Research notes: The militarized Atlantic – From Norfolk and Halifax to the Irish and Baltic seas

Work in progress by Tony Seed

A report conducted by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) – published in July – found that the two vessels came within 50-100 metres of each other during the horrific incident on November 6, 2018. The investigation revealed that it was the third time in four years that a submerged Royal Navy submarine had narrowly missed a calamitous collision with another vessel.

The Stena Superfast V11 ferry was travelling from Belfast in Northern Ireland to Cairnryan in Scotland, when it was forced to take “immediate action” and alter its course to save the 215 passengers and 67 crew onboard – having spotted the submarine’s periscope just 250 yards (229 metres) ahead. The ferry has the capacity for 1,300 passengers.

The two-year probe found that the sub had miscalculated that it was 1,000 yards away when the ferry swerved. It was actually a quarter of that distance away from disaster.

This was an unsafe event and placed the ferry’s passengers and crew, as well as the submarine and its crew, in immediate danger. It was only the vigilance and alert action of the ferry’s officers who averted a crash.

Reflecting a lack of concern for safety, the MAIB report focuses on technical issues of submarine operation. Official bureaucratic definitions differ from what the public or a lay person might think of as an accident. Clearly it is categorizing it as a minor event of operational procedure while the public does not.  The “safety-critical decisions” it states might have appeared rational at the time but were in fact “based on inaccurate information.” The naval commander under-estimated the speed of the Stena ferry. In fact, it was the ferry that took corrective action to avoid collision after spotting the submarine’s periscope. Ferry passengers and the crew on both vessels had been “in immediate danger”, the report admitted. Such is the purported high level of sophistication of military nuclear technology.

The warship is based at the Trident Royal Naval Faslane base located on the Clyde River just south of the city of Glasgow, Scotland. The site is made up of two main parts – Faslane on the Gareloch, where the submarines are based, and Coulport on Loch Long, eight miles away, where the warheads are stored. Coulport possesses a huge floating dock where warheads are placed inside the missiles, 3km from the small village of Garelochhead on one side and the small village of Ardentinny on the other. The sites are kept separate ostensibly for safety reasons. 5,200 people live within 5 km of Faslane and fewer close to Coulport. Glasgow, just 25km away from Faslane, has a population of about 600,000.

Because there are but few navigable routes, the Irish Sea which is relatively shallow – historically it was a lake – can be effectively partially or completely closed using sea mines and missiles. This is exactly what would be needed in a war with Russia, in which the Irish Sea and others like it such as the Baltic Sea and the North Sea are seen as a “buffer zone” in US and NATO military doctrine. The major powers would compete for military control of that sea. Both sides of the conflict would be seeking to block the other side’s use of and access to the Irish Sea – not only for warships, but also for cargo vessels.[10]

The most prominent British military base is Faslane located on the Clyde – a mere thirty miles from the city of Glasgow, Scotland. This is Britain’s nuclear submarine base. From here Trident boats sail out threatening unimaginable slaughter to vast numbers, maintaining a continuous round-the-clock patrol seven days a week, year in, year out – a posture called continuous at-sea deterrence. Each of the submarines is equipped with as many as 40 highly accurate thermonuclear warheads on U.S.-designed and -built Trident II (D-5) missiles. The Scottish people for decades have vigorously demanded that it be dismantled despite thousands of arrests of protestors by British police and security forces. Its uninvited presence has become a key issue in the struggle for Scottish independence. Under the Scottish parliament, the people of Scotland have no sovereignty over defence questions, which are reserved under the dictate of Westminster. “Trident is an affront to basic decency with its indiscriminate and inhumane destructive power,” the Scottish government declared in a November 2013 brief for independence. “Billions of pounds have been wasted to date on weapons that must never be used and, unless we act now, we risk wasting a further [100 billion pounds], over its lifetime, on a new nuclear weapons system.” The name “Trident” technically refers to the missile, but the term is used in the UK to mean the entire system.

Map of the GIUK gap

In his book Fortress Scotland (1983) Malcolm Spaven described the crucial strategic role played by Scotland during the Cold War. Due to its’ geographical location Scotland would act as the “cork” for the bottleneck of the North Atlantic “Greenland-Iceland-UK Gap” (GIUK) through which NATO and Soviet naval and air forces would move and clash during periods of tension and in the build-up to war. “As a consequence,” Spaven writes, “Scotland became host to a wide range of military establishments acting as a vital monitoring station, launching point and supply base for NATO forces.” Russian submarines in particular wanted to latch on to ballistic missile subs in transit to their patrol area as was demonstrated by a CIA document declassified in January 2017 that highlighted a collision between a Russian and US submarine just thirty miles from Glasgow over four decades ago. On November 3, 1974 the same USS Nathanael Greene during departure from Holy Loch collided with Soviet K-306 submarine of Victor-I class. The US submarine sustained significant hull damage and was towed to the US Holy Loch dry dock base for inspection and repair. [11] All information about the incident was immediately suppressed and classified by the US for more than 40 years. CIA sources claimed that it was the USS James Madison, not the Greene.

Since the end of the Cold War, the Western powers shifted their crosshairs to the Middle East and other “Out of Area” regions; now Europe once again preoccupies its bellicose agenda. Since NATO’s strategic orientation towards a conflict with Russia, submarine hunting has become a key military capability as before. In the case of warfare, the naval activity in the North Sea, Irish Sea and North Atlantic is supposed to contribute to preventing Russian warships from entering the North Atlantic as well as transiting to the Middle East and perhaps the South Atlantic. In a 2019 review of US naval operations, the US Naval Institute Proceedings (USNI) highlighted that “the Navy stepped up operations in the Atlantic and maintained a steady presence in the Pacific, [although] the service’s operations in the Middle East grabbed the most headlines.” 

Both Scotland and Iceland are regaining the geopolitical importance they had in the Cold War which, in other words, resolved nothing that served the interests of the peoples. For its part, Scotland itself has become increasingly important as a training ground for the troops, sailors and air-crews of both Britain’s and NATO’s military forces and as a testing ground for their new weapons. Regular exercises are held of NATO battlegroups in the Irish and North seas off the northwest coast of Scotland, e.g., Joint Warrior and Noble Mariner, aimed at blocking the sea lanes to the Northern Fleet of Russia.

The militarization of the North Atlantic sea lanes to the US and NATO has increased with massive exercises such as Trident Juncture 2018, Cutlass Fury 2016 and 2019, originating in Halifax, and Defender Europe 2020. Each exercise is announced as “the largest ever” or “the argest since the Cold War” to fuel a psychosis of war. One of the US and NATO’s aims in Defender Europe 2020 was an exercise in the logistics of waging a war in Europe against Russia, where in fact no threat exists. Taken as a whole, the underlying scenario of these major inter-related exercises indicate that they rehearsed the transportation of troops and war materiel from Canadian and US ports and US airfields to Scandinavia and Europe and the movement of troops within Europe to the borders of Russia, including preliminary naval manoeuvres on the East Coast of North America and the mid-Atlantic as in Cutlass Fury 2016 and 2019, presented as “one of the largest naval exercises in Canadian history.” An important aim is also the prepositioning of supplies such as tanks in Europe. To this end, the USA demands the integration of all NATO naval forces, which operate according to NATO covenants under its direct command, and adherence to US military doctrine through “inter-operability,” which is rehearsed in such exercises. [13] “Inter-operability” does not merely apply to operations; it demands NATO members adhere to one lingua franca (English); “standardized” designs of warships, weapons platforms and communications, e.g., computer code; constant upgrading of military capability, all of benefit to US and European arms monopolies; and the elimination of national units during naval operations. It is indicative that Canada has no indigenous naval theory of maritime defence nor tactics. Practical training of naval and air force personnel in the main is through military exercises with the US and NATO.

One British Trident submarine from Faslane still lurks, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, somewhere in the North Atlantic. Meanwhile, Britain is building a new class of submarines, the Dreadnought class of ballistic submarines which are not expected in service until the 2030s, which could lead to a worn-out state of the currently operational subs of the current Vanguard-class, which entered service in the early 1990s and was set to serve for 25 years.

In addition, the number of encounters between the militaries of Britain and Russia has increased recently as Russian vessels pass by the UK on their way from the Northern Fleet’s bases in Severomorsk to the Tarus naval base in Syria.

Canada steps up in continuation of the Cold War: “The fourth Battle of the Atlantic”

Participation in NATO’s warmongering agenda to advance the militarization of the Atlantic Ocean and the northwestern and eastern states of Europe is a major strategic objective of the Canadian government, with its wild dreams of exporting oil and liquified natural gas (LNG) from East Coast ports and the financing of Green Energy projects to supplant Russia as an independent energy source in those regions and at the same time flood the world with fracked oil in total disregard for the social and natural consequences. This is shocking to say the least. The use of new technology not to serve the well-being of humanity but to destroy competitors and further the aim of US hegemony to rule the world is obvious both in the economy and warfare and is a serious indictment of the ruling elite. Already, some 20 years ago, the Canadian Forces designated – out of all the countries in Europe – three as its “strategic partners”: Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine. It sponsored the annual infantry Maple Arch exercise composed of infantry forces from these states, whose venue rotated from one country to the other.

In the northern seas, the Royal Canadian Navy, which first appeared in the Black Sea in 1991 and in subsequent Sea Breeze and Operation Reassurance exercises, has once again been activated as part of the subservient foreign and military policy of the Trudeau government in Europe.

In view of the Cold War with the former Soviet Union, Canada permanently contributed a warship to the unprecedented multinational NATO Fleet formed in January 1968, Standing Naval Force Atlantic, headquartered in Norfolk, Va. It immediately began to patrol the Caribbean Sea where European NATO powers maintained colonies, naval bases and extensive capital investments. In parallel, Canada staged annual naval manoeuvres codenamed Springboard and Caribops and participated in the Caribbean Basin Initiative of the Reagan administration. Successive governments commissioned:

• the drafting of the design for the Halifax-class frigates as part of the NATO Frigate Construction program – launched in 1979 by setup of the Naval Industry Advisory Group under Atlantic Council for building 100 frigates of a standard design in member states by the 1990s – the contract was awarded to the Irving monopoly in June, 1983 – to specialize in anti-submarine warfare; destroyer- and land-based ASW helicopters and aircraft;

• the Canadian Air/Sea Transportable (CAST) Brigade formed in 1986;

• new ships allegedly to clear mines in Canadian waters (delivered as the Kingston-class coastal defence vessel);

• the development of Canadian operated naval and space assets for communication and reconnaissance;

• the $320-million“modernization” plan for CFB Halifax in parallel with the expansion of the transportation infrastructure of the Port of Halifax, which was taken over by Ceres, a US shipping monopoly;

• acquiesced to the designation and use by the Pentagon of CFB Shearwater as a “forward deployment base”; and

• launched an unprecedented broad program to militarize public space and culture.

