It was certainly an usual tactic. Showing up, being seen, and not hiding one bit. The 13 sailboats that accompanied the USNS Henson did everything that could to be on radar. If those watching saw the sailboats they probably just thought the Henson was one too.
To show up the sailboats added metal to their masts, to their bow rails, and anywhere on deck they could. The more metal the easier was to show up on radar. Sailing through the narrow channels had to be done at night so the Henson wasn’t easily seen. Going through the locks was the scary part for Jim. They had to buy off the lock operators at night with gold and silver bullion. This gave them an idea how much gold and silver were really worth for it didn’t take nearly as much to buy off the operators as Jim thought.
Suurpea was about 90 miles on the water from Narva the mission was to get the Henson and the 13 sailboats to Narva, but they were having one big problem now. Henson housed some 200 men and women on board; a ship built for many less. The sailboats carried, on average, five extra soldiers and their crews. The 13 boats had over 90 people on board. In total there were 292 people on the trip, and they were running out of food.
It was night time, very dark in December, and Suurpea was lit up for Christmas. Amazing considering the coastal village was only occupied by a few hundred people. Jim wasn’t sure how much food they could score there, but score they must. Leaving his wife Erin and three soldiers on board the Beneteau Jim took the RIB and and two of the soldiers with him into the village. The other boats in the flotilla were too far out to go into town.
The ride into town Jim felt like he had tunnel vision looking at a small shop. It reminded him of a quick stop, a stop in rob, or bodega in America. He was emotional thinking about those stores in America all gone. The soldiers and Jim agreed no one was to get hurt in the village, they’d try to buy what they could, but only take food if they had too. It was a little before 8 pm local time when they reached an empty dock only a hundred yards or two from the store they could see. One of the two soldiers stayed with the boat and his rifle, Jim and the other with concealed handguns proceeded to the store.
Inside the shop it was warm. They’d gone from 45 degrees outside to 75 inside quickly and it was nice. The shop was what Jim expected, an outpost for those on the sea and in the village. He was elated to see large bags of commodities like rice, flour and even pancake mix. It wasn’t the quick stop market at home Jim thought. People here didn’t buy more then one however, people on boats didn’t stock more than one bag of anything. Hence the shop didn’t have carts to move anything about. It made sense Jim thought. The clerk behind the counter was probably the owner. He was in his 40’s Jim thought and when Jim asked if he took the Euro the man produced his English in a distinctively American tone. Where are you from, Jim asked, also sounding quiet American?
The shopkeeper took a glance at the second man with Jim, a soldier wearing his boots, khaki pants and navy wool coat and then glanced back to Jim and said he’s “European” in a mumble really. Is that Chicago European Jim smiled? The accent seemingly mid western to Jim’s Californian? Now the shopkeeper looked more nervous then Jim wanted him to be. The man was likely scared. It wasn’t likely anyone could help him if Jim and the soldier wanted to cause him harm and he didn’t know them or what they wanted.
Jim removed his glove, extended his hand, and said “I’m Jim, I’m from California in the United States of America, and I’m glad to make your acquaintance.” The soldier with Jim was a little unsettled by the outing and glided his hand to the pistol under his jacket in a way the shopkeeper wouldn’t see. The keeper extended his hand to Jim, I’m Sam from Wheaton Illinois.
Over the next few minutes Jim mentioned needing supplies. Sam noted what was in the shop was all they’d sell in a week or so but they had a warehouse nearby with more. Quickly a plan was hatched for them to load the RIB with what they could carry from the shop, and Rob, the soldier with Jim and Sam would go back to the warehouse for more. Jim would take the loaded RIB out and unload. He’d communicate with the next closest boat and they’d try to get two more small boat loads out. It was good plan, and in a matter of hours it was done. They’d secured almost 300 lbs of flour, 200 lbs of both rice and beans, and Jim’s elated pancake / waffle mix.
When it was done Jim hatched a plan to have Sam drive Rob and another soldier to Narva. It was a 110 mile drive, rough road, at night, and in now 30’s degree weather with some ice forming. Not a great trip, but it would be just a few hours compared to the boats 10-12 hours at 6 nots. The two soldiers could scope out the coastline for mooring locations, see if there were any docks and ideally set up a landing zone for the crew of the Hansen. Jim had been told by the captain on the Hansen he wanted to land a “good deal” of his crew at Narva.
Jim didn’t know the Captain’s crew was meeting some people already in Narva. The soldiers Jim hand on his boat that he set out with Sam already knew this and kept Jim in the dark. Rob, the soldier Jim set up with Sam, now understood why the captain kept Jim in the dark. He was too easily swayed by anyone American and would give up information he shouldn’t.
