the world’s largest submarine and the pride of the Nelson Institute of
Marine Research, rocked ever-so-gently in the water of her underground
berth. It was nearing high tide, sailing time, and last minute
preparations were underway for her latest mission, one that would take
her and her crew off the coast of Monterey, California, to study
turbidity currents in the submarine canyons there.
Morton, Seaview’s executive officer, stood at the chart table
reviewing the duty rosters for the pending mission. Looking up from his
clipboard he nodded to Lee Crane, his friend and the captain of the boat
who was standing in the nose observing the activity in the control room.
Chip was on the verge of advising his captain that the crew was aboard
and ready to answer bells, when the intercom blared.
Morton, this is Nelson. Report to my cabin at once!”
picked up the nearby microphone and responded quickly in the
affirmative, though the slight scowl on his face revealed his true
feelings about the summons. Lee shrugged his shoulders and motioned for
Chip to proceed and the blonde immediately headed up the spiral stairs
towards Officers’ Country. The exec knocked crisply on the admiral’s
cabin door and after Nelson’s grunted “come” he entered. He was
momentarily surprised to see two flag officers standing in the cabin but
he quickly came to attention just inside the open door. “You asked to
see me, sir?”
Commander, close the door.” Turning to the tall middle aged officer
next to him Nelson made the introductions. “Admiral Mandel, this is
Lt. Commander Morton. Commander, Admiral Mandel from OPNAV.” Chip gave
a polite nod and a “sir” to the new man. He then turned back to
Nelson and awaited his instructions.
get down to business. Admiral Mandel has been conducting a security
audit of Seaview for the
I need to repeat myself, Mr. Morton?” growled Nelson.
stood with his mouth open slightly as if to speak but realizing there
were no options open to him he snapped to attention. “No, sir. Will
there be anything else, sir?”
shook his head.
Nelson’s more relaxed attitude towards such things on his submarine,
Chip saluted both men then he turned sharply on his heel and left the
cabin, pulling the door closed behind him. Before rounding the corner
where his own quarters were located he glanced over his shoulder and to
his dismay both admirals had stepped into the corridor and were watching
him intently. Bristling at the unwarranted scrutiny the blond continued
to his cabin where he packed a few personal items into his small sea
bag, donned his jacket and grabbed his cover from the closet shelf. He
took a deep breath before once again stepping into the corridor. It was
no surprise that the admirals were standing there waiting.
Admiral Nelson shadowing him Chip briskly made his way back down the
corridor, towards the bow and down the spiral stairs to the observation
nose. He kept his gaze straight ahead until he passed Lee. He then
paused and turned around to speak but upon catching a glimpse of the
admiral over the captain’s shoulder he changed his mind and moved
towards the ladder to the deck hatch.
the blond was out of sight the admiral stopped by the chart table where
the captain stood with his arms crossed and a perplexed look painted on
what’s this about?” Lee asked softly.
stepped closer and lowered his voice. “I’ll
explain later, Lee. Get us underway as soon as Mr. Morton has cleared
nodded reluctantly and was about to turn towards the bow when the
admiral reached out and grabbed his arm. “Once we’ve cleared the
channel, institute radio silence.” Nelson then released his hold and
hurried towards the aft hatch of the control room leaving a confused Lee
Crane staring at his back.
the nose windows Lee watched Chip depart. He was shocked and angered to
see his friend and exec being searched, then escorted off the dock by
two members of the shore patrol. Snatching up the microphone on the
chart table he ordered the crew to prepare to get underway then summoned
his second officer, Lt. Bob O’Brien to the control room. O’Brien
arrived within a minute and stood beside Crane and the captain motioned
for the lieutenant to follow him out the aft hatch into the corridor. He
then quietly informed him that he would serve as acting as XO on the
raised an eyebrow in surprise. “Aye, sir. Is something wrong with Mr.
don’t know, Bob. I’m as
in the dark about this as you. I’ll take us out. Revise the
officer’s watch assignments and inform me when you finish.”
drama being played out in the control room did not go unnoticed by the
duty crew; in fact, each and every member had at least glanced up to see
what was happening. It was certainly not commonplace for the exec to
leave the boat at sailing time and the fact that he wore his jacket and
carried his bag and cover meant he was not likely coming back. After a
stern look from the captain all heads dropped but while every man looked
busy that didn’t mean he wasn’t thinking about the situation and
looking forward to hearing the scuttlebutt at evening mess.
snapped out the series of orders to move his boat out of her berth and
into the channel then he raised the periscope and performed a 360 degree
scan. He continued to watch as Seaview cleared the breakwater then gave
the order to dive. Soon the boat was submerged, cruising at ninety feet
and moving at one-third speed. After verifying with navigation that they
were headed on the course that Chip had plotted and programmed into the
computer two hours earlier, he turned the conn over to O’Brien.
a full head of steam Lee headed towards Officers’ Country. He knocked
twice rapidly on the admiral’s door before entering and closing the
door behind him. While Lee typically felt quite comfortable in the
confines of the admiral’s cabin, he now stood stiffly at the door.
what is going on? Why did
you relieve Chip?”
pointed to a chair. “Sit
captain hesitated then sat on the edge of the chair opposite the admiral
and awaited his explanation. Irritated at being questioned Nelson
fumbled with his cigarette pack, pulled out one and lit it. He then took
a long drag and leaned back in his own chair.
are aware we were undergoing a security audit by OPNAV?”
nodded. He and the admiral had been informed of the surprise audit just
three days prior to the cruise. As Lee understood it, the audit was
intentionally kept secret from the other officers and the crew and was
intended to determine Seaview’s fitness to carry out a highly
sensitive military mission.
on the findings of that audit Mr. Morton was determined to pose a
security risk for this cruise.”
was incredulous. “That can’t be! You know him. He has a high
clearance level, nearly as high as you or I. He has never given anyone a
reason to ….”
the wave of his hand Nelson called a halt to the expected litany of
accolades for their first officer. “I know, Lee, I know. However, I
received some information from the auditor about Mr. Morton’s actions
during preparation for the cruise and it was enough to warrant having
him stand down, at least until I can check out his allegations. In the
meantime, we have more pressing matters.” Nelson stood up and after
stepping over to his safe he opened it and pulled out a large envelope
marked top secret. He then removed several documents from the envelope
and handed them to the captain. Lee read every word of the material
before handing it back. His jaw was clenched and he made no immediate
as you read we are to assist a defector from The People’s Republic in
locating sensors that were planted in our own waters under our noses to
spy on our naval operations. Only someone who helped build and install
them will be able to help us locate and remove them.”
sir,” answered Lee without conviction.
sensors are supposed to use some of the most advanced hydrophone
technology known. It has something to do with specialized noise
the admiral expounded on some of the technical aspects of the mission
Lee studied his face. He could easily tell by the extra stress lines and
dullness in his eyes that Nelson was tired. He didn’t want to add to
the OOM’s burden but he still had responsibility for the safety of his
crew and the mission held substantial risk. So, despite his concern for
the older man he was forced to play devil’s advocate and ask some very
pointed questions. “Sir, how did we find out about these sensors?”
admiral ground out his cigarette in the desktop ashtray then cocked his
head. “The defector, a man named Volz, walked into the American
doesn’t it seem a rather strange thing for us to be asked to do, to
allow a defector aboard Seaview, especially one from the People’s
Republic? You know we don’t have the best track record with that type
anger flared and he shot up from his seat. “We will because someone
placed high tech listening devices in our own backyard, to spy on us!”
A few moments passed in silence before finally, and in a much calmer
tone, Nelson sat back down and finished his answer. “Who better to
help us than the person who designed the equipment and who better than
us, and Seaview, to do the job?”
reached around and rubbed the back of his neck. “Sir, we didn’t plan
for this cruise to be a military mission. We don’t have the right
equipment or information or…”
of like some of your ONI missions, Lee?” deadpanned Nelson. “You
know our crew is among the best trained in the world and can solve just
about any puzzle. If it makes you feel better I’ve also done my
research and made sure certain items were placed aboard that might be
useful to us later. The Navy is also sending us one of their best sonar
technicians to assist and we have a couple of days to plan our strategy
before we pick up Volz.” The admiral pounded his fist on the desk.
“Don’t you see, Lee? We have no choice in this! We have to put a
stop to them and see exactly what their capabilities are!”
stood from his chair, and with his arms crossed and a hand to his mouth
he began to pace slowly back and forth. After three laps of the room he
stopped, ran a hand through his hair and turned back to face Nelson.
“Admiral, who vetted this Volz and what did they find out? Can we
trust he will tell us the truth about the instruments or their
locations? Can we trust these devices even exist and this is not some
wild goose chase? Maybe he’s setting us up!”
defector was pretty talkative once he knew he would be allowed asylum.
He gave OPNAV the general location of the arrays and explained in some
detail about the design of the devices. The sensors are still active and
ONI is watching the scientist collecting the data. That’s why we’re
maintaining radio silence; we don’t want to disrupt the trail until
they catch all the
players.” Nelson paused, noting the grim look on Lee’s face. “We
have no guarantees, Lee, but it is our mission so I suggest you
familiarize yourself with the area.”
had to admit much of his anger stemmed from Chip’s sudden absence
rather than the mission itself so he reined in his emotions and studied
the chart the admiral had open on the desk. It covered a large group of
seamounts between southern
scratched some numbers on a piece of paper then tossed the note on top
of the chart. “We won’t have exact coordinates for the devices until
Volz is aboard. He said for his own safety he wouldn’t give us
specific locations until we were in the area but those are the
coordinates for the rendezvous. He and the sonar tech will board from a
cruiser at 2130 hours day after tomorrow.”
“Aye, sir.” Lee stepped over to the door and grabbed the knob then stopped and spun back around. “Sir, you know I wouldn’t want anyone but Chip as my exec on any mission, especially one this risky. Does his dismissal mean you believe he is working for the People’s Republic?
four-star let out a loud breath. “Serious allegations have been made
against him. Those allegations must be thoroughly investigated. I will
withhold any judgment until then and I suggest that you
concentrate on the mission. Do you think you can do that?”
being summarily dismissed, Lee slowly walked the corridor towards the
control room. He couldn’t shake the feeling that once again Seaview
and her crew were pawns in someone’s political game. He only hoped
they were as prepared as the admiral seemed to think they were.
Morton was escorted by the shore patrol to his car, which was parked in
the lot nearest the motor pool. He quickly tossed his bag in the trunk
and climbed in but when he failed to start the car, the SP tapped on his
window. “My orders are to see you off the property, sir.”
Chip had been a part of Nelson’s dream practically since the beginning so though the guard’s words were muffled by the glass barrier between them they cut the conscientious officer like a knife. Sensing it would be useless to argue, the blond fired up the engine and in less than a minute he was driving through the front gate. He hoped it wasn’t for the last time.
arrived at his condo a few miles north of the Institute, pulled in the
drive and just sat. He was at the same time confused, worried and angry.
He had never been disciplined severely or been under a cloud of
suspicion for misconduct and he didn’t like the feeling. Where
do I go from here? Seaview is going to be gone for at least three weeks
and none of this is going to be resolved until the admiral gets back.
I guess I could go to
officer went straight up the stairs to his bedroom suite and dropped his
cover on the dresser and his keys on the valet. It
was a simple science mission, just up the coast. There were no overt
threats to Seaview. There were no visiting scientists or politicians to
cause complications. Why didn’t I trust my instincts when things still
didn’t seem right? Shrugging off his jacket he sat down on the
edge of the bed and began to replay the events of the last few days in
the first day of preparations, he had arrived at the boat early and the
admiral had stopped by and quizzed him on the course he had plotted and
entered into the computer. It was one of Nelson’s quirks to check on
some mission details prior to sailing and that alone did not set off any
alarms. Later in the day when Nelson had returned and again asked about
the course and his questions were more specific, he became a little
concerned. He remembered thinking at the time that something was
bothering Nelson, but had doubted the admiral would tell him what it
was. Before he left the boat
on Friday night, he had received a message from Nelson to rework some
crew duty assignments for the next two days. Specifically, he had been
told to release Chief Sharkey from cargo loading duty so the
had held more of the same. He had again arrived early but had stopped by
his office in the Institute to check his mail. The admiral had
immediately poked his head into his office and ordered him to drive down
paused and gave out an audible sigh. He regretted he hadn’t talked to
Lee about the admiral’s strange behavior but then hindsight was always
better. Besides, Lee was probably dealing with the audit and didn’t
need any more problems, especially ones an exec was supposed to handle.
Then there was the audit, the one he hadn’t known about, the one that
seemed to target him and resulted in his missing the cruise. Why was
Nelson checking on him? Was it at the behest of Mandel, or was he acting
on his own? What evidence did they claim to have about any wrongdoing?
There were plenty of questions with no answers.
suddenly realizing he had developed a throbbing headache, Chip went into
the bathroom intending to take something for it. He stopped at the
vanity and stood staring at the face in the mirror. Stress lines that he
didn’t know he had had suddenly appeared and he rubbed a hand across
his face as if it would erase them. Come
on, Morton, can the pity crap. You are a loyal, dedicated officer who
hasn’t done anything wrong and you are not going to be anyone’s
scapegoat! Who is this Admiral Mandel, anyway?
Mandel was an easy target, it had been Nelson who had taken action
against him. That signaled to the exec that Nelson no longer trusted
him. If he ever did. The fact
that he took Mandel’s word as gospel and he was allowed no time to
explain was a sure sign that the good working relationship the two had
developed over the years was now history. With a sigh Chip took his
clenched fists and rested them against the mirror and bowed his head.
a few minutes passed Chip finally opened the medicine cabinet and pulled
out a bottle of painkillers. He hated taking medicines of any kind but
his left eye was beginning to water from the pounding in his head. He
shook two of the capsules out into his hand, filled a paper cup with
water and was about to toss the capsules into his mouth but instead he
rolled the pills around in his palm. The pills had reminded him of the
mysterious cargo he had loaded onto the boat that morning just hours
before Seaview was to depart. Capsules.
What were those capsule shaped things in that crate?
it was not unusual for Admiral Harriman Nelson, scientific genius, to
give him an extensive list of what some might call “odd” items to
purchase and load for a cruise, at the last minute the admiral had
directed him to make room in Compartment 21 for some rather large crates
said to contain scientific equipment. When Nelson failed to supply him
with any specs for his manifest he had pressed the flag officer for
details but the OOM had been curt and evasive. Not only had the he told
him to place the items in the most waterproof and secure hold of the
boat, in doing so he had ordered him to forego security measures used to
screen all other cargo. Since those measures had been instituted by
Nelson himself after several near disasters on Seaview, the sudden
decision to bypass them did not sit well with her exec. As exec it was
his responsibility to balance all loads and perform necessary weight
calculations for proper ballast control and to ensure the safety of all
cargo, so after loading it he had personally opened each crate and
examined the contents and performed security and radiation checks.
all the crates, one in particular had drawn his attention. It had
contained a number of foot-long, off-white colored capsule-shaped
objects. He had carefully studied one of them, noting that it was not
very heavy, appeared to be made of hardened plastic and had no markings
on it. It had occurred to him that the capsules might be a component of
a larger object but with time being short, once it had passed the tests
he had placed it back into the crate and all the crates were again
in the present Chip realized that all the worrying was doing him no good
so he quickly changed out of his uniform into jeans and a polo shirt and
grabbed his keys. Once downstairs he went into the kitchen,
automatically opening the refrigerator door. He
found it practically empty, the state is was usually in when he left on
a cruise. “Of all the times to be out of beer!” he sighed then
closed the door sharply. Well at
least that’s something I can
pulled his sedan into the parking lot of a local SportsStars sports bar,
went inside and took a seat at a booth near the back. He ordered a beer
and for the next twenty minutes he sipped it and half-heartedly watched
the Dodgers baseball game on television. It was tough to concentrate and
since the one beer did little to ease his bewilderment or cool his anger
he ordered a second and eventually, a third. After downing about half he
decided to leave and head back home and from there he would take a long
walk and try to clear his head. He had nearly reached his car when he
noticed a familiar motorcycle pull into the lot.
That’s Kowalski’s bike, he thought as he watched the rider park and
dismount. Once the man had removed his helmet there was no mistaking the
the sound of the familiar voice the seaman stopped in his tracks and
turned around wide-eyed. “Mr. Morton? What
are you doing here? Aren’t
you supposed to be on…?”
you be too?” interrupted the exec. Suspecting that Kowalski had a
story to tell, Chip motioned him over to his car and they got in and
closed the doors. At least the car afforded some privacy and the officer
knew the conversation was going to be interesting. “Kowalski, tell me
what happened after I left you in the missile room this morning.”
it’s like this Mr. Morton… I was checking the gauges on those
special air tanks like you asked me to. I looked up and Chief Sharkey
was standing there and he told me to run ashore and pick up a package
for the admiral at the
said nothing, but what he was hearing had his mind racing. He nodded his
head as the rating ended his monologue with an apology. “Sorry, sir, I
know I should have done more to contact Seaview.” Chip looked at the
rating with a hint of empathy and wondered to himself how much
information he should give him about his own unceremonious ousting from
Kowalski, it seems someone wanted us both off Seaview. Was there anyone
with Chief Sharkey when he spoke to you?”
sir, at least I don’t think so.”
he ever tell you what was in the package you were supposed to pick
shook his head.
it, then,” ordered the exec as he pointed his thumb in the direction
of the ocean. “Let’s see if we can figure out why we’re here and
Seaview is out there.”
