Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Norwegian Naval Base Peterhead

We were fortunate to discover the existence of a secret Norwegian Naval Base at Peterhead, operated jointly by the Norwegian Secret Intelligence Service and the Royal Naval Intelligence Service during World War II.

The base was located at the Model Jetty, Port Henry Harbour, Peterhead, and operated fishing cutters, which were used to gather intelligence on shipping, with any information they obtained being forwarded to London.

The base remained classified until 1980.

So far, this is all we have been able to uncover from easily obtained sources, but hope more will come to light, or be offered in future.


We received an appeal for additional information from a relative of one of crew members, which we have repeated below:

I am working on a study of the secret intelligence operations carried out by the Norwegian Navy and the British SIS from the Peterhead base in Scotland during WW 2.

The subject of my study is the fate of the Norwegian fishing cutter “MARS” and her crew. They disappeared off the coast of Southern Norway in early April 1942, having just landed two agents who were to set up a secret radio station there.

Specifically, I am interested in any photograps of the base area (ships, personnel, buildings etc) at Model Jetty, Port Henry Harbour, Peterhead. The time from August 1941 to March 1942 is of primary interest.

I have tried (almost) everywhere to find photos of this place, and frankly I think this is my last chance. Therefore, I would be most grateful if any of your readers could help in any way.

PS: My uncle, Olav Hagtvedt, was one of the crew on the “MARS 1″.

Arne O. Hagtvedt

Unfortunately, there is no email or alternative contact information, so any additional information will have to be posted as a comment below.

If you have something you wish to pass on confidentially, you may also use the Contact Form on the Main Site.


June 29, 2008 - Posted by | Appeal, Maritime, military, Naval, World War II | , , ,


  1. Article in a special issue of Journal of Pacific Maritime History on the yacht Medea which was used as mother ship by the Norwegians in Peterhead also refers to the reminisces of Karl Solevaagseide who served in Peterhead.


    Comment by c. bruce | January 1, 2010

  2. if you wish more information the mother ship was the medea . there is an article on the yacht and the base in peterhead in medea and the classic steam yachts published by san diego maritime museum


    Comment by c. bruce | January 19, 2010

  3. Hi Arne, I have today just posted a request about Norwegian Naval personnel in Scotland during WW2 under the ‘Military’ heading on this site!

    I can’t answer your exact query but point out that Norwegians sailors were used by the British Navy to pilot ships around the British Isles (especially Scotland) to free up our own Captains. I know of Glaswegians who knew some there.

    There were also Norwegian Royal Navy officers involved in Secret work for the British Admiralty in West Scotland during WW2.

    I mention all this because it might be that you could widen your search.



    Comment by Lucy | March 23, 2010

  4. Hello to Lucy and Bruce (and all others)!

    My Peterhead study has unfortunately been dead in the water for a while, but is now picking up speed again. Thanks for tips on the Medea. I’ve added details on Medea as background info in my study.
    Naval Base Peterhead is still shrouded in mystery, and obtaining photos of it seems almost impossible. Still, there is hope, as I have recently found a very promising contact. Will share photos on this site if any are found.
    Apart from that, I found out what happened to the fishing cutter “Mars 1” and her crew of 6. A German report documents the sinking of a Norwegian fishing vessel off the coast of Norway on the 10th of April 1942. The position of the sinking matches the only remotely possible position of “Mars 1” as she was returning to Peterhead. Also, the oil industry has very thoroughly mapped the seabed of the North Sea in recent years. At the position given by the Germans, there is a small wreck described as “fishing vessel”, appr 50 ft. All the others wrecks registered within a 60 NM circle are of larger ships. Too much of a coincidence? My gut feeling is that this is the final resting place of my uncle Olav and his 5 shipmates.
    Still, I would dearly love to have some photos from NBP.
    If any of you out there have photos from Peterhead harbour, taken during the period 1935-1945, I’d be most grateful for a copy.



    Comment by Arne O. Hagtvedt | July 4, 2010

  5. Hello,

    Very interesting stuff. I am a journalist with the BBC based in Aberdeen. I am Peterhead born and was recently speaking to my grandfather who is 87 and was an apprentice plumber at Peterhead harbour during the war. What sparked the conversation was that the Union Bar on the harbour has been recently put up for sale. My grandfather told me that underneath it during WW2, the Norwegians operated a highly secret bunker. All of this I’m sure you know. However I’d like very much to find out more details with the view to doing a TV/radio piece. Arne, and others, it would be good to get contact details so we can swap info. To make it televisual any photographs would be essential. please contact me via my email –




    Comment by Steven Duff | September 6, 2010

  6. Steven, – I have sent you an email!


    Comment by Arne O. Hagtvedt | September 19, 2010

  7. I would suggest you contact the Norwegian Consul in Edinburgh. She was involved in a rememberance ceremony last year for veterans of Shetland Bus and Ryukan raid.

    If you need further help let me know I can contact her personally. She showed a great deal of interest in the matter and Im sure would be keen to know about your search.


    Comment by mgordon42 | June 2, 2016

  8. Thanks for your reply and interest in my research.
    I had actually forgotten my posting on the Secret Scotland site, as it was quite some time ago.

    My book “Olav’s Saga” was published in february 2016, based on all the information I was able to gather both here in Norway and in Scotland.

    I visited Peterhead in august 2014. The library and museum there had a lot of useful information. This was of course incorporated in my book.
    The book is presently in Norwegian only, although I have been asked to make an English version of it.
    Who knows – perhaps next year – – ?


    Comment by Arne Hagtvedt | June 3, 2016

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