Managed 562 words today on ABE, almost 25% in. No words yesterday due to life events. So to compensate, here’s the opening to “All Back Emergency.”
“All back emergency!” My command galvanizes the crew into action. The helm rings up “Full Astern” on the speed annunciators while communicating with the engine room spaces over the boat’s intercom.
“Rudder amidships. Steady,” I direct the Helmsman. The Planesman gets, “Neutral on the diving planes.”
The USS Triton III cavitates briefly, clawing at the sea for purchase with its screws. A brief shudder and the submarine is beginning to back along its previous course. Our speed growing by the second.
“Conn, sonar. Range opening now on the undersea cavern,” Sonarman, “Phones” Phillips, manages to keep his voice calm after our near collision with a cave opening too small for the Triton to navigate.
“Damn, it’s got to be the opening the target took! It’s too small for us but not him.” My observation might has well have come from “Captain Obvious” but the crew remains quiet and concentrates on the immediate operation.
Target Alpha is, was, an unidentified submerged object, or USO, we’ve been tracking for nearly two hours. The USO was detected from its splashdown and powered submergence in the South Atlantic roughly three nautical miles from our submerged patrol loiter point. While it was not very quiet, it was fast. It had quickly made it to the South Sandwich Trench just North of the Antarctic Shelf. We followed at ever increasing speed until it ducked into the underwater cavern minutes ago.
Sonar could not identify the USO’s engine noise, wake pattern or cavitation sounds based on our extensive sonar library. Though it was definitely not a biologic, it was also not a known man-made sound.
“All stop! Neutral buoyancy and neutral planes please. I want to hover here above the trench.”
“Aye, Captain, all stop and hover,” said Lieutenant Trask, the Diving Officer on watch.
“Thanks, Ben. Scott, order quiet in the boat please?”
Lieutenant Commander Scott Roche, my Executive Officer, acknowledges, then softly passes the order to the crew via the A1C intercom. Within seconds, the only noise in the boat comes from breathing and the soft swooshes of the ventilators.
Thanks for your attention, you can now return to your regular programming…