Seaview made its way up the coast of
in the morning Lee executed drills in every section of the boat,
repeating some of them several times. Though the crew had performed well
each time, Lee wanted every response to be automatic and only practice
could ensure that. Ironically, during one of the last drills, a small
fire in the control board of the torpedo loading mechanism had to be
doused and portions of the wiring replaced. The fire and subsequent
repairs delayed Seaview’s progress very little but the incident proved
to Lee how right he was to have checked on their supplies.
his plate was already full, in Chip’s absence Lee also entered the
rotation for control room watch. Normally he didn’t stand watch and
was able to move about the boat as needed, but he knew he would be
unavailable once there were visitors aboard and he wanted his remaining
duty watch officers to be well rested. While at the con on the dog watch
he created a list of the personnel and equipment to be assembled for the
operation. Lee looked around the control room then motioned for the
can I do for you, Skipper?” said Sharkey eagerly.
first thing in the morning I want Patterson, Kowalski, Garza, Chief
Barton and yourself to set up for a portable sonar in the nose…”
expression, akin to a deer staring at the headlights of a car, was not
the response Lee had expected from his COB.
is it, Chief?” inquired the Captain.
reluctantly Sharkey answered his
it out, Chief,” Lee said impatiently.
Ski, Kowalski…is not on board.”
The captain was shocked. “What do you mean he’s not on board?”
The captain was shocked. “What do you mean he’s not on board?”
went to pick up a package for the admiral and didn’t make it back
before we sailed.” Though he wanted nothing better than to hide in a
distant corner of the boat, Sharkey stood very still and grimaced.
anger was rising and though he wanted to smack the nearest bulkhead he
knew better than to erupt in front of the entire duty crew. Instead he
momentarily turned away to gain his composure. When he turned back
around his normally light brown eyes were smoldering. “Chief, is
Admiral Nelson aware of this?”
I think so sir.”
do you mean you think so?”
he asked me specifically to send Ski, so I assume he knows, since he,
ah, didn’t get his package.”
did you inform Mr. O’Brien about this missing crew member?”
sir, I ah…no, sir.”
captain’s question was well founded. From a chain of command
After a minute of loudly tapping his pencil against the chart table Lee decided to get back on task but he spoke coolly to the chief. “Okay, Chief, I will deal with this later. Inform the men. Have them collect what is needed from stores tonight and be ready to start at 0800. Have them report directly to me.
“Aye, sir.” Sharkey moved as fast as he ever had in his life in order to escape the captain’s wrath.
turned to Bob O’Brien, who had entered to the control room and handed
him the next day’s crew duty roster. He took a minute to relay the
gist of the conversation he had just had with Sharkey and as expected,
O’Brien was as shocked as he had been. “Bob I think we need to get a
tight handle on the rosters. Have the juniors do a roll call in each of
their sections. I want no more surprises.” Lee paused for a short time
then added, “as of now any watch changes must be cleared by you directly. Make sure you let
everyone know any violation of my order will result in brig time.”
sir, I‘ll get right on it. Any
other problems, sir?”
just say things are not as they seem. When I know something for certain,
I’ll let you know. You have the con, Mr. O’Brien.”
Crane walked over to the windows in the nose and stared out at the
moving water. He mentally replayed the incident from the previous
afternoon when he watched Chip ushered ashore and when he was left
without his staunchest ally. Now with Ski also off the boat with no
explanation, he suddenly felt very alone. Despite their close
friendship, at this point he didn’t think he could trust the admiral
to tell him what was going on and he was very concerned about the
mission and about Seaview and her crew. Unfortunately, the mission was
just getting started.
several deep breaths in order to calm himself, Lee once more made the
trip up to Officers’ Country and the admiral’s cabin. He considered
knocking on the door but instead opened it and stepped right in.
Unfortunately, the admiral was not inside and Lee’s hopes for
resolution and explanation were delayed, if not denied.
had been wary of meeting Kowalski at the Institute where he himself
would certainly be accused of trespassing. Instead he had requested they
meet at the bar at 0800 and from they would determine their next move.
The men arrived at the empty parking lot at about the same time and
after exchanging greetings Kowalski slid into the passenger seat of
Morton’s sedan. Chip knew the fair thing to do was to lay his cards on
the table so before starting the car he turned to face the rating.
“Kowalski, I need to tell you something in strict confidence.”
cocked his head at the unusual request then nodded in agreement. “Of
is no way to sugar coat the fact that I was ordered off the boat by
Admiral Nelson and that I am barred from Institute property.”
opened his mouth, astounded by what his XO had just told him. “You,
sir? That can’t be
right,” he declared as he shook his head.
responded in his most sincere tone. “I haven’t a clue why but I hope
to find out soon. That’s where you come in.”
officer paused, trying to assess Kowalski’s true feelings. After
detecting no change in the man’s demeanor he made his request. “I
need a big favor. Now obviously I can’t order you but it would sure
help if you could go over to the Institute and get as much information
as you can about the new mission and an Admiral Mandel and whatever
he’s up to. I know I’m putting you in a bad spot by asking,
but…,” Chip paused briefly before uttering an uncharacteristic sigh.
“I'm worried about the boat and the crew. I have this strange feeling
about their mission but I can’t help if I need to know what I’m up
against.” Chip was certain the rating had realized the gravity of what
was being asked of him but when Kowalski didn’t answer he gave him a
little nudge. “It can’t be a coincidence that you missed the cruise
too.” That was all it took to get the seaman to agree to do whatever
**** Later on
everyone was acting weird today,” declared the frustrated rating as he
climbed into the sedan. Realizing how he sounded he quickly offered up
an apology. “Sorry, Mr. Morton, I’ve just never seen them act this
words out of Kowalski’s mouth were not what Chip had expected. “Who,
sir, for one. She’s always been pretty friendly with me, you know, at
least enough to get a few laughs. Today she wouldn’t even look at me.
I made small talk but she just ignored me, acted like she was too busy.
She finally got up and gave me the bums rush. Then there was Commander
Gordon in security. He acted like I was committing murder when I asked
if I could contact Seaview. I guess I didn’t help much,” he
worry about it Kowalski,” he assured the rating, “I have a pretty
good lead to follow up on tonight. Let’s meet at the restaurant at
0730. We can re-evaluate then.”
sir. I think I’ll head inside if that’s okay? I’m kinda
thirsty,” he added with a grin.
chuckled to himself then nodded towards the bar.
Chip arrived back at his condo his phone was ringing and hoping for good
news he rushed to answer it. Returning his call was Lt. Commander Joe
Jackson, a friend of both him and Lee and the assistant to COMSUBPAC,
Admiral Jiggs Starke. Chip explained his situation and a surprised
Jackson revealed what he knew about Mandel’s investigation-which was
practically nothing. The officer advised the blond that he would do some
discreet checking and would call back the following day when Starke
would be out of the office. Chip thanked Jackson and slowly hung up the
phone. For Seaview’s former first officer it was going to be another
arrived in the control room at just after 0600 hours, and everything
appeared to be running smoothly. Quietly he walked up behind the young officer
hunched over the chart table and addressed him sternly. “Mr. Cermak, I
see Seaview is still in one piece. If you think it’s safe for me to go
get some coffee, you still have the conn.”
didn’t quite know how to react and sputtered his acknowledgement. Lee
turned away before breaking into a smile. He then left the control room
and headed for the wardroom, hoping to get some coffee and maybe a piece
of toast and be gone before anyone else, in particular the admiral,
arrived. He wanted to approach his CO about his concerns over their
mission when they were alone and on his terms, not on Nelson’s.
he arrived at the wardroom, Cookie was just setting out a new urn of
coffee and Lee poured himself a steaming cupful. After a few sips, he
sat down at a corner table and for a brief time he was lost in his own
thoughts. He was startled when a plate of eggs, bacon and toast appeared
on the table in front of him. He looked up to see Will “Jamie”
Jamison, the boat’s Chief Medical Officer, grinning down at him. Lee
motioned for Jamison to sit and the doctor plopped down in the chair
across from him.
Captain, are you up early or late?”
“Early if you must know,” Lee said with a grin. Then he mumbled, “It’s hard to sleep with all the quiet.
a new one. Care to explain?”
for you to psycho-analyze, Jamie. Just the calm before a storm and I know
a storm is coming.”
storm you mean….”
banter between the two men was usually easygoing but this time Lee was
hesitant to say anything to Jamison, fearing he would tip off the
admiral to his concerns before he had the chance to do so himself.
Hoping to change the subject, Lee asked the doctor how things were going
in sickbay. He soon learned that was a mistake.
you said, quiet. I haven’t seen you
for three whole days.” Jamison raised one eyebrow and looked
questioningly at the man sitting across from him, hoping he would open
up about what was causing his apparent distress. He got no response.
Though he knew that due to his long-time close friendship with his XO it
would be a sensitive subject, the doctor asked his question anyway. “I
thought I would ask how you
are doing without Chip.”
Lee stared into his coffee cup. “I don’t want to talk about it, Jamie,” he muttered.
eyed him for several minutes and uncomfortable under his intense gaze,
Lee shook his head and offered a vague explanation. “I am concerned we
are getting into something that’s way over our heads and there is no
safety net at four thousand feet.”
you and the admiral discussed it?”
shook his head. “Discuss? Not exactly.”
sure the admiral has some pretty compelling reasons for taking on the
mission,” Jamison said with conviction.
nodded his head, though there was no feeling behind the gesture. Knowing
full well he would get nothing further from the secretive man the doctor
pointed to the untouched plate of food and with his most stern look and
manner instructed Lee to eat.
me at your own peril. Anything on that plate can be put in a blender and
force-fed,” he said, grinning. “And there’s also the totally
he watched Jamison get up and leave the wardroom, Lee managed his own
slight smile. Giving in to his growling stomach he grabbed one of the
pieces of toast, put some of the scrambled eggs on it and folded it into
a sandwich. However, he ate only half before clearing the plate from the
table and leaving the room.
of heading for the control room Lee went towards the aft missile room to
check on the repairs made to the loader controls on the previous day.
Surprised to find the hatch to the compartment standing open he
approached with caution. As he paused just outside he could distinguish
two voices. The admiral’s baritone was easy enough to identify even
from a distance but he had to strain to discern the second speaker. Sharkey,
I should have known. Lee listened for a few moments but he could
only make out a few words of what was being said. “…loaded… not
tested…be ready…” He finally stepped inside and caught sight of
Nelson and Sharkey standing next to the torpedo racks, head to head in
conversation and oblivious to his presence.
he approached the pair, Lee cleared his throat. They both looked up at
him but offered no greeting or explanation as to why they were there so
early. Lee nodded to the admiral then asked if there was a problem he
should know about.
responded a little too quickly for the captain. “No Lee, no
nodded then turned to the
was obviously unprepared for the question. “Uh… Skipper I… uh…
was just getting ready to check on that, sir.”
was convinced that checking on the repairs was not the real reason the
two were there but didn’t push the subject in front of the non-com.
“Never mind, Chief, I’ll take care of it. Go get breakfast then make
sure the men are ready to get started on our project.”
Skipper.” With a brief nod to the admiral, Sharkey scurried from the
crossed his arms and turned to the admiral and awaited an explanation
that never came.
“Lee, after you finish here, come to my cabin. I have something there to show you.” The admiral then turned and rushed out the hatch.
prepared for a confrontation, when Lee arrived as Nelson’s cabin he
found the admiral seated at his desk examining what appeared to be a
camera, one about the size of a breadbox.
Lee, this is one of the items I packed for the cruise. It’s the
underwater remote control camera I’ve been working on.” Speaking
enthusiastically, almost giddily, the admiral then proceeded to point
out the gadget’s many useful functions before handing it over to the
knew the scientist had been working on such a design for many months but
he had never seen a functional model. “Sir, it looks like another one
of your great ideas,” he commented as he examined the device. “But
isn’t this mission too important to use something that hasn’t been
Lee. If it works the way it’s designed we can find the sensors we’re
looking for without risking injury to anyone. It’s small enough to go
anywhere and is more maneuverable in tight places than the flying sub and it can be controlled from over a mile away. ”
Lee usually admired the admiral’s work, for some reason he felt the
man was trying much too hard to convince him of the merits of his latest
creation all the while avoiding discussion about the mission and about
the audit that preceded it. Without further comment Lee returned the
camera to the desk. “Sir, I
think I need to get ready to work on the monitoring station. Will you be
a little while. I have a few more things to take care of here.”
excused himself but as he approached the control room he couldn’t help
but wonder what other secrets the admiral might be keeping.
captain, hydrophones specialist Patterson, electronics specialist Garza,
went out on a limb and asked about the need for such a station and
Sharkey immediately jumped on him. “It’s not your job to ask
questions, sailor, your job is to just do it.”
Chief,” responded Patterson in his typically quirky fashion. When he
then repeated the question Sharkey bowed up, prepared to once again
light into him. Fortunately Lee interrupted.
Chief, it’s a fair question,” said Lee as he turned to the rating.
“The Navy is sending one of its sonar experts to help us with a
special project. Our mission has changed and we need an alternative to
our own sonar to find some special targets. He will be bringing
additional components to add to the station and will be employing a new
looked at the Chief and smiled, and all the COB could do was grit his
teeth and remain silent.
1000 hours, Seaview had reached the vicinity of
1800 hours Lee had a small dinner brought to his cabin and after he
quickly finished it off he dove into his pile of reports. Eventually he
reached into his lower tray and pulled out the boat’s log. He had
hoped to have some information on Chip’s removal before he made any
entries for that date but since he was already in violation of policy by
waiting this long he began to hand print a very vague entry. He managed
only a couple of sentences before slamming the book in frustration. Buck
up Crane, you have to do this he thought as he quickly rose, left
his cabin and made his way around the corner to the admiral’s
quarters. He knocked and when no answer was forthcoming he knocked again
a little louder. At that moment he saw Nelson approaching down the
corridor. The admiral looked at him inquisitively. “Admiral…we need
The pair entered the cabin and each sat in a chair. Nelson noticed Lee’s stiff formality. “What’s this about Lee, something on your mind?
for the past few days I have had the feeling that you are not being
totally honest with me, and I have to admit I don’t like it!”
Come on, Lee, what gave you the idea that I’m lying?”
hung his head. “I didn’t say lying, Admiral. I said you aren’t
telling me the truth. You’re leaving something out. As captain of this
boat I am responsible for the well-being of everyone. I can’t assure
that if things are happening that I don’t know about!”
stood up, stuck both hands in his pockets and began to pace. “Lee,
there are things you don’t understand!”
Admiral? I’m totally in the dark. About Chip, about Kowalski, about
whatever it is you and Sharkey are up to and…”
raised his hand. “Okay, Lee, okay. I understand you are frustrated.
This mission was foisted on all of us but there are some things I am not
permitted to discuss with you.
what happened with Chip?”
admiral cocked his head. “For one. As I told you that issue is still
what about Kowalski…and Sharkey?”
blame the chief, Lee. He was doing what I asked him to do. As for
Kowalski, let’s just say he is part of a contingency plan.”
you ever been told not to put all your eggs in one basket? He’s not in
this basket for good
one statement caused Lee to suspect that Harriman Nelson, genius
inventor and military tactician had developed a plan. Though he still
had concerns over the lack of details for the moment he was willing to
give his CO the benefit of the doubt.
removed his cigarette pack from his shirt pocket and tapped one out then
lit it and took a long drag. “Lee,
you know what we do on Seaview often involves a lot of risk. This
mission is no different. We control the things we can but we have to
expect the unexpected. We could plan to the nth degree and be planning
for the wrong scenario. What I need from you right now is to deal with
our visitor. Your ONI experience is invaluable in that regard. You are
an excellent judge of character and I know (laughing) that you won’t
let him get away with anything on your
had to grin.
speaking of guests, we’re due at the rendezvous shortly. Why don’t
you do a walk through before you head back to the control room?”
took Nelson’s suggestion and did just that.
prevent alerting possible enemies that Seaview was in the area with the
sensors, the rendezvous with the cruiser was set for dusk some 700 miles
on the sub the passengers were escorted to the nose and the crash doors
were closed. Present for the briefing were the admiral, the captain,
O’Brien, and their two guests. The Navy sonar expert introduced
himself as Chief Warrant Officer Tom Shaw. The CWO had twenty five years
in the Navy and had earned warrant officer status in Special Warfare for
both surface ships and submarines so he was well qualified to employ any
new technology. He was greeted warmly by the admiral and politely by the
captain and the acting XO.
to be aboard, sirs. I think I’ll enjoy the challenge. I’ve heard
stories about Seaview, but since I’ve never been aboard, I’m looking
forward to a grand tour once the mission is over.”
course, I’d be glad to” responded Nelson.
greeting given by the officers to Kasem Volz, expatriate of the
looked at each of those assembled, reading skepticism in every face.
