Deadly Impact--A Richard Mariner nautical adventure

BOOK: Deadly Impact--A Richard Mariner nautical adventure
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Table of Contents


Recent Titles in the Mariners Series from Peter Tonkin

Title Page



100 Hours to Impact

99 Hours to Impact

88 Hours to Impact

84 Hours to Impact

75 Hours to Impact

70 Hours to Impact

69 Hours to Impact

68 Hours to Impact

66 Hours to Impact

63 Hours to Impact

60 Hours to Impact

57 Hours to Impact

55 Hours to Impact

53 Hours to Impact

50 Hours to Impact

48 Hours to Impact

42 Hours to Impact

39 Hours to Impact

36 Hours to Impact

35 Hours to Impact

32 Hours to Impact

30 Hours to Impact

28 Hours to Impact

25 Hours to Impact

23 Hours to Impact

20 Hours to Impact

18 Hours to Impact

12 Hours to Impact

6 Hours to Impact

4 Hours to Impact

2 Hours to Impact


240 Hours After Impact

Recent Titles in the Mariners Series from Peter Tonkin





TITAN 10 *
















available from Severn House

Peter Tonkin


This ebook is copyright material and must not be copied, reproduced, transferred, distributed, leased, licensed or publicly performed or used in any way except as specifically permitted in writing by the publishers, as allowed under the terms and conditions under which it was purchased or as strictly permitted by applicable copyright law. Any unauthorised distribution or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the author's and publisher's rights and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly.


First published in Great Britain and the USA 2014 by


9-15 High Street, Sutton, Surrey SM1 1DF.

eBook edition first published in 2014 by Severn House Digital
an imprint of Severn House Publishers Limited

Copyright © 2014 by Peter Tonkin.

The right of Peter Tonkin to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988.

British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data

Tonkin, Peter

Deadly impact. – (A Richard Mariner adventure; 28)

1. Mariner, Richard (Fictitious character)–Fiction.

2. Piracy–Fiction. 3. Liquefied gas carriers–Fiction.

4. Remote control–Fiction. 5. Sea stories.

I. Title II. Series


ISBN-13: 978-0-7278-8365-0 (cased)

ISBN-13: 978-1-7801-0511-6 (ePub)

Except where actual historical events and characters are being described for the storyline of this novel, all situations in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to living persons is purely coincidental.

This ebook produced by
Palimpsest Book Production Limited,
Falkirk, Stirlingshire, Scotland

For Cham, Guy and Mark, as always.
And with thanks to Jason Prout.

100 Hours to Impact

iquified Natural Gas Transporter
heads out of Rat Island Pass west of Hawadax Island, through Alaska's Aleutian Island chain from the Arctic Ocean's Bering Sea south into the North Pacific. It is ten minutes before six a.m., ship's time, twelve hours adrift of London time and slightly out of synch with the Hawaii-Aleutian Daylight Time of the nearest land. In this as in so much else, the great ship is a law unto herself. But
is precisely on schedule.

pushes south out of one ocean into another, from a distance she seems to be like any of the other ships which follow the route from North America to the Orient. But she is not. A close observer would note her strange, bulging foredeck that looks like the hull of a second, smaller vessel secured upside down between her forepeak and her bridge house. This white steel whaleback covers the upper hemispheres of the huge spherical gas tanks containing her cargo. It stands so high that the stumpy little bridge house seems only just tall enough to peep over it. The restricted view from the command bridge is not important, for she is being guided by her on-board GPS system, not a helmsman or watch officer.

The nearest thing she has to a captain is her main command programme which governs the systems controlling her engines and rudder as well as those overseeing her cargo and her security. The only thing it does not control is the black box voyage recorder which transmits its information separately from all the other systems on board. She is as independent of humanity as she is of their terrestrial time zones. Keen eyes might note that there is no one about any of the numberless jobs which usually need doing when a vessel is at sea. But even the keenest eyes would never discern that she is being guided by computer – and by computer alone. There is not one living crewman on board her. She is, in effect, the world's largest robot.

Deep in that strange little bridge, instead of a complement of officers and men, stands an on-board system which is even now – at six a.m. precisely according to the on-board chronometer – reporting
's position to a satellite in low orbit above, confirming the information sent by the black box. She is exactly five one point five seven one degrees west and one seven eight point four four three degrees north. She is experiencing a counter-current that threatens to slow her. The satellite immediately contacts her ship's management systems. These in turn adjust the steam turbines powering her, raising the revolutions, the pitch of the propellers driving her and the angle of the rudders guiding her.

