Chapter Twenty Six-Plans
Pre-departure activity around the half submerged tethered black submarine was typically abuzz as the crew and their officers made final preparations for their multi month mission. The majority of the crew had already stowed their gear and the food supplies were almost completely stored. Immediately in front of and behind the conning tower were two portable elevators, which were used to lower pallet sized loads into the Nebraska. In years past everything from toilet paper to torpedoes had to be loaded manually, now the elevators made this task much easier and more importantly, much faster.
Captain Miller’s role during the final stages before setting sail; were enormous. When the Captain was on board, it is called ‘owning the ship’, and when you ‘own the ship’ everything from band-aids to bullets falls on your lap. Jack had to make sure that not only was the Nebraska ready to go, but he needed to visit an open hatch every ten or fifteen minutes to see if he had messages on his cell phone.
Carrying his omnipresent clipboard with multiple checklists, Jack climbed up the sets of ladders through the conning tower, which gave a bird’s eye view of the activity below. Looking towards the front or bow of the sub was a couple of armed guards. The sailors who were on guard duty wore their blue coveralls, affectionately called ‘poopy suits’ and carried loaded M16 automatic rifles. Looking at the rear or stern of the Nebraska was a couple more armed guards and the sailors that maintained the hydraulics that operated the missile system hatches. These men were checking the individual hatches that sealed the silos where the 24 Trident D-5 nuclear missiles would be ejected from, should the need arise.
Looking over towards the parking lot Jack recognized the blue Ford pick up truck that just pulled in. The SEAL Graham had parked and jogged towards the sailor guarding the gang plank that allowed access to the Nebraska. Jack saw the sailor giving Graham the third degree about his business aboard ship, and checked the small bag he was carrying thoroughly. Jack made a shrill whistle to get the guards attention. Looking up at Jack; he motioned to the sailor to let Graham through. Graham looked up at the Captain and waved as he walked past the sentry. As Graham made his way across the gang plank, Jack saw Popeye Adams marching across the parking lot towards the sub. Jack started back down the conning tower into the heart of the Nebraska to meet Graham; he didn’t get far before a Petty Office 1st Class button-holed him regarding an issue with one of the external antennas.
Graham quickly made his way inside the Nebraska and negotiated through the hallways, allowing others that were coming past him right of way. Finding Executive Officer Arlen White, he asked to see “The Doc”.
“Follow me.” XO White breezed his way through the ship and down two flights of stairs to a small cubicle not much larger than a typical telephone booth. Inside the small room sat Tony ‘Doc’ Walters, Independent Duty Corpsman. XO White quickly left to complete his other tasks.
Looking up at the SEAL “Hi, are you with that group that was here earlier?” The Doc, respecting security issues didn’t come out and say SEAL’s.
“I am, Troy Graham, SEAL Team 2” Graham extended his hand
Accepting his hand “Tony Walters, everyone here just calls me Doc, nice to meet you…” Turning around and opening a small cabinet “…I guess you want your chip out too?”
“Yes…and I want you to put one in.”
“What?...” Doc Walters looked at Graham a little confused “…alright, I can do that.” The Doc took out a fairly large syringe and a small bottle of topical anesthetic, alcohol swab and a band aid. Laying his tools in a stainless steel tray, he positioned himself behind Graham and after finding the embedded Encompass chip, cleaned the area with the swab and then anesthetized the area. After a moment to allow the anesthetic to work he expertly inserted the needle and withdrew Grahams chip, then covered the area with a band aid. Once he was finished, the Doc expelled the plastic rice sized ID onto the tray.
Captain Miller had finished giving directions regarding the antennae and made his way to the Doc’s office. Poking his head through the door “Hi Graham, I see you’ve met Doc Walters.”
Graham looked over at the Captain “Yes sir, the Doc just finished taking one out…and now we’re going to put one back in.” Graham took out of his pocket the foil package that contained the larger blue chip which taken from the dead spotter and opened it. “Our asset…” Graham didn’t know what to call Jonathan “…has a theory about this. He read where this company has developed a way of generating small amounts of electrical energy from blood fluids. His theory is that this thing might generate enough juice to send out signals on its own. I’m going to be his guinea pig.” Graham looked at the Doc and holding out his left forearm. “Right in the forearm, Doc.”