“Gentlemen, I know that none of you trusts me and at this point you
have no reason to. I suggest you try to learn as much as possible
despite this distrust.” He again looked from face to face, and no man
had changed his expression. Nonetheless after urging the others to sit,
he began to explain the problem confronting them.
years ago one of my countrymen, posing as a Chinese professor and
researcher, was granted a fellowship from one of your universities to
study the seismic activity along these transverse faults.” He then
pointed to the
glanced at the admiral across the table and the two made eye contact
before returning their attention to Volz.
you to understand why this area was ideal for as you say ‘spying’ I
will start with some basics.” Volz picked up his napkin and laid it
flat on the side table. “If you take this napkin and push the opposite
sides together, a series of furrows are created in the cloth. The
furrows very much resemble the north-south furrows of the ocean bottom
of this region.” Volz pointed to the ocean floor map hanging on the
wall and ran his finger up and down on the map. “If you were to take a
knife and cut across the furrows you would have transverse cuts oriented
east-west. These are the so-called fracture zones as you see here and
they are very seismically active.” Volz pointed to the
at a loss for words, Nelson remained eerily silent and leaned back in
his chair. At the same time Lee inwardly cursed the fools that granted a
visa and a paycheck to a scientist from the
you are puzzled by something?”
not puzzled.” There was a pause and the silence was deafening. “This
scientist, what became of him?”
government has been watching him for some months. He is continuing his
research and he is obviously sending data back to other scientists in my
former country. Someday soon he will be able to send data with little or
no time delay posing an immediate danger to your ships. I do not think
you want to wait for that to happen. You see, there is some urgency.”
Lee had remained silent he was analyzing every nuance of their newfound
benefactor’s word and actions looking for vulnerabilities. In the
good-cop-bad-cop scenario that would be played out, he was the bad and
his first question was designed to catch Volz off guard. “Why did you
decide to defect and why do you want to help remove these sensors?”
fair question, but not an easy one to explain to someone who has not
been in my position.” Appearing
sincere, Volz placed his hands behind his back and clasped his hands.
“As you know I am a scientist specializing in the exploitation of
ocean resources. Some of the plans of my former government were for the
good of the people but many were to create advantages for an elite few.
I have done much work for those elite. I now know I would rather live
with capitalists and make my own fortune. I suppose to you my motives
are suspect irregardless. For me it was an easy choice to leave but the
time had to be right.”
stood up to his full height. His voice was cold. “And just how did you
was a trusted citizen. One day I went far out to sea to collect data and
I kept going and sought passage on a freighter that let me off in
me if I don’t buy your story so easily.” Lee’s tone was almost
scathing. His experiences with the
After giving Lee a stern look the admiral called an end to the meeting. “Gentlemen, I think we should all hit the rack and tomorrow, we’ll get down to work. Mr. O’Brien, see these men to their quarters.”
to see an end to his inquisition, Volz voiced his appreciation. “Thank
you, Admiral. I am quite tired.” Bowing his head slightly he bade all
present a good evening.
prearrangement, the Master at Arms set a rota for guarding the cabin
where Volz would be staying and for escorting him around the boat. At
O’Brien’s summons a guard arrived to escort the man to his quarters
in Officers’ Country. Lt. Chavis, one of the juniors from engineering,
agreed to share his quarters with the CWO and guide him around the boat
when needed. Lee had also ordered a security detail to examine the bags
and containers that had been brought aboard by both men. They found
nothing that appeared suspicious and so informed their captain.
rose from his chair and pointed to a spot on the wall map hanging on the
bulkhead. “Lee, plot the course to the first sensor on this seamount.
In the morning I’ll be in my lab going over the sensor design with Mr.
Volz. Let’s all meet together in the nose at 1100.”
do you want security to stand by the lab?”
was about to dismiss Lee’s concerns, but upon looking into his eyes he
changed his mind. “Do what you think you need to do, Lee.”
Lee nodded then opened the crash doors. Barely sparing a glance around Nelson walked through the control room and out the aft hatch. Lee plotted the course as ordered, and waited for the night watch officer to report for duty. When he arrived he left orders to be contacted should anything out of the ordinary occur.
expected, Lee had a difficult time falling asleep, so he rose from his
bunk, put on his robe and sat down at his desk. He then busied himself
compiling reports until well after 0130 hours. Noticing the late hour he
ran a hand through his hair and muttered to himself. “This won’t do.
I need to sleep to be ready for tomorrow.” One of the strategies he
normally employed was to tour the boat just prior to retiring. The
walkthrough he had taken earlier had proven insufficient to ease his
mind so he dressed and headed directly for the missile room. As expected
there were no crewmen on duty so Lee sought out the appropriate tools to
remove the torpedo loader control panel door himself then proceeded to
open it. That was the last thing he remembered as an electric shock from
the panel caused him to fall back to the deck, unconscious.
going out on a long run and visiting the firing range the previous
evening, Chip awoke in a better frame of mind than he had been on the
previous days. He had less information than he would have liked but at
least he was thinking more clearly. He quickly showered and put on a
freshly pressed uniform then as his first order of business he dialed
the Institute’s main number and asked for Jay Gordon the recently
retired Lt. Commander from the Navy and the new head of security. Chip
wasn’t surprised by Gordon’s answer.
sorry, Commander, there has been no change in your status. I was told
you were to leave the property and I have received no additional orders
to the contrary.”
you at least tell me who gave you the order?”
it was Admiral Mandel of OPNAV. He gave me the orders in person.”
That man gets around!
Kowalski met the exec at the restaurant he suggested that he might
find out more if he just hung around the offices at the Institute. Chip
agreed on the new strategy then informed the rating that he would be
making a trip to San Diego to check on the suspicious package he had
picked up for the admiral on Monday and his errand might take most of
the day. After handing the seaman some cash for his breakfast, he
grabbed his cover and headed out.
Commander, I see you are back. What can we do for you today?”
would like to see Jim Scandini, if he’s in.”
sorry, Jim is out today. He has been since Tuesday.” She paused and
with a solemn expression on her face she continued. “He has been very
ill. Mark Jocaste is here. Can he help?”
had requested Scandini because he had worked with him on a number of
projects. He was hesitant to involve someone else in Institute business
without checking his background but he needed answers. After some
consideration he agreed to meet with Jocaste.
ushered Chip into his office and closed the door, then invited the blond
to be seated in the guest chair opposite him. “Commander, what can I
do for you?”
he didn’t know what was in the package he had retrieved Chip was
intentionally vague in his questioning. “Your company designed an item
for Admiral Nelson and I came down here on Monday to pick it up.
Unfortunately, the admiral had to leave town. He asked me to look over
some of the specifications for installation but he took the schematics
with him and since I was down for another meeting I thought I would stop
by and see if I could get a copy.”
looked at him blankly for a moment then said “Oh, you mean the solar
panel for the rescue buoy?”
the solar panel,” responded Chip readily. He tried hard to not sound
suspicious even though he was clueless as to what information to expect.
have Glennis get a copy of it for you. If you will wait just a few
minutes, I’ll be right back.”
Jocaste was out of the room Chip sat thinking. He knew he would normally
have been apprised of any new technologies to be used aboard Seaview or
added to her equipment inventory and he didn’t recall ever hearing
about the need for a new solar panel. In fact, he was fairly certain
that Nelson would never hire an outside company to design something that
the admiral could have built himself. However, he was still in the dark
about both the project and Seaview’s current mission and he had to
take the man’s word for it that information or parts to a solar panel
were in the package he had picked up and delivered unopened to the
with some documents, Jocaste placed them in an envelope and sealed it.
He also had Chip sign a receipt then inquired if the officer needed
I think that’s it,” said Chip as he shook the engineer’s hand.
“Thanks.” He then made his way out to the reception area where he
said goodbye to Glennis and asked her to give his regards to Jim
Scandini. Once he reached his car he placed the envelope in his
briefcase in the trunk and slammed the lid closed.
Chip Morton sat behind the wheel he recounted every word spoken during
his visit to SamsonTech. It was something that Glennis had said was
particularly troubling. No it was
the way she said it. Jim Scandini had been very ill… since Tuesday. It was no red flag but
intuition told him it might be something worth checking out. Then there
was Mark Jocaste. Because of security precautions put in place years ago
no company was allowed to copy documents of plans for use on military
craft. Yet Jocaste was very quick to make a copy and turn it over to
him. I’m in no position to argue protocol with him right now. He would
follow up on the lead but right now he needed to stop by COMSUBPAC
some trepidation Chip arrived at the gate to sub command and showed his
military identification. To his relief he was allowed on the base
without any problems. He made his way to the office of Joe Jackson and
caught him as he was preparing to leave. The officers shook hands
Chip, I didn’t know you were paying a visit. The old man has me
running an errand for him. Can you come along? I’ll brief you on the
way.” Looking around he added “It’s probably better if I talk to
you outside anyway.”
Joe, but first I need to make a quick call.”
have no new messages,” intoned the computer generated voice. After
receiving the disappointing news, Chip joined
have something from the
was startled. He had not spoken to Admiral Starke and thought Joe would
have been more discreet in his inquiries. Surprise was evident on his
usually impassive face.
worry. I didn’t say anything; he came to me and said you were to call
that number and see what you can find out. I couldn’t do much more
checking for you. Starke has
kept me busy. We have your Admiral Mandel from OPNAV snooping around and
that’s where I’m going now, to bring him some documents.”
rolled his eyes. “You better let me off at my car first Joe. The
admiral and I are not exactly on speaking terms.”
Chip stopped to fill up at a station just south of
Chip pulled into the lot Kowalski’s motorcycle was nowhere in sight
nor was the rating standing outside. When twenty minutes passed with
still no sign he started to worry that the rating might have found
trouble. Another twenty frustrating minutes later he heard the sound of
the motorcycle and Kowalski screeched to a stop beside his car.
waved off the apology and nodded for the rating to get in the car.
I was in the gym, lifting. One of shore crew guys came in and when he
saw me he came over. Told me he was in the Admin building today and saw
some guys carrying out boxes. He asked around, and finally found out
they were yours. Sir, I think they searched your office…I’m not sure
who they were and he couldn’t find out.”
nodded to the rating and turned away and swallowed hard. The situation
was worse than he thought. He turned back to an expectant Kowalski.
I can’t ask you to stay involved in this, whatever it is. It’s time
you put distance between us so you can protect yourself.”
rating scowled but when he spoke it was very controlled. “No, sir.”
sir, I won’t. I’m in it now up to my neck. You can’t expect me to
just drop it.”
can and I will. You don’t know how deep this is.”
your pardon, sir, I think I do. It’s not like we haven’t been in
some bad situations before. I never abandon a mission, and this is one,
just like any other.”
he took exception to his failure to follow orders Chip certainly admired
Kowalski’s loyalty, a trait he had demonstrated repeatedly during his
time aboard Seaview. The two sat and stared out the windshield for a
You stay. For now. I have one more lead that I need to follow up on.
I’ll call you in the morning if anything pans out.”
I will call you. I need your
rating nodded and smiled then got out of the car, slipped on his helmet
and mounted his motorcycle.
arrived home within fifteen minutes. He practically ran into his condo
to place the call to the number
is Lt. Commander Morton,” he responded suspiciously.
Commander, hold on just a minute.”
heard some rustling and a moment later he was stunned when the man on
the other end identified himself.
It’s Jim Scandini. I need to talk to you and the sooner the better.”
Patterson was the first to arrive in the missile room and discovered his
CO sprawled on the deck. He took care to follow protocol by immediately
making sure there were no live connections to an electrical source
before he approached the injured man. Rolling him over on his back he
tapped his face and called out. “Skipper, Skipper, it’s me, Pat. Can
you hear me?” There was no response so the rating went over to
microphone across the room and called for sickbay. Within two minutes
two corpsmen and Will Jamison had arrived to render aid. While the
doctor began to check on Lee’s condition Admiral Nelson rushed in.
is he, Will?”
to be a serious electrical shock,” he announced without turning away
from his patient. “He’s alive, but let me finish my exam in
stepped back and allowed the corpsmen to collect the captain on a
stretcher. Before leaving he ordered Patterson to police the area and
block off the potentially dangerous control panel. He also called for
Bob O’Brien to organize a detail to make immediate repairs. The
admiral then headed out to check on his friend.
entered sickbay like a whirlwind but on arrival the sight of an
unconscious Lee on the stretcher in front of him gave him pause. Lee was
as pale as he had ever seen him and it had been necessary for Jamison to
insert a breathing tube along with the fluid IV. Jamison continued to
check vital signs, repeating the process every few minutes. Finally he
looked up at the admiral and gave his assessment.
shock, yes, but he seems to be stabilizing. I think the shock along with
some serious dehydration is causing him to stay unconscious. Once he
gets more fluids in him, he should come around, and most likely with
humdinger of a headache!” Jamison then added a few buts. “He needs
to stay here for at least a few hours. Then he needs to get something to
eat, and then we’ll see about sending him back to duty.”
well, Will. Call me when he comes to.”
that moment there was some slight stirring from the man on the
stretcher. For fifteen minutes Nelson waited for further signs of
consciousness but none presented. He
would have preferred to stay and wait but there were far too many
pressing issues to deal with and too few people to do them.
in the control room, the Admiral strode over to the sonar station and
picked up the extra headphones. After listening intently for a few
minutes, he put them down and found O’Brien standing next to him
is there a problem with sonar?”
that I know of Mr. O’Brien” said Nelson flatly.
sir, how’s the skipper?”
still out of it but should be coming around. We still need to proceed
with our arrangements. Have you seen Mr. Volz?”
I did he was in the wardroom with his guard. He should be finished
eating by now. Do you want him brought here?”
that would be a good idea. I need to talk to him about the devices. In
the meantime you go ahead and get Chief Shaw started on his setup.”
O’Brien had been relieved of the conn by Lt. Chavis he joined Sharkey,
Patterson and Shaw at the new sonar station. Shaw told everyone how
impressed he was with their work then motioned for everyone to join him
around the table that had been set up near the bow. “I need to give
you a little background about how this station will be used. Even I need
to visit the head on occasion,” he added with a touch of a smile on
his lips. “Keep in mind this is based on the briefings I received from
OPNAV and ONI from information supplied by your passenger so details may
be subject to change.”
rolled his eyes then looked over to at Patterson, who winked at him.
Both men had been asked to “clean up” after missions assigned by the
alphabet agencies and they were well aware of the poor intel they
sometimes received. With a cough from O’Brien, both men quickly turned
their attention back to the speaker.
are to locate and dismantle a system of sensors that was set up in the
area around some seamounts. The sensors are essentially a set of
advanced hydrophones with special data gathering devices. As of now, the
data must be uploaded to surface ships in the vicinity of the sensors.
We don’t yet know how that part is done or what types of ships are
involved. They could be using rowboats for all we know.”
comment caused a few snickers, releasing some of the tension in the
don’t want to use your sonar for this mission because your profile is
already known by most navies and we don’t want to let on what we’re
doing. Locating and removing them will be difficult enough. The sensors
are supposed to be anchored at about 4000 feet. That’s one of the
reasons Seaview is necessary for this mission. Your crush depth is
greater than the depth of the sensors and we might have to go deep to
locate and remove them.”
to a diagram of the new sonar the CWO explained further. “This unit
sends and receives just like your system but this new transmitter is
capable of sending out a fairly narrow sound pulse, allowing a more
targeted search with less scatter. The sounds we generate are not
detectable by most systems in use outside the military. We also have the
capability of picking up a broader range of sounds than most
hydrophones. Here’s the kicker: because of the design and the strength
of the return signal the system is better able to pinpoint sounds from
smaller objects. There is also less interference with thermal layers. Of
course it takes more time to find small things in a big ocean, but it is
easier to tell what the item is once found. Supporting all this is a
computer program that allows you to alter your ping settings and
there’s a huge database of sounds that are at different frequencies
than those used by typical active sonar. That helps us differentiate
objects that we would have never been able to detect before.”
The men sitting at the table were impressed with the new
technology and it was apparent that the CWO knew his stuff and would be
an asset on the mission. They were eager to learn more and Shaw was
ready to teach them.
“Mr. O’Brien, I know your captain is unavailable but it
would be helpful for your men to see the sonar in action and to get some
hands-on practice. Could that be arranged?”
“Of course, Mr. Shaw. I will need to run it by the admiral
and the skipper. In the meantime, these men are available as long as you
need them to help you finish your assembly.”
O’Brien told Lt. Chavis he had the conn for a little longer
and he made his way up to the admiral’s lab where Volz’s guard stood
at the door. Once he was allowed passage he observed the two scientists
standing next to the lab bench examining a set of charts. Atop the bench
was a five foot long instrument, one O’Brien interpreted as a model of
one of the sensors they sought.
“Yes, Mr. O’Brien?” growled the admiral.
“Sir, I need to speak with you, outside if possible.”
