When, in the summer of 1942, a convoy designated PQ17 left Iceland with thirty-six merchant ships and arrived in Murmansk with only eleven ships afloat, the convoy losses were deemed unacceptable and the convoy system was suspended. When the Russians were informed of this, Stalin wrote an insulting letter to Prime Minister Churchill implying cowardice because of the PQ17 affair and the lack of good faith by failing to create a second front in 1942. Both Churchill and Roosevelt, apparently, felt a gesture should be made to placate Stalin. Accordingly, a new convoy designated PQ18 was decided upon. But, could it get through?

This convoy would consist of, you guessed it, the Emmons and Rodman plus the cruiser Tuscaloosa along with three Royal Navy destroyers. No merchant ships would be included. The contribution of the Emmons would be 35 tons of mixed stores mostly canned meats and vegetables. Every available space in the magazines was filled with four-inch projectiles. The Tuscaloosa would carry mostly munitions, medical supplies and personnel for a proposed hospital unit. On all ships, every unoccupied space, above and below decks, was utilized to carry provisions.

The Germans had submarines, air patrols and battle cruisers waiting and watching for PQ18 along much of the 1500 mile route. When the convoy got close to its destination, it had to pass as close as 50 miles to German-occupied Finland. Most of the trip was above the Arctic Circle so the crew became “blue noses.” This Arctic Circle honor is much like the “shellback” honor received when crossing the equator. No initiations are given for this honor since being constantly tossed about and nearly frozen, is considered initiation enough.

The weather during most of the voyage was marked with overcast skies, mist, rain and fog. There was nearly always a stiff wind which sometimes reached gale strength. The water temperature was within a degree or two of freezing. Luckily, it was summer. The foul weather largely contributed to the success of the mission as the convoy was only spotted once but since the Germans were looking for merchant ships, it didn’t occur to them that they actually had spotted PQ18. The convoy made it over and back without incident.