Highlighting the value of Halifax as a strategic base, these initiatives were in line with Pentagon plans to transport six whole divisions to Europe within ten days of mobilization. Transportation and reinforcement logistics were rehearsed through major war exercises such as Northern Wedding (1970 to 1986) and Brave Lion (1986) from the Port of Halifax to Scandinavia and Western Europe, as during the two World Wars. A chimerical plan of the Mulroney government in June 1987 to acquire a fleet of 10-12 nuclear-attack submarines was a boat too far and died on the drawing table.

One of the main functions assigned by the US and NATO to Maritime Command of the Canadian Forces was to use its frigates as police boats in the North Atlantic, i.e., the liaison route to Europe. This included using the pretext of fisheries surveillance as far out as the mid-Atlantic well beyond Canada’s eventual 200 mile Exclusive Economic Zone (1977); this began in 1954 shortly after the formation of NATO with the creation of the International Commission for the North Atlantic Fisheries – a full two years before the first arrival of Soviet fishing vessels off Cape Race in 1956, the year Khruschov came to power through coup d’état to reverse the Lenin-Stalin path of socialism and the self-reliant development of food and lake, river and coastal fisheries.

In addition, Canada established a command centre at Naval Air Station Keflavik in Iceland. Rotating detachments of Canadian Forces CP-140 Aurora, Royal Netherlands Navy P-3, German Navy Breguet Atlantique and Royal Air Force Hawker Siddeley Nimrod MR2 maritime patrol aircraft augmented the US occupying forces.

In parallel, the US and NATO extended the  geography of the “Battle of the Atlantic” to the Caribbean and the South Atlantic, in which Canada avidly participated in the Springboard and Caribops exercises. On the sea, there were threatening displays of force that included hundred of fighter panes, frigate, gigantic aircraft carries, and thousands of troops simulating invasions and ground operations, some at Guntánamo, some at Vieques in Puerto Rico. In 1981, for instance, NATO “was involved in the South Atlantic contingency plan in conjunction with Latin American navies, known as Ocean Venture 81. The operation aimed to keep safe routes in the North and South Atlantic and the Baltic, including NATO members, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Uruguay, Venezuela,Chile, South Africa. Although this activity occurred outside the NATO official command, five areas were monitored, reinforcing the interoperability among the navies.” (NATO and the South Atlantic, Carlos Gustavo Poggio Teixeira and Daniella da Silva Nogueira de Melo, Austral Conjuncture, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, vol. 10, no.51 |July/September 2019 academia.edu 2456/21 78-8839.929 34 )

During Ocean Venture, the invasion of Cuba was rehearsed. In parallel, the US had established CORU in 1976 as its umbrella group of Cuban-American terrorists as well as Operation Condor. In the first ten months CORU took credit for a new wave of violence including assassinations which spread throughout the whole region and other countries: fifty bombings in Miami, New York, Venezuela, Panama, Mexico, Argentina and even Europe and Canada. The attacks were aimed at the economic lifelines of the Republic of Cuba, including tourism, trading partners, the sea lanes and its maritime fisheries. Throughout the Ford, Carter and Reagan presidency terrorist attacks paralleled by military manoeuvres flowed one after the other almost without interruption. The volume and extent of these were unprecedented. In 1984 the US Navy illegally mined the harbours of Nicragaua, which was rehearsed in Canadian harbours in autumn 1982 (Operation Minex in the Bedford Basin and St. Margarets Bay).

Reactivation of the Second Fleet 

The US, for its part, created the Second Fleet after World War II. The area of responsibility of the Navy-controlled US Atlantic Command (LANTCOM), a unified command headquartered in Norfolk, Virginia, was over all joint US military actions in the Atlantic Ocean from the North Pole to the South Pole including the Caribbean Sea; the Norwegian, Greenland and Barents Sea; the waters extending around Africa extending to the Cape of Good Hope; and the Pacific Ocean west of Central America. The Second Fleet organized the maritime blockade of Cuba and the invasion of Grenada in October, 1983, both of which Canada participated in. LANTCOM had assigned elements from all three services, but the US Navy’s Atlantic Fleet was by far the largest component and steadily increased in size and combat power. In 1983, it comprised six aircraft carriers, 103 escort vessels, 41 nuclear submarines and 720 combat aircraft. By 1991 it comprised some 312 active and reserve ships, 1,100 aircraft, 29 fleet ballistic submarines, and more than a quarter million personnel.[]

Together with those of Britain, France and the USSR, the US fleets with aircraft carriers as their epicentre constituted huge permanently mobile military bases, often used to signal the possibility of U.S. bombing as they are brought to “trouble spots” around the world and which were the primary base of U.S. air power during the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The US Navy refers to each aircraft carrier as “four and a half acres of sovereign U.S. territory.” These moveable bases and their land-based counterparts and support bases are just the most visible part of the larger picture of US military presence overseas.

At the same time, the US Navy had full freedom of action in ports and naval bases on Canada’s east coast, and access to US sea, land and air bases on foreign soil dotting the perimeter of the Atlantic basin together with strategically-located islands under European colonial rule. These included two airforce bases in Greenland, one air and one naval base in Iceland, three naval bases in Bermuda, four naval bases in the UK, an air force base in the Azores, not to overlook Roosevelt Roads and Vieques in Puerto Rico, US bases in the Panama Canal, or the negotiations initiated in January 1983 with the government of Newfoundland to establish a new NATO “training” base in Labrador. Extraterritoriality arrangements through Status of Forces Agreements (SOSA) stipulate immunity of American forces from the sovereign criminal jurisdiction of the host nation or colony, granted to US armed forces personnel and crews of its warships. A dense infrastructure was built to support this fleet, along the ocean floor, the shorelines and satellite navigation systems. One such system was a top secret network known as SOSUS, standing for Sound Surveillance System. Strategic islands serve the military logistical bases also for the economic exploration of natural resources and scientific research. British interests in the South Atlantic, for example, are mostly related to its overseas territories which involve the Falkland Islands, St. Helena, Ascension, Tristan da Cunha, South Georgia, and South Sandwich. The spread of bases, their material support, allows the US and NATO navies to change submarine crews in strategically important areas of the world’s oceans without returning the boats to the main bases. This allows actual doubling of the patrol period of one submarine. Nevertheless, the Royal Navy was stunned by the inability of its submarines to sink the Argentinian aircraft carrier during the 1982 Malvinas (Falklands) war and the skill of its anti-submarine specialists to escape detection for over one week.

On July 1, 2008 the US reactivated the Fourth Fleet as a major command of the United States Navy in the South Atlantic – responsible for U.S. Navy ships, aircraft and submarines operating in the Caribbean, and Central and South America – operating as a component of the joint US Southern Command under the command of RADM Joseph D. Kernan, a leading war strategist who was currently serving as Commander, Naval Special Warfare Command. The Fourth Fleet was originally established in March 1943, during World War II, along with the other numbered fleets. Redesignating the South Atlantic Force, it was a relatively small light cruiser and destroyer force with a very wide field of operations and a variety of duties. It ranged from Central America and the Panama Canal to the western South Atlantic and the mid-ocean garrison of American forces established on Ascension Island (Britain) in 1942, escorting convoys to West Africa, intercepting blockade runners that were operating from the Far East around Cape Horn to Axis Europe, and searching for Axis submarines and surface raiders. (The Framework of Hemisphere Defense, Stetson Conn and Byron Fairchild, p. 322) It was later absorbed by U.S. Second Fleet and disbanded in 1950. “The reactivation of the Fourth Fleet in 2008 represented the USA’ quest to strengthen its power projection over the South Atlantic.” (MACLAY et al. The Fourth Fleet: A Tool of U.S. Engagement in the Americas. Washington: Center for Strategic International Studies, February 2009. ) Demonstrations were immediately organized against the Fourth Fleet. In Brazil, the senate rejected this reactivation and four senators went to the US embassy in order to ask for it not to come. In Venezuela, president Chavez considered this a US attempt to frighten South American peoples, because the fleet was headed by Kernan. Cuban president Fidel Castro warned that it could be related to the Colombian intervention in neighbouring countries under Plan Colombia. It is based at Mayport Naval Station in Jacksonville, Florida and is responsible for U.S. Navy ships, aircraft and submarines operating in the Caribbean, and Central and South America. The Forth Fleet had no fixed staff or infrastructure. It was to operate using ships of the Atlantic Fleet and was reportedly likely to be composed of: one Aircraft Carrier Battle Group, with a Nimitz nuclear carrier; surface ships and submarine escorts; two attack ships, each with 1,870 marines; five AV-8 Harrier fighter-bombers, 42 Sea Knight transport helicopters; six SH-60B anti-submarine warfare helicopters; three air cushion landing boats; and several destroyers, frigates, submarines and logistic ships.

During the periods of relative detente in transatlantic-Russian relations, the US Navy dissolved the Second Fleet in 2011, reestablishing it on May 4, 2018. The prime driver for the recreation of U.S. Second Fleet is said to be Russian naval activity. Pentagon spokesman Johnny Michael declared that “NATO is refocusing on the Atlantic in recognition of the great power competition prompted by a resurgent Russia,” citing that as the reason for the reestablishment of the fleet.

However, Russia does not have such bases. Submarines, after a campaign, are forced to return to their permanent deployment stations. Furthermore, the ability of its navy to carry out one of its most important tasks, the deployment of naval strategic nuclear forces, is in doubt. Nuclear and diesel submarines deployed without surface cover are defenceless and blind. An analysis by South Front of Russian maritime doctrine concludes “ the maximum which could be expected would be the defence of its own bases and parts of the Russian coast with demonstrations in seas close to Russian territory.”

Unlike the other numbered fleets in the U.S. Navy, the Second Fleet does not have fixed geographic boundaries. Its “area of responsibility” covers the Western half of the Atlantic Ocean and the Arctic, while the other half is covered by the Sixth Fleet, based in Naples, Italy, whose boundaries include the eastern Atlantic.

The Navy declared the Second Fleet operationally capable in May, 2019. The fleet’s first mission was commanding massive BALTOPS 2019 exercises in the Baltic Sea. References to Russia during the exercise were limited. Much of the exercise occurred near the Russian Kaliningrad territory, located between Poland and Lithuania, and home to a large Russian naval base.

NATO’s Atlantic Command

Two months later, the NATO Summit held in Brussels July 11-12, 2018 meanwhile confirmed the strengthening of its control structure, creating a new joint NATO command, Atlantic Command, which is mainly to work against Russia. Its headquarters – the Norfolk Naval Station in Virginia, the largest naval station in the world, reduplicated the Naples Joint Force Command with headquarters in Lago Patria (Naples, Italy). The Atlantic Command was to be constituted against “the Russian submarines which threaten the lines of maritime communication between United States and Europe,” with a new Joint Support and Enabling Command – in Ulm, Germany – as a “deterrent” against Russia. The German centre was declared with initial operational capability on September 17, 2019 with the main tasks of supporting NATO forcesrapid movement of troops and equipment into, across, and from Europe, along with the facilitation of rapid forward deployment of allied reinforcements.

