NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE STARRING GERARD BUTLER AND GARY OLDMAN
A submarine captain races to prevent World War III in this thrilling adventure.
Below the polar ice cap, an American nuclear submarine moves quietly in the freezing water, tailing a new Russian sub. But the usual, unspoken game of hide-and-seek between opposing captains is ended when the Americans hear sounds of disaster and flooding, and the Russian sub sinks in a thousand feet of water. The American sub rushes to help, only to join its former quarry in the deep.
The situation ignites tensions around the world. As both Washington and Moscow prepare for what may be the beginnings of World War III, the USS Toledo—led by young, untested Captain Joe Glass—heads to the location to give aid. He soon discovers that the incident was no accident. And the men behind it have yet to make their final move. A move only Glass can stop.
Previously Published As Firing Point
|Publisher:||Penguin Publishing Group|
|Edition description:||Media Tie|
|Product dimensions:||4.20(w) x 7.40(h) x 1.60(d)|
About the Author
George Wallace, Cdr. USN Ret., commanded the Los Angeles-class nuclear attack submarine USS Houston. During his tour of duty he worked extensively with the SEAL community developing SEAL/submarine tactics. Under Wallace's command the Houston was awarded the CIA Meritorious Unit Citation.
Don Keith is the critically-acclaimed, award-winning author of more than thirty fiction and nonfiction books. In addition to writing, he sponsors the UNTOLD MILLIONS Project, an effort to encourage the capture and publication of eyewitness accounts of major historical events such as the Great Depression, World War II and other wars, the space program, the Civil Rights struggle, and more.
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The vicious storm raged out of the north, hundred-knot winds lashing the sea, churning waves to the height of a ten-story building before crashing back down with the awesome force of tons of seawater. Wind-driven spray froze into hard bullets that whipped across the maelstrom. Deep gray sky and gunmetal-colored sea blurred into one, the horizon obliterated by the dense fog of driving ice and snow.
Deep beneath the surface of the punishing Barents, the American submarine rocked as gently as a porch swing on a calm summer night. The easy motion was a quiet reminder of the terrible winter storm that raged three hundred feet above. The officers of the USS Miami, SSN 755, were seated around the wardroom table, taking their time finishing their dessert and coffee. The remains of dinner had been cleared. The men still present discussed the day's events and plans for the next. The sub's navigator and engineer half listened as they played cribbage at the far end of the table.
Commander Brad Crawford pushed away an empty ice-cream bowl and leaned back in his chair, stretching mightily.
"So, how is the whale watching going, Doctor? Figured out what they're saying to each other yet?"
Dr. David Croley, lost in his thoughts, looked confused when he glanced up from his own dessert dish. He pushed his reading glasses back up on the bridge of his nose, smoothed down a few wild strands of what was left of his hair, and gave a carefully considered answer to the captain's offhand question.
"The taping is going very well, Commander. Of course, in the strictest sense of the word, we are not trying to determine the content of their communications, only the modality of the interchange."
The tall, balding scientist was the lone non-Navy person at the table. Dr. Croley headed a small team of oceanographers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, on board Miami to study the migration patterns of narwhals. While the animals' summer travels were well documented, little was known about the winter activities of the Arctic-dwelling whales. Few people could see these vocal, sociable, tusked whales during the colder months, the horrible weather up on the surface a prime reason why. The Navy and the Miami were assisting Dr. Croley, allowing him to track the mammals across an entire Arctic winter.
Commander Crawford held up his hands in mock surrender and laughed. "Doc, I just wanted to know how it was going. Are the narwhals cooperating?"
"Of course, of course. I understand," Croley responded. "We are getting some excellent tapes. I think we have found at least six new pods. It is very exciting, doing research out here, being in the same waters with the Monodon monoceros. We could never do this type of research without your submarine. Why, just this afternoon we taped and identified several new types of communications sounds, an especially curious manifestation of harmonic-"
Andy Gerson, Miami's executive officer, jumped to his commander's rescue. "Skipper, it's time for the nineteen-fifteen satellite downlink. Remember? You were going to observe Lieutenant Wittstrom going to periscope depth."
Crawford smiled. The doctor was a nice guy and could even be quite interesting to talk with once you got past all the gobbledygook. When he got wound up on the subject of his favorite whales, the conversations could be interminable. Crawford figured it was much like a submariner talking to civilians. They, too, tended to get verbose, speaking a language not understood by normal folk.
"Yeah, sorry, Doc. I better get up there. Mr. Wittstrom is coming along nicely. He'll make a good officer of the deck when he qualifies. Tonight will be a special challenge for him, though. You better make sure everything is stowed for sea, XO. We're going to get knocked around a lot while we're up there."
