Danish Frogmen Captured by Russian Frogmen in 1964

July 24th, 2013  

Topic: Danish Frogmen Captured by Russian Frogmen in 1964

On March 27, 1967 the New York Times published a story from Reuters news, "Soviet Seizure of Frogmen in Denmark in '64 reported.:" Dated Copenhagen, March 27, Reuters said that "The Danish newspaper B. T. described today an underwater confrontation in which Soviet divers were reported to have captured Danish frogmen during a visit here by a Soviet cruiser in 1964. The danes, one of them a Marine, were taken aboard the cruiser Kosmolet, questioned, and then turned over to Danish police, the Copenhagen daily quoted one of the frogmen as having said. A Danish Navy spokesman denied any knowledge of the matter. The report recalled the disappearance of a British frogman, Cmdr. Lionel Crabb, in 1956 while the Soviet cruiser that brought the former Soviet Premier Nikita S. Khrushchev was anchored in Portsmouth Harbor. A headless body believed to be his was washed ashore in the remains of a frogman suit about a year ago. A skull thr\ought to be Commander Crabb's was found on a beach near Portsmouth three weeks ago." I sought more information about this incident several years ago and through the internet found a review of a history of the Danish Frogman Corps. I contact the reviewer and while he was not familiar with this and heard no mention of it, he obtained and sent me a copy and translation of the B. T. newspaper article, published March 27, 1967, as follows: "Underwater James Bond Drama at Langelinie--Danish Frogmen Captured Underneath a Soviet Warship. By: Kjeld B. Nilsson-- Denmark also has a Crabb affair. During the Soviet cruiser Kosmolet's stay at the Langelinie Pier in May 1964, along with cruisers Svetlyi and Spravedlyi, a Danish frogmen team was captured when they were surprised under the surface in Copenhagen harbor by Russian marines wearing frogman equipment. A situation otherwise known only from the James Bond movie "Thunderball." From the real world it is now put forward for the first time in B. T. at the same time as the British have found a skull by their southern coast, which is believed to explain what happened to the frogman Lionel Crabb during a Russian Navy visit in Portsmouth. The Russian frogmen, who were guarding their ship so vigorously in the Copenhagen harbor, did not kill any of the Danish swim-divers. Neither did they take any prisoners with them when they continued their voyage escorted by destroyers. In England it was long believed that the frogman Crabb was possibly led on board the cruiser Ordzonikidse that transported Bulganin and Krushchev to an official visit. A member of Parliament claimed in November 1964 that Crabb was alive in Russia. One of the unlucky Danish frogmen says that the Danish prisoners were led on board the Russian cruiser on a walkway on the outer side such that no one would notice it from the pier. In the officer's mess of the Kosmolet the Danish frogmen were subjected to interrogation, after which the frogmen were turned over to the Danish police upon notification to the Danish foreign ministry. This does not end the mystery. Although the frogmen that were let go belonged to the Danish Frogmen Corps--elite soldiers similar to Danish Jaegers, the commander of the Corps knows nothing about the matter. Captain-Lieutenant Christian H. Busck, who was also the chief of the 'swim-divers' in 1964, says, 'My God! This sounds truly amazing. Such a mission has never been carried out under official sanction from the Navy. But I remember being called up late one night by St. Kongensdage police station because some frogmen had dived down by the 'Ice Bear' icebreaker at Langelinie during the Russian Navy visit. It was about midnight. Undoubtedly a strange time to dive, and one of them had the misfortune of getting water in his goggles or air hose. But nothing big was made out of that story and the incident must be on the involved people's own account." But a frogman from the Navy has told B.T. that there was cold air--cold shoulder--around him and his comrades after the incident.They had the feeling they were in bad standing because they had given up immediately in order not to be killed. Christian Busck said "I do not know your source, but he sounds like a fantasist. Is there anything of interest under the bottom of a foreign warship anyway? I guess maybe there can be different things to see." The B.t. article was issued with photos of the Russian cruiser at dock with Soviet sailors working lines and of the Thunderball villain Largo demonstrating a speargun to his black-wetsuited frogmen.
The story of this confrontation underwater makes me curious. Crabb was inspecting a special type propulsion thruster under the Russian ship and this may have been a similar investigation.
One source told me he met a member of the Frogman Corps in 2010 and asked about this incident. The Danish frogman said he had heard rumors of it during his training but never any confirmation of it. I wonder if this incident occurred. Note that the Frogman Corps commander said a mission such as that would not have had "official sanction." that doesn't mean it did not happen. I can also understand it being hushed up as a secret matter, and also an embarrassment to the Danish Frogman Corps, if there divers surrendered underwater to Russian frogmen without a fight. Presumably they were outnumbered, the Russian divers were armed, so it was surrender or be speared, knifed, or drowned. I got no response to email inquiries to the Danish defense department, admiralty, and Danish Frogman Corps websites.

July 30th, 2013  
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August 8th, 2013  
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