Nelson excused himself and left Volz in the lab. “Problem,
The XO shook his head. “Sir, with your permission, Mr. Shaw
wants to spend some time practicing with the new sonar, to allow the men
time to get used to working with it prior to arriving at our first
coordinates. I said I would check with you and the skipper.”
Nelson considered the question. “Of course it makes sense
but we might attract unwanted attention if we ping out. I don’t want
to risk that. Let’s stop near an outlying seamount and run a few
tests, but make it passive only!”
“Aye, sir, I’ll get on it.”
When O’Brien left he made stop in sickbay. It was his
opportunity to personally check on his skipper and he had a valid reason
for going so Nelson wouldn’t question it, or at least not much. When
he entered he saw the subject of his visit sitting up on the stretcher
in the middle of the room. The captain put a finger to his lips to
silence him and the XO nodded that he understood. At that moment Will
Jamison came out of his office and startled both officers.
“Where do you
think you’re going, Captain?”
“Just sitting up, Jamie. It helps the headache.”
“Uh huh. Lie back down. You have at least another hour with
Lee started to protest but the
“Sir, are you alright?”
“I am,” he answered curtly. “Report.”
O’Brien provided a status report then explained Shaw’s
request. When he relayed that the admiral had already approved it Lee
was irritated, however, he stopped short of criticizing Nelson.
“Sounds like it’s been decided already. Carry on, Bob. I’ll catch
up on things when Doc releases me from here, which shouldn’t be too
long.” He then passed an evil look to the doctor.
“Yes, sir. What happened in the missile room?”
“I’m not sure what part of the loader control panel I
touched but it obviously wasn’t grounded correctly. I want Garza
working on installing a complete replacement. There should be one in
“Already done, sir.”
As O’Brien left and with the room once again still Lee laid
back down. Jamison had been standing a short distance away but returned
to the captain’s side to measure his vitals. Apparently satisfied that
there were no measurable irregularities he told Lee he was being
released with conditions. Lee started to protest but quickly realized he
was about to get a free pass so he gave in to the conditions, dressed
and made his way to the wardroom for breakfast. He ate as instructed,
practically chugged two glasses of juice then headed for the control
room at double time.
Lee arrived he found O’Brien plotting a course for an unnamed seamount
northwest of the Erben Guyot. With an elevation of 1100 feet the
seamount was at a comfortable depth for the crew to do their testing and
the captain nodded his approval. He next spent some time with the CWO
and learned what he could about the new sonar. Though his interest in
electronics was not as intense as Chip’s he asked a number of probing
questions about the unit. In the end he was as impressed as his men had
been with the new unit and with Shaw.
instructed Sharkey to monitor the repairs in the missile room, and for a
I see you are up and running. What’s our status?”
sir, we are en route to this seamount,” he said as he pointed to a
spot the chart. “
hearing the news a look of intense distress appeared on Volz’s face.
“Admiral, that is not one of the areas with sensors. Why are we going
raised an eyebrow. “We need to assess some things for ourselves. I’m
sure you can understand that.”
but time is of the essence, the scientist is…”
scientist is what, Mr. Volz?” inquired Lee angrily.
looked into the eyes of each of the senior officers. “He is planning
to start transmitting live data soon. In fact, he could be doing it as
we speak. I told you this.”
admiral answered the man’s concerns. “Well if that’s the case,
since we are aware of it we can be better prepared. We have to use some
caution with information we receive, no matter how eagerly it is
said nothing further as he walked around the chart table and began to
observe the activity on the screens of the new work station.
isn’t it, Mr. Volz?” asked Nelson. “Have you seen anything like it
he responded hesitantly. “I have not been so fortunate. It was
certainly an area where I had interest but my duties never afforded me
the time.” As he turned to face Lee he put on a more pleasant
expression. “Captain, I need to show you where to find the first
sensors. You have the charts?”
pair stood side by side while the man pointed out the locations and Lee
marked them. Lee could see no real pattern but he only had a few
coordinates to work with. Once they were finished, Volz asked to be
shown to his quarters, and to be called when he was needed. His guard
was then summoned and the two left the nose.
looked at the admiral and opened his mouth to speak but before he
uttered a word Nelson raised his hand.
know, Lee, he isn’t the friendliest person we ever worked with but he
is who we have.”
concern went well beyond personalities. There was just something about
the way Volz spoke and acted that unsettled him. “Sir, did you have
the chance to study the device?”
in some detail.”
filling me in?”
but how about we do it over lunch?”
scowled, knowing he had just eaten a couple of hours earlier. “Yes,
Admiral.” he said as he tapped on the chart in front of him with his
pencil. “I just need to enter this course into the computer.”
repeated his order. “Fifteen minutes then.”
admiral left Lee to his task, which took the captain all of five
minutes. While he had been busy with Volz he had forgotten about the
incident in the missile room but a sharp pain in his head and a touch of
vertigo quickly brought everything back.
about what had happened he decided to inspect the repairs himself. To
his surprise, when he stepped into the missile room he found the admiral
and Sharkey standing in practically the same positions they had been in
when he walked in on them on the previous day. This time Nelson had an
explanation at the ready.
chief tells me he thinks the problem has been identified and should not
reoccur. Right, Chief?”
like the cat that swallowed the canary, Sharkey managed to stammer out a
response. “Yes, yes, sir. Looks like there was a problem with one of
the wires on the circuit board, Skipper. Garza said he checked the new
one before it was installed.”
was immediately focused on the new development. “Chief, let me see the
Skipper,” said the
could see there was a small blackened area and though he already knew
the answer he asked the admiral who manufactured the boards.
They make most of our circuit boards and have for years. Why, Lee?”
trying to cover all my bases, sir. Chief,” he said as he turned back
the Chief left, Lee discussed the problem of the boards with Nelson, who
appeared to minimize the danger. “Poor workmanship happens in every
industry now and again. I’m sure once we talk to them about it they
won’t let it happen again.”
suppose,” Lee answered quietly.” Lee then held out his arm to allow
Nelson to precede him. “Admiral, let’s talk about those sensors.”
admiral led the way to the wardroom and upon entering the two junior
officers already present jumped to their feet. Nelson waved them down as
he and Lee sat in the corner away from everyone. Knowing the captain
would not eat a large meal Cookie brought him half-sandwich and a cup of
soup while the admiral received the regular fare, a plate of chicken
salad, three-bean salad and fruit compote.
admiral pulled a folded piece of paper from his shirt pocket, opened it
and laid it on the table. “Lee, I had the chance to examine the model
sent to us by OPNAV. It matches up to the information given by Volz.
Looking at it, I don’t see much difference between it and the standard
deep sea hydrophones we attach to our diving bell. He tells me the
difference is in the software, so I will have to take his word for it
sounds like we don’t know much more than we did before.”
cocked his head and sighed. “We know a lot more, Lee. Now we have
coordinates and we have a design to work with. We also have him as a
resource should we need one.”
conceded the admiral’s point then took a bite of his sandwich.
why don’t you see if you can occupy Mr. Volz? Get to know him. Make
him feel comfortable here.”
picked up his glass of water and quickly washed down the thickening
mouthful. “You don’t mean make friends with the guy?”
I mean gain his trust. After the exercise is through, give him a
one-cent tour of the non-secure areas of Seaview.”
considered what his CO and friend was saying. He’s right. What’s the old saying-you will catch more flies with
honey than with vinegar? And
what better honey than a tour of the world’s finest submarine! “I’ll
do my best, admiral,” Lee said with a weak grin.
we’re within two miles of the seamount at ninety feet.”
well, Mr. O’Brien. Stop engines and maintain neutral buoyancy.” Once
O’Brien had relayed the orders Lee issued several more. “Sonar, stay
passive, we don’t want to alert anyone to our presence.
Seaview at station keeping, Shaw had the captain instruct Sharkey to
release the weighted device from the diving bell hatch in the missile
room and to initially let out five hundred feet of line. After a
successful launch the sonar specialist waited for the device to
stabilize then turned on his display screen. The multi-colored
oscillations were unlike Seaview’s and Shaw explained to the observers
that they were a new type of visual representation of hydro-acoustic
profiles of some well known objects. The unit’s computer held a
database of previously identified sounds from the oceans and as the
hydrophones received sounds they would be translated into a similar
electronic profile. Then either automatically or on command the computer
would compare the profile to known profiles. The primary role of the
operator would be to orient the microphone to identify the direction of
the signal and scan the database for similar profiles.
demonstrated the capabilities of the passive device. “There,”
pointing to the screen and at the same time turning up the volume “was
a biologic, an orca”. Those present could see the profile appear on
the screen almost at the same time they heard the sound. They all agreed
sound was not substantially different from what they heard on standard
hydrophones. Lee turned to Riley, who was manning the hydrophones and
asked what he picked up and he confirmed the object was an orca.
continued his demonstration. “At this point I would go active with the
device. Like your sonar we have the ability to echo-locate objects to
identify their location and direction of travel. Unlike your active
sonar with its fixed mast, the flexibility of our system is that you can
orient the device to make best use of your pings. You don’t have to
change the boat’s position one iota. You can also alter the range at
which you listen and send. I’d like to mention it also works best in
shallower water which is where you do most of your targeting.”
looked up at Patterson and asked him to give it a try and immediately
after donning the headphones the rating expressed his approval. In order
to give the system the acid test he turned the microphone around 360
degrees and up and down almost 120 degrees. “Can’t beat that,” he
said as he held out the headphones for the next man.
admiral and the captain then took turns with operating the station.
While Lee was listening he began to pick up engines. Noting the
orientation of the device, he guessed that it was some distance away and
at or near the surface. At the same time
practice session was going well. For his last test Shaw requested the
device be reeled in so Seaview could be moved closer to the seamount. He
wanted to demonstrate the effectiveness of the unit even in what
amounted to an echo chamber. Once they were within a thousand feet of
the sides of the seamount the device was again released and the
microphone was oriented towards the seamount wall. Shaw then requested
that the admiral allow someone on Seaview to drop a metal object onto
the ducting for the air revitalization unit at the center of the boat.
Reluctantly the admiral agreed and sent a somewhat confused crewman to
accomplish the task. With the exception of Riley on the hydrophones no
one in the control room actually heard the sound, but within twenty
seconds Shaw’s unit picked it up and a profile was generated on his
screen. The readout at the bottom of the screen also gave the
coordinates for the Seaview as the source location for the sound.
fantastic,” declared the admiral and everyone standing around nodded
ensuring Seaview was on course for the first sensor, Lee retired to his
cabin to attend to a mound of reports. The successful demonstration of
the capabilities of the new sonar had him feeling better about their
chances for success with the mission even though they would have to rely
heavily on Shaw’s experience. He was much more concerned about his
other passenger and as he carefully considered how to engage a man he
really did not like or trust he put his head down on his folded arms to
rest. He unexpectedly dozed
off but was awakened a short time later by the creaking of his door.
Without looking up he greeted Will Jamison.
doctor snapped back. “And how did you know it was me?”
your hover factor, Jamie, you emit signals.”
maybe I need a passive setting too.”
he sat on the edge of the desk he picked up Lee’s right arm, extended
it and attached a blood pressure cuff. After taking the reading he
readjusted his stethoscope and told the captain to sit up. Lee complied,
albeit slowly, and Jamison proceeded to listen to his captain’s heart
couldn’t help teasing the doctor. “Will I live, Jamie?”
Lee downed the capsules by swilling a small amount of cold coffee from
the bottom of his mug Jamison merely shook his head.
can now accompany me to the wardroom or you can have the admiral come
and get you, your choice.”
got up to go, though he didn’t mention to Jamison that he would have
gone anyway in order to meet up with the admiral and Volz. As they
continued to trade friendly barbs the two left sickbay and headed
had been very little conversation during dinner, and most of that had
been between Nelson and Volz. Once everyone had eaten, Lee pasted on his
most contrite expression then addressed their guest. “Mr. Volz, I want
to apologize for my behavior. I haven’t been very hospitable to you. I
know you are trying to assist us and I want to make sure the remainder
of your stay more comfortable. If there is anything I can do in that
respect, let me know.”
and Jamison who was seated with them, were surprised at the captain’s
admission but the scientist accepted the apology gracefully. “I
understand you have a lot of responsibilities, Captain. It takes a
strong man to admit his mistakes. I certainly accept.”
nodded politely and the conversation around the table flowed much more
easily than it had earlier or on the previous day. Admiral
Nelson suggested that Lee give a short tour of the boat to their visitor
and Lee quickly agreed. The “tour” lasted all of thirty minutes, but
it gave Volz an idea of the types of non-military research that Seaview
supported. The man was impressed by the admiral’s laboratory and so it
seemed, by the attention he was now receiving. He asked a few questions
but for the most part listened intently to the captain’s comments. At
tours end he volunteered that he was tired and ready to turn in for the
evening, and though he didn’t show it, Lee was relieved. He escorted
the man back to his cabin where they said their good nights.
made his way through
pulled in to the parking lot of the 24 hour restaurant and backed his
sedan into one of the parking spaces in the shadows along the side. He
had waited for nearly an hour before being approached and questioned by
the local police about his presence in the lot. He showed his military
identification and explained that he was at the diner to meet a friend.
The officer at first looked skeptical but after shining his flashlight
on Chip’s uniform the police officer let him remain.
time passed without any sign of Scandini, Chip became more and more
anxious. When three police cars suddenly zoomed past the diner with
lights flashing and sirens blaring a chill went up his spine and he
started his car and followed after them. The responders stopped about a
mile from the diner and the officer parked his car some distance back
and observed their activities. There was a lot of commotion centered on
a car that was resting partly on and partly off the road. In a few
minutes, a fire truck arrived and the rescue personnel removed the
driver’s door. Meanwhile, an ambulance pulled up and the medics jumped
out and helped extricate the driver. After ten long minutes the injured
man was finally removed and laid on a stretcher.
Chip approached the scene and saw the medic treating the injured subject
lay a sheet over the body his face fell and his apprehension grew. He
noticed that the same officer who had spoken to him that was standing by
the body so he asked if he could see the subject.
The officer looked at him quizzically. “You know him?”
“Afraid I might.”
officer waved his hand and allowed Chip to pull back the sheet. To his
surprise and relief the man on the stretcher was not Scandini! Chip
replaced the sheet, and shaking his head informed the officer it was not
his friend. Now worried that he would miss his real contact he thanked
the officer and ran to his car, did a quick u-turn and sped back to the
Chip arrived Jim Scandini sat waiting in a corner booth with his back to
the wall. As Chip slid into the seat across from him he looked up
nervously. “Commander, I thought you weren’t coming.”
here,” said Chip with a crooked grin, as he recalled the scene he had
engineer looked perplexed but dropped the subject and called for the
waiter to bring the officer some coffee. Quietly and systematically he
began to relay what he knew to Chip. “As you know we have many
military contracts. About a year ago we were asked to build circuit
boards for a large scale project for the Navy. We needed to bring in
some new personnel so we advertised in a number of places. One of them
was the placement office of
conversation was interrupted by the server who placed a steaming cup of
coffee in front of Seaview’s officer. Once the server had again moved
out of earshot Chip nodded his head, urging Scandini to continue. “One
of the people we hired was Mark Jocaste. He came highly recommended and
by all accounts he was clean as a whistle. He passed all the security
checks and even managed level 2 clearance. He was assigned to work with
me on overseeing the quality assurance part of the project. About three
months ago I came into the office at night and found him looking over
some diagrams for some type of underwater seismic sensor. He gave me
some quickie answer about doing a favor for one of his college buddies.
The way he explained it, it seemed okay. The sensors weren’t something
we were working on and I have no regs against his taking outside work as
long as it doesn’t create conflicts with his work at SamsonTech.
Anyway, I let it go until two weeks later I caught him looking into some
files, Jim?” asked Chip, though he already knew the answer.
Institute’s… and Seaview’s.”
Chip sat quietly and though his features remained impassive
his stomach was churning and his neck muscles had become taut as a
bowstring. “What specifically was he looking at, Jim?”
“Back then I wasn’t sure, since he had several files out.
You know we’ve manufactured a number of things for the Institute.
Well, later that night I decided to go look at what was in his desk file
drawer. He didn’t hide 'em very well…had copies of the designs for
several of the items we made for you. There were schematics for the
board from your sonar controls, some for a solar panel and the ones for
the circuit boards for the torpedo loader controls, the ones we sent you
a couple of months ago. I also saw the sensor diagrams. I made copies of
the ones he had.”
Chip bit his lip and briefly lowered his head indicating his
deep concern over what he was hearing.
“The next morning I confronted him about why he had those
files and he said he had received a call from Admiral Nelson to check on
the status of the boards, and since I wasn’t always available he
thought he would take it upon himself to check.”
Chip looked directly into the eyes of the engineer. Under his
intense stare, Scandini became defensive. “That’s definitely not our
procedure. We compartmentalize our information, so no one really has
access to everything. You know I always deal with you or Admiral
“So what did you do from there? Why didn’t you go to the
Navy, or the admiral?”
“That’s just it, I did. I called Naval Operations…spoke
to an Admiral Mandel. He told me to keep on doing what I was doing and
to notify him if I noticed anything else. Friday, out of the blue I got
a call from Admiral Nelson telling me to send the copies I made to him.
