Northern Fury 1 AAR
By Joel Radunzel
The following article was the lead story on the front page of the morning edition of the New York Times on 14 February 1994. This was the headline:
WORLD WAR III ERUPTS AS SOVIET UNION LAUNCHES WORLDWIDE SURPRISE ATTACKS
And the sub-heading:
New York, other US port cities suffer missile, terrorist onslaught
The body of the story read:
Few if any in the West anticipated the incredible violence that has burst upon the world in the past twenty-four hours in the form of the bolt-from-the-blue surprise Soviet offensive that commenced globally at 1pm GMT yesterday. Even fewer could have anticipated that the great coastal cities of our own country would so rapidly be under siege in such a conflict. Yesterday’s attacks on New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Savannah, Miami, Seattle, and San Diego have brought home to Americans with historic brutality the unpleasant fact that our own shores are now a battleground.
Sources within the NYPD, the US Coast Guard, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and the Department of Defense have allowed us to piece together much of what occurred yesterday in the opening minutes and hours of the ongoing war that has come so violently to our city. Not since the “Happy Time” of the opening days of the Nazi World War II U-boat offensive has an enemy managed to threaten commerce so close to our coasts, and the Russian menace that has burst so quickly and unsuspected upon our consciousness has proved to be far more of a threat to our way of life than anything faced by the world in that last great conflict.
According to a Pentagon press release, the apparently premeditated Soviet offensive began in this hemisphere at 8am EST with a massive coordinated submarine-launched cruise-missile attack against civilian shipping outside of the major North American ports. The Pentagon brief speculated that targeting for the missiles may have been provided by infiltrators operating crude radars and sophisticated communication equipment from small civilian aircraft. Indeed, the New York Air National Guard is rumored to have shot down two of these aircraft, and others were observed landing at an improvised air strip near Rumson, New Jersey, where the small planes law enforcement officials later found them abandoned.
The Pentagon brief noted that aircraft from the New York Air National Guard, who were airborne south of Long Island due to the DEFCON 4 warning issued by the President yesterday morning, were able to shoot down several of the incoming missiles. Despite their valiant efforts and those of others around the country, it appears that as many as forty merchant ships were sunk outside American ports yesterday by the surprise attack. Outside New York harbor, the merchant vessels lost included the ships Greko, Happy Mariner, Atlantic Hermes, Nordic Bothnia, Steel Titan, Nasico Navigator, and Valley Road. By far the most tragic loss yesterday was that of the cruise ship RMS Queen Elizabeth II, which completing a trans-Atlantic crossing inbound to New York City. She was apparently struck by two missiles and sank southeast of Long Island with heavy loss of life.
According to an anonymous high-placed source within the US Coast Guard watch center at Sandy Hook, New Jersey, the Coast Guard’s rescue efforts were crippled from the beginning because two of the cutters assigned to New York Harbor, the USCGS Tahoma and USCGS Dallas, were both sunk in the opening minutes of the attack, the Tahoma apparently with all hands lost. According to the source, the Dallas was at that time engaged in boarding a Soviet intelligence trawler, the Kursograf, whose crew scuttled the vessel and also managed to shoot down Dallas’ rescue helicopter with a shoulder-launched missile. Several of the Russian crew were detained by the Dallas’ survivors, though their whereabouts are unknown.
In the outer harbor, another attack occurred when the Bulgarian flagged trawler SS Trog apparently dropped sea mines into the sea lanes entering the harbor. The cutter USCGS Adak was fired upon when she approached the vessel, but was able to halt and board her eventually. The source claims that the Adak engaged a small craft escaping the Trog with gunfire, killing and wounding several of the vessel’s occupants. The presence of mines in the outer harbor entrance was confirmed when one of the Staten Island ferries, en route to assist with rescuing survivors from the Queen Elizabeth II disaster, was slightly damaged by a powerful underwater explosion. The harbor patrol quickly halted all incoming and outgoing traffic until the safety of the harbor entrance could be assured.
