Harold Entwhistle rang for Half Astern on the engine room telegraph and spoke to the third hand without looking his way, “We’ll break free from this ice, Billy, and pull back to Stromness on South Georgia for a while, give the Ruskies time to do their thing.”
As they slowly backed up the bergs swirled. Some way off their stern the flows began to heave upwards and the sea churned. Slowly a huge dark grey conning tower rose from the depths, water pouring down its sides. Once at the surface the imposing submersible dwarfed the trawler. It was almost three times their length and the crew of the Ancaster watched as a group of sailors ran along the after deck to man a 14 cm/40 11th Year Type naval gun and target the radio room just aft of their bridge. Several officers appeared on top of the conning tower and their commander raised a megaphone to his mouth.
“Stand your men down, captain, and cut your engines. Touch the radio and we fire. For you, Tommy Atkins, this expedition is over.”
Several semi rigid inflatables detached from the submarine and sped across the narrow stretch of sea towards the trawler. As they approached Harold handed a weighted oilskin package containing the ships papers to his second in command.
“Dump this over the side where those buggers can’t see you, Smurthwait.”
Taking the packet the mate, a rough and ready bruiser with the unlikely and exotic name of Easter Smurthwaite, scuttled out of sight behind the accommodation, tossed it into the sea and watched it sink. He returned to the cluster of trawlermen as a large St Bernard dog padded nonchalantly across the deck to slip unobserved down the foc’sle scuttle. Moments later a heavily armed boarding party swarmed over the rail, formally arrested the crew of the Lord Ancaster and manhandled them firmly into the rubber ducks. A Prize Crew took charge of the trawler and it was underway towards an undeclared destination before Harold and his fellow prisoners had been ferried half way to the submarine. As they came alongside the hard, curving hull smart darkly uniformed matrosen (seamen) efficiently caught painters, made the inflatables fast and reached down to help the hostages in clambering up the side. Others pointed “Schmeisser” MP40 Maschinenpistolen down at the little group. Once on deck and still eyed warily by the armed sailors they were greeted politely by the vessel’s captain. He was tall and amiable with the easy air of a European aristocrat.
“I am Kapitänleutnant Felix Graf von Luckner and you, I believe are Kapitän Harold Entwhistle. Welcome aboard the Seeadler. She is, as I am sure you have observed, an ex-Japanese Sen Toku I-400-class submarine aircraft carrier.”
Harold had observed no such thing. At about 400 feet long with a large tube shaped aircraft hanger amidships and a fortress-like conning tower above and to port of the hanger he had never in his life seen any thing like this vessel. She sported eighty-five feet of compressed-air catapult along the forward deck, triple one-inch anti-aircraft guns around the conning tower, the 5.5-inch naval gun aft of the superstructure and exuded menace. Before he could register anything more about the warship Harold Entwhistle and his crew were escorted below. Billy Tate paused for one more look around him and was jabbed in the ribs with one of the Schmeissers. Kapitänleutnant von Luckner scowled.
“That will do, Heinrich.”