High Seas They Couldn't Hit a . . . Oops!

An East-West naval engagement takes place off the Baltic coast

Though only half a mile away Warsaw Pact ships were firing at targets, the crew on the 300-ft. West German navy tender Neckar exhibited no alarm. Nothing ever happened during routine surveillance missions. So, midmorning in the Baltic Sea, the NATO craft sat passively while two 600-ton Soviet-made corvettes of the Polish navy blasted practice shots at unmanned drones.

Suddenly a burst of fire hit the water just 16 ft. from the Neckar. Then a corvette struck the German craft with eight 30-mm shells, setting her stern gun turret afire and punching a hole in her hull beneath the waterline. Three...