“Captain McGill, Sir, I can’t make that out. Do you know what that is, Sir?”
“Yes, I do, son. Mr. Nelson, recognize that?”
“Russian. Typhoon class– Akula. Sounds like our old friend Grigoriy and the Sakharov, Captain.”
“How do you guys…uh, Sirs, know that?”
“That’s why we get paid the big bucks, son. Take her down, Mr. Nelson… Sonar, keep it trained on that boat and do not lose him. Now you know what he sounds like.”
“Yes, Captain. I’m recording him.”
The Captain of the Andrei Sakharov hadn’t returned yet. The First Officer, Mikhail Yeltsin, was getting anxious. These early morning outings of Grigoriy’s were violating so many regulations that Mikhail could have arrested the Captain and taken his command with little opposition–normally. However, there was no kinder, more competent man in the Russian Navy than Grigoriy Nikolaevsky and every man on the boat would defend him to his death. Besides, Grigoriy was his brother-in-law.
The Captain finally aboard, the ballistic submarine slowly headed away from the island, easily slipping through the surface water like a warm knife through butter as it submerged off the shores of Maui. So far, no one in the island chain noticed the massive sub dropping off and picking up an early morning surfer for the past three mornings. The First Officer wasn’t naïve. He was sure the Americans knew all about the Akula class sub in American waters. He figured it was for some nefarious reason that the U.S. Navy didn’t engage them…yet. Not even a call from the White House to the Kremlin.
The Captain was of the same mind and already they were closing in on international water. Many in the crew crossed themselves and prayed they hadn’t over-stayed their welcome. There was a small faction that wanted to take on the Americans: show them what the Russian behemoth could do to their pretty, little, toy submarines.
They were nearly in safe water. The crew no longer held their collective breath, but the Captain and the First Officer looked knowingly at each other. The Russians had something equivalent to Murphy’s Law, called, Khrushchev’s Big Mouth. So, when the sonar alarm went off, the two men were not surprised, unlike Khrushchev.
Waiting dead ahead was the ballistic submarine, USS Tennessee, Ohio class–the largest sub ever built for the US Navy. Captain McGill of the Tennessee radioed the Captain of the Sakharov and they exchanged greetings and asked about each other’s family, having met in Moscow a few years back. When the American Captain suggested the Russian surrender his boat for violation of international maritime law, the Russian Captain could not stop laughing. The Russian sub was twice the size of the American sub.
McGill didn’t want to be in the middle of an international incident. After conferring with Command, the Sakharov left without incident. On the return voyage to Pearl, McGill was bothered by the seemingly benign activities of the Russians over the past few days. McGill wanted to know what took place underwater. Divers escorted their Captain to and from the boat. He decided to go take a look.
It took three days but they finally cracked it. As far as they could tell, there weren’t any bombs planted around the island, nuclear or otherwise. There had been two Akula’s, two teams of divers, two captains, two surfers. They were listening in to the Navy’s communications and they used the old trunk lines to do it. It all pointed to spying while looking eccentric.
The Russians were well on their way home. The Sakharov’s Captain knew McGill would solve the enigma of a commanding officer of a Russian submarine, carrying nuclear missiles, jeopardizing his boat just to surf in the Hawaiian Islands. Grigoriy hoped it would make the American laugh. Too bad he couldn’t tell him anything. The American would discover they were using the trunk lines. The American would conclude they were spying–listening in to US Navy communications. Grigoriy laughed. Too bad…too bad for all of them McGill would be wrong. It had nothing to do with spying.
Once More With Feeling #20 at Cognitive Reflection
Photo Prompt: Credit Sardelis
Word Count: 681
Thanks moi for hosting Once More With Feeling
The title of this story refers to “Surfin USA”, 1963, by The Beach Boys.
The US Navy Ohio Class Ballistic Submarine and the Russian Navy Typhoon (Akula) Class Ballistic Submarine do exist as described. Everything else is the author’s imagination.