Captain Miller looked at Graham “So, if this thing can generate a signal…” Jacks voice trailed off as he immediately thought of the two “guests” that would be joining them on this mission. “…Make sure you let me know about this, ok? As a matter of fact, here is my cell number…” Jack wrote his number on a small piece of paper he took off of his clipboard “…you can leave a voice or text message if I don’t answer ok?”
“Yes sir” Graham said as he winced when the Doc inserted the needle into his forearm to inject his new chip. Once finished, Graham handed Jack the small bag with the two satellite cell phones and their adapters. “These are for Mr. Martin, sir” Graham then left the Nebraska and drove to the Sonar Testing Facility to pack his gear and prepare for the trip to Maryland.
The Seahawk had landed on The Sullivans and was secured to the aft deck when Commander Benson received a call from the Air Boss of the USS Ronald Reagan. “Commander Benson, this is Commander Wilson of the Reagan…where’s our Seahawk?”
“Commander, your Seahawk is being checked for a hydraulic leak, and then will depart shortly.”
Aboard the Reagan Commander Marion ‘Snake’ Wilson stood on the mid level of the three leveled bridge. The confusion of a non-pilot giving order to one of his pilots regarding a flying matter was irritating to him. “Alright Commander, let me know when the ‘Hawk is airborne.” With that said the Air Boss ended the communication. Turning to the Executive Officer of the Reagan, Captain Lund he shrugged his shoulders at the delay.
“What’s that all about Snake?”
“I don’t know sir…I’ve got a funny feeling about this.”
The Sullivans slowed to 18 knots allowing the helicopter to lift off safely with their new passenger Commander Benson. The Commander gave control of the destroyer over to XO Sparks before climbing aboard the Seahawk. Lt. Cmdr Wendy Chen made a perfect lift off from The Sullivans and headed towards the Reagan at full speed. As she was leaving the Lt Cmdr started to make a call to the Reagan about their departure and their new passenger. Dick Benson got her attention through all of the noise of the open door helicopter and asked her not to say anything over unsecured lines. Through the intercom Commander Benson began to tell the pilot and co-pilot the reason for his trip to the Reagan. The helicopter wobbled slightly as the two flight officers turned in disbelief of the story Dick was telling them.
The flight to the Reagan was mercifully quick as The Sullivans had closed the distance between the two ships. The first view of the Reagan as they were coming into her flight pattern was one of awe. The Reagan is huge by any standards, as she has to be humongous in order to allow her 80 combat aircraft to operate. The four and a half acre flight deck exaggerated the postage stamp sized deck on The Sullivans, Dick Benson was glad to be here. He hoped there was still time.
The Seahawk landed where it was directed to by the LSO or Landing Signal Officer. The helicopter was immediately placed on a special roller pad and towed to one of the massive elevators, where the rotors were folded together into one large fan shape and then the elevator abruptly dropped out of sight below the flight deck. Commander Benson promptly headed for the nearest stairs and quickly lost track of how many flights of steps he had to climb before reaching the bridge where the Reagan’s Commander, Captain Charlie ‘Bull’ Warner was.
Pausing before he entered to catch his breath, Commander Benson entered. Captain Warner looked over at Commander Benson “Dick…what the hell are you doing here?”
Still breathing heavily “Sir, I have some serious news that you have to hear.”
“Commander…we do have radios.”
“Yes sir, I know that…but we are being monitored…” Dick paused “…and you have to hear this first hand.”
Captain Charlie ‘Bull’ Warner was a stout and stern Captain, not given to pleasantries…especially where the Reagan and it’s battle group was concerned. “Alright Dick, go ahead.”
Commander Benson looked around the room at the other personnel, his body language said that he would like for this to be private.
“Clear the bridge.” Captain Warner would give his destroyer Commander a moment of privacy.
Commander Benson spoke as the bridge cleared out. “Sir I just spoke with Captain Jack Miller of the Nebraska…” the mention of the name Nebraska put this conversation in a different light “…he says that the Rescue Buoy that we are sending to Norfolk, has some information on it that proves our subs are being intentionally sunk…” Bull Warner looked at Dick and said nothing “…he said that the ADCAP torpedoes have been sabotaged, and that if they are hit with a certain signal, they explode inside the boat.”
Bull Warner looked over at his XO and the Air Boss. “Are you guys playing a joke on me?”
