0405- News of the failed Badger attack on Strike Fleet Atlantic reaches Norfolk. SACLANT agrees with strike fleet commander’s assessment of the situation, which was helpfully included with the initial report. After reading over the telex, SACLANT ordered his staff to be recalled immediately (it was 2105 hours, the previous evening in Virginia). Then he lifted his direct line to the Pentagon.
0415– In Severomorsk, SACLANT’s Soviet counterpart Admiral Gromov accepted the results of the attack with aplomb. One regiment of bombers with no support could not be expected to penetrate the multi-layered defenses of an American aircraft carrier task force and inflict heavy damage. But the sacrifices made were not in vain. Coupled with a handful of reports from the few submarines still operating in the northern Norwegian Sea, the bomber attack confirmed that the enemy carriers were moving southeast towards the Norwegian coast near Tromso. A fourth carrier and the amphibious force carrying over a brigade of US Marines were also in that area. In Gromov’s eyes, the evidence concluded that the two forces would rendezvous and then move farther north at some point in the next twelve to fifteen hours. Once the enemy force came north, Gromov planned to commit every asset under his command to trapping and destroying the NATO force before its embarked marines and warplanes could threaten the Kola Peninsula.
0730– The HMS Illustrious group is ordered to steam northwest of its present position and establish an ASW barrier to interdict any Soviet submarines that could possibly be coming south from the SSBN bastions in the Barents to hunt for Strike Fleet Atlantic and II MEF.
1000– SACLANT is ordered to Washington DC for a NSC meeting at the White House later in the morning.
1145– For Strike Fleet Atlantic, the looming bomber threat took precedence as plans for the next phase of operations were reworked. Offensive air missions against the Kola remained on hold as air defense took priority. There were now over fifty fighters, AWACs and other support aircraft flying CAP and patrol patterns over the northern reaches of the Norwegian Sea and Norway. Half of these were US Navy aircraft and the remainder a combination of USAF, Norwegian and RAF fighters. On flight decks and at airbases additional fighters sat ready for immediate launch. The Backfires were coming, this was accepted as fact. Until they were dealt with, no Tomcats, or in the case of Coral Sea, Hornets could be spared to escort air strikes against targets on the Kola Peninsula.
1207– One hundred miles southwest of Iceland, the MV Oak Bluff, a freighter carrying war material to Europe was torpedoed and sunk by a Soviet Sierra II class attack submarine. The sub was later damaged and forced to the surface by an SH-2F Seasprite from the USS Duncan, a frigate escorting the convoy the stricken freighter was assigned to. Oak Bluff would have the distinction of being the last NATO merchantman sunk in the North Atlantic during the Third World War.