thousand meters but less than forty-five hundred. And the seeker head has a multitude of issues. Among other things, Earth's magnetic field can make it... miss, for technical reasons that are outside my expertise. In short, the Amur requires so many exacting conditions that it looks unlikely to ever be combat-ready."

Poske decided to ask the question he was certain all of the others wanted to ask. "If the system doesn't work, why did the Russian Navy build two ships to carry the Amur, then? It seems like an expensive thing to do when the main weapon system doesn't work."

Morozov nodded. "For us, the experience was worth the cost of the ships. We've gleaned a great deal of technical knowledge from the process. Just because the Amur is more needy than a Petrograd ballet starlet doesn't eliminate the potential of other weapons like it, and we expect that both Admiral Lazarev and Admiral Kolchak will eventually be upgraded when we design new system that works better."

Howaldt raised a hand. "We know the British are working on something similar called 'Brakemine'. How do you think it compares with Amur?"

"You'd have to ask someone in the GRU with an expertise in the matter," Morozov said. "I've received no briefings on Brakemine. I know the British have tested it, but not at sea. Either they're spending a lot more time in the laboratory trying to make it work, or it's just an experimental type never meant for production.

"In any case," Morozov finished, "Exercise Shaka will show you the Amur system on its best day..."


Tuesday, August 21st 2018, 8:32pm

That's a nice write up.


Wednesday, September 12th 2018, 3:21pm

Russian Naval Ship Admiral Kolchak, Baltic Sea
Tueday, November 2, 1948

The two French and three Russian technicians sat side-by-side at their electronic altar. Although the Kolchak was a Russian warship, their liturgy was French. "RTD contact bearing zero-nine-two, height eight-four, range three-zero."

Captain Morozov stood in the Battle Information Post, four steps away from the electronics specialists; two Frenchmen stood behind him to the left, and two German observers to his right. Morozov used his panel and buzzed the ship's intercom. "Set Battle Readiness One throughout the ship!" he ordered.

Alarms whooped. Everyone in BIP fastened their helmets - borrowed from the Russian infantry - and turned up the necks of their tunics for better anti-flash protection in case something went wrong. After all, plenty of things had gone wrong with this weapon system in the past.

"Contact vector two-six-five delta two-eight-zero."

"Interrogate," Morozov ordered.

"Interrogate response one-one-six-six!" the technician sang out, using his radio-teledetector controls to ping the aircraft's automatic identifier.

"Confirm," a second technician reported.

A voice came through one of the speakers. "Range Safety Officer approves the engagement. Weapons free. Repeat. Weapons free."

A few of the junior officers in BIP grinned. Morozov, for his part, retained an aura of aloof coolness. "Begin engagement!"

"Energize NR-222," one of the Russians announced, flipping a series of switches to turn on the delicate and expensive fire-control radar mounted on the Admiral Kolchak's mainmast. "Energized, rotated."

"Target acquisition. Strong return."

"Attack profile good," the weapons officer announced. "Range?"

"One-eight point five, delta two-eight-zero knots."

"We will engage at ten klicks. Time for that range?" Morozov asked.

"One-two-zero seconds," Weapons replied.

"Very well," Morozov replied. He checked the clock on the bulkhead and marked time. A bit under a minute later: "Ready Amur."

"Launcher one, arc port, elevated to four-zero position. Launcher two, arc port, elevated to four-zero position. Weapons ready."

The weapons officer put a key into the console and turned it. "Firing circuit active. Time one-zero-five seconds. Circuit test?"

One of the French technicians pressed a series of twelve different buttons on his console and waited until the indicator lights turned green. "Main circuit test, system nominal."

"Engagement time three-zero seconds. Two-five seconds..."

"Launch sequence one-two-three," Weapons declared. "Second salvo to follow as required. Request permission to launch at will."

"Permission granted," Morozov replied. "Engage with Amur!"

Weapons nodded. "Energize firing circuits. Launch on my command!"

"Live circuit. NR-222 painting target. Range one-zero! Ready!"

"Launch-launch-launch!" Weapons ordered.

The French sailor at the far left side of the console flipped three switches, waiting a few seconds between them. The Admiral Kolchak shuddered as the rockets ignited in sequence and left their launcher.

From his observation post on the Admiral Kolchak's navigating bridge, Captain Poske heard the noise before he saw the rocket launch. The first Amur rose away from Kolchak on a plume of acrid smoke. Four heavily-modified 200mm solid-fueled artillery rockets, reused from French Army artillery rockets, provided the initial boost. Once that was achieved, the four boosters detached, peeling away like flower petals, while the main rocket kicked in.