What then would be the role of the Atlantic Command?  “The North Atlantic is vital for the security of Europe” – declared NATO secretary-general Stoltenberg – – “Our new  Atlantic Command will ensure crucial routes for  reinforcements and supplies from North America to  Europe remain secure.”

Just as the NATO command in Naples is under the orders of the Admiral who commands the US naval forces in Europe including the Sixth Fleet, the NATO command in Norfolk is under the orders of the Admiral who commands the US Second Fleet. The new “Allied” Norfolk command is, therefore, de facto part of the Pentagon’s chain of command as is the command in Naples.

The highest naval office in NATO, Marcom and the NATO Strike Fleet, is always reserved for a U.S. Admiral based at the naval base in Norfolk, Virginia, who is the US Commander, Second Fleet Atlantic (C2F). His deputy is British. Norfolk, the largest naval base in the world, thus hosts both the new Atlantic Command of NATO and the Second Fleet. Norfolk now constitutes the command of the East Coast Canadian naval forces based in Halifax, something not even discussed in the parliament. This is another means whereby the Canadian government has voluntarily abdicated its powers and responsibilities to a foreign power, thereby contravening its mandate to protect the country’s sovereignty, territory, security, and the well-being of its people. The American domination of the armed forces extends to its domination of the officer corps, replacing the previous British domination. Most of its capital-intensive armaments and equipment are also American served by an expanding war economy. US arms monopolies such as Lougheed Martin employ leading officers such as General Bouchard who commanded the US-NATO air war that destroyed Libya. Lougheed Martin goes so far as to maintain offices right on the CFB Halifax naval base to ensure their interests.

Militarizing Iceland and Greenland

In parallel, the United States is militarizing Iceland and Greenland. Iceland was long called the US “aircraft carrier,” one of many throughout the world. Since the US invasion of Iceland on July 7, 1941 US military doctrine has conceptualized the mid-Atlantic island along with the Portuguese Azores as US imperialism’s “stepping stone” and the “door to Europe”, Africa and the Middle East.[12] Iceland and particularly Greenland have been growing in their strategic importance with the impending opening of Arctic sea routes and exploitation of Arctic natural resources.

Already, in 2017, the Pentagon announced its intention to modify the largest hangar at the Keflavik Airport base in Iceland to house new Boeing P-8 Poseidon ASW aircraft being introduced. That same year, the US ordered a US$40,000,000 upgrade for its radar systems at the US Air Force base in Thule, Greenland which is a component of NORAD and the Ballistic Missile Early Warning System, accompanied by increased sabre-rattling about Russia as a nuclear threat and fear-mongering about recent Russian military forays into the Arctic as if the island peoples have no independent choice between part of the West or the East.

On August 28, 2019 according to a press release from the US Air Forces in Europe & Air Forces Africa, two B-2 bombers landed in Keflavík, where a “hot-pit refuelling” was conducted, wherein the plane is refuelled without shutting down the engines. “The use of strategic bombers in Iceland helps exercise Naval Air Station Keflavik as a forward location for the B-2,” the statement reads in part, “ensuring that it is engaged, postured and ready with credible force to assure, deter and defend the U.S. and its allies in an increasingly complex security environment.” All this just before the visit from US Vice President Mike Pence, who was condemned by a mass rally on September 4 held at Austurvöllur, the square in front of Iceland’s Parliament.

In September, 2019 2nd Fleet opened an expeditionary Maritime Operations Center in Keflavik. USNI Proceedings reported that “The centre is designed to monitor North Atlantic Russian submarine activities. The centre also opened as a Surface Action Group – the escorts initially intended to deploy with Truman – entered the region covered by the operations centre.”

In April 2020, the US Air Force entrusted Raytheon Co. to produce a new long-range cruise missile, armed with a nuclear warhead for the B-52 bombers. With these and other strategic nuclear attack bombers, including the B-2 Spirit, the US Air Force has made over 200 sorties over Europe since 2018, mainly over the Baltic and the Black Sea close to Russian airspace. On August 28, 2020 six US Air Force B-52 strategic bombers flew over the thirty NATO countries in North America and Europe in a single day, flanked by eighty fighter-bombers from allied countries in different sections in a large exercise called “Allied Sky”. Said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, it demonstrates “the powerful commitment of the United States to the Allies and confirms that we are able to deter aggression.” The allusion to “Russian aggression” in Europe is evident. 

Canada too once again became quietly involved in Iceland. 

The voyage of the the USS Harry S. Truman Strike Group

RCN frigate HMCS Halifax (FFH 330), aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) and guided-missile destroyer USS Forest Sherman (DDG-98) participate in a formation exercise off coast of Halifax on September 11, 2018 | USN photo

On August 24, 2018 the United States formally re-established its Second Fleet in a ceremony at Norfolk. Four days later, the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group departed from Norfolk on August 28 “to support maritime security operations, provide crisis response capability, and increase theater security cooperation efforts and forward naval presence in the US 2nd Fleet area of operations.”[14] This force is, as its name boasts: a strike group – with nine squadrons of jet aircraft, thousands of missiles, 6,500 sailors, and six warships. Carrier strike groups comprise a principal element of US power projection over the world’s oceans. The fleet included the Canadian warship, HMCS Toronto, which had been undergoing “a maintenance upgrade” in Norfolk for reasons unknown; its home base of Halifax has shipyards and boasts “We build ships.”

On August 29, the USS Harry S. Truman and the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carriers began dual-carrier operations. Statements issued at the time in the US naval press demonstrated that these operations were offensive in nature, not defensive as claimed. “The training conducted with Harry S. Truman Strike Group enabled us to increase our lethality and tactical proficiency. It also demonstrated our Navy’s ability to achieve and maintain sea control,” said the Abraham Lincoln Strike Group Commander Rear Adm. John Wade.

From September 10 to 12, the Truman Strike Group and the Royal Canadian Navy conducted Second Fleet “bilateral operations in the North Atlantic,” that is, off the coast of New England and Nova Scotia, where it was joined by HMCS Halifax. The exercise was conducted formally “under the direction of U.S. Northern Command’s Navy Component Command, U.S. Navy North” – an instrument of military integration of the Canadian Forces. The defence of the US “homeland” included the “visit” of the guided-missile destroyer USS Arleigh Burke, which was deployed from the strike group to berth in Halifax on September 7. No press release was issued by Maritime Command to explain its presence, hence no mention of it was made in the Halifax and Canadian media. “Bilateral exercises between the U.S. and Canada contribute to building a more lethal force through realistic training in a challenging environment, while strengthening the NATO alliance,” declared Commander, US Second Fleet, Vice Adm. Andrew Lewis in a release from the Truman Carrier Strike Group Public Affairs on the conclusion of the operations.[15]

The next stop of the American strike group was Iceland. On September 19, the nuclear-powered Nimitz-class aircraft carrier hosted the Icelandic Minster of Foreign Affairs, Gudlaugur Thor Thordarson, five members of the Icelandic parliament – even though Iceland officially purports to be a nuclear-free zone – and ambassadors from Canada, Germany and the United Kingdom who “traveled aboard to observe operations and meet with command leaders and Sailors.” In a press release, it now explained its purpose: “USS Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group’s presence secures vital European sea lanes that underpin global commerce and prosperity.[16] The operation involved ferrying Icelandic politicians to the aircraft carrier in two Grumman Greyhound aircraft, breaking the city of Reykjavík’s law regarding military craft in Iceland’s capital.

However, nobody in Canada talked about all this, neither the monopoly media (including social media) nor the political world, where an absolute multi-partisan silence of the pro-NATO cartel parties reigns over all this. 

Trident Juncture 2018

So nothing was said when the “privileged ally” began the mega war game Trident Juncture 2018 in the North Atlantic one month later with other NATO forces including the same Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group, all under US command. Truman’s voyage north of the Arctic Circle was the first for an aircraft carrier since USS America (CV-66) operated there in September 1991 during NATO exercise North Star, according to a Navy news release, cited by USNI Proceedings. This an exercise of unprecedented size, the largest NATO exercise in decades with now more than 50,000 personnel involved,  in which the US and NATO bases in Canada, Iceland and Scotland and the sea lanes played a major part. Far from being a simple exercise, it was aimed at world domination, eradicating the ideal of neutrality in the Nordic countries, and press-ganging directed against Russia. 

Partial map of Trident Juncture. Click to enlarge

In Iceland, some 400 US Marines from 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, disembarked from convertibles and helicopters from the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship Iwo Jima at Sandvík in Reykjanes, and “secured” Keflavik International Airport in southwestern Iceland, where Poseidon P-8A aircraft had arrived from Sigonella, Italy to take part in the hunt for enemy submarines, and then departed for Norway. The warship carried nearly 2,000 Marines and sailors. Originally the Marines were supposed to conduct a cold-weather amphibious landing in Iceland as a practice ahead of the main event in Norway, but rough seas slowed the sail to Iceland and dangerous surf conditions canceled the planned landing. The Icelandic police’s special forces Viking Squad and the Icelandic Coast Guard took part to secure the area “to practice responding to an attack.”  The exercise, reports the Marine Corps Times, bore striking similarities to a fictional Russian invasion of Iceland detailed in the Tom Clancy novel Red Storm Rising. (In fact, the sole country since 1945 to attack Iceland was Britain during the Cod Wars and from 1953, the USSR provided a market for the Icelandic fisheries as an alternative to Britain.) That was the start, on 17 October. In conjunction with an organizational meeting for Trident Juncture on October 19-20, ten naval warships from the US, UK, Denmark and Canada berthed in Reykjavik, with 6,000 personnel on board.

The Campaign Against Militarism organised a group excursion into the delicate Þjórsárdal (Thjorsardalur) nature reserve in South Iceland, where around 200 marines from North Carolina were transported on October 19 and about 300 the following day, apparently to experience “winter conditions.” Over 20,000 birch saplings had been planted there over the last 15 years. At times, the marines were seen running as a group from one place to another and back again, with complete disregard for where they were treading. US troops drank up all the beer at various bars and restaurants across Reykjavík, according to Icelandic news site Vísir. No matter how the exercise is worded officially, Left-Green MP Kolbeinn Ottarsson Proppe said, in reality it was an exercise in killing other people. “We Icelanders can utilize the unique circumstances in which we live, a country without a military in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, to be a model for other societies in peace issues, refuse to take part in any military jamboree, and be a beacon for peaceful communication in a world where a downturn seems to be approaching in various international relations.” News media reported on the incoherence of Icelandic policy, “This is somewhat embarrassing for Iceland’s Prime Minister, Katrin Jakobsdottir, whose Left-Green Party is against the Nordic island country’s NATO membership. The party reiterated its opposition to NATO and to Trident Juncture at its recent convention. ‘Unfortunately we are members of NATO and now this fact has exposed us to military exercises,’ Proppe said.”[19]

Anti-war activists confront US marines exercising in a nature reserve in South Iceland.