Likewise, the control systems have just reported her heading as two hundred and fifty degrees exactly – with no adjustment necessary for magnetic variation, because the GPS satellite observes with absolute accuracy precisely where on the surface of the globe she is – and knows her heading with extra-terrestrial exactness. She is as independent of the magnetic forces that affect navigators' compasses as she is of human time. The computers helm her along her pre-programmed course with complete exactitude no matter what the pressures of wind, weather, tide or current. And that course lies along the Great Circle route towards her destination at the newly constructed NIPEX floating gas storage facility and terminal off the Kashima-Nada Sea Terminal, Choshi City, Japan. She is due to arrive there in precisely one hundred hours: four days and four hours. In ship's time that will be 10 a.m. on the morning of the fifth day, but on arrival
will come under the control of Japan Standard Time, which will stand at 6 a.m., local.

The NIPEX terminal, still remote in time and distance from
, stands at the point of a promontory protecting the floating city of Kujukuri, which is currently taking shape in the bay immediately south of it, east of Tokyo City. The floating city is designed to extend the metropolis already there, to add much-needed living space to the mega-city covering the Boso Peninsula. It is a child of the Shinzo Abe administration's neo-Keynesian policy of government investment in infrastructure development – and of that overwhelming need to house people in the megalopolis of Tokyo and the suburbs closest to it.

and her sisters begin their regular LNG runs, the whole area, on land or sea, will be powered by the brand-new NIPEX gas-fired power station there. In the meantime, the power to the growing city – and to those still building it – comes from the Bashnev/Sevmash floating nuclear facility
, which will be tugged away from the nervously anti-nuclear islands as soon as NIPEX is fully operational. NIPEX has been co-financed by the Heritage Mariner Shipping Company, which is expanding eastwards much as BP once expanded westwards.
herself has been entirely financed by them, though her insurance is with a Lloyds of London syndicate. The profits promised by the overlapping projects are all-but incalculable. But so are the dangers.

Consequently, once an hour, on the hour, a zipped file of information is flashed at light-speed from the ship's management systems via the satellites monitoring
to a control room on the top storey of Heritage House in London. The file is also copied to Mitsubishi in Kobe, who are responsible for the engineering, and to the NIPEX facility in Choshi, where a team stands ready twenty-four seven to take remote control of the ship in case anything major goes wrong – like the USAF handlers in Creech Base, Indian Springs or their British counterparts at RAF Waddington, controlling drones in the skies above Afghanistan.

heads sedately into the North Pacific, the low sun outlines the chain of islands through which she has just passed and the vastness of the Arctic Ocean to the north behind them. It also illuminates the windswept hunk of land that has been recently rechristened with its Aleut name
after the rats that had caused it to be known as
Rat Island
since the 1820s were finally exterminated. The near-horizontal sunbeams also illuminate an arrow-head of fast rigid inflatable boats or RIBs racing out of the shadows on the dark side of Hawadax Island. Like a squadron of black jet fighters, they power across the calm dawn seas of Rat Island Pass towards
's cliff-like stern. They bounce across the big vessel's wake, catching up with arrogant ease thanks to their big, powerful outboards capable of twice
's top speed. Within a very few minutes, the RIBs are clustered around the huge vessel's stern.

Each is packed with men dressed in black cargoes and roll necks under black bulletproof vests. They wear black boots and gloves. Some of them wear black balaclavas while the rest carry them. They all wear MTM black-faced combat watches so precisely synchronized that the seconds click by in unison. The men in the bows put stubby rifles to their shoulders, aiming high. Lines soar upwards. Hooks grapple on to the aft safety rails – positioned to protect the long-departed skeleton crew and the pilot who guided
out of the LNG facility in Anchorage and down to the Unimak Pass. There she had joined the Great Circle Route heading north into the Bering Sea, and gone into full automatic mode. Lines allow the first few men to swing up over the stern. Once they are safely on the poop, under the shadow of the one big twenty-four-seater lifeboat that hangs there sideways behind the truncated bridge, it is only a matter of moments before they have set up winches to pull the rest of the men on board – and the bags and boxes of equipment they have brought with them.

As the RIBs cut loose and race back, the men beneath the lifeboat set to work. The bags and boxes are opened. A range of equipment is unpacked. The tallest man seems to be the leader. He opens his silver laptop and brings up a schematic of
's bridge and internal sections, overlaid with her safety and security systems. As his companions finish emptying the boxes, he examines the vessel's most intimate systems with pale, cold eyes, nodding with satisfaction as everything he sees seems familiar, just as he'd expected it to be for a state-of-the-art LNG transporter. Around him, the bustle of activity slows and ceases. The others, kitted up, look expectantly at him. ‘You know your points of entry,' he says in English, coloured with a Dutch accent that could come from Amsterdam or South Africa. ‘You know what you have to do.'

BOOK: Deadly Impact--A Richard Mariner nautical adventure
13.75Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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