Report - - Olavsvern Orlogsstasjon - Tromsø, Norway - Jan 2019 | European and International Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Olavsvern Orlogsstasjon - Tromsø, Norway - Jan 2019


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Olavsvern (Olav’s Shield) is a decommissioned Royal Norwegian Navy base cut into rock near Tromsø in the Arctic Circle. Built to counter the USSR in the Barents Sea, the underground docks could hold up to six submarines and naval operations could be led from within the mountain. A massive project taking thirty years to build and about GBP300 million in NATO funding, the final stage of construction was completed in 1989 just in time for the end of the cold war. Olavsvern had Naval Base (Orlogsstasjon) status until 2002 and was then used as a supply base until 2009 when the Armed Forces deemed it surplus to requirements. Soon after, it was put up for sale on the Norwegian version of eBay where it was sold for 1% of it’s construction costs to a private owner.

In 2015 the base was the focus of international news stories after it was discovered that three Russian research vessels with connection to state owned firms were berthed there for the winter; hosting larger crews than were thought normal. Ships such as these have been implicated in peacetime military action on numerous occasions beforehand and the it might have been a media stunt by the Kremlin. Whatever the reasons, they’ve not returned since, but stories are abound.

The base is spread over two kilometres of coastline with road access from the east and west separated by mountainous terrain. The underground area opens up out of the mountain to a berth and it’s here we thought we might find a more subtle way in by skirting around the perimeter and coming in from the north. We lugged with us all the climbing gear needed to descend the steep drop at the waters edge. There were also some massive water tanks above the underground complex which we hoped might provide an alternative access point.

Heavy snowfall had blanketed the landscape and it quickly became clear that our intended route up the mountain was going to be difficult. The road ended up being so narrow and our planned parking spots so snowed over that we were forced to make a u-turn just ahead of the main gate. A remotely controlled sliding affair, we noticed it had been fully inundated by the snow and ice and was stuck in an open position. It was covered by CCTV cams both new and old, the older ones completely frozen through as well. We figured we would save a good several hours if we were able to get past the fence here and head up the mountain from within. Avoiding some of the newer cameras and keeping to the shadows, we made it past the guardhouse and into the surface base area.

It proved almost impossible to tread quietly through the snow inside the base, a building just past the gate was buried under metres of the stuff revealing only a few inches of darkened rooms through the windows. Continuing past the house one of the windows was illuminated with the glow of a TV screen, unbelievably someone seemed to be living underneath all of that. :oops: @Maniac mentioned that snow might have shifted off the roof and onto the ground surrounding the house when someone turned the heating on recently. Edging closer, a 4x4 was parked round the corner, we decided to steer well clear of it and shimmied down a steep slope to the coastline about 20 metres below the road.

Where the snow met the shoreline it quickly became difficult to know when we were stood on solid ground, but we were well hidden from all the surface buildings and the ground wasn’t as noisy underfoot. Spotted a car heading down the road to the gatehouse so decided to stay put for a moment. Ahead of us a Russian ship was berthed, trawler rather than anything research or military. I'd hardly taken any shots outside but grabbed a quick one of the boat while we were waiting to see where this car went. Light was shining out from within some portholes at the fore of the ship so we again steered clear as much as was possible, climbing back up to the road soon after.

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We headed to the woodland on top of the base. The path up towards the water tanks was obvious, the only area lacking in trees. We found sensors rigged up to branches on the way - if anyone did detect our presence there our trail would have been obvious, I was wading balls deep through snow at this point. It was my idea to try and find these supposed topside buildings but was a bit embarrassed after all the effort to get there as we could not see a sign of anything man-made. @Olkka spotted what seemed to be a cabin just as we were about to give up and as I went to join him we found ourselves standing on something solid underfoot though still waist deep in snow. Lifting my foot up a complete void was obvious below us and it suddenly became clear we were on the roof of a structure and the snow was probably more like 12 foot deep underneath us. :eek:

Now underground, a pick up truck was parked up by the access for the water tanks, the ice melt from the tyres indicating that it hadn’t been here long. The entire time spent here felt like we were about to run into someone around every corner, and we didn't spend long in any one spot.