The principal phase of Trident Juncture took place from October 25 to November 7 in Central and Eastern Norway, in the areas adjacent to the North Atlantic (as far as Iceland) and the Baltic Sea (including the airspace of Sweden and Finland). Approximately, 50,000 personnel from 31 countries took part, including 10,000 vehicles, 250 aircraft and 65 vessels, in this entirely “defensive” exercise. The immediate aims of Trident Juncture included jointly training NATO forces and training them to rapidly deploy across Europe. For example, a British military convoy made a 2,000-kilometre overland journey from the Hook of Holland harbour through northern Europe to Norway. NATO states that its “move through the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and Sweden will test how efficiently soldiers and equipment can move between European countries. It will also test customs, border regulations and infrastructure’s ability to cope with rapid and heavy troop movements.” [17]

A feature of the exercise was the imposition of NATO forces on the local population and the militarization of civilian life. In Sweden, a NATO partner country, 4.8 million families were handed a survival manual explaining how to prepare for war, by storing reserves of food and other essential goods, learning how to behave when the signals of alert are sounded to warn of the Russian attack. Canadian Lieutenant-General Christian Juneau pointed out that there will be “over 10,000 vehicles on Norway’s roads, that will present a traffic control challenge that will stress-test the system.”

According to a Canadian Forces press release, Canada’s deployment included approximately 2 000 personnel to Trident Juncture:

  • two frigates and two maritime coastal defence vessels from the Royal Canadian Navy;
  • a Canadian Army light infantry battalion supported by a Brigade Head Quarter;
  • eight CF-188 Hornet, one CC-150 Polaris aerial refueller, and two CP-140 maritime patrol aircraft from the Royal Canadian Air Force’
  • a Joint Task Force Support Component from Canadian Forces Joint Operations Support Group; and
  • a National Command Element from 1st Canadian Division HQ.

Rally against Trident Juncture, Sandnes, Norway, October 13, 2018. Banner reads: “Yes to Peace Exercises No to War Exercises.”| Stopp NATO

Mass actions to oppose Trident Juncture took place in Sandnes in western Norway on October 13, Trondheim on October 20 and in Oslo on October 27.

In 2020, even as Canadians are in the midst of dealing with the coronavirus pandemic which is far from over, thirty RCAF personnel and the AN/TPS-70 mobile radar system were quietly deployed to Iceland from February to May 15, 2020 to carry out ‪#OpILLUMINATION to ensure long-range radar coverage while the Icelandic radars underwent scheduled maintenance and upgrades.

Cutlass Fury 2019

Picket in Halifax to oppose Cutlass Fury, September 2019.

Twenty-two NATO warships and 36 aircraft from eight countries were involved in Cutlass Fury 2019, with Halifax as the launching pad. Cutlass Fury was twice the size of the 2016 edition. The exercise ran September 9-20 with the initial area of operation being approximately 50-100 nautical miles southeast of Halifax Harbour as well as off the coast of Newfoundland. The exercise focused “on anti-submarine warfare, air defence, amphibious operations and joint operations” (emphasis added). Details were sketchy.

Click to enlarge

Far from being merely a military exercise, it was a massive psyop (psychological operation), in dramatic contrast to the 2018 exercises with the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group.

As part of the Trudeau government’s campaign to promote membership in NATO as a “Canadian value” and the pillar of an “international rules-based order,” it featured high profile public relations events including warship tours, a fleet review or sailpast in the harbour, a ceremonial flypast and a so-called international soccer game of ship’s crews. Naval personnel circulated promotional posters (pictured) in the business area, something not seen before. These were theatrical events designed to reinforce the power and legitimacy of NATO and the navy. Hurricane Dorion had a different plan. It made landfall 15 miles south of Halifax with its 100-mph winds, by which time the warships had long skedaddled from the port they were allegedly protecting, with all the pr events abruptly cancelled. To save face, the government hurriedly deployed 230 troops in the name of “disaster assistance” to pick up a few branches from fallen trees.

The warships included the USS New Hampshire, a Virginia class, fast attack nuclear-powered submarine and the Royal Navy’s newest aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, the HMS Dragon and RFA Tideforce and others from Spain, France and Germany. Queen Elizabeth was enroute for a second work-up deployment off the US Atlantic Coast, where it conducted a series of exercises with U.S. Navy and Marine Corps forces. During this trip, Queen Elizabeth for the first time operated British F-35B stealth fighters. 

Baltic Operations

The Baltic Sea is another mediterranean sea of the Atlantic Ocean, enclosed by Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Sweden, northeast Germany, Poland, Russia and the North and Central European Plain. It covers an area of 377,000 km². The total population of the Baltic states is 6.2 million. Their combined territory is only 173,291 km2 (or 107,678 square miles) and a drive through the widest point between Russia and the Baltic sea would only take around 7 hours. Despite their small size, the ruling elites of all three Baltic countries have committed to the NATO dictate of spending at least 2 per cent of their GDP on military, with Estonia having reached this aim in 2015, and Latvia and Lithuania close to the target in 2017 with 1.7 per cent and 1.8 per cent respectively. 

The BALTOPS – abbreviation for “Baltic Operations” – naval war games, held annually since 1971 in the midst of the Cold War, has become increasingly important in the context of growing tensions between the NATO powers and Russia. In the event of war between NATO and Russia, the Baltic Sea would become a key military strategic region. In the interim, By putting such seas under its military control, the U.S. seeks to deter the Russian Federation from having any economic ties and trade with other countries and thus isolate and strangle it.

BALTOPS 2019, under the command of the US 2nd Fleet, involved 50 warships and two submarines split into two task groups, each led by a large deck amphibious ship. The climax was a NATO amphibious troop landing in Lithuania, just a few hundred kilometres from the Russian border. 

Between May 4-14, 2020 the Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group One (SNMCMG1) and the Baltic Naval Squadron conducted an exercise in the Baltic Sea codenamed “Open Spirit 2020” focusing on Naval Mine Warfare. SNMCMG1 acted as commander task unit, and had in total six ships from Germany, Netherlands, and Norway under their command, working side by side with another task unit, which were three Latvian navy ships and one Estonian minehunter. The aim of the NATO group claimed to be “dedicated to eliminating the threat of historic mines”, dealing with “present-day mines”, and promoting “the alliance and freedom of the seas”. On May 29, HMS Ramsey replaced HMS Grimsby, arriving in the Baltic Sea during the second phase of a nine-day exercise by NATO and was deployed with the ships of other NATO group countries in the Baltic Sea.

On May 19, it was also reported that Royal Air Force Typhoons deployed in Lithuania have carried out mock air attacks and have been there to “primarily conduct the NATO Air Policing mission.”

On June 2 they claimed to have “carried out their first intercept of the operation, on a Russian Military Aircraft off the Baltic coast” – this where Russia is operating its aircraft off its own coast line!

In the course of nine days, troops and warships from 17 NATO member states and two allied countries – 30 warships, 30 aircraft, and 3,000 personnel – exercised naval warfare within the framework of the U.S.-led BALTOPS 2020 exercise. This compares to 10 participating countries in 2015. NATO called it “a show of force on Russia’s doorstep,” “a rapid response” and “the premier maritime-focused exercise in the Baltic Region.” Both words and the scenario are not as defensive in nature as the organizers would suggest. The vast majority of participating countries such as the U.S., Canada, Norway, France, U.K., Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece and Turkey are not littoral Baltic states while Sweden and Finland are not formal members of NATO. They are commanded ashore by Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO (STRIKFORNATO) from its headquarters in Lisbon, Portugal.

Canada participated in BALTOPS 2015 but not 2016. That same year Canada had assumed command of a new, much-advertised NATO multinational battalion in Latvia on the Baltic Sea in 2016 as part of the NATO Enhanced Forward Presence effort, and was represented by the ill-fated HMCS Fredericton in 2020.

Dynamic Mongoose 2020

Out of the range of the media, the HMCS Fredericton participated in the Dynamic Mongoose 2020 combat maneuvers held from June 29 to July 10 off the coast of Iceland in the GIUK Gap, exercising also “high intensity submarine warfare.” It was held under the command of Standing NATO Maritime Group ONE (SNMG-1). The exercises alternates between Iceland and Norway. It began in Reykjavik and involved 12 warships from Canada, France, Germany, Norway, the UK and US, aircraft and submarines – nuclear, such as Royal Navy hunter-killer HMS Trenchant, and diesel-powered – and around 2,000 military personnel. A mongoose is, according to the Oxford Dictionary “A small carnivorous mammal with a long body and tail and a grizzled or banded coat, native to Africa and Asia.” It is not known to be a sea mammal let alone a sea mammal found in the frigid waters off the coast of Iceland. The official name of the exercise can only be a racist depiction of Russia.

Wikipedia reports that, according to scientists, sonar anti-submarine trainings during Dynamic Mongoose 20 resulted in disastrous consequences for the population of whales in the North Atlantic. British zoologists have recorded the death of at least 29 marine mammals over several weeks across Europe that caused irreparable damage to the fragile marine ecosystem. [] During such exercises, the intense underwater noise from the naval sonar, sonic booms and explosive torpedoes severely harm aquatic mammals. The U.S. Navy’s own research shows that high-intensity mid-frequency active sonar causes hearing loss and hemorrhaging in dolphins and whales.  American and British research finds that naval activity is a probable cause of many mass stranding events where whales beach themselves and die. During the 2004 RIMPAC exercise, approximately 150 deep-water, melon-headed whales crowded into the shallow Hanalei Bay to escape the naval activity.  []

Heel to toe, exercise Dynamic Mongoose commenced with the completion of BALTOPS 2020 (“Baltic Operations”) in the Baltic Sea from June 7-16 in which Fredericton also participated. Exercise Sea Breeze also got underway in the Black Sea to augment Dynamic Mongoose.