Throughout the night Jim and Erin, the remaining three soldiers on their boat helped transfer food to the others. The movement of the small boats enabled them to really mess up any radar readings of the 13 sailboats and hide the Henson. The group was also starting to come together on the final journey North to Narva. Food was sorely welcomed everywhere. The men and women on the flotilla were growing weary and fishing was dismal.
In the late afternoon on the following day the boats began arriving at Narva. The Henson directed several of the sailboats to various docks in the large coast community. The Henson itself remained a good 7-8 miles behind and further out to sea. There were no signs of war vessels around from Russia or any other nation. Estonia’s coast guard was staying warm, and that wasn’t by mishap. The commander there had been bought off by an American posing as a smuggler bringing goods into Narva.
By the time night fell on Narva ten of the sailboats were docked. Jim and Erin were within eye site of the Henson now just a few miles out to sea from the Estonian port. There was an abundance of activity going on the Henson, but not a single light flashed. They were operating in the dark - whatever they were doing. Jim received a radio message from the Captain and acknowledged. He and a crew member were on their way to the Beneteau.
A few minutes before 10 pm the two men arrived, were dropped off by a Henson survival boat to which a small crew then sped off leaving Captain Mohr and an officer with Jim and Erin. The two remaining soldiers sped off with the survival craft. Mohr asked Jim to make way for St. Petersburg; we’ll take about 24 hours to get there. Please ask the other two boats to join one. Of those boats was the Cockers from Texas, and Jim dutifully radioed in the directions to them. The other two boats still had 5 soldiers on them each Jim thought. What would they do in St. Petersburg?
Mohr, Jim and Erin sat inside the cabin just past ten. The officer traveling with them was at the helm outside on the Beneteau. In about 10 minutes there is going to be quite a show, Mohr finally said, the next round. Jim was perplexed. What could he mean? Mohr went on to let Jim know he was too cavalier in asking the shopkeeper for help. However, since the shopkeeper was put there to benefit the flotilla weeks before it was alright. I’m happy you weren’t working for the Russians, but loose lips do sink ships. Jim felt embarrassed and Erin was silent. She didn’t think Jim had done anything wrong and Mohr was as much as saying so. Jim took things to literally sometimes.
When you guys planned out the attack in Dublin and made an impact on the Russian forces there it was a grand battle. You did a great thing, Mohr went on, but we’ve been unable to tell the world about it and other great things like it. We need to fix that, and tonight we’re going to. Jim was getting that hair curling feeling like he had when he learned of the attack on America. I think, Mohr said, we should step outside and pay our respects to the Henson. Jim, Erin and the Captain climbed up the stair to the back deck.
Just moments after they reached the deck a loud roar and a bright light lit up the sky from the Henson. It was clear, within seconds it was clear, a missile left the Henson. Moments later a second missile left the Henson. We’re a little close, Mohr said, speed up he motioned to his officer. Yes sir, he replied. Close, Jim thought? We’re a mile away it seemed, but since the sky was dark they could see the missile race off to the North. Here comes the the real one’s Mohr then said. Watching off to the North East the streaks in the sky were racing across the Henson to the South West. They were slightly off direction from the original two missiles leaving the Henson.
Speed up, again Mohr said, to his office at the helm of the sailboat. Got it maxed out the officer said, the Beneteau was doing about 8 knots - it's top speed. We’re ok the officer grimaced, we’re far enough away? Away from what Erin said. The Henson, Mohr noted, and he looked back at his ship.
Watching the Henson for a moment more missiles were quickly spotted in the sky. They’d witnessed missiles going North, missiles coming from behind them, and going South West and now there were missiles coming. And come they did, for the Henson, and in moments the old boat was destroyed by impact after impact of anti ship missiles. “Blown to smithereens” would be the best way to describe it. The Henson was gone in seconds.
The heat from the exploding Henson could be felt on the back of the Beneteau but the officer at the helm was right. The heat is all they’d fell. The fire of the Henson only lasted seconds and the old ship sunk. Everyone was off, Mohr said, mission accomplished on our end. What just happened Jim said, we just spent two weeks bringing the Henson to Narva to see it sink? Almost, Mohr smiled. Almost. Now you need to keep this to yourself, Mohr said, and I trust you because I know you are tru. He looked at Erin and said this secret applies to you as well. Erin nodded.
The four missiles that came from behind the Henson and flew over the Henson to the South West are headed for Moscow. They are going to strike two targets there. The two missiles launched from the Henson are going to barely reach a village outside of St. Petersburg. They will hit a building in Sanino just this side of St. Petersburg. They will destroy that building as the cruise missiles will destroy their targets in Moscow. Off the coast of Spain a few missiles are striking a site in Zaragoza. In Indonesia, India and of course in China there are assaults being played out on sites there. These are Internet “nodes.” They are all being destroyed Mohr smiled. In a few hours they won’t be able to block anything online. And we’re going to tell that story. Mohr was all smiles.
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