Crawford pointed to the overhead as he rose. He stepped out of the wardroom and into the centerline passageway. Barely shoulder-width wide and running from the chief's quarters in the bow to the crew's mess, this hallway was the major artery for the ship. On the port side were the corpsman's diminutive office and the crew's berthing spaces. To the starboard were the wardroom and officers' staterooms. Ladders led from the passageway down to the torpedo room and up to the control room.
Commander Crawford bounded up a ladder and entered the control room. He stepped to the forward starboard corner and watched the sonar repeater for several minutes. The furious storm above them created a din that drowned out most noises a surface ship might make. Miami's sophisticated BQQ-10 sonar system computer enhanced the signals to counteract some of the storm's racket, but it couldn't be one hundred percent effective. Crawford saw no trace of another ship anywhere nearby, nor did he expect one in this lonely stretch of ocean on such a blustery night.
"Okay, Mr. Wittstrom, you ready to go to periscope depth?"
The young junior officer gulped, but his voice seemed assured when he replied, "Yes, sir. I think so. I'm coming up to one-five-zero feet to clear baffles."
Crawford nodded. "All right. Let's go."
As Miami rose from the calm depths, the churning of the sea became more obvious, and the submarine's pitching and rolling increased. By the time she leveled off at one hundred fifty feet below the roiling surface, the sub was rolling more than twenty degrees to either side. The bow rose and fell at least fifteen degrees. By then, everyone had to hold on to something solid just to keep from being thrown off balance onto the deck or down a ladder.
Wittstrom turned the sub to make sure that no ship was approaching them from astern. The sonar was blanked in that direction by the sub's bulk. Its screen still showed only the noise of the storm.
"Captain, no sonar contacts," the junior officer reported. "Request permission to come to periscope depth to copy the broadcast."
Crawford looked hard at the sonar repeater. "Mr. Wittstrom, what is the sea state?"
"Captain, sonar reports a sea state 'eight,' maybe 'nine.'"
Crawford looked up at Wittstrom. "That's what I figure, too. That means wave heights somewhere between thirty and sixty feet. I'd suggest we come around to course 'north' to face into the seas. That will limit the rolls a little."
As Miami swung around to her new course, the rolls calmed a little, but the pitching worsened.
Wittstrom braced himself and shouted, "Number-two scope coming up!"
He reached above his head and rotated the large red ring there. The periscope slid smoothly out of its well. As the eyepiece cleared the well, he snapped down the two black handles and stuck one eye to the eyepiece. He started to walk a slow circle, rotating the scope and looking out at the empty blackness.
That's all there was. Ominous, complete darkness. Not even a hint of light.
Without removing his eye from the scope, he shouted, "Dive, make your depth six-two feet."
Wittstrom continued the slow rotation. Submariners had long since dubbed the waltz he was doing "dancing with the fat lady." He was looking to see if there was any obstacle, like a ship's bottom or an unexpected ice keel, that he could see in time to avoid it when they surfaced. There was not much chance of that in this pitch-black, storm-tossed sea, but it was still necessary to make certain. Rescue was a long, cold ride away.
With Wittstrom satisfied the way was clear, Miami slid up toward the surface. The pitching and rolling worsened until she was bucking like a frenzied bronco, rearing wildly in some very cold, wet rodeo. The diving officer and his two planesmen were working with every bit of skill and strength they had to keep Miami on depth, but they were no match for the sea. She was quickly broached, bobbing like a cork on the surface of the seething ocean.
A horrendous crash came from the galley, below the control room. Dish stowage was not equal to the sea's might. Clipboards, books, coffee cups, anything not tied down, fell to the deck and slid noisily fore and aft, port and starboard, as the sub heaved and pitched. Crawford grabbed the stainless steel railing surrounding the periscope stand and held on with both hands.
They couldn't waste much time up here. Someone could get hurt. Mercifully, the radioman soon announced over the 21MC circuit, "All traffic aboard and accounted for."
Crawford was just opening his mouth to order the boat back down when Wittstrom beat him to the punch, shouting, "Diving Officer, make your depth three hundred feet. Lowering number-two scope."
He reached up and snapped the red ring clockwise. The scope slid back into the well as Miami once more headed to the peaceful calm of the depths.
There, it promised to be much safer on this particular night.
* * *
ÒDmitri, how is the testing going?Ó
Alan Smythe stepped into the elevator just ahead of the man who ran his company's testing department. He pushed the button for the twenty-seventh floor while the door hissed shut, and then he leaned back against the rail as the car whooshed upward.