He said you would be picking them up. That’s part of what I gave you
Monday, didn’t you know?”
Chip shook his head. He had delivered the unopened package to
Admiral Nelson at his office at the Institute upon his return from
for what, Jim?”
not telling you about the problem when you came in on Monday. I was
still trying to get enough information on Mark so I could give you guys
some real evidence.”
else knows about this?”
my wife, Cara. She has another set of copies hidden, and even I don’t
know where they are.”
good you have a backup, but Jim, you know you are both at risk if
Jocaste knows what you did.”
I know. I’m worried how to get him out of the company and what this is
going to do to my contracts.”
eyed the man across from him. “We’ll worry about that when the time
comes. Where is Cara now?”
“Good. She’s probably safer there.” Chip paused to consider his next move. “I need to go up to the University and gather some information. Any chance you can get a list of Jocaste’s references or contacts from NUU?” At that question the man picked up a manila envelope from the seat and handed it to Chip
thought these might come in handy.”
offered a short-lived smile and took the envelope and opened it,
scanning the contents. “Thanks Jim, this should work. How can I keep
have my number. I’ll be staying home sick for the time being.”
dropped some money on the table and the two left the diner to go their
separate ways. After he slid into the seat of his sedan he yawned and
only then realized he had been up almost twenty four hours and badly
needed some sleep. But first he needed to make a phone call. Security
be damned he thought as he found a payphone dropped in some change
and punched the numbers. After three rings a drowsy-sounding Kowalski
it’s Morton. I need to keep this short. Put on your best college
student getup and meet me at the bell
sir… anything else?”
When you get there just keep your ears open and act like a student.”
sir, I’ll be there, 1330.”
managed to contact a Navy friend who lived just north of
University was located a little over an hour’s drive up the coast. At
the appointed time, Chip pulled into a visitor’s parking space and fed
the meter then made his way to the bell tower. A minute or so later
Kowalski walked up to him wearing blue jeans, a UCLA sweatshirt and
sneakers. He, too, wore a light jacket. Chip motioned for the rating to
follow him over to an isolated area by a grove of trees. Once there
Kowalski handed the XO a radio and Chip placed it in his back pocket.
what did you find out?”
looked around warily before answering. “Quite a bit, but I can’t be
sure how deep this goes so we have to be careful. I do
need you to call me something other than sir. How about Doc C and I’ll
call you Greg?”
was amused by the thought of calling his XO anything but sir or mister and he had a hard time suppressing a
smile. He managed to nod his head and “Doc C” continued.
someone on the faculty or staff here helped place a saboteur inside the
company that supplies our electronics. We need to find out who and how
they fit into the scheme. I thought I could gather a little intel by
posing as a potential employer and you, maybe you could be an
engineering student? I’ll be paying a visit to the placement office.
You find the electronics labs, see what type of research they’re doing
and act like you want to transfer here to work on one of the projects.
See if there’s anything that seems suspicious to you, anything to do
with a technology Seaview uses or might use.
Meet me back here at 1500. If you need to contact me, just break
squelch and give me time to get away from prying ears.”
sir...I mean…sure thing Doc C.”
walked over to the student union and checked out the campus map on the
wall, easily locating the placement office. He quickly made it across
the campus and climbed the steps at the front of a stately brick
building. Upon entering the office he was greeted by a pleasant middle
aged woman, who asked him to sign in and take a seat. He smiled his
brightest smile and told her he was not seeking a job but was interested
in possibly hiring someone and in return, she handed him a set of forms
to complete. He spent several minutes considering what cover story he
was going to use to help him obtain the desired information. Finally he
settled on an alias of Dr. David Collins with a PhD. in electrical
engineering. He baited his hook by creating an ad for a fictitious job
at a startup company handling military contracts. The “ad” indicated
the company sought to employ a recent grad with an engineering or
he handed the forms back to the woman at the desk, she glanced over
them, then looked up and smiled. “I see you need someone for military
type projects. You might want to talk with Dr. Zhu in the earth sciences
program. He does scientific research for the Navy I think it is and has
placed a number of students in jobs like yours. He keeps a list of his
recent students who might be able to fill your position.”
like you know who does what around here ma’am. I think I’ll contact
your Dr. Zhu.” Chip started to walk out but thinking it might be a bad
idea to leave a paper trail he turned back to the woman. “If you
don’t mind I’ll take that ad with me. If I have no success with him
I’ll bring it back. I am in a hurry to fill the position.” Chip took
the papers from the woman and politely inquired where the earth science
building was located. She pointed it out and when he stood close to see
where she was pointing, she giggled.
he walked across the quadrangle towards the building in question Chip
tried to piece together the parts of the puzzle he already had. Why does the name Zhu ring a bell? He
snapped his fingers as he recalled that it was Zhu Chi who was listed as
a reference on Mark Jocaste’s work application. That gave him a
somewhat tenuous link between the school and the problems at SamsonTech
but he needed to know more. Taking a chance that Kowalski was available
he clicked the microphone on the radio. In a short time the two were at
did you find out?”
like nobody in the electronics lab is working on anything remotely
military or at least they aren’t talkin’ about it. There was a guy
braggin’ about havin’ a job with one of the earth science profs
building some type of fancy sensor. He didn’t say much more and I
didn’t wanna blow my cover. Sir…do you think it means anything?”
be. One of the earth science researchers places a lot of students in
military contract jobs so I want to meet him.”
men then put together a plan to allow “Doctor Collins” to meet with
the professor while “Greg” did a little snooping. In short order
they reached the earth sciences building and while Kowalski made his way
towards the classrooms, Chip moved through the building until he located
the faculty offices. He greeted the young woman sitting at the small
reception desk, introduced himself and inquired if he could meet with
Dr. Zhu. As she studied the tall blonde in front of her she smiled,
cocked her head and twirled the ends of her long hair with her fingers.
see if he’s in,” she said as she picked up the phone. After mumbling
a few words she hung up she announced that Dr. Zhu was on his way. The
woman again started to twirl her hair and pretended to study something
on her desk, but the whole time she kept an eye on him. Chip was mildly
amused at the woman’s behavior but when a figure appeared next to the
desk he turned his full attention to him.
am Zhu Chi, how can I help you?”
observed the man standing in front of him. He was a good six inches
shorter and slightly stockier than the officer and he had shoulder
length jet black hair and equally dark eyes. He dressed rather casually,
and could easily be mistaken for a student. He appeared relaxed and his
smile appeared genuine so Chip reached out and shook his proffered hand.
“Dave…Dave Collins. I heard you were the man to see. I’m looking for a recent grad to work for my electronics company. We do government contract work and I was told you helped place a lot of former students in those types of jobs.”
professor looked at his visitor for a moment and Chip could see his eyes
had gone cold. When he finally responded it was in a subdued, almost
suspicious tone. “I do seismic studies. How would that research fit in
with your company?”
had to think quickly and hoped his story sounded plausible. He lowered
his voice to a whisper. “I, ah ... one of the projects we are looking
at bidding on is for the development of some oceanographic sensors. I
might be able to use someone who knows a good bit about oceanography
since it isn’t my forte.”
eyes widened and he produced a broad smile. “Ah so you really want a
creative mind to help you design and test them in real-life
nodded in agreement. “Exactly.”
professor stood quietly for what seemed to Chip like an eternity. After
less than a minute he ended his silence. “Come with me, I want to show
heart began to pound as Zhu led him down the hall and to a corner
laboratory. As he passed through the door he noted that the lock was a
high security type, similar to those on his own office door. When they
finally stopped in front of a heavy wood door Zhu unlocked it and led
the way inside. To Chip’s amazement the small room was covered from
floor to ceiling with some of the most advanced computers he had ever
seen. If the circumstances had been different, he would have been
salivating, but he studied the setup intently as he continued to listen
make all this available to my graduate students. They are able to create
and view a three dimensional model of seismic activity. With this tool
they could perhaps design better monitors. I understand some students I
placed are working on similar projects. Impressive, no?”
openly smiled at the man. “Very. I love technology and I’ve never
seen some of this. Dr. Zhu do you mind showing me an example of your
students’ work? I’d like to see some of their potential. Of course,
everything you tell me is in strictest confidence.”
bowed his head. “I can show you some of my own work. I don’t have
access to the work of my students.”
was suspicious of the man’s last statement but nodded and waited while
the professor started up one of the miniature workstations. In minutes,
a highly detailed 3D diagram appeared on the computer screen. Using a
combination of keyboard commands and a toggle switch located on the
adjacent console the professor easily manipulated the image. Chip was
impressed by the detail he saw and by Zhu’s skill with the system and
he shared his feelings with the scientist. As the officer continued to
watch some familiar numbers caught his eye. Along the bottom of the
screen image were the coordinates for a place he knew was located off
in the Pacific. I received a fellowship to study transverse faults.”
wishing to reveal his familiarity with the faults Chip changed the
subject. “Now about your students. Do you have contact information for
the ones you think might be interested?”
yes, the business at hand. Let me get those for you.”
held his hand out indicating Chip should leave the room and he locked
the door behind them. He then led Chip out of the lab and around the
corner to his office. After rustling around in some files he produced
two sheets of paper and handed them to his guest. Chip was certain he
had what he needed and he was more than ready to leave. He was feeling
exhausted from a lack of sleep and his self imposed facade. He bid a
polite goodbye to the professor and walked swiftly out of the building
into the open air.
was waiting somewhat impatiently for his XO to return to their
designated meeting place. In his hand was a paper with what he thought
might be a key piece of information. He was relieved when the officer
walked up and he even let a broad grin split his face. Chip looked
around before turning back to the rating. He raised his eyebrows
inquisitively and Kowalski began to explain what he had come across.
Doc. I did like you said and
acted like I wanted to join up with one of the research projects here. I
told them I was interested in learning to design sonar equipment.”
smiled to himself at the man’s initiative. It certainly made sense for
him to talk about something very familiar to him.
there was this one guy who said he was studying echolocation in the deep
ocean and he was working with a Dr. Zhu cataloguing sound profiles. He
gave me this.” The rating
handed over a graph of a hydro-acoustic profile and Chip instantly
recognized what it was.
he say exactly what the good professor was cataloguing?”
exactly. I asked him what kind of hydrophones and what type of boat he
used when he went out to gather the data. He said he never saw the
equipment and he never even had to go out. Said the Dr. was able to pick
up the sounds from his computers here.”
was nearly speechless. Things were coming together and the picture was
not a bright one.
work, Kowalksi. That’s great information. With what I found out, we
might just be able to solve this puzzle. I’m still not sure how
Seaview is involved but if she is it can’t be good.” Chip paused and
sighed. “To tell you the truth, I’m tired and hungry. What say we
get something to eat?”
rating nodded and the two made arrangements to meet at a nearby steak
house before parting and heading for their respective vehicles. Though
Chip was very tired his mind still raced with all the new information he
and Kowalski had acquired. As he reached his sedan he unlocked it,
pulled the door open and started to climb inside. When he attempted to
close the door he felt resistance. The sound of breathing followed by
cold hard steel of a gun muzzle on his neck caused him to freeze and a
deep menacing voice cut through him. “I’ve been expecting you, Doctor
and shackled, Chip was led by four well-armed men in fatigues to the
back of a waiting van where he was shoved inside then driven to an
unmarked, single-story building on the outskirts of
he licked the blood from his newly split lower lip, Chip studied the
retreating guards hoping to glimpse some detail on their clothing that
might indicate who they were. Unfortunately, he saw no insignia, none of
them wore any jewelry and their handguns were tucked inside their
the door was slammed shut the captive officer spent several minutes
studying his surroundings. The sparsely furnished room was harshly lit
by a single incandescent bulb and except for a three- by-three foot
square area occupied by a two-way mirror, thick soundproofing covered
the walls and ceiling. A sudden violent shiver made him keenly aware the
room was being kept very cold. Obviously
it’s to make me as uncomfortable as possible. Suspecting there was
a hidden microphone, he decided to keep that and other thoughts to
was forced to remain in the same paralyzing position for several hours
so by the time a guard entered and shoved a bottle of water in his face
and told him to drink he was unable to assist and much of the water
splashed across his shirt. As he backed out the door the guard continued
to laugh heartily. Suddenly the light went out and despite his best
efforts the exhausted and hungry officer dozed off.
seemed to Chip that he had just fallen asleep when he was startled awake
by the glare of the light and the thump of the door being thrown open. A
large man he had never seen immediately began shouting questions.
“We know you must be working for a foreign government. Who are
you working for? Multiple trips to
sat staring at the man whose face was in his, even when he began yelling
threats to hold him on charges of espionage. He almost chuckled at the
irony of the situation. You’ve
got the wrong guy, guys. Once the man had backed off he finally took
the opportunity to ask his own questions. If they were the police they
would identify themselves and give him a drink and let him up to pee so
he started there.
are you? Police? FBI?”
No, he was dealing with either one of the many federal or
military intelligence agencies or he was being held by agents of another
country and he had to find out which. “What is it you need to know?”
circling his captive a couple of times the questioner again leaned down.
“I want to know who you work for and what you’re after!!”
the crap!” he shouted. I
wanna know who you’re working for!!”
work for the Nelson Institute of Marine Research. If you call them, they
it, we know who you are Morton… and we know where you work. We want to
know who you’re selling
secrets to. If you tell us now we might be able to keep you from being
shot by a firing squad.” Then, as if he suddenly had more important
things to do the man abruptly turned and left the room, slamming the
door behind him.
interrogator’s parting comment convinced Chip that he was dealing with
the military, though he was unsure which branch or agency. He needed to
find out but first he had to get their attention so he stood up as far
as his chains would allow then forced the chair back with his legs. It
skidded a few feet before overturning with a loud clatter. Unfortunately
there was no response to the noise and he was left with two choices: to
stand bent halfway over or sit on the floor. He chose to sit and after
about an hour he lay down on his side and curled up. At
least it’s warmer this way
he thought as he again drifted off to sleep.
morning on Seaview
awoke at 0530 much better rested than he had been all week. After stops
to inspect the radio log and each control room work station in turn, he
ordered Cermak to surface and reset the inertial navigator with the
satellite. Within thirty minutes and without incident Seaview was again
on her way towards the first set of coordinates. At 0800 O’Brien
arrived and assumed the watch and after conferring for nearly thirty
minutes Lee left to get some of Cookie’s fresh brewed coffee
the way to the wardroom Lee encountered Volz with his security escort
and he invited the guest to join him. Due to the late hour the room was
empty and quiet and the two quickly chose their preferred food and
beverages from the serving table then sat down. The conversation
remained light, dealing with such subjects as the weather, family,
sailing, and the men’s respective educations. Having no desire to
anger the man who he felt held his crew’s safety in his hands Lee
scrupulously avoided the topics of politics and science.
back in the control room, Lee found Nelson and Sharkey in conference at
the chart table. As he shook his head he signaled for O’Brien to meet
him at the computer. “Bob, I need you to have our best men at duty
stations here for the mid day watch. Make sure everyone has taken a
break and eaten before we arrive at the site. Also see that everything
is put away and have every man police his area.
We could be running silent for quite a while. I’m going to make
a quick tour of the boat. Call if anything comes up.”
immediately pulled the duty rosters from their bin and soon his voice
could be heard on the boat-wide intercom relaying the captain’s
a last glance at Nelson and the
the visiting scientist stared out the windows Lee came up behind him.
