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Submarine NARHVALEN reported missing (1970):


The submarine NARHVALEN, that started the largest
search and rescue operation in Skagerak, in newer time.

Photo: Danish Navy)

The Admiral's Letter to the Relatives

When communication with NARHVALEN was lost, it needless to say, created worries in many homes.

Commander Admiral Danish Fleet, notified all of the relatives in a personal letter, which were posted as soon as contact with NARHVALEN were regained.

By Johnny E. Balsved/translated by Jakob Dalgaard

Admiral Danish Fleet had, during the night, with the aid of local police, informed the relatives of crewmembers on board NARHVALEN that all communications with the submarine had been lost.

This of course happened because Admiral Danish Fleet, didn't feel that the relatives should hear about the search through the morning papers or the news and create anxiety amongst the relatives.

All is well

Immediately after contact with NARHVALEN was regained, and the huge search could b cancelled, the Commander Admiral Danish Fleet, Rear-Admiral O. Brink-Lund, chose to mail a personal letter to all of the relatives. 

Here's what he wrote:

Rear Admiral O. Brinck-Lund

O. Brink-Lund,
Commander Admiral Danish Fleet


Commander Admiral Danish Fleet
Rear-Admiral O. Brinck-Lund
Europaplads 2, 8ooo Århus C

September 10,  1970


To:    the relatives of the crew of submarine NARHVALEN.


        I wish to express my deepest apologies, that I had to disturb You in the middle of the night, with the message that submarine NARHVALEN could be in trouble.

        When an "all is well-signal" wasn't received in due time, we first of all used all means available to establish contact with NARHVALEN. After an hour, still without any contact, we started a search with all vessels in vicinity of the presumed position of NARHVALEN. At the same time, we had several vessels on standby and ready for action. Since the possibility of the submarine being surfaced and okay, but not able to use its radios, we asked all civilian traffic in the area to keep a lookout for the submarine. Since such a request to civilian traffic, are broadcasted from civilian radio stations, the press was immediately alerted, and started to call the headquarter for information. If able, we always wish to inform the relatives first, so they wont have to hear about it in the news first. Even though, I personally would have preferred not to alarm You, I thought it right to inform You, when so many others had information about the situation, and I hope You feel the same way.

        At the present moment, I can't tell You what happened to the radio equipment on board NARHVALEN, but I ask of You to have no worries based on the incident last night. I my self has been on board NARHVALEN no more than 3 weeks ago, for a single night, and I had the opportunity to make myself familiar with the submarine and its crew. I have of course been around the submarine, along with its officers and engineers, where we discussed its capabilities, and there is no doubt in my mind that this submarine is the best submarine we’ve ever had in the Danish Navy. Based on that, our assessment last night was that the submarine wasn’t in any real danger, and a natural reason for the missing contact could be found. It is however a standard, even in our almost daily rescue operations, to act on the facts at hand, and rather put to much effort in the matter than to little. I sincerely hope that you agree with me on this issue, and hope that it also comforts You to see how swift and correct all units, even foreign units, involved in the situation has acted.

       I assume that you will hear more about the events of the night from your relative on board NARHVALEN, and as I once more apologizes for any harm done, I send You my kindest regards.


Signed O. Brinck-Lund

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Danske Søofficerer 1933-1982, edited by S. E. Pontoppidan and J. Teisen, published by Søe-Lieutenant-Selskabet, Copenhagen, 1984


Flådens skibe og fartøjer 1945-1995, by Gunnar Olsen and Svenn Storgaard, Marinehistoriske skrifter,  Copenhagen 1998 (ISBN 87-87720-13-2)

44You are also referred to the Naval Bibliography

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Submarine NARHVALEN reported missing



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This page was first published: February 23, 2003

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