The North Atlantic D+2 (11 July, 1987) Part II


Admiral Kapitanets plea to Northwestern TVD fell upon deaf ears. The theater commander was deeply sympathetic to the situation Northern Fleet was facing, however, he had no help to offer. There were no uncommitted airborne units available to spare for a potential operation against Iceland and relieve the pressure on Kapitanets’ boats. The next phase of operations in the north would see the start of the land offensive in northern Norway. The motor-rifle, airborne, and naval infantry units of the Northwestern TVD all had roles to play. For the time being, the neutralization of Iceland would have to be accomplished without Soviet paratroopers.

Iceland was not yet having much of a negative effect on operations in the Norwegian Sea. The Soviet grip on the sea was tightening with every passing hour. Northern Fleet’s surface action groups continued to steam south, expanding the zone of control even more. The threat posed by NATO surface ships, and aircraft was all but non-existent from the waters off of central Norway north. Submarines were another story altogether, but the seizure of air superiority over northern Norway was allowing  for expanded Soviet airborne ASW patrols. It was coming at the right time. NATO SSNs launched three separate attacks on two different surface groups on the 11th, sinking two destroyers, and damaging one cruiser. In all three cases the attacking SSN escaped, but in the afternoon Soviet ASW forces detected and sank a Norwegian diesel sub as it approached the Kirov group.

SACLANT understood that the longer he waited before moving his carriers north into the Norwegian Sea gave the Soviets more time to fortify their positions. The aircraft carrier battlegroups which would form Strike Fleet Atlantic were still marshalling south of Iceland. He was estimating another thirty six hours would be needed before they could start steaming north and keeping the carriers away from prying eyes during that time period was going to be a priority. Deceptive measures were underway. The carriers were following serpentine-like course patterns, and as the battle at the GIUK gap raged, SACLANT kept the carrier air wings from supporting the NATO effort. The longer he kept the Russians in the dark about the whereabouts of his carriers, the better it would be. SACLANT was a realist, though. He knew that at some point the cat was going to be let out of the bag. His counterpart Severomorsk would be aware that Strike Fleet Atlantic was moving north sooner or later. The senior NATO commander was hoping for much later.

(Author’s note: Part III will be posted on Saturday. I originally intended for North Atlantic: 11 July to be divided into two separate entries, but time constraints today are forcing me to make it a three-part entry. Apologies for this entry’s short length too.)


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