A Dutch journalist with rare access to Cold War submarine veterans in the Netherlands tells a tale of high-stakes subsurface spying on Soviet warships during the early 1980s.
The surface of the Gulf of Hammamet, Tunisia, was dead calm as the Dutch submarine Tijgerhaai slowly cruised at periscope depth. A short distance from the lurking sub lay a Soviet Mirka -class corvette. While the Tijgerhaai 's Periviz camera zoomed in on the corvette's superstructure, inside the boat's control room Lieutenant Robin Snouck Hurgronje studied the camera's video screen. Not much was happening. After noticing some rusty spots on the ship's hull, he saw some sailors leaning on her railing, smoking cigarettes. Then it happened. One of the Soviet sailors slowly pointed directly at the periscope camera. At him!