Johansen was a Norwegian sailor "of some intelligence," and the second mate of the Emma of Auburn, whose home address was in Oslo's Old Town. En route to Callao, the Emma encountered the heavily armored steam yacht Alert, who ordered the schooner to turn back. Captain Collins refused, leading the Alert to fire upon the Emma using a brass cannon. In retaliation, the crew of the Emma managed to board the Alert and slay all of its members, although Collins and First Mate Green were killed in the battle, leaving Johansen in command of the crew. He died shortly after his return from the South Pacific in 1925; his papers, found posthumously, provided the only first-hand account of Cthulhu in Lovecraft's fiction. His report was written in English to spare his wife, who could not speak the language, from learning the horror of Cthulhu.
Behind the Mythos
- Robert M. Price suggests that Johansen's nationality is a tip of the hat to the Draugen, a creature from Norwegian folklore, for helping to inspire Cthulhu. ("The Other Name of Azathoth")