Defender 2020

Before that the Canadian Forces were involved in Defender 2020, the largest US/NATO led military and logistics exercise in the past 25 years as war preparations targeting Russia. Defender 2020was not an exercise focused on combat capabilities but logistical or deployment-ability deterrence. According to Lieutenant General Thomson, the commander of NATO Land Command, Defenderwas to verify all the systems that go with that kind of strategic reinforcement, and thus is a way to mitigate potential challenges in the case of crisis. [20] Defender 2020” was not land-based or infantry-based as portrayed in Europe. Defender 2020aimed to validate the strategic deployment of combat units and capabilities across the Atlantic Ocean using the air and seaports of embarkation in the United States and seaports of debarkation in European countries. The division-size element departed from seaports in Charleston, South Carolina, Savannah, Georgia, and both Beaumont and Port Arthur, Texas. The deployed troops and equipment landed at airports across Europe and seaports in Antwerp, Belgium, Vlissingen, Netherlands, Bremerhaven, Germany, and Paldiski, Estonia, and moved by rail and road convoys to their designed locations. In numbers, it included across-Atlantic deployment of 20,000 US troops from the continental United States, 9,000 troops stationed in Europe from all the services, 7,000 soldiers from US Army National Guard and Army Reserve from 11 states, 7 reserve units and 13,000 pieces of equipment from Army Preposition Stocks. The US troops were joined by 8,000 European troops. [21]

The Pentagon is developing the concept of a flexible, scalable presence, allowing rapid reductions, but also rapid reinforcement of US forces. In recent years, air and naval bases and training areas have been expanded in Poland, the Baltic States, Romania, and Bulgaria, as well as in Western Europe, including Germany. The goal is to be able to transport troops from the US to Europe, to retrieve military equipment and ammunition from APS sites, to move US forces to the eastern flank, and to make the military infrastructure in the region ready to accommodate US forces of division size.  [22] In parallel, the US, Canada and oligarchic interests in Eastern Europe under the code name of “resilience” and the direction of the NATO Office of Public Diplomacy are working to strengthen the old reactionary and Nazi forces as a reserve power of these regimes to disinform and terrorize the polity.


In the High Arctic, three U.S. Navy Sixth Fleet guided-missile destroyers based in Rota, Spain along with the fast combat support ship USNS Supply departed the Barents Sea on May 8 after conducting seven days of operations for the first time in that sea in three decades, “rehearsing seamless integration in challenging conditions” alongside HMS Kent of the United Kingdom. Before that, the USS Porter, USS Donald Cook, and Kent completed a bilateral naval anti-submarine warfare exercise in the Norwegian Sea.

Earlier, in parallel with several NORAD exercises, some 350 Canadian Forces personnel deployed from February 24 to March 27 to Resolute Bay and Rankin Inlet, Nunavut as part of Operation NANOOK-NUNALIVUT 2020. “CAF personnel and international partners will work together to enhance and test their specialized Arctic skill-sets, and reaffirm their ability to operate in the High Arctic.” The “partners” included members of the United States 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, headquartered in Vermont and subordinate to the Mountain Division, and 12 international divers from Finland, Belgium and France, the latter two of which are not Arctic nations.

IV. Security lies in organizing for an anti-war government

Following the Korean War in 1950, the U.S. engaged the world in “nuclear politics” to blackmail the peoples into doing what the U.S. wanted. While the nuclear politics of the imperialist powers and disinformation about arms control treaties focuses on the types and numbers of nuclear weapons, naval exercises held out of sight of the people, the day-to-day preparations for imperialist war, war exercises of unprecedented  size and scope, costs and potential dangers to the peoples are little recognized or understood. The long-term implications of naval nuclear propulsion are hardly even raised. In this way, the U.S. claims nuclear weapons are nonetheless necessary to act as a deterrent and that this is the main factor for peace in the world. 

As long as the struggle for peace is waged within the narrow confines of the great power notions of security in which everything must be subordinated to the aim of the economically powerful for domination of resources, markets and territory, the preparations for inter-imperialist war, the ongoing wars of aggression and conquest and the direction of the war economy will not be turned around in a manner which favours the people.

As a reminder, in the aftermath of World War I and the Versailles Peace Treaty, neither the victors nor the vanquished stopped their arms race for a second. The victorious imperialist powers and other states convened a series of special conferences for supremacy at sea, such as the Washington Conference of 1921-22, the 1927 Geneva Naval Conference, the notorious Anglo-German naval treaty signed in the summer of June 18, 1935, the London Conferences of 1936, and another Anglo-German Naval Pact in April 1939 – one month after the Nazi occupation of Prague, creation of the puppet Slovakian state and the annexation of the Lithuanian seaport of Klaipëda. Apart from the naval race, the sole other question addressed was chemical weapons. The main content of these conferences and agreements was not “peace” but to regulate the arms race in the interests of the most powerful competitors. It is significant that no such attempts were undertaken with regard to other branches of the armed forces until well after World War II. Even during the 1980s, the so-called arms limitation talks centred on strategic missiles, including those used by navies, and not on the proliferation of warships, the foreign military base system, nor the millions of troops which occupied Europe. The major treaties with maritime relevance were the Partial Test Ban Treaty of 1963 which banned undersea nuclear tests and the Seabed Arms Control Treaty of 1971. The superpowers advocated that naval “arms control” could not be dealt with at the Geneva Disarmament Conference until the United Nations Law of the Sea Conference had deliberated. To date the USA has refused to ratify the UNCLOS treaty while Canada took 18 years.

Similarities exist with the detente period but the situation has changed considerably. For instance, the profile of exercises has changed dramatically down a slippery slope from a posture of so-called deterrence by denial to one of punishment in which new operational methods ora  posture of total war, e.g., surprise, tempo and initiative, were rehearsed. (Tormod Heier, Towards a New Robust Defence? Norway’s Exercises on NATO’s Northern Flank, 2008–2017, in Military Exercises: Political Messaging and Strategic Impact, NATO Defense College ‘NDC Forum Papers Series’ No. 26)

The U.S. attempt to control major sea routes is in flagrant violation of international law and regulations providing for normal navigation of cargo ships and other vessels, and the well-known norms on relations among countries.

US and British wars of aggression and occupation are crimes which serve today to destroy the human productive forces worldwide. They are not politics by other means which are subsequently resolved through negotiations and treaties that reestablish an equilibrium on a peaceful basis. On the contrary, their aim is the destruction of whatever the US imperialists cannot bring under their control through bullying and threats. The greatest cost of the Anglo-American imperialist wars of aggression and occupation and war spending is to the human and natural environment and to the relations among humans, and between humans and nature.

This warmongering is unacceptable and people are organizing to fight it. From the 1960s on, the peoples of Scotland, Ireland, England, Canada and other countries developed a powerful movement against nuclear weapons and nuclear submarines which broke out into anti-war mass movements in the 1980s. Over the years thousands participated to oppose the all-sided preparations for war, especially at Faslane in Scotland, Greenham Common in England and Shannon Airport in Ireland. Located on the west coast of Ireland, Shannon has been used by the USAF and USN aircraft for transporting over 3 million troops and war materiel to the Middle East since 2002, and by the CIA for secret rendition flights, destroying the concept of Irish neutrality. The new coalition government made up of Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and the Green Party continue to permit the US military to use Shannon Airport.

The question of nuclear weapons became linked to political independence, freedom and self-determination, and the unification of Ireland, the essence and thrust of which was to take up the question in the hands of the people rather than rely on or appeal to a war government in Westminster or the European Union. Opposition to the presence of British bases in Scotland is contributing to the renewed demand for Scottish independence, which now stands at 55 per cent in the latest public opinion poll.

In an exit poll conducted in May 2019 for RTÉ and TG4 during the local and European Parliament elections, 82 per cent of voters polled said Ireland should remain a neutral country in all aspects. This is an increased from a 2013 Red C poll commissioned by the Peace and Neutrality Alliance (PANA) that 78 per cent of Irish people support a policy of Irish neutrality. “The creation of a United Irish Republic committed to an independent foreign policy with positive neutrality as its key component; pursued through a reformed United Nations is the objective,” affirms PANA. [23]

Greenland’s election in late April 2018 was largely a vote on independence – a crucial and unifying issue. Six out of seven political parties supported the idea of secession from Denmark and they won. 

In Canada, since the 1980s people have brought forward the demand “No Harbour for War.” On the national level, the demand for an anti-war government and the withdrawal from NORAD and NATO resonates more and more amongst organized workers and peace activists who reject Nuclear politics and the marginalization of the anti-war movement as spectators and a lobby group of the cartel parties.

World’s oldest peace camp, occupied continuously since 12 June 1982.

‘Nae (No) Nukes Anywhere’ anti-war demonstration at Faslane on September 22, 2018. The event, organised by Scottish CND, climaxed in a rally outside HM Naval Base on the Clyde at Faslane, where Britain’s Trident nuclear submarine fleet is based | David Cheskin – PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images

This increased drive to militarism and war by these war governments including Canada must be stopped by the stepped-up organized resistance of the Irish, Scottish, British, Icelandic, Canadian and other peoples to US imperialism and NATO. This drive is justified in the name of “security”;  as the case of the Stena Ferry and the fishing trawlers show, it is the people who pay the bill. Disinformation is also spread that our countries are “too small” and need a foreign protector, which is trumped by the example of Cuba. Canadians need to get involved in anti-war actions and go all out to discuss how to establish an anti-war government which orients the economy and social policy in their favour. The crucial issues of war and peace speak to the need for a new direction for the economy and political affairs, one that is anti-war and pro-social. They point to the fact that we need the renewal of the political process because governments do not act in our name.

It is the the people who must decide on military policy, foreign policy and the future of society. It is they who must step up their organizing for an anti-war government and work to make their countries and seas a zone for peace. In this way people can make a decisive contribution to peace, and contribute to securing a permanent peace in the world which is the condition for the flourishing of all peoples and nations.

With files from RT, The Independent, Wikipedia, Fortress Scotland (Scottish CND), Worker’s Weekly, and TML Weekly Information Project and news agencies. This article incorporates text from Bernard Moffat of the Celtic League and the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.


1. Earlier, on January 29, 1970 this same submarine the USS Nathaniel Greene was grounded for seven hours in thick fog in Charleston harbour, SC. The US Navy closed the harbour while the submarine was refloated.

2. According to the 1989 study, Naval Accidents 1945-1988, there had been 1,276 accidents in that period, 799 involving naval ships of the United States, based on incomplete data. The authors stated “A comprehensive historical record of naval accidents does not exist. Official secrecy as well as sporadic news media interest in reporting routine accidents, are major impediments to compiling a complete record.”

The 31-year-old report report documented 1,276 accidents of the major navies of the world between 1945 and 1988. By frequency of occurrence, 406 accidents involved major surface combatants (not including aircraft carriers), 359 involved submarines, 228 involved aircraft carriers, 182 involved logistic support ships, 142 involved minor military ships, and 75 involved amphibious warships (see table 1). Seventy-five accidents were actual sinkings, 60 of military vessels, and 17 of civilian boats. The accidents have resulted in over 2,800 deaths, with US and Soviet fatalities constituting about 65 per cent of the total. The majority of accidents occurred in the Atlantic Ocean (624, or 49 per cent), not including the Mediterranean Sea, 318 (or 25 per cent) occurred in the Pacific, 110 (9 per cent) occurred in the Mediterranean Sea, and 34 occurred in the Indian Ocean:

“The number of nuclear weapons and reactor accidents is a well-guarded secret of the military establishments, but the information available indicates that numerous serious accidents have taken place. The report concludes that there were approximately forty-eight nuclear warheads and seven nuclear-power reactors on the bottom of the oceans as a result of various accidents….

