Commentaries, Reminiscences and Sea Stories
Glenn Krochmal

The AGI Vertikal Incident
Posted on 9/02/2008

The AGI Vertikal started shadowing us in early 1965. It criss-crossed our fantail on numerous occasions and cut several magnetometers that the ship was towing. During one of the fantail crossings, sonar chief Skinner came out on the fantail with a gun and started shooting at the Russian trawler.

Another incident was when they came alongside us and ET1 Bogdanoff held up a sign that said "We have booze, if you bring the women". The Russian ship carried women as crew members. If memory serves properly PH1 Frank Martin had a sign from the Realist magazine that said "FUCK COMMUNISM" with the first word in Stars and Stripes and the second word solid red.

In September of 1965, Rodney Eveland (deceased) and I drank a bottle of wine and decided on playing a prank on the Russians. When we finished the bottle of wine, we put a pen light inside it, corked the bottle and dropped it over the fantail. We assumed it would drive the Russians nuts, when the light floated near them. Unfortunately, our original plan failed and the light was not visible to either ship. Being creative sorts of fellows, we then found a Styrofoam box, got a milspec battery, soldered two wires and a bulb to the battery, put them in the Styrofoam box, with the bulb exposed through the top, weighted it and used water-proof tape to seal it. Rodney and I proceeded back to the fantail with our new contraption and dropped it overboard. Rodney and I then went into the Loran-C space to see what would happen.

Eventually the MSTS seaman on watch noticed the bobbing light, which appeared to the look-out to be a signal light. At the same time the trawler started signaling our contraption. By that time, Commander Mellon appeared on the bridge with LTJG Roger Heuck in tow. Commander Mellon communicated with MSTS captain Bondeson about the apparent rendezvousing of the trawler with a Russian submarine. Commander Mellon yelled orders to Heuck to go to the radio shack and send a message. Heuck ran half way down the bridge ladder and we could hear his steps slowing. He slowly returned to the bridge and asked Commander Mellon what he should say in the message. Commander Mellon screamed "tell them there is a Russian submarine rendezvousing with the trawler!" A couple of hours later, we received a plain text message to head towards Belfast harbor via the North Sea.

At this point, Rodney and I were getting very worried that what had started out as a lark was beginning to become something much larger. During the night we received a encrypted message from MSTSLANT that instructed us to go into Belfast harbor and then head out through the Irish Sea. The next morning at sunrise a British Avro Shackleton MR.3 maritime patrol aircraft appeared over the Vertikal and started buzzing her until she ran up her colors (at that point neither ship had showed their colors). We then received instructions that control of the Dutton was being transferred from MSTSLANT to CINCUSNAVEUR and that we would no longer be told our next port of call until we were at sea. The Russians eventually dispatched 3 more trawlers to try and locate the Dutton. NATO had ordered NATO destroyers to shadow the trawlers. Eveland and I were terrified that we would end up in military prison. I never saw the Russian trawler again.

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