“Mr. Volz, are you ready? We’re nearing the first coordinates.” He
then looked at his watch to quantify his statement. “Perhaps twenty
minutes.” When Volz turned to face him the captain continued his
instructions. “We’re about to rig for silent running. That means no
unnecessary movement. Communicate in writing, or whispers, but no loud
I understand your rules and yes, I am quite ready. I have been waiting
for this for a good while. My journey to assist you has been a long
nodded though he couldn’t hide the suspicion in his eyes. He quickly
turned to O’Brien, who immediately issued the directive to rig for
silent running. Within a few minutes most of the noise on the boat
Volz had explained to the command team that he had chosen to direct them
to this particular device because it was easy to locate, lying at only
3500 feet and anchored to the top of the seamount. He had also suggested
they approach the sensor from the south. The captain took the advice and
had the boat leveled off at 3500 feet and oriented Seaview on a heading
of 20 degrees. Shaw’s hydrophones were then released and the bow
lights were turned up to full power. As the boat moved imperceptibly
forward the nose camera recorded every activity. Fortunately, it took
less than twenty minutes and only one pass to visually locate their
needle in the haystack.
five foot wide float at the top of the 100 foot tether was spotted first
then the attached hydrophone with data collector was located about forty
feet below the float. It took a little longer to pinpoint the three
microphones with parabolic shields some 30 feet below the hydrophone. As
expected, the entire setup was attached by a chain to an anchor imbedded
in the seamount. Seaview set up station keeping at eight hundred feet
from the objects, a safe distance to work but just within reach of the
beam from the bow lights. In order to determine if any sound was being
generated by the units that might signal they were being tracked the
auxiliary hydrophones were directed at the sensor. Though he detected
nothing Shaw was instructed to continue monitoring for changes during
the remainder of the operation.
due to the distance between the boat and the sensor the fine details of
the setup were difficult to see so after instructing Sharkey to release
his remote controlled camera from the diving bell hatch Nelson used his
portable control box to guide the camera towards the microphone portion
of the unit. Once satisfied he had sufficient documentation he moved the
camera upwards towards the remaining portion of the unit where he
clicked off several more pictures. In just over thirty minutes the
camera was returned to Seaview and the admiral left the control room to
retrieve it. When his photos were developed, Nelson returned to the
control room waving the prints like a proud papa with his baby’s first
photos. Nelson continued to grin as he showed Lee the amazingly clear
black and white images. Lee could only shake his head in amusement. The
command team and their two visitors then studied the photos more closely
and from what they could tell the sensor was a duplicate of the model
the admiral had received from OPNAV.
order to retrieve the sensor the command officers, Sharkey and Volz
decided it best to attach a line at the base of the float then use a
laser to cut the tether near the base since that option offered the best
chance of keeping the unit intact. In order to attach a line, however,
it was necessary for Seaview to make a pass above the float and attach a
grasping hook. That took only two tries for the devices and the tether
to be towed up towards the surface. When Seaview reached a depth of 600
feet divers successfully retrieved the unit. Volz was told to remain in
the nose with the captain while the admiral headed for the missile room
to examine the device and disable the microphones. Once that was
accomplished he ordered the unit to be taken to his lab for further
examination and from there he called for Volz to be brought to him.
slightly over two hours Seaview arrived at the second site and Shaw’s
hydrophones were again released. It was not long before the sonar
specialist turned away from his display and waved to attract the
captain’s attention. When Shaw mouthed the word “engines” and
pointed upward with his index finger Lee snatched up the auxiliary
headphones. Within seconds, the screen began to flash, an indication
that there was a match to an existing hydro-acoustic profile. When it
was determined to be that of an engine common on Chinese freighters Lee
immediately sent a runner to engineering to order a full stop.
Lee had been monitoring sonar O’Brien had picked up a note from
was expected that the collection of the second sensor was a little more
difficult since it was anchored more deeply and the tether was attached
to the wall of the seamount. However, FS-1 was used to snag the line and
it was easily retrieved. With the item checked and stored away the
admiral ordered Seaview to move on to the next location.
to Volz, the third sensor was the most deeply anchored. Knowing they
would be working close to Seaview’s crush depth, the tension among the
crew intensified. At that depth they could not use the flying sub so
they repeated the method used to collect the first sensor. Despite the
depth, the crew was able to retrieve the third sensor in record time.
Fortunately, no ships were detected anywhere within the search area and
Seaview again moved away.
the time Seaview began her move towards the fourth sensor, everyone on
the boat was fatigued. The control room crew was rotated out and those
who had been on duty were allowed to relax and eat their bagged lunches.
Even Lee felt hungry and asked that he and Volz be brought a sandwich
and a thermos of coffee. Cookie personally delivered the Captain’s
meal, which included a fudge brownie as a bonus. Lee was a little
embarrassed by the extra attention but he thanked the chef for his good
service. While they ate in the nose, Volz appeared in good humor even
telling a few quiet jokes.
was pleased with the way things were progressing, so much so that he
decided to leave the control room. “Lee, I’ll be in my lab checking
on the data unit on the first sensor. Advise me when you approach the
responded in the affirmative, but when the admiral made no attempt to
take their guest with him he frowned. He then caught Nelson’s steely
blue gaze and the slight shaking of his head and turned to Volz. “Sir,
would you care to stretch your legs? I’m going to take a little walk
around the boat.”
gracious of you, Captain, however, I think I will be fine right here.”
nodded “Very well. I should be back in less than thirty minutes.”
captain stopped next to Cermak at the conn and gave him whispered orders
then he headed aft. Shortly thereafter Volz’s security escort arrived
to stand by in the nose. Lee headed directly to the missile room to
check on the condition of the devices they had already retrieved.
Finding each of them set safely in padded crates he left and made stops
in engineering and the reactor room. As he walked down the corridor
towards the storage compartments he caught a glimpse of the admiral
rounding a corner. He picked up speed and caught up with him when he
stopped at the hatch to compartment 21.
is there something wrong?”
you said you would be in your lab. I thought…”
didn’t know I had to clear my movements with you, Captain” Nelson
was instantly apologetic and grinned. “I’m sorry, sir. I guess I’m
just a little jumpy. Before Lee could ask Nelson about the sensor data,
the admiral walked off down the corridor, leaving the captain shaking
was intimately familiar with the feel of his “gray lady” so when
Seaview came to a complete stop he knew it right away and practically
ran to the control room. Upon entering the aft hatch could see the
intense looks on the faces of both officers and crew. He stepped behind
Cermak, who himself was looking over the shoulder of sonar specialist
Kelly and quizzed him.
“What’s happening? Why are we stopped?”
propellers and they were staying with us, matching course and speed.”
had the spare headphones at his ear for about ten seconds. He again
asked the sonar operator for the position of the sub.
same distance out.”
know we’re here. Kelly, go active, we need our eyes and ears. Mister
Cermak, look for us a place to hide!”
captain grabbed up the microphone on the periscope island and breaking
from silent running gave additional orders. “Engineering, I need flank
speed. Helm, ten degree down bubble, 40 degrees left rudder!
Mr. Shaw, Mr. O’Brien report to the control room on the double!
Missile room, report!”
answered quickly. “Missile room, aye.”
torpedoes two and four still loaded?”
one and three!”
was a brief pause before the
Shaw, I need you to deploy your hydrophones, now! Mr. O’Brien, assist
Mr. Cermak and make sure we don’t hit a seamount and have some places
to land if we have to go deep. Kelly, where is the sub now?”
at range 5000 yards.”
right full rudder.”
admiral moved over to the radio shack and handed a piece of paper to the
patted him on the shoulder. “That’s okay
communications officer nodded his assent and continued with his
attempts. Nelson walked briskly over to the chart table and began to
discuss options with O’Brien.
had been sitting in the nose but now stood silently, watching all the
activity with considerable interest. Lee was unnerved by his intense
gaze and momentarily lost his train of thought. Mere seconds later he
managed to return his attention to his maneuvers. He glanced over at
Shaw and seeing him with his head buried in the console he walked over
and tapped the CWO on the shoulder. Shaw raised his finger, indicating
he needed a minute. Then he turned to the captain.
it’s a sub, but our system doesn’t recognize the profile. With the
interference, I can only hear a single screw, and not much else.”
cursed inwardly. If the most experienced sonar man in the Navy couldn’t recognize the
boat, it is probably one I need to be very concerned about.
skipper, still 5000 yards.”
radio man responded immediately. “Aye, sir.”
joined Lee and the two stared at the charts in front of them for several
tense minutes. Finally Lee pointed to a location. “There, that’s
where we need to be.”
site was on the top of the slightly flat topped seamount, but there was
enough irregularity to the terrain to allow for a hiding place. He and
O’Brien made the course calculations, each checking the other’s
figures and the captain turned to make the course correction. Lee
continued his shouted orders.
go to a heading of 173 relative, five degree down bubble on the planes.
Mr. O’Brien I need you to watch the fathometer. Mr. Cermak, watch the
depth gauges. I want us to go to 4200 feet and level off.”
scurried to take up their positions. Almost everyone made it.
warning, three sequential explosions rocked the Seaview. Momentum
continued to carry her forward and down but she eventually slowed and
came to a stop.
the control room the emergency lights blinked on and cast a red glow
over everyone and everything. When the backup power system kicked in Lee
used the rails from the periscope island to pull himself up from the
deck. He quickly looked around to assess the condition of his crew and
upon seeing that everyone was able to return to his station his thoughts
rapidly turned to the possible sources for the explosions. Torpedoes?
No, neither sonar system had picked up anything. Bombs? That could be
catastrophic. The sensors onboard could they be…Instinct caused
him to turn around and once again he came eye to eye with Volz. The
stare down lasted only seconds but his suspicions lingered, even while
he fought to gain control of the boat.
control, report!” No response.
clicked the mic again. “Damage control, give your report!” There was
still no answer.
reactor room, I need full power, we’re losing trim!”
answer. Lee threw the microphone at the chart table in frustration. Admiral
Nelson had hit his head and was bleeding slightly from a cut over his
eye but he assigned himself to check out the condition of the boat and
get repairs underway. “O’Brien, you stay and assist the captain.
Cermak, you’re with me.”
officers then hustled aft, headed for engineering. The
captain continued to try and make order out of the chaos “Mr.
O’Brien. Arrange a detail to get on that comm system!”
sir” he replied crisply as he too scurried aft.
any word from that sub?”
there was still an unidentified threat out there and they were at risk
from additional explosions, Lee had to decide on a strategy using
severely limited information. He also knew they were sinking and there
was only one way to stop that.
shouted to the rating manning the ballast controls. “Blow all ballast
and trim tanks!”
Tatic repeated the order and within a few minutes they could hear the
sound of water being expelled and the boat began to rise. Relief was
only momentary when another explosion could be heard and within seconds
another shock wave hit them. From his position on the deck the more
subdued captain ordered Tatic to re-flood the trim tanks. They were
going nowhere for now.
finally awoke and to the degree he could he righted himself and shook
his limbs to try and improve his circulation. With the isolation of the
room he couldn’t tell how long he had been there or what time of day
it was. Some of his questions were answered when the door opened part of
the way and he could hear the tail end of a conversation between the
get some breakfast. We’ll take care of him.”
statement caused a momentary spasm in the pit of Chip’s stomach but he
swallowed to suppress it and looked up at the man who had entered.
commander, it seems you have some
friends. I’ve been ordered to release you.”
was surprised and grateful but he revealed nothing to the man before
him. His captor unlocked the padlock that secured the shackles to the
floor and pulled Chip to an upright position then he pointed to the
chained, Chip complied and waddled out of the room and into the hall.
There he was met by a second guard who pushed him along and assisted him
up the stairs and out a door. The bright sunlight caused his eyes to
water, but he eventually focused on his car, parked less than twenty
feet away. Only after reaching it was he released from his shackles and
handed his keys.
on the seat and no, you don’t get the gun back. We wouldn’t want you
to do anything foolish.”
out of nowhere a third man holding an assault rifle came over and
pointed it at the officer and indicated he should get in the car and
leave. He did as instructed and made his way out of the parking area and
out of sight of his former captors. Before he had traveled more than a
few blocks, a car pulled in behind him and another pulled in front
effectively blocking him in and forcing him to stop.
the he…,” he began before catching a glimpse of one of the men in
breathed a sigh of relief and as the man came up to his now open door he
let out a very tired sounding “Kowalski.”
sir. I’m sorry it took me so long to get to you but I had to get
someone’s attention first.”
furrowed his brow. “By someone you mean…?”
sir… it was Admiral Starke.”
was not at all surprised. “So what exactly did you tell him?”
know you wouldn’t just miss dinner so I decided something was up. I
found a phone and called the Institute and Commander Gordon contacted
Admiral Starke. He sent these guys to meet me. We’ve been looking for
you most of the night.”
was suddenly uncomfortable being the focus of everyone’s attention so
motioned Kowalski aside. “How did you find me here?”
I don’t know all the details, just that at about 0500 one of the guys
checked in at headquarters and was told to meet you here and have you
escorted to Admiral Starke’s office. I guess we’re to head there.”
Considering how critical Starke had been of the officers of Seaview in
the past, Chip didn’t know whether he should be happy or concerned.
Regardless, he didn’t blame Kowalski for contacting Starke and took
time to show the rating some appreciation for his rescue. “Thanks,
Kowalski, for everything. Let’s go see the admiral.”
Considering how critical Starke had been of the officers of Seaview in
the past, Chip didn’t know whether he should be happy or concerned.
Regardless, he didn’t blame Kowalski for contacting Starke and took
time to show the rating some appreciation for his rescue. “Thanks,
Kowalski, for everything. Let’s go see the admiral.”
rating smiled, and nodded. “Yes, sir, anytime.”
thirty minutes the caravan of three reached the offices of COMSUBPAC and
soon Chip was again alone, seated at the end of a conference room table.
The hot seat again he grumbled
to himself just as Admiral Jiggs Starke entered the room. Chip jumped up
and started to salute but remembering he was in his civvies he simply
greeted the admiral with a nod.
said Starke as he looked the blond officer up and down. “Sit down!”
complied and girded himself for what was next.
do you think you were doing? I sent you that telephone number so you
would follow that lead and get back to me, not so you could put months
worth of undercover work in jeopardy by going into that school. If I
hadn’t heard about your whereabouts from your man, you would still be
with Admiral Mandel’s goons. He thinks you’re a traitor and you
haven’t done anything to prove him wrong. If you were under my command
I would...” He stopped short of launching into a tirade about naval
discipline, a speech Chip had heard or heard about on numerous
Chip addressed his superior. “Permission to speak freely, sir?”
sure I couldn’t stop you, Commander,” Starke growled as he continued
to glare at the younger officer.
you, sir, I would like to explain.”
I called the phone number you gave me and as you know it led me to
SamsonTech one of our electronics suppliers. One of their employees was
accessing the Institute and Seaview’s design plans. Jim Scandini, the
owner of SamsonTech, told me that Admiral Mandel knew about it.”
shook his head. “Why am I not surprised?”
I pushed Jim and he told me his employee was a former student of a
professor Zhu at
why did you feel the need to act on your own? Why not come to me, and
let me decide how to take care of it?”
after what happened to me on Seaview I wasn’t sure what to think or
who to talk to.” Starke
raised an inquisitive eyebrow.
you didn’t know?”
was told by Admiral Nelson to stand down and without any warning I was
sent off the boat in front of the crew. That’s not like the admiral,
at all. Even Captain Crane didn’t seem surprised. I was never informed
why and I was banished from Institute property, cutting me off from any
information sources. When I ran into Seaman Kowalski and found he was
off the boat too I knew something was going on. There were a lot of
other odd things going on even before the cruise.”
sir. Both Kowalski and I were sent on unusual errands for Admiral Nelson
and at the last minute I had to load some high security cargo.”
alternately paced and stood very still, and it was obvious to Chip he
was building up to something. All he could do was to sit and wait.
had no clue about why you were relieved?”
you don’t know why your man missed the cruise?”
assignments? Secret cargo?”
shook his head. Starke then broke out into the broadest smile Chip had
ever seen on a flag officer in his presence.
old goat, he’s behind this.”
“Harry…er…Admiral Nelson. He did this. He set up every move.”
Chip couldn’t conceal his confusion.
The admiral walked over to where he was sitting, put his hands down on the table and looked him directly in the eye.
I’m going to give you some information and if it ever gets out I told
you I will nail your sorry six to the wall. Understand?” Starke waited
for Chip’s acknowledgement.
nodded several times.
I only learned about all of this over the last few days…”
hearing the full story Chip grimaced.
found exactly what he wanted; a saboteur. He said you had some documents
in your cabin that you shouldn’t have, and you were snooping in cargo
that you had no business in. He even suggested that you were the
ringleader. I told him I didn’t believe it and he said it didn’t
matter what I believed.”
stood staring at the younger officer waiting for a reaction, but Chip
maintained his composure despite the accusations.
then surprised Chip. “I told him you were one of Nelson’s hand
picked boys and you were loyal to a fault.”
appreciated Starke’s comment but there was still Seaview to consider.
“Begging the Admiral’s pardon.”
glared at Chip. “I’m not finished, Commander.”
chastised, Chip remained quiet.
“I spoke to Admiral Nelson just before he left. He said he would take care of things on Seaview’s end and told me to give him some time and he would be back in touch. If I didn’t hear from him in forty eight hours I was to give you that phone number. He wouldn’t have done that if he thought you were a spy.”
thought about Starke’s last statement for a moment. Nelson’s
behavior of late was uncharacteristic-or was it? The man was one of the
most strategic thinkers he knew, in or out of the Navy. Though open to
new ideas in areas of science and technology, in battle he would leave
little to chance. Chip knew there was more going on behind the scenes
but time was not on their side if Seaview was in danger. He had to press
I may ask what does all this have to do with Seaview’s mission?”
“Admiral Mandel let his suspicions investigation get a little out of hand. He involved this command and Nelson’s submarine without getting his facts straight. He has put everyone in danger and run roughshod over this entire base and I’ve had it up to here!” he declared as he raised his open hand above his head.
what is the mission?”
huffed loudly before sitting in the chair across the table. “There is
a man onboard Seaview. He’s showing Admiral Nelson the locations of
some sensors that were set out to listen in on our undersea operations
in the sea lanes between here and
the puzzle pieces fit together for Chip Morton. Every muscle in his body
tensed and a wave of fear passed over him as the thought about Seaview
and her crew and what might be happening. He thought about the saboteur
at SamsonTech and wondered what damage he had done to the boat’s
systems, including her defenses. He also worried about the connection to
Dr. Zhu. Could the sensors he was working on be used to monitor Seaview
and could the information he collected be used to harm her and her crew?
where is Seaview? Have you heard from Admiral Nelson?”
haven’t heard from them since they met up with the cruiser and picked
up the passengers.”
more than one, sir?”
sent a tactical sonar expert along to help locate the sensors. Admiral
Nelson asked for him too.”
nodded, realizing that without Kowalski, Seaview’s own sonar expert
onboard, the boat would be at a distinct disadvantage. The admiral had
also taken care of that little detail before sending Kowalski ashore.