“There have been 130 documented groundings of ships and submarines, either surface ship groundings on sandbars, rocks, and reefs, or submerged bottomings of submarines. Some of the groundings have been quite serious.”

“There have also been 36 confirmed snaggings of submerged submarines by fishing trawlers or net. There have been 75 documented sinkings as a result of accidents, either of military ships, or civilian ships struck by military ships. This includes 27 sinkings of submarines.”

William M. Arkin and Joshua Handler, Naval Accidents 1945-1988, Greenpeace/Institute for Policy Studies Washington, D.C. June 1989.

In May 2015, Scottish CND published a report titled So you think nuclear submarines are safe? listing 47 major incidents and problems on British nuclear-powered submarines between 1973 and 2013, noting “this list is not comprehensive as many events are still not in the public domain.”

3. “Sub had problems before voyage: report,” Canadian Press, November 18 2004.

4. Naval Accidents 1945-1988.

5. Bernard Moffat, “Bugaled Breizh: Did NATO sink Breton fishing trawler in 2004?,” Shunpiking Online, January 7, 2006.

6. Naval Accidents 1945-1988.

7. “Bugaled Breizh.”

8. Bernard Moffat, Military Madness in the North Channel,” Celtic League, July 16, 2020.

9. The deliberate damage by the US  Navy to the marine environment in Holy Loch was summarized by Scottish anti-war activists in their comprehensive report titled Fortress Scotland published in 2004:

“In 1992, due to concerns from local residents in Sandbank, a team of marine scientists undertook an underwater camera survey to examine the amount of waste on the seabed. The survey revealed that levels of some elements, including nickel, zinc, cadmium and selenium were well above the national averages and there were about 60 drums filled with an unknown substance. It was not until 1998, however, that work began to clean-up the waste as there were disagreements about whether the waste removed would pose a risk to local residents and marine life.

“Tonnes of waste was slowly and systematically removed from the area of the former base between February 1998 and February 2001 at a cost of nearly Ł11million. The work was carried out by a contractor on behalf of the Ministry of Defence, and during the recovery process, an assortment of objects were found including propellers, cables scaffold towers, wire reels and gas cylinders of acetylene, oxygen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide. In total, over 2,700 tonnes of waste and debris was recovered from the site of the naval base and the MoD claimed that the vast majority of the site had been cleared.” (Fortress Scotland, Brian Quail, Scottish CND, 2004)

10. For the significance of the Baltic, see “War exercises on the Baltic Sea will begin on the weekend with German Bundeswehr participation,”, June 4, 2020.

11. A Soviet account of the collision was published around 2004:

“The K-306 walked home for two weeks at a depth of 40 metres to relieve pressure on the torpedo tubes’ covers. An investigation was ordered into the emergency, and the submarine commander received a severe reprimand. The American crew was awarded the Golden Dolphin badges for their courage.”

The task of the K-306 “was to wait for the ‘American’ to leave the bay and record his so-called ‘noise portrait’. For this, our sailors threw noise grenades into the water. After each explosion, the sonar screens of both boats were illuminated for several minutes. Thus, both submarines, which were on a collision course, were ‘blind.’

“Vladimir Podchinenov , foreman of the nuclear submarine K-306  What were the times . As you can imagine, there was a cold war. A new American submarine was launched. It was necessary to record the noise of the screws. Because acoustics underwater can only be guided by the noise which ship is going. And so, as they say, they were sent.

“The clash was pretty strong. The Soviet boat got a small hole in the torpedo compartment, which was quickly dealt with. The ‘American’ had a badly wrinkled nose.”

“Soviet submariners reveal details of the collision of submarines of the USSR and the USA near Scotland,” January 25, 2017. Google translation from “Советские подводники раскрыли детали столкновения субмарин СССР и США у Шотландии” (in Russian).

12. Creation of the system of bases during WWII.

Chalmers Johnson advances the proposition in his book The Sorrows of Empire that from 1945 on the US pursued an imperial policy utilizing the military base rather than the traditional colony. The US would set up bases – little Americas – in other countries, get extraterritorial rights for US troops, and backed with its economic-financial power and close ties with local elites, go about its drive for global domination. The US does not have a military base in Halifax; Halifax is a base. The US does not have a military base on Okinawa; Okinawa is a base. (An expression used by US military personnel in the 1950s and 1960s. Ryukyu Ginko, Sengo Okinawa keizaishi [Naha, Ryukyu Ginko, 1984], p. 415.) At root, the entire system serves as an integrated global infrastructure for imperialist domination, what the Pentagon now calls Full Spectrum Dominance. These bases constitute what the United States calls its so-called “Forward Operating Locations” or “Cooperative Security Locations,” which allow the Pentagon to spread its tentacles over more than 1,000 locations on the planet.(*)

This system of bases was borne with the emergence of the USA as an imperialist power. Up to that time, US military intervention ha been carried out from sea by naval forces, the gunboat policy, under the slogans of protecting American lives and property which has become the “responsibility to protect” in NATO doctrine. One scholar indicates that the United States “sent warships into Latin American ports a staggering 5,980 times between 1869–1897 to protect American commercial interests” (The Long Reach of the American Empire: Japanese Mexicans, U.S. Hegemony, and Mexican Propaganda, 1941–45). In 1898, when Spain was losing control of Cuba to the freedom fighters (libertadores) in their war of liberation (1868-1898), the US intervened, effectively preventing the triumph of independence a social revolution, occupied Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines during the Spanish-American War. Through the 1901 Platt Amendment on the basis of which the US dictated a treaty on July 3, 1903 it constructed its odious “naval station” and coaling centre at Guantánamo Bay, a deep-water port on Cuba’s south-east coast, which replaced another installation at San Juan: the price –$2,000 a year in gold. The same year, the administration of President Theodore Roosevelt engineered the separation of Panama from Colombia and arranged to take over the French project to build the Panama Canal. This included army forts and the US army was also entrusted with overseeing the construction and management of the canal itself from 1907 until the end of direct US tenure in 1999. The strategic importance of Guantánamo across from Haiti and another station located at Bahía Honda station on the northwest coast (not occupied since 1912 when a new treaty, never ratified, gave it up in return for greater rights at Guantánamo) can be seen by a glance at Cuba’s geographical position. The island lies close to the United States, about one hundred miles from Key West. The narrow strait between Havana and Key West is the only from the Atlantic Ocean entrance into the Gulf of Mexico available to Northern shipping. Cuba was in a key location to serve as a base to protect New Orleans and Florida, and to control the Caribbean, Central America and the interoceanic communication vital for the US economy.

In 1902 the US constructed the Roosevelt base in Culebra, Puerto Rico. Until 1939 the US followed a one-ocean navy policy, focusing on the Pacific. Within a century the US military presence in the Caribbean had expanded by 1991 into a regional network of more than 50 bases and installations of various sizes and purposes reinforcing US domination in the region, US control of the North and South Atlantic and preparations for nuclear war fighting, the most important of which are still ensconsed in Puerto Rico. As the US moves to reconsolidate its control over the hemisphere in response to various economic and political pressures under the guise of the “war on drugs” and “hemispheric security” its bases and installations in that region are seen by Washington as “irreplaceable.” (See Humberto García Muñiz, “US Military Installations in Puerto Rico: An Essay on Their Role and Purpose,” Caribbean Studies. Vol. 24, No. 3/4 [1991], pp. 79-97,

Following the invasion of Scandinavia in April 1940, British forces occupied or controlled the North Atlantic surrounding Greenland, including Jan Mayen Island, Svalbard Archipelago, Iceland, and finally Newfoundland. On May 10, 1940 Britain invaded and occupied Iceland (and the Faroes Islands, a colony of Denmark), with 20,000 Royal Marines, including 2,700 Canadian troops. The Admiralty and the Royal Air Force used this opportunity to build transit and patrol bases in Reykjavík that become vital to Britain’s defence of the Atlantic supply routes. The only island left without a British presence was Greenland, which was finally occupied by the United States in 1941.

In the immediate aftermath of Germany’s invasion of Denmark, Washington vigorously opposed Canada’s intention to send a military expedition (Force “X”) to occupy Greenland. The economic significance to finance capital of Greenland is little discussed. The Mackenzie King government wanted to take over the Danish colony to seize the cryolite mines at Ivigtut, which were essential for the Aluminum Company of Canada, laughably independent of Alcoa, one-third owned by the Mellons (one of the richest families in the US with $390,000,000, controlling about 50 per cent of US production, enriched itself with cheap power subsidies from TVA as Alcan did from Quebec, and a member of a cartel with I.G. Farben, Europe’s largest Nazi trust. Alcoa (Mellon) shared with I. G. Farben control over magnesium patents which were withheld from the rest of American industry, although magnesium is of vital importance in war production. Parenthetically, who was getting the manganese of Nikopol in Ukraine? Ukrainian raw materials must be sent to the industries of the Reich. This plundering has been organized by the Goering Werke im Osten, which seized in 1942 the iron ore mines of Krivoi Rog and the manganese mines of Nikopol. For Alcao/Alcan, Greenland possessed the world’s only commercially exploitable deposits of cryolite, a mineral used in the process by which aluminum is extracted from bauxite and vital to the production of aircraft which, in Canada at the time, was British-controlled. Britain even advanced $400 million in loans to Alcan. The export of cryolite went from 40,000 tons sold to Denmark and 10,000 to the United States before the war, to 42,000 tons sold to Canada and the United States in 1940. Meanwhile, the cartel agreement of Alcoa with Hitler’s aluminum interests limited production in America while Hitler received a sufficient supply of aluminum to build his enormous air fleet. Aluminium exported to Britain was produced and sailed from the north shore of the St. Lawrence River. The United States, on the other hand,  hypocritically declared that “no action of this kind be taken by Canada since it might offer an excuse to other large countries for taking over colonial territories of occupied European countries.”  (Dawn Berry, “Cryolite, the Canadian Aluminium Industry and the American Occupation of Greenland during the Second World War ,” Polar Journal, 2 (2012), pp. 219–235.) Thus the most influential businessmen in the USA preferred to give important secret processes and markets vital to the defence of their country to the enemy rather than to their own government; and not even the outbreak of war made them discontinue this activity altogether. The executives and directors of Alcoa were punished for this by the United States Government but not until April, 1942 – and never by Canada – and had to pay stiff fines. The cases of Alcoa/Alcan and the aluminum trust, whose directors supported German imperialism and pressed a strategic mineral on for a war against the Soviet Union before the Second World War, in order to heave West German industrial and armaments capital into power again, indeed, to let it become stronger and more aggressive than ever before, after the war, illustrate the policy of the ruling circles of America. How the heads of INCO, the nickel monopoly based in Sudbury, arrived at an agreement for cooperation and for assistance in the arming of the Third Reich, helping it stockpile nickel since 1934; how the heads of General Motors and the Du Pont trust in 1937 agreed on a common front against the Soviet Union with the diplomatic representatives of Hitler; how Standard Oil of the Rockefellers helped to make the nazi regime fit to wage war and then continue it with oil shipped to Spain from Venezuela; how the chief of General Motors wanted to persuade President Roosevelt to recognize a peace a la Hitler in which nazi Germany would become master of all Europe in 1940 – all of this has already been described in the relevant political literature.