The XO and Air Boss shook their heads no.
“OK, so how does Captain Miller know this?” Captain Warner asked.
“I don’t know sir.” Commander Benson answered
“So then, it’s just a theory…” Bull then continued “…Commander, this conspiracy theory that you are propagating, do you know how damaging that is to the crews morale?...” Looking at Commander Benson sternly “…do you know how many conspiracy theories we hear about on a daily basis?”
Cmdr Benson shook his head no. “No sir.”
“We have almost 6,000 men and women on board...and we hear about 6,000 conspiracy theories ever day.”
Commander Benson pleaded “Sir…think about it for a minute…if what Captain Miller is saying is true…then that puts our past nine months in perspective doesn’t it sir?”
“What do you mean?”
“Ok, we’ve been at sea for nine months now…doing what?...” Dick paused to let the answer percolate “…checking for illegal fishing along the West African coast?...” pausing again “…how many times in the past nine months have we been re-supplied with ordinance?”
Captain Warner just had his hot buttons pushed, twice. “Not once”
“In fact we have been made to DUMP perfectly good ordinance overboard…because it’s ‘expired’…” pausing again “…Captain, you know as well as I do that properly maintained ordinance isn’t like a jug of milk which once past it’s due date, goes bad.”
Captain Warner said nothing.
Dick Benson continued “Sir, The Sullivans is about 60% strength…you’re about, what?”
Captain Warner softly and with and edge “About 50%”
Executive Officer Captain Lund spoke “No sir…we are now less than 50%...we had to dump more this morning.”
Captain Warner glanced at his XO and said nothing.
“Captain….if what Captain Miller is saying is true, and those ADCAP’s are sabotaged, that means the last line of defense our country has, is about to be destroyed…and we don’t have the ordinance to back it up, sir.”
The light came on for Bull Warner and he slowly turned red with anger; a large vein appeared along the side of his head. Looking out on the aft flight deck he saw the twin engine propeller driven cargo plane called the Greyhound with the Rescue Buoy as its cargo, preparing to take off for Norfolk. Turning to his XO and pointing to him as an angry parent would to his child “Stop the Greyhound…”
As the Captain was giving commands to the XO, the Air Boss snatched a phone out of it’s cradle and called down to the flight deck; declaring a ‘no go’ for the Greyhound.
Captain Warner continued “…take that Rescue Buoy down to the Techno Weenies and let’s see what it says…I want to hear it for myself…” Looking at the Air Boss “…if Norfolk...I mean The World Naval Force calls…the catapult is down and it will be back up in a bit, understand?”
Air Boss Wilson nodded yes. “Aye, Aye Skipper”
“Captain…there’s more.” Cmdr Benson said
The exchange between the two officers took a decidedly juvenile turn.
“Yes sir…”Enumerating what he was told by Captain Miller by using his fingers to count, Dick Benson started to complete the story “…first of all there are mass graves…” Dick explained what had been found by Captain Miller’s unnamed source, The Troublemaker.
“Are you shitting me?” Captain Warner replied after hearing this. These four words could be used in many contexts and with the proper inflection could take on different meanings.
“I am not shitting you; sir...” was the reply from Commander Benson. “…in addition…” Next, the revelation of the two types of ID chips.
“Are YOU shitting me?”
“I am not shitting you; sir…” next, the genetically alerted foods and the deaths that would result from them.
“Are YOU SHITTING me?”
“I am not shitting you sir…” finally the acquired nuclear weapons and their intent to deliver and use them.
“ARE YOU SHITTING ME!!!?” The Captain was beyond furious.
Commander Benson nodded no.
Captain Warner like many of the command officers onboard naval vessels usually are a sophisticated group. Training, politics and promotions rule with this group. It is a rare thing to hear one swear or to see their ships commander become visibly furious. Bull Warner had been in the Navy for many years and had heard every swear word and its derivative…within the span of 60 seconds he used them all. After his outburst, he calmed himself down and said “I want to speak to Captain Miller.”
Dick gave Bull Warner the Nebraska Captains cell phone number.
Leaving the Submarine wharves, Graham drove along the macadam road and saw Jefferson’s car approaching. Graham stuck his hand out of the window and motioned for the vehicle to stop. Jose Espinoza’s vehicle brought up the rear and stopped behind Jefferson.
