Story 8 - Shadow in the Night.
"It looks like the boat is sinking," said Heather urgently. "Shouldn't someone radio for help? It seems to me they have lifeboats in the water beside them."
Ross ignored them.
Within seconds, the telescope was outfitted with a video attachment and a computer controlled tracking device. He opened a closet beside his desk that contained the electronics for it and a large screen.
"All right then, let's see," he said while the computer was scanning for the fishing boat.
"I suppose we will know in a few seconds whether the boat is sinking or not," I said to Ross.
"Pray that it is sinking," answered Ross.
Within moments the boat came into view in perfect focus, which was remarkable for the relative darkness and poor weather that was now upon us. Ross operated the computer, zooming in so that the boat filled the entire screen. Then he switched to image processing, and the boat stood out in perfect detail. It was rather chilling to watch a Russian warship in such detail. We could see the individual sailors on board. The boat certainly wasn't sinking.
"Look at this," Ross said. "It's one of the spy ships of the Soviet Northern Fleet, they have lots of these." He told us while we watched, that the Soviet's Northern Fleet is the largest of the four fleets of the Soviet Union. It is based at Murmansk on the Barents Sea, with the bulk of it being based farther south on the north side of the Kola Peninsula at a gigantic complex of naval bases and support installations that constitute the greatest concentration of military power anywhere in the world.
"Just look at the shape of the antenna on the lower stern deck, it's part of a high speed data link using satellite communication facilities. This goes all the way back to the Kola." He said the Kola complex is 60 km long and includes 16 complete air bases, all with runways of over 2000 meters. "It's the hub of the Soviet northern flank, and possibly the most defensible military location there is." The area is remote from population centers in northern Finland. It is superbly protected against air attacks by its location. It is hidden between mountains, but it is also protected against any possible naval intrusion, being situated at the end of an inland sea. He said the Kola is also the most forward air defense station the Soviet Union has against strategic bombers using the polar route from the USA against the Soviet heartland.
It certainly was amazing to realize how much was tied into this little fishing boat that we watched.
"They might be watching us on TV at the Kola," Tony joked.
"They could very well do that," said Ross. "They're watching the entire coastline, especially up here, near the Norfolk naval installations."
"They wouldn't be equipped with nuclear armed missiles?" Tony asked.
Ross shock his head. "Information gathering is their main reason for being here. In a ten minute nuclear war the precise timing of everything makes all the difference. They are monitoring everything that goes on."
Ross stepped aside and looked out of the window.
From there the boat was barely visible, in the growing darkness. "Damn! How dare they come so near to the coast!" he said angrily. "I wish the Coast Guard would believe me and chase them back out."
He went to the cabinet and turned the video recorder on. "They'll have to believe me now," he said.
I asked him what it was that the girls had recognized as lifeboats. I certainly couldn't see anything.
"They were on the left side," said Heather, "black, quite big, almost too big for lifeboats. There were two of them."