The story continued on an inside page:
However, the events outside New York harbor form only a backdrop for the violence and tragedy that has engulfed our great city in what many are beginning to call the Valentine’s Eve attacks. Shortly after 8am yesterday, Sunday morning, upwards of twenty bombs exploded at various points around the five boroughs. While rescue efforts are still ongoing, it is clear today that these attacks were a coordinated assault upon the infrastructure and psyche of this city.
Five bombs exploded in subway stations across Manhattan, and another exploded amid the platforms at Penn Station, causing hundreds of casualties and wrecking several trains in the terminal. Alert NYPD officers foiled a similar attack at Grand Central Station and took the terrorists responsible for that failed attack into custody after a brief firefight that left one NYPD officer dead and another wounded, and also left three bystanders with serious gunshot wounds. The assailants are reported to be Russian ex-patriots residing until recently in Brighton Beach. Another bomb exploded inside the Holland Tunnel, and others targeted the George Washington and Robert F. Kennedy bridges.
The most deadly and spectacular attack of the morning occurred on the Manhattan Bridge, where a massive truck bomb exploded a dropped one of the bridge’s spans into the East River just as a passenger train was approaching. The train the plunged off the mangled bridge along with several motor vehicles and their occupants. As of this morning the estimate for casualties for this attack numbers around 250. Perhaps more importantly given global events, an Army Corps of Engineers officer who arrived to assess the damage was heard to comment that sea access to the Brooklyn Navy Yard would be impossible until the wreckage of the bridge and train could be dredged from the river. The officer refused to estimate how long he believed it would take for this to be accomplished.
In a rare bit of good news, an alert young NYPD officer on the Brooklyn Bridge uncovered a similar truck bomb to the one apparently used at the Manhattan Bridge and through bravery and quick thinking disarmed the device before it could explode.
Elsewhere, bombs exploded outside two NYPD precincts as well as the NYPD headquarters at 1 Police Plaza. Other bombs exploded outside City Hall, in the parking garage under the World Trade Center, and on Wall Street in front of the New York Stock Exchange. Casualties in these locations were thankfully small, given the relatively light traffic on a Sunday morning before Valentine’s day. However, all three locations remain closed until the FBI and NYPD investigate the attacks. Another attack on an NYPD precinct was stopped, though the terrorists remain in a standoff with officers this morning holed up in a nearby building.
Perhaps the most troubling attack for the life of this city are those that targeted our water supply and power generation. Bombs wrecked key equipment at two East River and Brooklyn power generation plants, and much of the city remains without electricity as of this morning. Even more troubling are the attacks that wrecked vital machinery at the Hillview Reservoir water distribution station and the Croton water filtration plant. While the mayor issued a press release saying that all efforts were being expended to get these vital facilities operating again, his assurances are little consolation to thousands of residents who are beginning to find their rooftop water tanks run dry of clean drinking water. Bottled water distribution points are being established by FEMA, but we as yet have no information to publish as to their location.
Similar terrorist attacks have targeted other port cities around the continent. In Canada, a massive bomb exploded in the locks of Welland Canal while another is reported to have exploded in the railroad tunnel through Rogers Pass in the Canadian Rockies. A spokesman for the Canadian government refused to speculate as to when the St. Lawrence seaway and the passes through the Rockies would be re-opened after the attacks.
Similar attacks have targeted other American port cities, though none quite so violent as those which have occurred here. The most spectacular attack outside of our city is no doubt the massive truck bomb that exploded on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. While the famous span seems to be intact, traffic is still closed from both directions, and casualties from the explosion are said to be very heavy.