“Hey guys” Graham took the foil package which held his personal Encompass chip and tossed it into Jefferson’s car, landing on Martins lap. “I just got my new ID” Graham said smiling as he held up his left forearm.
Gary looked over to the driver of the Ford truck. “You better cover that thing up, or you’ll let them know that you are a resurrected UN soldier…we don’t want to give them any false hopes, do we?” Martin said grinning.
The realization from Graham that he had a live chip showed itself. “Aw crap! Hey I’ll see you all over at the pick-up point…3pm right?” That said, Graham peeled out with the truck and sped off.
Gary and Jefferson laughed and continued on to the Nebraska, with Espinoza and Williams following.
Parking the two vehicles and making their way to the Nebraska, Gary saw the very large black instrument of war and was impressed with the size of this beautiful beast. The guard at the entrance to the gate was told to expect these men, by Captain Miller, and they passed without incident or delay. Crossing the slightly inclined gang plank, the men were ushered to an escape hatch in front of the tall black conning tower or sail. Gary looked around at the sleekness and size of the machine he was about to enter with its rubber like coated surface. The SEAL’s had all been on subs before, it was no big deal to them as they descended down through the opened hatch. To Gary however, nothing on the surface would give any clue as to what lay inside this beast. Descending the steel ladder into the beast, Gary entered another world…a world filled with dials, pipes, gauges, computer screens, knobs of all types and sizes and bustling sailors all doing their assigned duties. Gary stood with the team and he was as impressed as a kid would have been standing inside FAO Schwartz during the Christmas holidays. He had one word for it all. “WOW”
Captain Miller saw the look on Martins face, came over to him smiling said “This is a little better than your cave isn’t it Martin?”
“Jack, this is awesome.”
“Glad you like her, because we sure do.” Jack turned and the group followed him down deeper into the depths of the beast. They went four levels down and entered through the hatch of the torpedo bay, they were in the front or bow of the sub and well below the surface water line. Inside the torpedo room was Popeye Adams, the Torpedomen and the SEAL’s. Looking around Gary saw the eight green nosed ADCAP torpedoes lined up and ready to be loaded into their firing tubes.
“First time on a sub, Pops?” Popeye Adams said to Gary
“Friggin awesome, ain’t it?”
Popeye looked Gary in the eye and said “Alright…so how the hell are they doing this?” Popeye wanted to hear it first hand.
Gary placed his hand on the cool steel of the ADACAP above him. “They are sending some sort of signal through a sonar ping and this thing…” Gary patted the ADCAP “…is turning on and blowing up. It’s in the software and evidently it’s completely undetectable.”
Martin had of heard the term ‘swore like a sailor’, then witnessed it firsthand as Popeye ranted for a good 3-4 minutes. It was at that point another sailor poked his head into the room and addressed the Captain “Captain Miller, our ‘guests’ are arriving…and also the other group that was here earlier.”
“Guests?” Martin asked
“Our Blue Hat buddies that are going to ‘observe’ us.” Jack answered
The four plus one Team grouped together and Martin spoke softly to them “I say we just kill them now.”
All members nodded yes. “I’ll do it” Williams said
“Hey…no you won’t Williams…I’ll do it” Jose said smiling and eager
Goldberg and Jefferson also spoke out and were also volunteering. Gary settled it with a fair and equitable solution “Let’s flip for it.” Everyone reached into their pocket for a coin, which no one had. Martin looked at the Captain who understandably was concerned as he was left out of the conversation “Captain do you have a coin?”
“What are you guys doing?” Jack said as he reached into his pocket
“We’re flipping a coin to see who gets to kill those Blue Hats.” Martin said almost childlike
Jack stood in front of the SEAL and sternly said “No you’re not…they’re mine. You guys aren’t going to take away my fun.”
“You know Jack; you’re getting to be a real spoil sport.” The Troublemaker said smiling.
“Rank has it privileges Martin.” Jack smiled back. Turning to the sailor who announced the arrival of the ‘guests’. “I want you to show them to their quarters, then I want you to take them both on a very long and slow tour of the boat, starting at the stern…I don’t want them up here while we have ‘our guests’. Do you understand?”