On September 2, 1940 the Anglo-American Bases-for Destroyers Agreement celebrated by historians transferred 50 obsolete destroyers in exchange for 99-year leases on British territories for massive leased base sites in Newfoundland, Bermuda and Trinidad, as well as smaller establishments in British Guiana, Antigua, St Lucia, Jamaica and the Bahamas. The territories would be used to establish American military bases to last not the duration of World War II but a century. The deal signified, as historian Cary Fraser suggests, an abdication of exclusive British authority over its own colonies in the Western Hemisphere. (Ambivalent Anti-Colonialism: The United States and the Genesis of West Indian Independence, 1940–1964. Westport, CT, 1994. p. 3.) Naval expansion was accompanied by repression of the peoples and draconian security legislation. The “good neighbour” Roosevelt visited Guantánamo Bay in the USS Tuscaloosa on December 4, 1940 to reinforce the Cuban oligarchy and the dictatorship of General Fulgencia Batista, who came to power earlier that year. In the Caribbean

“a militant labour movement with definite political aims had taken shape. But, except in Jamaica, where a new constitution was granted in 1943, the coming of the war temporarily blocked the political aspirations of the people. In Trinidad and British Guiana local elections were suspended for the duration of hostilities, and one of the Negro leaders in Trinidad, Uriah Butler, was arbitrarily interned because he had taken a prominent part in the 1937 riots.”

On April 10, 1941, one year after the fateful German occupation of Denmark , and just three days after the German Nazi invasion of Greece and Yugoslavia, US President Franklin D. Roosevelt invoked the Monroe Doctrine of 1823 as well as of the Declaration of Panama (1939) and the Act of Habana. The US was at the time a formally neutral country and a non-belligerent power. Roosevelt unilaterally extended the Pan-American Security Zone in the Atlantic east almost as far as Iceland – from 60°W to 26°W – as his legal precedent, that is, covering all North Atlantic waters west of West Longitude 26 degrees, the “sea frontier of the U.S.” Like Britain, the USA considered Greenland terra nullius – “geographical space.” In an illegal agreement with Danish ambassador Henrick de Kauffmann, whose reward was a permanent position for the rest of his life in Washington, he declared Greenland (Kalaallit Nunaat), a colonial possession of Denmark and half the size of Europe, part of North America and part of the US sphere of vital interests. As evident from Kauffman’s status, the US at the time maintained diplomatic relations with Denmark which had legal authority over Greenland. Under the pretext of “hemispheric defence”, “inter-American solidarity” and, later, “the joint struggle against Hitler”, the US claimed that this island in the mid-North Atlantic Ocean lay within its scope. The US thereby achieved a pretext for World War II intervention and annexation of a European colony without the declaration of war.  The agreement became known as the “Greenland solution” and was applied by the United States as the precedent to extend its net over Newfoundland and French and Dutch colonies in the Caribbean. The fraudulent character of “inter-American solidarity” and “consultation” is shown by the fact that when the USA declared war on the Axis powers, it did so unilaterally.

On July 7, 1941, a large American naval task force with a 4000-man Marine brigade arrived off Iceland. Despite British pressure, the government of Iceland refused to invite the American troops ashore. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt ordered the Marines to invade and informed the US Congress that Marines had landed because it was in Iceland’s best interest. The US deemed Iceland and later Greenland as covered by its Monroe Doctrine. Winston Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty, was there to personally greet them come ashore. This was five months before the US formally declared war (see Tales of the American Empire, Youtube). US forces constructed the Keflavik Airport as a refuelling point for aircraft deliveries and cargo flights to Europe, which Icelanders were falsely assured was a temporary wartime base. In 1949, Iceland was a last minute addition to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization despite mass protests about the US militarizing the country. The base became a principal US Cold War base.

The US expanded its North Atlantic sphere of naval-military operations northwards to Newfoundland and Labrador, Iceland and Greenland (Kalaallit Nunaat), while at the same time it established military bases within the British and Dutch spheres of influence in the Caribbean (mainly Bermuda, Barbados, Jamaica, Antigua, St. Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, and Ascension which lies about midway between South America and Africa) and smaller sites in the Dutch island colonies of Aruba, Curacao and Surinam. The US took military control over Greenland. As for the French strategic islands (Martinique, Guadeloupe and Cayenne in the Caribbean Sea, St. Pierre and Miquelon in the NW Atlantic), the US manoeuvred with its ignominious “Vichy gamble” to buy the French collaborationist bourgeoisie from its allegiance to German imperialism; it was incensed when the Free French forces of De Gaulle liberated the islands of St Pierre and Miquelon, 32 kilometres off the coast of Newfoundland, on December 23, 1941 against its orders, in which Canada acquiesced.

In the South Atlantic and Caribbean, the administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, by agreement with the Netherlands government in exile and with the support of the Brazilian Armed Forces, deployed U.S. troops to occupy the territory of the so-called Netherlands Guiana (Surinam) in November 1941. By that year, Suriname, sandwiched between British and French Guiana on the South American coast, accounted for 65 per cent of the total national bauxite requirement of the United States; Suriname bauxite had been mined by the US company Norton for use in the chemical industry, and from 1915 monopolized by the Aluminum Corporation of America. (See Fitzroy Baptiste, War, Cooperation and Conflict: The European Possessions in the Caribbean, 1939-1945, Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1988), p. 117) These bases were augmented by others in the Portuguese Azores (August 17, 1943), Mexico, Nicaragua, Cuba, Brazil and Panama (through coup d’état –Also’s “Good Neighbour” government organized a coup against the “pro-fascist government” Arnulfo Arias (1940-1941), which was replaced by Ricardo Adolfo de la Guardia (1941-1945), who immediately agreed to the extension of U.S. military bases located within the Panama Canal Zone on May 18, 1942. These bases became the footprint for American economic, cultural and political penetration within the British and rival imperialist spheres and further military expansion.

The US constructed air and naval bases in the Antillean islands and the northern coast of South America from which to locate and attack German U-2’s. A string of airfields and bases were constructed from the United States to reach French West Africa, which like two pincers – one running though Panama, Colombia and Venezuela and the other through the Antilles and the Guianas – converged on the Parnamirim Field in Natal in northeast Brazil, the closest point in South America to Dakar, French West Africa (8 hours away by air), via Ascension Island. (See “French and American Imperial Accommodation in the Caribbean During World War II: The Experience of Guyane and the Subaltern Roles of Puerto Ricans,” Humberto García-Muñiz and Rebeca Campo

By the end of 1943, all bases in the British Caribbean were manned by Puerto Rican soldiers and, by July 1945, of the 38,518 U.S. military men in the Caribbean Defense Command, 22,000 of them were Puerto Ricans in segregated units.

Along with the system of bases the US organized:

secret agreements with countries such as Canada willing to obey its dictates and permitting the development of war bacteria (November 19, 1940) and covert stationing of weapons of mass destruction on Canadian soil together with the inevitable “accidents”. Not usually noted is the impact in the Caribbean and South America of the “secret” agreement between the U.S. War Department and the Pan-American Airlines (PAA) revealed in July, 1940 – several months before the the Anglo-American Bases-for Destroyers Agreement – by which this corporation would build landing fields in the Caribbean, South American and Africa. The rationale was that it would be easier for PAA to negotiate with the countries involved than for the U.S. government, considering that this monopoly had a network of airfields acquired on its own and by its displacement of competing airlines, among them, the German-influenced-SCADTA in Colombia and Condor in Brazil. By 1944, the agreement led to the construction of 52 airfields, hydroplanes bases, radio and weather stations and fuel deposits in 16 colonial and sovereign countries in the Caribbean, South America and Liberia.

• following the Third Meeting of Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Pan American Union in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, based on American demands, the establishment of an inter-American defense board (1942-) with a 30-person secretariat supplied by the US army to consist of military and naval representatives from each of the American republics and to meet in Washington “for the purpose of defining and coordinating essential defensive and protective measures” and regional defence boards based on the US-Canadian Joint Defence Board, an agency which was to play a disastrous role in the subsequent history of Latin America and the Caribbean just as the latter board was to play in Canada. From that point, Washington settled new U.S. military bases in Brazil, Ecuador and Dominican Republic.

• military staffing, training and exchange agreements;

• extraterritoriality arrangements called “status of forces” based on the original US-Canada model stipulated immunity of American forces from the criminal jurisdiction of the host nation or colony, granted to US armed forces personnel and crews of its warships, later internationalized through NATO. The extraterritorial arrangements included the application of US jurisdiction in the sphere of labour law prohibiting the formation of trade unions, as in Newfoundland;

• the use of lend-lease to encourage the standardization of hemispheric armaments, i.e., nothing less than a monopoly over the supply of arms within the hemisphere;

• tests of the effectiveness of chemical weapons under tropical condition by the US, Britain and Canada on Panama’s San José Island, an unpopulated member of the Pearl Islands group, from late 1944 through 1947). The San José Project, involving the firing or dropping of thousands of chemical munitions, used soldiers, many of them Puerto Ricans, as human subjects in the tests, exposing them to mustard gas and other agents to measure how well masks and ointments functioned and even, in one case, “to determine whether any difference in the sensitivity of Puerto Rican and Continental U.S. Troops to H gas (mustard).” (John Lindsay Poland, “US Military Bases in Latin America and the Caribbean,” in The Bases of Empire: The Global Struggle against U.S. Military Posts, ed. Catherine Lutz, London: Pluto Press, 2009, p. 75.

• subversion of the German sphere of influence (the ABC countries, Argentina, Brazil and Chile);

• the expropriation of German and French capital by American capital;

• naval blockades (Buenos Aires, 1944; denial of food supplies to French Guyana, 1943), seizure of warships (Peru) and sanctions to compel countries to submit to its dictate;

• since the Battle of the Atlantic required intelligence on shipping, a covert espionage network headed by the billionaire Nelson Rockefeller, Co-ordinator of Latin American Affairs (1940-1946) who also controlled intelligence in Canada, in Buenos Aires and other major Latin American ports. A special unit of the US State Dept., it began implementing various efforts to extend economic control over Latin America and the Caribbean by the United States. 