While the first two rockets raced out on a mostly straight course, Poske saw the third Amur missile snake through the air unevenly - something was wrong.

In BIP, a technician called out an alarm. "Snakebite on number three!"

"Kill it," the weapons officer ordered calmly. The tech was already reaching for his override controls, flipping a switch that armed the warhead - not usually done until the missile switched to autonomous flight - and then detonating it. Amur Three, already a kilometer out from Admiral Kolchak and weaving back and forth violently, exploded.

From his post on the bridge, Poske frowned, and turned to one of the Russians nearby. "What happened?"

The Russian officer just pointed. "Watch."

An automated system sprayed firefighting foam down on the deck around the launcher - a precautionary measure in case one of the booster rockets exploded. It had occurred a bit too often in tests.

With their main rockets now active and the boosters detached, the two remaining Amur rockets began accelerating and climbing. A technician in a greenhouse-like turret used a radio link to steer the outbound missiles until they reached the limit of his range and vision.

"Radio link lost," the technician finally reported.

"Looking good on One and Two," Weapons announced.

Captain Morozov nodded. That meant absolutely nothing: it was hard experience that Amur looked fine right up until the moment it failed, sometimes spectacularly.

As the two remaining missiles continued climbing and accelerating - they were now at three thousand meters altitude and travelling a kilometer every four seconds - spotted in their forward radio-receivers a reflection from the NR-222 radar back aboard the Admiral Kolchak. Their guidance computers made tiny course changes, keeping the missiles headed towards their target.

The target - a propeller-powered French-built drone - was smaller than the Amur missiles, but equipped with three radio-wave reflectors that made it look the size of a medium bomber, at least to electronic eyes. The first Amur missile raced in on it from directly ahead. The warhead armed, but the missile actually passed the drone before it exploded - not quite harmlessly, but ineffectively.

The second Amur, however, scored a direct hit. As it approached the drone, its proximity fuse activated. The Amur's payload - the equivalent of a 152mm anti-aircraft shell - detonated. A ring of steel rods arranged around the explosive rippled out in a cone cloud, and a dozen of them scythed through the drone, which broke into pieces. The small airframe was not meant to take severe punishment, particularly not from a warhead intended to down a two or four-engine bomber.

"Hard kill!" the weapons officer announced, and all of the men in BIP grinned or even cheered quietly.

On the main deck, Poske watched through binoculars as the distant drone - still seven kilometers distant - tumbled toward the Baltic Sea. The Russian officer at his side grinned. "My pardon, captain - I did not wish for you to miss that part."

"Thank you," Poske said. "It happened a lot faster than I expected... but why did that third missile explode early?"

"Snakebite," the Russian explained. "Probably one of the booster rockets failed to detach, and drag was causing the Amur to snake. I think the weapons officer detonated it himself rather than risk it flying out of control."

In BIP, Captain Morozov turned to Kapitän von Bülow and Korvettenkapitän Howaldt. "Well, gentlemen - that was a successful beginning to our shoot. What do you think?"


Wednesday, October 3rd 2018, 12:47am

Marinestützpunkt Warnemünde, Monday, 1 November 1948

Konteradmiral Maximilian Glaser examined the status reports that lay upon his desk and shook his head. The big fleet exercise in the Atlantic, Pegase – successful and impressive as it might have been – had disrupted the training regimen for the new units coming out of the yard. At the moment the Lehrdivision had no fewer than four major units – two of the Wiesbaden-class air defence destroyers and two of the Aspern-class air defence cruisers – that should be entering the final phases of their training, but the Russian destroyers with whom they were exercising had yet to return to his control. The ships expected to ‘graduate’ later in the month – a quartet of destroyers and a quartet of frigates – were exercising as much as possible in weather that became ever stormier as the season went on.

His eyes lit upon the latest report from the Admiralstab; he was advised that course of the next eight weeks he should expect fourteen more ships to be assigned to the Lehrdivision, as they completed their trials. Four, the corvettes Thetis and Medusa, and the air defence destroyers Kassel and Trier, were due to join him in a matter of days. His commiserations were interrupted by a knock at the door.


The yeoman opened the door to admit an officer of the Russian Federation Navy, who stepped into Glaser’s office and saluted smartly.

“Kozyukhin! Good to see you. You are a sight for sore eyes.”


