Dalvík - The war between Iceland and Britain

Have you heard about the Cod war between Iceland and Britain?
Listen to a story from Jóhann Antonsson.

In the player below you can listen to the story as well as it is available in writing further down the page.
The story is read by Vilhjálmur Bermann Bragason.


"In 2020, 44 years had passed from the ending of last of the Cod Wars between Iceland and Britain, when Iceland’s territorial waters were extended from 50 to 200 nautical miles. I’d like to discuss a Dalvíkian angle to the last Cod War, which some say contributed greatly to the dispute’s peaceful ending.

Aðalsteinn Loftsson, a fishing operator from Dalvík, had had a stern trawler made in Poland, which arrived in Dalvík in June 1974. Aðalsteinn also owned the herring ship Loftur Baldvinsson EA 24, which for many years had held the record as the highest-grossing ship of the Icelandic fleet. The investment was part of the upcoming reorganisation of Aðalstein’s fishing and fish processing enterprise. The trawler, which was named Baldur EA 124, was the sister ship of a few other trawlers that arrived in the country at a similar time.

The vessels were considered to be quite grand. The facilities on board, both the crew’s living quarters and their working environment, were top notch. It was a huge change from the side trawlers which these new trawlers were to replace. They were approximately 60 metres long and 11 metres wide and measured 741 GRT.

However, Aðalsteinn’s situation changed so that he had to sell the trawler. It was bought by the state treasury. The government’s intention was to turn it into a research vessel for the Maritime & Freshwater Research Institute but first it was given to the Icelandic Coast Guard. Baldur became a Coast Guard cruiser and was sent off to war.

The third Cod War was the final dispute over the limits of Iceland’s territorial waters between Iceland and Britain, from 1975 to 1976. The Icelandic government decided to extend the Icelandic jurisdiction again, and this time to 200 nautical miles. The legislation took effect on 15 November 1975. The British protested loudly, as usual, and refused to accept the extension. On 16 November 1975, only 24 hours after the legislation took effect, British trawler Primella from Hull had arrived with the trawler wire cutters. The dispute was taken to a new and dangerous level; the British used both tugboats and frigates to hit the Icelandic Coast Guard cruisers, while the Icelandic Coast Guard kept on cutting the trawl nets of the British fishing vessels. The Icelanders had changed stern trawler Baldur EA 124 to a Coast Guard cruiser and used it to ram the British ships. It was successful as such, become no fewer than three British frigates had to return home for repairs before the war ended. The Icelanders terminated their diplomatic relationship with the British in February 1976 and threatened to leave NATO. However, the disputing governments met in Oslo on 23 May 1976 and finally managed to settle their disagreement. The third Cod War officially ended in June that year."