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Half the tunnel lights were connected to sensors laid throughout the complex, the other half kept off for emergency use perhaps. The underground part of the base is split between an Eastern and Western section with a long, perhaps 700 metre, tunnel connecting them.

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Looking at older photos of the base, they seem to have ripped this gate from the front of the complex and installed it part way down the connecting tunnel for some reason, but it proved pretty useless. It was possible to just about circumvent an IR cam at this point.

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We’d reached the Central area of the base, up until 2002 this was a full naval auxiliary base and Norwegian submarine movements were monitored from here. From then until 2009 the base was used for supply only, much of this section wouldn’t be fully utilised again.

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There were three sets of server rooms and the current occupants were still using a few racks in the first of them, the next two were behind the door on the right marked EMP resistant but they were completely empty. The metal walls at the back of the image probably formed part of a Faraday shield for the equipment that was once in there.

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Past the server rooms there was a set of operations rooms, pic below looking East down the hallway with the ops room on right.

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Maps of the Norwegian coastline were strewn across the desks.

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A backlit map was still partially illuminated.

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From within the raised section of the Operations room. This contained a set of safes, documents and comms equipment.

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More rooms full of maps.

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Armed forces contact list from 1993.

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~ Alarm/Fast Alarm/Danger Over/Off ~

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Torpedo workshops, ammunition depot, electronic workshops and Weapons dept. signposts as we arrive at the Eastern section,

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A T Junction in the tunnels, the rooms at the back hold the both the generators and the command centre, but it wasn't meant to be on our visit. ;/

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Bunch of ammo crates and some medical supplies, nout interesting inside though.

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The law dates from 1914 and the graphic design doesn't seem to have been updated since.

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The Submarine Pen... not sure what we were going to find here, it happened to be full of yachts, their owners securing them over winter.

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The dock area is 350 metres long. There was probably seven or eight yachts in the dock. The red barrier on the right can isolate a narrow end of the dock which can then be used as a dry dock separately from the rest of the facility.

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A sluice gate control by the sub pen door to equalise the water level before opening.

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The sub pen door control panel was lit up and unlocked, some major temptation to operate it but I was reminded about the possible difference in water levels... could have caused some damage to the boats. A port hole was opened up and we could see the other side which we had managed to get to earlier in the morning. It seemed we accidentally switched on the lights outside where it was pitch black beforehand. :rolleyes:

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In 2005 the commanding officer of the British Special Boat Service, Richard van der Horst, was killed in the sub pen during a training exercise with a swimmer delivery vehicle, a sort of mini submarine. There's a memorial to him at the site of the accident. News stories and obits from the time don't mention the base specifically. Memorial reads:

Richard van der Horst OBE
Lieutenant Colonel Royal Marines
Commanding Officer, Special Boat Service


Tragically died here during dive training, here on the 14 March 2005

"All men must die... but not all men truly live"

We will remember

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Some very nice cars stored in some of the smaller halls..

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Countless motorhomes in the larger corridors..

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We'd spent many hours recceing both sides of the base before we found a way in, and perhaps only an hour or so inside before we risked overlapping with someones morning shift. As we headed back the way we came, I kept an eye on the loudspeakers spread throughout the base, waiting for the sound of an alarm or a pissed off Scandi but nothing of the sort occurred. It was snowing heavily when we left and we used what cover it provided to our advantage.

Visited with @Maniac and @Olkka.

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28DL Regular User
Regular User
Fuck yes!!! That’s an incredible report and your pics are spot on! Nice work!


28DL Regular User
Regular User
Top notch report, photos and work !


rebmeM LD82
Regular User
Nice one! Was a good adventure this one. Top photos usual. A+++++ would explore again, thanks for the memories. :-)


Flaxenation of the G!!!
Regular User
love Norway, definitely need to get back there. cracking stuff dude :thumb