I think it would be definitely worthwhile for us to compare notes in
detail and to come up with a plan to support Seaview. Given how the rest
of Admiral Mandel’s investigation has turned out, I’m not sure he
can be counted on. Based on what I saw at the University, I think Dr.
Zhu probably knows better than Admiral Mandel where Seaview is.”
The two officers then put their head together and began to construct a plan.
afternoon on Seaview
in the control room breathed a sigh of relief when minor repairs were
sufficient to bring most systems back on line. However, it was still
unknown how much if any outer hull damage had been sustained. As he
stood in the control room, Lee mulled over possible solutions. They were
still too deep to launch the flying sub or send out divers to do an
assessment and the cameras on the exterior of the boat had been disabled
by the shock waves from the blasts. Suddenly an idea clicked.
to Admiral Nelson.”
in the reactor room, Lee. What do you need?”
chance of sending out your new camera to check for damage?”
work. I’ll have Sharkey set it up.”
less than ten minutes Nelson arrived in the control room with his remote
device. He skillfully guided the camera past most areas of the hull and
sail before having it reeled in, cleaned and stowed. Some thirty minutes
later they had a full set of clear photos to examine. What they saw was
not at all what they expected.
don’t get it, Admiral, but I’m grateful there’s no damage. But why
set off explosions that don’t have much effect?”
forget, not all boats area as sophisticated or as well built as Seaview.
But you might be on to something.”
Nelson waved his index finger in the air a sure sign he was
thinking. “No other boat is going to go this deep. The only other
threat to whatever is out there is a DSV and without weapons they
wouldn’t be much of one. It’s as if they were waiting for us, for
do you think it is, Admiral?”
waved the Captain over to a corner of the control room away from the
nose and their guest.
People’s Republic, who else?”
could they gain from this…do you think it’s Seaview they want? Do
you think Volz is involved, that he knew this would happen?”
don’t know, Lee, but I’m about to find out.”
The admiral strode purposefully towards the nose and after making a brief stop to consult with O’Brien Lee fell in behind, closing the crash doors behind them. Though Shaw was still at his station he kept his head down.
fire in his eyes Nelson looked up at Volz and ordered him to sit. The
defector was defiant and remained standing.
will not take orders from you, Admiral!”
a show of force the captain stood immediately behind his CO. Volz was
unmoved by the gesture.
will not intimidate me. I have information you need.”
for what Mr. Volz? I think we know quite enough already.”
know you are out here. You are nothing but mice in a trap. I am the only
one who knows where the remaining sensors are placed and I alone will
choose whether or not you find out where they are!”
pointed to a chair at the table. “Sit down or I will have the Master
at Arms chain you to the supports.” Volz slowly complied but never
took his eyes off the admiral.
Now Mister Volz, if that is your real name, tell us what you know about these
sensors. All of it this time!”
just stared at his questioner. Lee tapped Nelson on the arm and the
admiral moved aside to let his captain have his turn. Lee leaned down,
placed both palms on the table and came nose to nose with the man and
began his rapid fire interrogation.
told me that you graduated from
Lee slapped the table, causing Volz to jump then reached up to grab the man by his neck. He was interrupted when Shaw shouted out.
sub is moving in. I hear torpedo doors opening.”
hearing the news, Volz smiled evilly.
the admiral saw to Volz’s removal and climbed the spiral stairs Lee
grabbed the chart table microphone. “Engineering, give us full speed.
Helm, come around to a heading of 227.”
clicked off the mic and when he opened the crash doors he found
O’Brien waiting for orders. “Bob, we can’t get into a dogfight at
this depth, we’re heading for that seamount.”
quickly studied the chart then moved behind the helmsman, ready to relay
was making its way rapidly toward the seamount but because she was now
making considerable noise, Lee knew she could be easily tracked by the
rogue sub. As they neared their target area he repeatedly requested
updates from Kelly on sonar, Patterson, now on hydrophones and Shaw.
in the water!! Kelly and Shaw announced nearly instantaneously.
Captain called for evasive action and Seaview managed to make it to an
area above the structure as two torpedoes impacted the wall of the
seamount just below her. The shockwaves were much more intense than the
previous ones and the sub was slowed to nearly one quarter speed.
Fortunately, Seaview managed to skid to a stop on top of the plateau.
Not only were her vital systems again out, but her stern was resting
over the edge of the plateau. Soon, two compartments began to ship
control report!” shouted Lee over the dead microphone.
Lee heard a very unfamiliar whoosh. What
Morton watched and listened as Admiral Starke lambasted Admiral Mandel
over the telephone. Though outwardly he maintained his stoic façade,
inside he savored every word.
I want? What I want is for
you to get your thumb out of your six and give me the information I need
to find my sub! Need I remind you they are carrying missiles? No, I
don’t want you to go track them down. With what? A surface ship? Then
what will you do if you find them? Here…here’s what I want or do you
prefer I call the SECNAV?” As he continued his tirade he nodded
towards Chip. “I want you to give my man access to the university
computers, for you to give me the intel you have on Seaview’s
passenger and where they were going and exactly what they were expected
to do. Then I want you to stay the hell out of my way!” There was
silence on the one end for a few minutes. “That’s better. So you say
you will get the papers ready to raid the university? No, not tonight,
now! Okay I will wait for your call. My man is going on the raid with
yours. Who is it? You’ll see.”
a satisfied grin Starke slammed the receiver down on its cradle.
need you to head up to the University and take Kowalski with you. Joe
can see to it that you get proper uniforms and the necessary arms. I
hope Mandel has the sense to make good use of your talents but in case
he doesn’t here is a number you can use to reach me anytime. Once we
find out what that professor was doing I expect we’ll be able to find
Seaview. I’ll divert the Grunion towards the general area and the
now had a new respect for the man in front of him, and he stood and
saluted him with all the crispness he could muster. The salute was
careful, Commander. I trust you’ll be in touch this time?”
Jackson was waiting in his office with Kowalski. He had already been
given his orders and he quickly saw to it the men were appropriately
equipped. He also arranged for a driver and a state highway patrol
escort for them to their destination and to stand by if necessary to
assist. In less than two hours after the call to Mandel, Seaview’s men
were standing a block away from the gates of
Morton, it’s you. I didn’t think they let known spies run loose.”
appearance and voice Chip exuded the confidence that made him a great
XO. “It’s Commander
Morton, and if you do anything that is the least bit out of line I have
the authority to have you arrested.”
he finished, another car pulled up to the gates, this one carrying three
men in dark suits. They exited the car and introduced themselves to the
group as FBI agents. One held the necessary papers for the raid. Perfect timing thought Chip as he signaled for everyone to gather
around hood of the car to plot their strategy. With the addition of the
agents he heard nothing else untoward from any of Mandel’s men.
was Saturday and access to the buildings would be limited so two of the
agents and two of Mandel’s men went to the security office to serve
the warrant, obtain keys and gain control of their dispatch system. It
was decided that Chip and Kowalski would go with one agent and three of
Mandel’s men to the earth sciences building. Each man took up position
waiting for the signal that the warrant was served and the keys were on
and Kowalski positioned themselves by the stairs nearest Zhu’s
laboratory and once everyone else signaled they were in place the two
entered the hallway outside the laboratory. As expected that door was
also locked up tight. With a nod of his exec’s head Kowalski took out
his “travel kit” consisting of a small pry tool, a fuse, and a
putty-like explosive capable of being squeezed into crevices around a
door. Instead of attacking the heavy duty lock the men skillfully
removed the outer door molding then lined the frame with the explosives
and attached the fuse. They backed up and around the corner and Chip lit
the fuse. In fifteen seconds a loud explosion shook the walls and the
door and part of the frame fell out into the hallway. Before the smoke
had cleared the two were entering the laboratory. Chip immediately
headed for the door to the computer room, and found it standing open.
Inside he could see Dr. Zhu scrambling to shut down the system and erase
data. He stepped closer and grabbed the man, hooking his elbow around
his neck and squeezing tight. He shouted for Kowalski and they had the
man subdued and dragged into the outer hallway before any of the rest of
the men arrived.
handing Zhu off to one of the FBI agents Chip reentered the computer
room to begin his assessment of the damage and what he saw had him
worried. The system had been shut down and it was going to take time for
him to figure out a way to gain access. Time
Seaview might not have. He looked around and found some printouts
stacked in the corner and quickly scanned each page to get a sense of
what the professor had been doing. Kowalski soon arrived and broke his
Morton, I have someone here who needs to see you. She says she works for
Admiral Mandel. Her name’s Sharpe.”
was irritated by the request but turned around. His mouth almost fell
open as he saw the agent in question was none other that the ditzy
blonde who had greeted him outside Dr. Zhu’s office on Friday. The two
shook hands and Sharpe began offered and explanation.
I have been here for three months trying to ingratiate myself with the
professor. Seems he likes blondes...”
Chip grinned briefly then a concerned look appeared on his face.
“Oh, don’t worry. The extent of my talents goes beyond that. I played the dumb blonde well enough that he would start up his computer while I watched. I bet I can get you in.”
indicated she should go ahead and she quickly got down to business. She
deftly entered the codes into the system that allowed access to the
professor’s personal files. Once logged into the system she stood and
Chip slid into the chair and began to scan the root directories and
files looking for patterns of information. He searched files for over
two hours and reached a number of dead ends before finally locating a
file that appeared to be information about the sensors in question. Yes,
yes, yes! He was reading the file when he was again interrupted by
I know you’re busy but Admiral Starke wants an update.”
opened his mouth to object but remembering his earlier conversation with
Starke, he quickly snapped it shut. Sharpe
indicted that “her” phone at the reception desk was a secure line so
Chip made the call from there. The officers exchanged updates and as
Chip hung up he was handed a plate containing a club sandwich and a
large cup of hot coffee. He gratefully accepted both and sat at the desk
wolfing down most of the sandwich and downing every drop of the potent
brew. After a quick trip to the head he was again sitting at the
computer console, studying codes.
within minutes of his return Chip located a file that was labeled
“instructions: start-up live feed”. The file contained, in plain
language, the instructions for accessing a live feed of some type of
data. He followed the instructions and after a few long minutes a
program popped up on his monitor. Damn,
I hope that’s not what I think it is he muttered to himself.
Displayed across the top of the page was a series of hydro-acoustic
profiles. Every four minutes the screen was updated with new images. The
more he watched the more he was convinced that he was seeing the
profiles generated from a live feed of data from some underwater
sensors. Where are the sensors?
He recalled the coordinates he had seen on the screen on his last visit
and he jotted them down as he called for Kowalski. The rating responded
held out the paper. “See if you can find a chart of these coordinates.
There should be some somewhere in this building. Maybe Agent Sharpe can
As Chip watched the changing screens he had another thought. If I can get some headphones
in here, maybe I can listen and watch. He
was about to ask one of the raid team to find a set for him when
Kowalski appeared with the chart and not one, but two sets of
As Chip watched the changing screens he had another thought. If I can get some headphones
in here, maybe I can listen and watch. He
was about to ask one of the raid team to find a set for him when
Kowalski appeared with the chart and not one, but two sets of
thought these would help, sir.”
had listened for only a few minutes when a small smile appeared on his
face. “Kowalski, tell me if you recognize these sounds.”
rating eagerly donned the headset. “Sir, it sounds like screws. I hear
three. At least I think so. I also hear pings, lots of 'em.”
nodded in agreement. “Let me see if I can find some coordinates.”
pulled up another chair and again attacked the keyboard, looking for the
coordinates he had seen during Zhu’s demonstration. Unfortunately
though there were numbers in the lower left corner of each profile he
was unsuccessful in linking any of the numbers to a location. He sighed
and rating listened then watched as screen after screen of sound data
was displayed in profile. Both were deep in concentration when a sound
came through the headsets that made both cringe: three explosions in
rapid succession. What followed was even more unnerving. A long period
of silence followed by the sound of a single screw.
swallowed hard then jumped up. “I need to call Starke. Keep listening
and call out if you hear anything else.”
delivered the bad news to Starke that what they were hearing was likely
Seaview under attack. The admiral released a few epithets before Chip
interrupted and requested the exact location of the sensors and
Seaview’s destination. Starke’s only reply was that he would get
back with him. Chip hated waiting and paced the floor until the call
came and Starke relayed the general locations of the sensors.
Regretfully, he had no additional information on Seaview.
quickly reentered the computer room to check on Kowalski and the rating
was waiting. “Sir I’m not positive but I thought I heard water
moving but it stopped…maybe the ballast tanks?”
Chip responded dolefully. “Look, we need a little more data to be able
to pin them down. Unfortunately that means listening and waiting…and
possibly…” Chip stopped short of telling the rating that more news
meant more bad news. Instead
he offered encouragement. “We just need to have faith in the admiral
and the skipper.”
In less than thirty minutes the men were again picking up a variety of signals. Both were amazed at their clarity and how much differentiation there was between the varied sounds. When they again heard twin screws they both let out breaths they didn’t know they were holding.
coming back, sir.”
nodded. He still didn’t know exactly where they were, but the sound of
activity was a good sign.
go get something to eat. I’ll listen awhile.”
assumed his best command glare then his expression softened, but only a
need a break to stay sharp. Go.”
sir” Kowalski set the headset on the table and quickly headed out.
has to be here somewhere,” Chip mumbled just under his breath. He was
referring to the locations of the sensors, the thing that has eluded him
earlier. He tapped away at the keys for a few minutes then returned to
the live feed. He immediately heard the sound of a third screw followed
by that of torpedo doors opening. He placed his elbows on his knees and
his hands over his eyes and listened intently for what he knew was
inevitable. In the next two four-minute cycles he heard multiple pings,
and continued engine noises. Lady luck did not hold on as there was no
mistaking the sound or torpedoes in the water, followed by two loud
explosions. Chip listened carefully for the sound of Seaview’s
characteristic twin screws. He heard them, but only for a matter of
God no….” he whispered.
evening on Seaview
drenched and exhausted Lee Crane sat on the periscope island running a
hand through his hair. He and the officers and crew had spent two hours
attempting repairs to a breach in the hull in one compartment and
collapsed supports in another. Under normal circumstances the Seaview
would be gradually moved to the surface to relieve the pressure on the
hull but they were nearly at crush depth with no ballast control and no
chance of surfacing. Since they could be at the repairs for a long while
he had ordered the repair crews to rotate on and off their details so
that no one worked beyond his physical limits.
controls out, power plant damaged, air revitalizer only pumping twenty
percent, batteries only good for another six or seven hours and
they couldn’t be used that long without fouling the air. Then
there’s the rescue buoy. Who knows what happened to that. He had never seen a look like the one on the face of young
Lt. Cermak when instead of hearing the flush of water associated with
the release of the buoy from its hatch there was a ping and a pop. It
wasn’t panic really, more like resignation.
Is that what the crew saw in my face?
was joined at the island by Shaw who had just completed a rotation on a
repair detail. The CWO was calm but expressed his concern about the
is there any possibility of hooking the system up to a spare battery?
I’m not sure if the equipment is under the boat or not but it might be
worth a try.”
I’m not sure what we would do if we did find something. We have no
defenses.” Lee stopped a moment to think. “I suppose we could listen
for any rescuers as well. I’ll ask the admiral about it.”
sir. I’ll be back in engineering…seeing if I can help.”
thanked Shaw and the man left through the aft hatch.
that he had time to think about it, Lee had not seen the admiral since
their conversation with Volz. He signaled for the crewman standing by
the computer and ordered him to locate Admiral Nelson and ask him to
respond to the control room. Once the man scurried off, and Lee sat back
down. Oh how he wished Chip was here. No, he wouldn’t want his best
friend to be in this situation but he could use his calming presence and
skill with putting things right after a major crisis. It wasn’t that
O’Brien and Cermak were bad officers. They did excellent work under
the worst of circumstances. They just weren’t Chip.
stood up and hearing footsteps on the spiral stairs he looked up to see
the admiral and Chief Sharkey arriving.
is it, Lee?”
Shaw wanted to use a spare battery to power his hydrophones, do you see
needed me here to ask me that?”
sir, but frankly I was concerned when I hadn’t seen you since the
replied without missing a beat. “Sharkey and I were inspecting the
damage. The hull breach seems to be holding, but I am more concerned
about our air supply.”
“So am I, but...”
turned and addressed Sharkey. “Chief, go and check the charge on the
batteries to the mini-sub. If it’s good, pull one and bring it up
and Nelson exchanged furtive glances that were easily noticed by the
captain. Sharkey hesitated but finally headed aft. Once the
Lee looked around then motioned the admiral over to a corner of the
nearly empty control room. “Admiral, what is going on here? Every time
I see you I see Sharkey and you two are passing looks like buckets on a
put up his hand. “I’m sorry, Lee. It’s time you hear the rest.”
being overly detailed Nelson briefed Lee on the possible sabotage to the
electronics and the steps he had taken to ameliorate the problems. Lee
was not surprised to find there was more involved than the torpedo
loader controls but he was angry that he had not been informed earlier.