A little known codicil of the LendLease Agreement were arrangements “with the British government to construct four naval bases in Northern Ireland and Scotland, at Londonderry and Lough Erne in Ireland and at Rosneath and Loch Ryan in Scotland. Funds for the construction of these bases were to be provided by both the British and the American governments, in accordance with Lend-Lease agreements reached in March 1941” (Garcia). These bases, all located near the northern entrance to the Irish Sea, were designed primarily to service craft for anti-submarine patrol at the eastern terminus of the North Atlantic sea lane to English ports on the Irish Sea. Construction contracts were awarded US contractors.

According to authoritative data, in the course of the war the United States of America built 256 bases of all sizes and types in the Pacific Theatre of War Operations and 228 military, naval and air bases in the Atlantic Theatre of War Operations, i.e., a total of 484 bases. Since then the number of these bases has increased. With the victorious defeat of the Axis powers, US Assistant Secretary of Navy Hensel, presenting the views of his department at an open press conference in September 1945, declared that the USA must “secure for itself a great postwar ring of naval bases, covering the Pacific Ocean and including bases formerly belonging to England.” 

The friendly American troops “protecting” Kalaallit Nunaat (and Iceland) never left with the defeat of Germany and the liberation of Denmark nor from Newfoundland, Iceland and the major bases established in the West Indies. In December 1946, the US made an unsuccessful bid to buy the colony from Denmark. Nevertheless, Denmark allowed the American military to build a massive air base in 1951 at Thule (Qaanaaq) on the northeastern coast about 200 km from Baffin Island, involving 120 ships, with about 12,000 men, code named Operation Blue Jay. Secret US-Denmark protocols permitted the storing of nuclear weapons at the base, despite Denmark’s nuclear-free zone policy. In 1953, the United States made a deal with Denmark to remove 150 Inughuit people from Thule, giving them four days to get out or face bulldozers.  They are denied the right to return.

On January 21, 1968 an American B-52 bomber carrying four hydrogen nuclear bombs crashed in the ice at Thule. One crew member was killed and some of the bombs were lost. The impact from the crash and the subsequent fire brook open the weapons and released their radioactive contents. The Thule crash revealed that the United States had been routinely flying planes carrying nuclear bombs over Greenland and undoubtedly the Canadian Arctic, and one of those illicit flights had now resulted in the radioactive contamination of a fjord. After the crash, the United States and Denmark had very different ideas about how to deal with the aircraft’s wreckage and radioactivity. The US wanted to just let the bomber wreckage sink into the fjord and remain there, but Denmark wouldn’t allow that. Denmark wanted all the wreckage gathered up immediately and moved, along with all of the radioactively contaminated ice, to the United States. Since the fate of the Thule Air Base hung in the balance, the US agreed to Denmark’s demands. One bomb has never been recovered.

Greenland was granted home rule in 1979 and self-rule in 2009. It left the EU in 1984 while not leaving the Kingdom of Denmark — an EU member state. This was an unprecedented situation. There was no mechanism in place in those days for pulling out of the bloc but the island did it. 

In contrast, the US did not invoke the the Monroe Doctrine when Britain attacked Iceland during the Cod Wars nor when the British fleet attacked Argentina during the Malvinas (Falklands) War in 1982.

* As noted by Nick Turse “Officially, the Department of Defense maintains 4,775 “sites,” spread across all 50 states, eight US territories, and 45 foreign countries. A total of 514 of these outposts are located overseas, according to the Pentagon’s worldwide property portfolio… But the most recent version of that portfolio, issued in early 2018 and known as the Base Structure Report, doesn’t include any mention of al-Tanf [the US Special Forces base in Syria] or for that matter, any other base in Syria. Or Iraq. Or Afghanistan. Or Niger. Or Tunisia. Or Cameroon. Or Somalia. Or any number of locales where such military outposts are known to exist and even, unlike in Syria, to be expanding.”

Click to enlarge

13. On June 28, 2017, “The U.S. nuclear aircraft carrier USS Dwight D Eisenhower and two support ships are arriving today,” the Halifax Examiner reported. “The Pilotage Authority says the aircraft carrier will be parked at Anchorage #1, which is just north of McNab’s Island, but I’ve also been told that the ship will be anchored south of the island, near [Canadian Forces Base] Shearwater, so we’ll see, I guess. The other ships will berth at the Dockyard,” the reporter wrote. The brief article was titled simply, “The U.S. Navy invades Halifax.” This is how the Trudeau Liberals outrageously celebrated the 150th anniversary of Confederation – with the militarization of Canada’s ports, the promotion of “interoperability” with the U.S. war fleet by the Canadian Forces, out-of-sight war exercises held offshore, an attack by thugs on a Mi’kmaq ceremony at the statue of the genocidaire Edward Cornwallis, and an invitation-only reception for the ruling elite of Nova Scotia hosted by the U.S. Consul held onboard the carrier in the harbour hailing the U.S. Fourth of July a week later.

While the Examiner aptly expressed concern about the Chilean torture ship (La Esmeralda) parading as a “tall ship,” the arrival of the nuclear aircraft carrier USS Dwight D Eisenhower, which the media presented as a “floating city,” is presented as admirable. Lest we forget, a U.S. naval fleet was stationed off the Pacific coastal city of Valparaíso (Valley of Paradise) on the Chilean coast providing logistical direction under the pretext of an annual exercise code-named UNITAS, in which the Canadian navy now also participates. 

Can it be coincidence that on July 1st, the Canadian Dominion Day, members of the U.S. racist militia Proud Boys, notorious for their violence and anti-people stands, launched a provocation against a noble and dignified ceremony held by Mi’kmaq women against the statue of Cornwallis, the British governor who issued a notorious scalping proclamation and since then has been heroized as the so-called “founder” of Halifax? The Mi’kmaq solemnly affirmed the striving of the Indigenous Peoples of their right to be. Five freely identified themselves to the monopoly media as enlisted members of the Royal Canadian Navy and the sixth, the minder, who refused to identify himself, was presumably CSIS. In his apology, rear Admiral John Newton claimed that the Proud Boys’ “values run counter to those of the Canadian Armed Forces.” Presumably these same “values” allowed their reinstatement with impunity once the dust had settled, with the exception of one who left the forces.

It is no coincidence that on the evening of July 3rd, the U.S. Consul staged an invitation-only reception for leading members of the governing elite to celebrate the “241st Anniversary of the Independence of the United States of America” on board the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower. It is very distressing to many Canadians to see invitees  – including the head of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission and the chief of the Halifax Police – sharing white wine and canapés and taking selfies like teens of war planes they clearly consider to be the heroes of modern American independence. It brings the government no honour to portray instruments of war and conquest such as these as something to emulate.

14. “Arleigh Burke arrives in Halifax, Canada,” September 11, 2018, Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group Public Affairs,

15. “U.S., Canada Wrap Up Bilateral Maritime Ops,” September 13, 2018, Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group Public Affairs,

16. “Iceland Dignitaries Embark Truman,” September 20, 2020  USS Harry S. Truman Public Affairs,

17. “NATO Countries Prepare for Massive Trident Juncture War Games,” TML Weekly Information Project, October 20, 2018 – No. 36,

18. Foggo is commander of the Allied Joint Force Command whose headquarters is in Lago Patria (Naples) Italy, the US Naval Forces in Europe, and the US Naval Forces for Africa, whose headquarters is in Naples Capodichino The Admiral commanded Trident Juncture 2018 from the USS Mount Whitney, the flagship of the Sixth Fleet, transferred from Gaeta to the North Atlantic – a floating headquarters which is connected to the Pentagon’s global command and control network, including the Muos di Niscemi station in Sicily. (Manlio Dinucci, “The mega war game ‘Trident Juncture 2018’,” Il Manifesto (Italy), October 25, 2018. In 2016 he wrote a bellicose piece for the US Naval Institute, titled ‘The Fourth Battle of the Atlantic’ in which he castigated Russia for not acknowledging that the United States is supreme. 

19. “Participation in Landmark NATO Exercise Reveals Iceland’s Dilemma,” Lowana Veal, October 28, 2018,

20. Judson, J., Reforger redux? Defender 2020 to be 3rd largest exercise in Europe since Cold War,Defensenews, last modified October 7, 2019. (accessed January 29, 2020). See also the No to Defender 20 newspaper, an excellent 5-page newspaper produced by European peace groups at

21. Illimar Ploom, Zdzislaw Sliwa & Viljar Veebel (2020). The NATO “Defender 2020” exercise in the Baltic States: Will measured escalation lead to credible deterrence or provoke an escalation?, Comparative Strategy, 39:4, 368-384, DOI: 10.1080/01495933.2020.1772626

22. Justyna Gotkowska (20200. USA – Germany – NATO’s eastern flank. Transformation of the US military presence in Europe. OSW Commentary No. 348 14.08.2020

23. Roger Cole, “Irish neutrality, military neutrality & active military neutrality,”, July 22, 2020.

In an interview Roger Cole explains:

“Ireland has a long tradition of neutrality. The first person to advocate Irish Neutrality was Theobald Wolfe Tone who wrote a pamphlet; “The Spanish War” in 1790 in which he advocated that the Irish Parliament would stay neutral in an impending resource war between the British and Spanish Empires. The war did not happen because of the even greater danger to the British Empire from the French Revolution. It was that Revolution that inspired Wolfe Tone and others to establish the United Irishmen that sought to establish an Independent Democratic Irish Republic. The United Irishmen were crushed by the military might of the British Union when over 30,000 United Irishmen were killed. However from then on the values of Irish Democracy, Irish Independence and Irish Neutrality have been strongly interlinked. When the Irish Republic was negotiating with the British Empire in the 1920s, the right to remain neutral was a core value achieved and meant that in 1939 Ireland remained neutral in the 2nd World War. The policy of Irish neutrality was being continually attacked ever since Ireland joined what was then known as the European Economic Community. The policy was finally terminated when in total contravention of the Hague Convention of 1907 US troops were allowed land in Shannon Airport on their way to their imperialist war in Iraq in February 2003.” (See “Irish Neutrality”,, October 6, 2008)


Filed under Canada, Canadian Forces, Caribbean, Central America, Europe, South America, United States

5 responses to “Research notes: The militarized Atlantic – From Norfolk and Halifax to the Irish and Baltic seas

  1. Pingback: British Navy’s dangerous disregard for Irish sovereignty displays arrogance of the highest order | Tony Seed's Weblog

  2. horgane

    Thank you for this important report Tony Seed.


  3. Pingback: Mother’s Day, May 9th and Mother | Tony Seed's Weblog

  4. Pingback: Battle of the Atlantic: Citing Nazi Germany as model, US military chief hails new NATO command | Tony Seed's Weblog

  5. Pingback: Major NATO military provocation in Halifax on Labour Day: No Harbour for War! | Tony Seed's Weblog

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