Dmitri Ustinov glanced over at the slightly built Englishman as if he might not have heard the question. Although a mere twenty-two years old, Ustinov possessed a keenly trained intellect hidden in a bear's body. Despite his heavy, continuous brow, droopy eyelids, and a stooped stature that made him appear on first glance a bit dense, the man possessed a unique skill set well suited for his present project. His knowledge of complicated computer systems along with his familiarity with the inane, convoluted rules for trading stocks and other securities was already well celebrated. Even at his young age, he was the chief engineer for testing the revolutionary new OptiMarx equities trading system.
"Problems with the integration to the National Market System," he answered as they glided past the fifteenth floor. His accent still carried a hint of his native Russian though he had been in the United States for a decade. "The Securities and Exchange Commission is looking at how we are doing that. It will be several weeks until we get a ruling out of them."
Smythe grunted acknowledgment. Damn government bureaus worked on their own timetables. He was accustomed to such roadblocks, but they were still hard to stomach. "What does Chuck Gruver over at the NYSE say?"
"Not a lot of help. He is so damned head up and ass down in the changes to the Intermarket Trading System that he does not have time to help us on this side."
"Not surprised. About time they fixed ITS. That ticker tape should have been donated to the Smithsonian a long time ago." The elevator door parted and they walked out into the large open office space of OptiMarx, Inc. The big room was divided into a myriad of cubicles. Alan stepped to the left, toward the hallway that led to his office, while Dmitri headed to the right. Smythe stepped into his corner office. Opposite the door, the room's glass wall looked out from the New Jersey shore, across New York Harbor, past the Statue of Liberty toward Lower Manhattan. Ferries scurried across the Hudson River to the north as helicopters buzzed back and forth between the heliports on either shore. Smythe slid into the modern black leather chair behind the smoked-glass desk, the panoramic view now at his back. He had hardly begun riffling through his morning e-mail before the intercom on his desk buzzed its annoying interruption.
Without even a "good morning," his omnipresent executive assistant, Cheryl Mitchell, announced that Mark Stern wanted to speak with him. He sounded, she noted, "Pissed, as usual."
Mark Stern was the leading investment partner for the West Coast venture capital firm Private Pacific Partners. It was Stern and PPP who were providing the stacks of cash that kept Alan Smythe and OptiMarx afloat.
Smythe grimaced. He took a deep breath before he picked up the telephone and spoke. "Morning, Mark. You're up early. It's . . . what . . . six o'clock out there on the coast?"
"Alan, I know damn good and well what time it is," Stern growled. "My question is, do you? We've shoveled over fifty million into that company of yours to date. So far, all we've gotten for our money are more and more delays. That excuse you have for a chief technology officer is giving us some cockamamie story about 'ITS' and 'SIAC' and 'POPs' and half a dozen other acronyms that make no sense to us at all. We don't want alphabet soup, Alan, unless it's 'ROI.' We want return on investment. Is that so hard to understand?"
Cheryl had stepped into the office to deposit a stack of folders on his desk. Smythe hit the mute button on the phone and muttered under his breath.
"Damn VCs. They have egos the size they think their dicks are and brains the size they really are."
Cheryl waggled her finger and looked at him over the tops of her half-glasses. "Play nice," she mouthed, then turned and left. Smythe unmuted the phone.
"Mark, calm down. We've just had a little delay while the SEC reviews our plan. Couple of days. No big deal. We're still on schedule. Testing the algorithm is going well and that's the tough part. Ustinov is doing a great job."
"Well, maybe you oughta make Ustinov your CTO instead of that idiot Andretti," Stern shouted into the phone.
Smythe held the phone away from his ear while the venture capitalist vented some more. He put the receiver back in place and spoke again, calling on his most soothing voice. "Mark, ease off a bit, old chap. Remember, what we are doing is revolutionary. There are going to be unexpected glitches. Carl Andretti is performing miracles every day. We need him. Now, I'll give you a call this evening, just before I leave for the coast for the board meeting. I'll have the latest numbers for you and an update on the progress. It'll be good news, I promise."
Smythe hung up with a happy "Cheerio!" He massaged the bridge of his nose. God, he hated these calls! Venture capitalists were the worst scum of the world. They had to be endured. They were the ones with the money, after all, and it took money to build empires.
Now, next on the agenda, he would have to deal with that idiot Carl Andretti. He shouted at the door, "Cheryl, get Andretti and tell him I want to see him right away."
"Should he wear his asbestos drawers?" she shouted back.
"It wouldn't be a bad idea!"
Captain Second Rank Sergei Andropoyov climbed the long ladder from the control room to the bridge of the Russian submarine K-475. He loved this new boat, so much more modern than the old rust buckets he had served on so far in his Navy career. Most of those boats were now tied up over at the Polyarnyy main piers, moldering into oblivion.
Excerpted from "Hunter Killer (Movie Tie-In)"
Copyright © 2018 George Wallace.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
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