Now the thing that concerned him most was the failure of the rescue
on the edge of a seamount near crush depth and no one knows it!”
will soon, Lee. I had a backup plan for that. Just before we hit the
seamount I launched a special antenna array. It was in a shipping
container. Once it was sent out the diving hatch the carton exploded and
released the array. It should be on the surface by now. If someone is
close enough, we can communicate pretty easily by radio.”
thought for a moment. “So that was the strange noise we heard?”
how close do they need to be to pick us up?”
mile, give or take.”
started to feel a little hope for their situation but it vanished as
quickly as it came. “Who’s looking for us, Admiral… and how is
someone supposed to find it?”
are luminescent floats, and…and it is fifteen feet across.”
his initial anger at the situation had subsided Lee was not convinced he
knew everything and doubt showed on his face. Nelson tapped his fingers
on Lee’s arm.
we need to finish what repairs we can while the air is circulating.
After that we have to just hunker down. There’s not much else we can
do…or…much else they can do to us.”
Lee recognized the admiral was speaking about their unknown enemy. He nodded then advised the admiral he would have Cermak take the con and he would be checking on systems and seeing to it that food, water and air tanks were distributed. Before turning away to tend to his tasks, Lee asked one more question.
what about Chip? What does he have to do with any of this?”
don’t think you need to worry about him, Lee.”
aside any thoughts that Seaview had been destroyed and he was on a
fool’s errand, Chip consulted with everyone with any information on
the whereabouts of the boat, the sensors or Dr. Zhu’s work. The
captain of the
best information actually came from Mark Jocaste who had been picked up
by NCIS agents as he left SamsonTech with additional incriminating
documents in his possession. Fearing he would spend his remaining days
in a federal prison if he didn’t cooperate he spoke openly concerning
his role. As one of Zhu’s students he had designed an advanced
hydrophone for seismic studies. He received an offer for employment from
a company he later found was a front for a People’s Republic spy
operation. That was where he met Cara Reynolds. Once inside the company
he discovered he could not get out and was forced to do more work for
them. He had overheard that there was a plan in the works to create a
master log of hydro-acoustic profiles for all major military craft. One
day when he was in the office of the fake company, he saw a chart out on
a desk. That chart covered the area between the
had heard all he needed. It was time to take drastic steps or there
might not be enough time to save the sub or the crew. He ordered
Kowalski to stay with the computer, and advised the rating that he would
be en route to the general area that Seaview was said to be.
contact you, or have someone contact you through Admiral Starke’s
office. If you get anything you need to pass along, call the admiral.”
you want me to talk to
not, Kowalski? You’ve been talking to him for days. Don’t think I
don’t know why you’re here and not on Seaview. I appreciate what
you’ve done, but I need you here.”
order brooked no argument. “Aye, sir,” Kowalski answered with a
1830 hours Chip was dropped off on a zodiac not far from the
it’s good to meet you. Sorry about the circumstances. My sonar man is
on your sub, so I have a significant interest here. What do you need?”
Captain. I assume you are doing sonar and radar sweeps and you have full
time monitoring of all local and long distance radio traffic?” Chip
had to ask but he already knew the captain would be on top of things.
“I need to see the charts of the entire cluster of seamounts, and if
you would, show me where you have already searched and scanned.”
captain led him towards the navigation room and on the way stopped to
get him a very large mug of coffee from the wardroom. Chip took it
gratefully and drank about a third before the combination of the coffee,
an empty stomach and the rocking motion of the ship caused him to nearly
lose it. The captain chuckled and handed him a seasick bag.
sea legs, Commander?”
smiled at the comment, agreeing that he much preferred to be under the
water, where under normal circumstances the motion of his boat was
I suppose a little food would help. It’s been a while. Then I need
ate very quickly then the pair made their way to the navigation room.
The search was still a daunting task. Though Jocaste’s information had
significantly reduced the search area, there were still at least a
thousand square miles of ocean and only ten ships and two planes
dedicated to the search. It was also getting late and all aircraft and
most ships would cease searching after dark. They were going to need a
good bit of luck to find his friends.
he discussed the search strategy with Captain Bartolo, Chip reasoned
that if Seaview went to the bottom it was already too late to help but
if she managed to make it onto one of the seamounts and was only
disabled then there was a limited amount time to reach her before the
crew ran out of air. A review of the charts showed there were only a
handful of seamounts with an elevation above the boat’s crush depth.
It made sense to limit the search to those seamounts.
the planes and ships were redeployed to the new pattern, the men
discussed how the rescue might take place once Seaview was found. There
were no other subs that could travel as deep as Seaview was likely to be
and none of the search ships were equipped with a diving bell. The
nearest bell was a half day away from their location. As he stood in the
communications center of the
night on Seaview
his best efforts, Shaw had been unable to get the auxiliary sonar
they awaited their fate the command officers huddled around the
little déjà vu Lee?” asked Nelson.
yes, Admiral,” Lee whispered, referring to the incident a couple of
years earlier when the Seaview was trapped in a minefield with little
hope for rescue. “I hope this one turns out as well. I can’t say we
have the same ace in the hole.”
be so sure, Lee.”
cocked his head. “What do you mean?”
underestimate your enemies…or your friends.”
another word to him Nelson rose and walked over to the radio shack. When
was after dark and much of the search activities had ceased. Sonar was
operating but due to the presence of the seamounts, thermal layers and
commercial ships any scanning had become difficult. Chip paced back and
forth on the fore deck and eventually he was joined by Bartolo.
there’s not much else you can do. You need down time.”
nodded but continued to pace. The captain shook his head and stood next
to the worried officer.
can order it.”
Chip had the chance to reply, the radio officer on the
the conversation, Chip stopped his pacing. Something was niggling at
him, but as tired as he was, he couldn’t think clearly. What could it be? Why does it seem like that should mean something to
me. Glowing…glowing…Suddenly Chip shouted.
“Captain! We need to head for that location. Now!”
was taken aback by the officer’s demand. “Commander?”
sir, I believe that object is a signal from Seaview.”
“And you know this because of what?”
seen it, a least a part of it. Seaview had it aboard when she sailed.”
the cruiser made her way through choppy seas at thirty-five knots Chip
struggled to stay standing. He finally had to give up and took a seat on
the bridge where he watched and waited. In short order the ship reached
the location in question. The captain ordered the search lights doused
and had his duty crews scan the seas around the ship. After thirty
frustrating minutes, there was still no sign of a floating, glowing
object so the captain ordered the ship to come about in a ninety degree
turn. Finally, one of the crewmen near the starboard bow signaled that
he saw something and the ship’s engines were stopped. One of the
ship’s powerful search lights was then trained on the mystery object
and it was snagged with a hook.
climbed down to the lower deck to get a better look. He studied what
appeared to be a mat made up of ropes and wires with the whole thing
held afloat by white capsule shaped objects. Capsules,
those white capsules in Compartment 21!
A huge smile split his haggard face and he turned to the Master
Chief in charge of the deck detail.
the captain we’ve found the Seaview.”
scans of the top of the seamount clearly indicated the precarious
position of the great submarine. They also failed to reveal any sign of
a second unknown sub within one hundred miles or detect any sensors in
the water surrounding the boat. That was good news to everyone on the
radio officer of the
Chip had spoken with PacTransTel he had inquired if any of their
maintenance equipment might be available for a rescue. Since he had
navigated the waters of the area for several years he was aware of the
locations of most of the undersea communications cables and it was
ironically fortunate that Seaview was attacked near one of the cables
currently undergoing inspection. The deep sea vehicle was big enough to
carry only two men, but it could be used to transport vital tanks of air
to the sub, allowing time for a rescue bell to arrive.
Bartolo asked Chip if he wanted to go over to the PacTransTel ship to
oversee the rescue operations. To his surprise, the Seaview officer
I’m much too tired and I would put everyone involved in the rescue at
nodded in agreement and picking up a microphone called the chief of his
diving detail to the bridge. When he arrived the captain gave him his
orders and Chip provided some of the necessary details about the boats
complement and hatch locations.
took thirty minutes for the maintenance ship to arrive and another
twenty to redeploy the rescue vehicle. A single diver was sent along
with the air tanks to make sure the vehicle linked to the sub. The
vehicle also carried a portable radio set to allow Seaview’s
commanders to speak directly with the
slept through the rescue of the first fifty of Seaview’s crew members,
the arrival of COMSUBRES and the departure of the remaining search and
rescue ships. He even missed the offloading of Seaview’s
defector-passenger Volz, something he regretted.
waking he had received the news that there were no serious casualties
onboard Seaview but most of the crew was being treated for hypothermia.
He had little time to speak with anyone on the
Chip was at the conference room table in the very same seat he had
occupied the day before. Admiral Starke greeted him with the news that
though Seaview had sustained hull damage, it was possible to make
repairs on site that would allow her to return to
Admiral Mandel entered the conference room Chip swallowed hard. Here
was a long pause.
I need to know everything. I want you to first tell me then I want it
written down. All of it. Go ahead, I’ll be waiting.”
resented that his integrity was still being questioned, however his
naval training kicked in and he responded to the order by a superior
officer. He began to describe in detail the events of the last week and
a half. While Mandel asked a few questions, for the most part he
remained silent and sneered. When Chip stated he was finished, Mandel
commented that it might be worth Chip’s while to consider his own
mistakes in the matter and be prepared to face the consequences for
those. Chip remained silent, hoping for an explanation but none came.
All he received was a warning.
believe Admiral Starke told you the information is not to be released to
anyone. You understand that no mention of this can be made to anyone and
that includes your captain?”
sir. I understand”.
you complete your statements, give them to Admiral Starke. He will
forward them to me. I may be in touch.”
stood and saluted the man, but only out of reflex. He watched as Mandel
left the room. He then turned to Starke.
you might as well get started on those reports.”
Seaview exactly two weeks to the day after sailing
made her way slowly into her home
Crane and Harriman Nelson were seated in the observation nose discussing
the cruise. Still weary, Lee scrubbed his face and leaned back. “I
have to admit, Admiral, that I was very frustrated. I’m used to going
into an ONI mission lacking significant details but I thought on my own
boat I would be kept informed.”
ran a hand through his auburn hair then looked directly at his friend.
“I didn’t know what to tell you exactly. Mandel had you tied up in
the audit before the cruise and told me in no uncertain terms to keep
the mission totally secret. I knew next to nothing about Volz. I figured
you would have better luck getting information from him than I would.
You know I couldn’t pass up the chance to get at their technology and
I certainly couldn’t refuse the mission.”
recognized that what made Nelson a genius was his naturally inquisitive
mind and that the man would never let an opportunity to learn pass him
by. It was that character trait that led to Seaview being built and had
saved the planet on numerous occasions. Lee had to grin.
so funny, Lee?”
nothing, sir,” he lied.
Admiral, how did you get all of you plans in place?”
had to work around him so I had Sharkey doing the errands for me. You
know I had planned to have Sharkey load the antenna into one of the
shook his head.
time you had him load another torpedo he had to pull out the antenna and
move it. Finally we decided to launch it another way. He told me he was
worn out and I suspect he was. He’s a good man put in a bad spot.”
took on a more serious expression. “What about Chip? I understand he
still can’t get into the Institute.”
need to talk to him first, Lee. He did what he always does, what we rely
on him for. I had to use him as the means to an end, and I’m afraid he
might be a bit angry at me right now. I’ll see him tomorrow. Let’s
get something to eat and get a decent night’s rest.”
nodded, but he was still very concerned about his best friend.
Chip Morton headed for Harriman Nelson’s office he steeled himself for
what would be either a thorough dressing down or even possibly a
dismissal from NIMR for his failure to detect the flaws in the
electronics items assembled by SamsonTech. It was his job to make sure
those types of things didn’t happen and they had. Why else would he
still be denied access to the Institute? Since returning to
Chip arrived, Nelson was standing at his office door. The admiral
instructed Angie to go and take a long break, and he waved Morton into
his office. After sitting down at his desk he let Chip enter and stand
at attention in front of the closed door.
wanted to see me, sir?”
Nelson muttered into the papers that were on his desk. He then waited a
good two minutes before looking up. As he stared up at the younger man
he could tell Chip was looking past him rather than making full eye
are one of the most predictable people I know.”
Righteous indignation. Realization. Action.” Nelson
paused and leaned back to give the younger officer time to think about
his words. “Those were the stages you went through. You always do,
every time Lee or I leave the boat in your hands and you have to come
get us. I do think you usually hide your indignation quite well. This
time it led you to Seaview’s rescue and our rescue. Am I right?”
nodded, unsure where this was headed.
know what I did might lead you to think I had no faith in you. I
didn’t doubt you, Chip. I had absolute faith in how you would respond
and that made it easier to take the risks I did.”
enigmatic mask remained firmly in place as Nelson continued.
Lee and I go into some very dangerous locales. But you have it tougher.
You get the crew, the boat and
us to take care of. And you are good at it,” Nelson added with a
chuckle. “Though we do leave you in the dark probably more often than
we should. Let’s work on that changing that, starting now.”
pointed to the seat across from his desk. “Take a seat, Mr. Morton. I
have some things to tell you about our last mission. Even Lee doesn’t
know some of it.”
slid into the chair as Nelson stood and walked over to open the door.
When Lee entered he smiled and greeted his friend and XO and Chip
quickly produced his own broad smile. Once Lee was also seated the
admiral began relating the details of the cruise, this time leaving out
very little. The captain was amazed by all the things that had been
going on while he occupied both Admiral Mandel and the defector Volz.
what about the electronics, Admiral?” inquired Lee
told me on Friday night there was a problem but I never knew exactly
which items had been tampered with until I received the drawings. By
then it was too late to get replacements for everything. I decide to
bypass all of our normal equipment and just put some contingencies in
place. I kept Sharkey pretty busy. We had to make our date with Volz and
his sensors, no matter what.”
then asked about Volz. “So what was his role in all of this?”
hasn’t said a word but from what we’ve been able to put together, he
was supposed to treat the Seaview like a trained seal. He led us through
a series of maneuvers that caused us to use most of our equipment under
both normal and battle conditions. All the while Dr. Zhu was recording
and creating a profile of every single sound. They wanted to be able to
corner us at some later date and capture Seaview and perhaps our
missiles for their own use.”
shook his head in amazement. “Complicated plot to say the least,
Admiral. The small issues with the electronics were just a way to get us
to demonstrate our capabilities. Speaking of capabilities what about
that sub? It seems she was pretty capable…and dangerous.”
is one of the loose threads of the operation that still worries me. It
appears that sub has the ability to dive almost as deep as Seaview. I
don’t like the thought of her lurking out there somewhere.”
nodded in agreement.
admiral then looked over at Morton, who had remained silent throughout
the conversation. “Problems, Chip?”
most concern to Chip was the display that started it all for him, when
he was sent off the boat. While he knew he wasn’t perfect in any
sense, he had to maintain the respect of the crew to be a successful
exec. He needed to know where he stood.
what about Admiral Mandel’s accusations?”
Mandel had been reluctant to share any information with either myself or
Jiggs about his investigation. After I found out he had information on
our transactions with SamsonTech, I called Jim and told him to make
copies of what he had found and send them to me. It was important that I
got them before we sailed. I had a lot to get done in a short time.”
sat very still waiting for the rest of the story.
I saw what was involved I knew I needed a backup plan. That plan
looked at his blonde friend with concern. He knew what Nelson was about
to say. Chip was as dedicated as they came but the thought of his being
used as a pawn in a chess game was not going to sit well with him, even
if he said nothing of it to them. True to his nature, Chip remained
silent and as stoic as ever.
knew you would inspect the cargo, though I wasn’t sure what the
outcome of that would be exactly. I planted the copies of the schematics
in your cabin, along with the charts and the course plotting that I
generated. Mandel took that bait and went full tilt after you, giving me
time to put my contingency plan in place.”
XO sat taking in all of what he heard. In effect he was a game piece to
be played. That was what a military career was about. He took solace in
knowing he was moved around the board by a master; one Harriman Nelson.
suppose I should have said something earlier, to both of you but I
didn’t want to tip off any of the crew since they might expose my
plans to Volz. In any event, Admiral Mandel is now very aware of your
role in this and you shouldn’t be hearing from him again about it.”
was relieved. He even managed a small smile. “Thank you, sir. That
rose and turning to his CO he tried a bit of humor. “Well I have a lot
of work to catch up on. My boss is such a task master.”
he is!” Lee said as he winked.
nodded to both men and left the two in the office.
I have a question.”
was Kowalski’s role in all this?”
smiled. “What do you think?”
is the best sonar man we have but you still felt the need to send him
off the boat. I guess Chip needed him more than we did.”
you going to tell Chip?”
underestimate your exec, Captain. I bet he figured it out on his own.”
you were pretty devious on this mission. It’s one for the books.”
time I’ll have to be even better.”
Lee laughed out loud.
hope not, sir. I sincerely hope not!”