“Aye Aye sir. You want me to pigeon hole these guys.” The sailor said smiling, then left. As he was leaving, the other SEAL’s with Commander Toland arrived along with the two Marines, Major Simmons and Sergeant Boltz.
Jack went behind the group and closed and dogged the hatch. “Ok, let’s get this show on the road. Martin, you’ve got the floor.”
Gary addressed the group. “I see two major objectives here. First, we have to stop these Global Hawks from delivering their nukes and second we need to make sure that the Nebraska gets to sea safely….” Pausing momentarily and gaining agreement “…now, within these two main objectives I figure there are four separate missions. They would be…” Gary used his fingers to show a count “… Getting the information from the Rescue Buoy and testing these torpedoes, finding those Air Force guys and have them re-program the Global Hawks, informing China and Russia of our intent and finally…” turning to Jack and handing him a folded piece of yellow note pad “…this is yours.”
Jack opened the paper, read what Martin had written, refolded it and put it in his pocket. “My thoughts exactly.” Jack said
Gary continued and directed his talk to Popeye “Captain Miller has a ship that is getting us the information on the ADCAP’s. I don’t know when they’ll have this completed or where they’ll deliver it…when we know those two things, you job is to make the test, ok?”
Popeye Adams nodded in agreement “You can count on me…” as an after thought, Popeye didn’t know how to address Martin. “…sir.”
Turning to the SEAL’s and the Marines. “We have three jobs to do. The Communications trailers for the Global Hawks are now in Maryland. I don’t know whether they are at Site R, or Ft. Ritchie…” Gary pulled the map from the dead spotter and spread it out. “…you see Site R is clearly marked, as is Ft Ritchie…”turning to the Major “…Major I need you and your men to go to Site R, when you get there, let me know what you see, ok?”
Rob interjected “Martin, we call that a recon.” Then smiled
“Whatever…” Martin gave Commander Toland an irritated but friendly glance “…now, we…” Martin motioned to the SEAL’s Rob and himself “…need to split up into two groups. One group needs to head to San Francisco and inform the Chinese and Russian Ambassadors that they are getting poisoned food and to keep their hands off our country. The other group will go to wherever they are holding these Air Force guys and bring them to either Site R or Ft. Ritchie….” Pausing again “…once we have the Global Hawks taken out then we raise hell with the Blue Hats.” Everyone nodded, especially about raising hell with the Blue Hats.
“Ok, so let’s decide who goes where.” Command Toland said
“I don’t know San Francisco…do you?” Martin replied
Rob nodded yes “I do…so I’ll take Campbell, Walton, Osterman and Tomlinson with me…” motioning to the rest of the Team “…the rest of you go with Martin to get those Air Force guys.”
“Any other questions?” Martin asked
The Marine Major spoke “I do…how are we to communicate with you?”
Jack interjected “Martin, Graham left these for you.” Jack gave Gary the small bag which contained the satellite cell phones.
Gary took one phone out and its DC power connector and handed it to the Major. “Let’s make sure we have our phone numbers, alright?”
The Major nodded and began to check out the Iridium phone.
“One other thing…” Martin, smiling, looked at Rob and the SEAL’s “…we need to make sure you guys are dead.”
Jefferson’s eye opened wide and he spoke “Suh, now this is the second time you’ve brought this up…when-evah you say that, you smile. That’s a little discomfah-ting to me.”
Gary laughed “Look…they are planning to kill you tomorrow, by shooting your helicopter down during this prisoner transfer, right?”
The group nodded yes.
“Ok, so let’s let them think they’ve succeeded…”pausing momentarily “…and here’s how we are going to do it.” Gary spread out a road map that NASCAR Larry had given him of the local area. Everyone gathered around the opened map and The Troublemaker as he pointed to the map and then indicated each individual’s responsibility. When he had finished laying out the plan he looked at his team “Well…what do you think? Can you do it?”
Commander Toland spoke first “I’m impressed…nice.”
Gary looked at Espinoza, Williams and Goldberg who all nodded agreement. It was very apparent they were excited about his plan. Looking at Jefferson. “Well?”
“Suh…I think they-ah a few words to describe this plan of yours. Devilish…undah-handed…bah-baric...and of course, beau-ti-ful. I like it a lot!” Jefferson smiled at his brother.
“Excellent, now let’s get these chips out and make our 3 o’clock appointment.” The Troublemaker smiled.