Thursday, October 11th 2018, 7:26pm

Destroyer Pylkiy, 54 dgs 44 min North, 19 dgs 27 min East, Sunday, 7 November 1948

Admiral Glaser had wasted little time in putting Kozyukhin and the Thirteenth Destroyer Flotilla back to work honing the skills of the crews of the Kriegsmarine’s latest vessels. Their comrades from Pegase, the small aircraft carriers Wallenstein and Pappenheim, had been seconded to the Lehrdivision to recreate on a somewhat smaller scale the force that had sailed on the recently completed exercise. Around the aircraft carriers were formed up the air defence cruisers Heligoland and Höchstädt, four Torgau-class escort destroyers, and four frigates – all taking part in what might be described as ‘graduation exercises’.

“Signal from the flagship Captain! Assume air defence stations.”

The German Luftwaffe was providing an opposition force today – and the squadron was expecting to defend against an air attack. While his own ship had yet to pick up the incoming ‘bandits’ apparently the higher-power dradis units on the cruisers had detected them. Kozyukhin ordered the Pylkiy and her consorts to tighten their ring around the aircraft carriers while the last fighters of the carriers’ combat air patrol were flown off.

“Prepare to engage incoming aircraft when in range!”

The next twenty-five minutes seemed to flash by in seconds. Despite the deliberate offsets of the ships’ gunnery Kozyukhin felt certain that some of the ‘attacking’ aircraft – a mix of Junkers high level bombers and Focke Wulf fighter bombers – would return home with flak damage. The squadron’s evasive manoeuvres proved effective, and as the last of the ‘raiders’ departed he received word from the umpires that none of the ships had been ‘damaged’.

Good shooting… or bias? He doubted the latter, for the Germans usually bent over backward in their scoring. He would chalk up the lack of ‘damage’ to the unfamiliarity of the Luftwaffe crews to moving targets.


Saturday, October 20th 2018, 3:28am

Cruiser Marseilles, The Gulf of Danzig, Monday, 15 November 1948

The Marseilles and the Suffren, cruised in company with the Kriegsmarine air defence destroyers Kassel and Trier, the latest vessels to join Admiral Glaser’s Division d'entraînement. Capitaine D'Estienne d'Orves eyed them from the Marseilles’ bridge – fresh from trials the two German vessels would now begin to operate in an integrated environment – simple things like taking orders from a foreign flagship to start with. Months from now these ships, and their crews, would be able to sail the oceans as part of an Alliance task force as their sisters did during the recently concluded Operation Pegase.

“Signal to all ships – turn starboard twenty degrees”

While flags and signal lamps carried the order to the ships in the Marseilles’ wake. Suffren and Kassel responded smartly, Trier with a hesitation that could not be completely explained by her position last in line.

“Signal to Trier – please conform to squadron moments.”

D'Estienne d'Orves realized that a polite admonishment would go much further than a tongue-lashing. The ships continued on their new course for about ten minutes.

“Signal to all ships – turn port twenty degrees.”

This time the Trier turned with alacrity, falling into proper station in the Kassel’s wake.

New ships, new crews. Mistakes were to be expected; thankfully there had been no serious consequences.


Saturday, October 20th 2018, 4:43am

Mistakes were to be expected...

Hence why you practice! Work out all those mistakes in your practice sessions, before you go on stage... ;) :D

("But," said the bean counters, "practices are expensive!" "Nonsense, my good sir," replies the veteran. "Losing is expensive...")


Tuesday, October 23rd 2018, 5:57pm

Marinestützpunkt Kiel, Tuesday, 23 November 1948

Kapitän zur See Otto von Bülow, commander of Zerstörergeschwader 1, was mystified by the orders that had transferred his ships to the Baltic. One of the youngest captains in the Kriegsmarine and only recently assigned to command of his squadron he looked upon the transfer as a veritable affront. His ships, and the destroyers of Zerstörergeschwader 2, had previously screened the great battleships of the Atlantikflotte – a pride of place that compensated somewhat for the fact that his ships themselves were among the oldest destroyers in commission; and the last time the Kriegsmarine had sent destroyers to the Baltic in this manner they had been paid off to the reserve. Von Bülow feared that this might be the fate of his command.

He took heart when upon arrival in Kiel he received instruction to report to Vizeadmiral August Becker, the commander of the Kriegsmarine’s amphibious forces, who flew his flag from the base ship Coronel.

“Von Bülow, you are probably wondering what is behind the transfer of your command.”

“Indeed Herr Admiral… it had crossed my mind.”

“You need not worry. The fleet is undergoing a reorganisation, and Zerstörergeschwader 1 has been assigned to duties in support of our amphibious forces. You and your ships will join Einzatzgruppe 71.1, which is slated to conduct exercises early next month off Rügen. You have a bit more than a week to prepare. See my chief of staff who will provide you a full briefing.”

Von Bülow was surprised at both the curtness of the admiral and the nature of his new assignment.

“Amphibious exercises in December?”