A one billion Norwegian kroner fortress built on a weather beaten island on the Norwegian coast just as the cold war was coming to an end. The builders hardly had time to pack up and leave before the government decided to disband this and several other similar fortresses, abandoning them to the elements and a flock of sheep.
This story actually starts a lot earlier. Let’s go back some 120 years, to right before the end of the nineteenth century when the Norwegian government built a series of coastal fortresses along the Norwegian coastline. This was a part of the general arms build up towards the turn of the century and 1905 and the declaration of independence from Sweden. These were, at the time, modern and well equipped fortresses which posed a formidable threat to any invaders. Fast forward some 30-40 years and the equipment had started to lag heavily behind the latest developments, the soldiers who was supposed to operate the cannons and guns lacked training and you had to go back to World War I to find anyone with experience from sharp shooting exercises with the heavy cannons. With the notable exception of the sinking of the Blücher, these fortresses was no match for Nazi Germany’s forces.
During the occupation years between 1940 and 1945 Norway became part of the Atlantic wall, a demented scheme to build an impenetrable line of fortifications along the whole coastline from the south of France to the north of Norway. During these short few years the Germans built several hundred coastal fortresses along the Norwegian coastline of varying strength and durability. We all know the end of the story. Hitler lost and Norway once again became an independent country. Left behind was hundreds if not thousands of small and large fortifications and a mountain of light and heavy armaments. After the war, the Norwegian army was allowed to keep a lot of this equipment and the fortresses built by the Germans now formed part of the Norwegian coastal artillery. Obviously Norway neither had the manpower nor the money to maintain and keep operational hundreds for fortresses, so a lot of them was never used by the Norwegian army, and many was rapidly abandoned over the next decade, but eventually the German ww2 remnants came to form the mainstay of the Norwegian coastal defence. By the 1980’s this equipment was already long past it’s sell-by date. The cold war was still very cold and an upgrade was long overdue. A series of 120mm fortresses and torpedo batteries was planned at strategic positions along the Norwegian coastline. 3 120mm fortresses and 6 75mm fortresses was eventually built to a total cost of close to 7 billion Norwegian kroner where each of the 120mm fortresses cost close to 1 billion. This comes on top of the money spent on the series of top modern torpedo batteries which was built in the same period.
Unfortunately it wouldn’t even be a decade before the realization that the idea of fixed position fortresses and fortifications was antiquated and outdated dawned on the top military brass and political leadership, but by then it was too late. The army had already spent billions of kroner on the project. The fate of last couple of facilities which was built was sealed already before they were finished and hardly had time to fire of a single shot before they were closed down and the doors slammed shut in order to spend an extended amount of time in Limbo. 10 years later the story finally ends. The coastal artillery as a separate military branch had ceased to exist years before and the army as a whole had been through a decade of enormous changes. It was time to finally undo the mistakes of the past and eradicate these huge and expensive facilities from the face of the earth. Only a couple facilities remain today with the intention of using them for museum purposes.