TWO Norwegian nationals accused of trying to retrieve 82 kilograms of cocaine from the hull of a ship in Newcastle Harbour have pleaded not guilty and will face a trial in Newcastle District Court. Johan-Martinius Halvorsen, 33, and Jon Birger Karlsen, 51, appeared in court on Wednesday via audio visual link from a Sydney jail where the pair pleaded not guilty to attempting to possess a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug. The charge carries a maximum of life imprisonment and court documents reveal the men were allegedly engaged in the operation to recover the cocaine from January 17 to 26 this year. The two men, who investigators say are professional divers flown into Australia by a drug trafficking ring, will next appear in court in February to get a trial date. The men are accused of being part of a "sophisticated" international crime syndicate that flew the Norwegians into Queensland, purchased them expensive scuba gear and then sent them to Newcastle Harbour to retrieve the cocaine from the ship. The pre-dawn scuba diving operation was allegedly thwarted when Australian Federal Police and Organised Crime squad detectives shone bright lights in the water before the men fled, leading to a dramatic foot chase on Honeysuckle Drive. The Newcastle Herald reported in September that the case against the two men included diving computer GPS, GoPro and CCTV footage.