The article transitioned with the sub-heading: Coast Guard rescue efforts hampered by war losses, terrorist attack
Magnifying the disaster of the submarine attacks was the fact that the Coast Guard’s loss of two of their three available cutters seriously limited the resources that could be brought to bear to rescue survivors. Nowhere was this more keenly felt than at Queen Elizabeth II disaster site. With all rescue ships larger than rigid hull inflatable boats unable to leave New York harbor due to the threat of mines, the whole weight of the maritime rescue effort fell upon the New York Air National Guard rescue squadrons stationed at Gabreski Airport on Long Island. HC-130s dropped supplies to the survivors while HH-65 and HH-65 helicopter performed turns between the sinking site and Winthrop Trauma hospital with the most seriously injured. Despite the continuous efforts by these brave airmen, the casualties from the cruise ship are sure to be staggeringly high. A rescue center for the sinking was established at Montauk beach and the ship’s life boats were directed there.
Survivors who provided statements stated that the crew of the ship performed admirably, but that the missiles had damaged many of the life boats and many of the surviving passengers were unable to reach alternate boats. An Air Guard helicopter pilot stated that the water around the ship was a scene of horror, dotted with the bodies of passengers who had expired in the water due to hypothermia. The heartless attack on this vessel is made even more sickening by the fact that many of the passengers and victims are elderly senior citizens.
Other rescue centers were established at Jones Beach and Brighton Beach further west on Long Island, and at Monmouth Beach on the Jersey Shore. These sites received the life boats and survivors from the other wrecks. Casualties from these were high as well, with on average have of each ship’s compliment lost, but none were on the scale of the QEII.
Despite the losses suffered by their organization, small boats from the Sandy Hook Coast Guard station did much work in rescuing survivors as well. However, if anyone wishes to doubt the desire of our enemies for as many of our mariners to perish at sea, they need look no further than the drama that occurred at the gate of the Sandy Hook compound as rescue operation were at their height. A savage firefight erupted at the vehicle entrance to the compound. Fortunately, a New Jersey National Guard platoon had been dispatched to secure the area with armored vehicles, and they met the onslaught, apparently composed of a Soviet Spetznaz team carrying small arms and explosives, with heavy machinegun fire. According to our source at Sandy Hook, all of the attackers, later identified as recent Russian émigré’s to the Brighton Beach enclave, were killed in the attack, though several civilians in the vicinity are reported to have been injured at well.
A final section was titled: Citizens ask, “where is the military?”
In the aftermath of yesterday’s attack, many Americans, and indeed many citizens of this city have expressed anger that the allegedly most advanced and powerful military on the planet was unable to protect them from yesterday’s shocking attacks. While these criticisms are certainly justified, our men and women in uniform did exact revenge on our tormentors yesterday. According to a highly placed source at Sandy Hook, P-3 Orion patrol aircraft and a ready force of two ships, a destroyer and a frigate, combined to sink two submarines east of the Chesapeake peninsula during the day yesterday. The source also passed along a rumor that a third enemy submarine was dispatched by a transiting American hunter killer submarine. The Pentagon refused to confirm or deny these reports, and issued a sharp criticism of the Coast Guard’s lax operational security when dealing with the media.
Regardless, if the intent of yesterday’s attack was to chill the will of this nation to face our enemies, it was a spectacular failure, as evidenced by the unity expressed by our citizens and elected leaders, and even more tellingly by the lines of young people lined up at military service recruiting stations. These attacks have hurt us, but in the end, much like the infamous attack on Pearl Harbor, they have only managed to awaken a sleeping giant. As the Soviet onslaught proceeds around the world, particularly in Europe and in the Arctic, we will do well to remember that the opening weeks and months of the last war seemed bleak as well. This reporter is confident that this nation and its allies will emerge from this conflict as victoriously as we did from the last, provided our leaders can prevent the use of nuclear weapons. One bright spot from yesterday’s attack is the fact that the Russians appear to be attempting to send a message that they could have initiating the war with a devastating nuclear strike. Indeed, news footage from Andrews Air Force Base shows that Air Force 1 did not depart until some minutes after the first missiles began to sing ships off the coast. The fact that they did not do so is telling, and should be reassuring for many who fear that the end of the world is nigh.