The Koningin Emma Brug, the Dutch name for the Queen Emma pontoon bridge, was located in the Curacao harbor of Willemstad and connected the two sides of the port city. Normally a bustling area where ships maneuvered to other Caribbean destinations, the bridge was closed after the German U-boat attacks on Aruba, where "Every lake tanker was sunk." The "usual parade of ships" entering the harbor was absent, and no boats were allowed to leave the port. Phillip and his friend Henrik were told to leave the area since U-boat attacks were imminent.
For seven days, not a ship moved by the Queen Emma bridge, and there was gloom over Willemstad. (Chapter Two)
The bridge was finally reopened, but the first ship to leave, the Empire Tern, was torpedoed, and it several weeks before shipping began again.