Authors: Jeff Edwards
THE SEVENTH ANGEL
Copyright © 2010 by Jeff Edwards
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced by any means, graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping or by any information storage retrieval system without the written permission of the publisher except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
The tactics described in this book do not represent actual U.S. Navy or NATO tactics past or present. Also, many of the code words and some of the equipment have been altered to prevent unauthorized disclosure of classified material.
This novel has been reviewed by the Department of Defense and the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (N09N2), Industrial and Technical Security Branch, and is cleared for publication in accordance with Chief of Naval Operations Notice 08-301.
U.S. Navy images used in cover art and other illustrations appear by permission of the Navy Office of Information (OI-3), and Navy Visual News. No endorsement is expressed or implied.
Published in the United States of America
To Vailia Dennis
For a lifetime of friendship, love, and shared wisdom
all squeezed into a few short years.
I would like to thank the following people for their assistance in making this book a reality:
Rear Admiral John J. Waickwicz, USN (Retired), former Commander Naval Mine and Anti-Submarine Warfare Command—for his invaluable technical advice and sharp editorial eye; Lieutenant (junior grade) Bryan Wagonseller of the National/Naval Ice Center for his help in understanding ice formations in the Sea of Okhotsk; Bill St. Lawrence for sharing his extensive knowledge of ice-drilling technologies; Peter Bordokoff, Liza Pariser, and Ian Kharitonov for their exceptional Russian language skills; Captain Valery Grigoriev, Russian Navy (Retired), for his help with Russian naval language and Russian Navy procedures; novelist and former Trident submarine officer John Hindinger for giving me a basic unclassified understanding of ballistic missile trajectories; Master Gunnery Sergeant (EOD) Samuel A. Larter, USMC (Retired) and Sergeant Major R. A. “Skip” Paradine, Jr., USMC (Retired), for answering my questions about Explosive Ordnance Disposal as conducted by the U.S. Marine Corps; Master Modeler Richard Melillo of The Modeler’s Art (TheModelersArt.com) for building me an extraordinary model of the DMA-37 torpedo; Staff Sergeant Justin Schafer, U.S. Army, for help with small arms and the M-4 carbine; Brenda Collins for her diligent assistance in locating map resources and her excellent editorial advice; Robert MacDougall for his help with ballistic missile defense; OS2 Rob Andrews of the U.S. Coast Guard Navigation Center for refreshing my memory on matters of ship navigation; Kenneth R. Gerhart of the Defense Intelligence Agency for answering my questions about defense intelligence, and Maria Edwards, for her impeccable research, skilled editing, and tireless promotion of my novels.
There were other contributors who are not named here, by their own request, or through oversight on my part. In every case, the information I received from these people was superb. Any inaccuracies found here are either the product of artistic license, or my own mistakes. Such errors are in no way the fault of my contributors.
Finally, I would like to thank my editor and friend, Don Gerrard, for knowing when to encourage me, when to challenge me, when to kick me into shape, and when to get the hell out of the way and let me run.
we witness today, in the power of nuclear weapons, a new and deadly dimension to the ancient horror of war. Humanity has now achieved, for the first time in its history, the power to end its history
President Dwight D. Eisenhower
September 19, 1956
And there came a seventh angel, his robe hemmed with fire and the sword of doom in his hand. Written upon his brow was the name of death.
Lost book of the Old Testament
Translation circa 1552, from the private archives of Giovanni del Monte.
Artist’s rendering of MOUSE, Mark I
Used by permission of NORTON DEEPWATER SYSTEMS, Inc.
The deck gun fired again, sending another ninety-six pound naval artillery round thundering into the night. For an instant, the muzzle flash from the big gun stripped away the concealing darkness, revealing the low angular profile of a U.S. Navy destroyer.
The vessel revealed in that microsecond of illumination was strange-looking. The squat pyramid shapes of her superstructure and the steep angle of her mast gave the destroyer very little resemblance to any previous generation of warships.
The flare of light was as brief as a camera flash, gone almost the instant it appeared, and the ship was once again hidden against the dark waves of the Northern Arabian Gulf.
The ship’s name was USS
, and she was the fourth (and last) of the Flight III
Class destroyers. She was a blend of superb naval engineering and cutting-edge military stealth technology, a combination that had caused a great deal of hype and wild speculation.
News magazines had taken to calling her a ‘ghost ship,’ and a growing body of Internet mythology credited the destroyer with capabilities that could only be managed by Hollywood special effects wizards. The reality was impressive enough, but it was considerably short of the myth, and well within the boundaries of known physics.
The vessel’s radar cross-section, infrared profile, and acoustic and magnetic signatures were all severely minimized, and a layer of phototropic camouflage made the ship difficult to detect and track visually. Even so, the
was far from invisible, despite the ever-growing body of myth that surrounded her name.
But hype didn’t matter now, and neither did speculation. USS
was wounded, and she was running for her life.
Three-thousand yards aft of the ship, hidden beneath a dark blanket of seawater, a second torpedo was coming to finish the job that the first had begun. No amount of myth or hype could stop it, or even slow its approach.
The deck gun fired again, and the strange-looking warship was again silhouetted against black water for an instant. The gun barrel was at maximum elevation, and the firing charge was reduced, making the trajectory very high and extremely short. The round crashed into the wave tops a few hundred yards ahead of the ship.
To either side of the bow, the ship’s smaller guns followed with their own lesser furies, hammering .50-caliber machine gun bullets and 25mm chain-gun rounds into the waves just forward of the vessel. It was a tactic of purest desperation.
The ship was surrounded by a field of naval mines, their numbers and locations hidden by black water. Any one of those mines could crack the hull of a warship like an eggshell. The guided-missile frigate USS
Samuel B. Roberts
had learned that lesson the hard way two decades earlier, in this very same body of water, just a few hundred nautical miles to the south. The
had nearly been blown in half. Whether or not
was about to repeat that lesson was still yet to be seen.
Under any other circumstances, the proper tactic would have been to maneuver at two or three knots, locating each mine with the ship’s Kingfisher sonar, and mapping a safe route to the edge of the minefield. But moving slowly was not an option now. The torpedo was getting closer by the second. It was locked on to the ship’s acoustic signature like a cybernetic bloodhound, and the deadly machine was following the trail with a ruthless precision that no living creature could equal.
needed every ounce of speed that her engineers could squeeze out of their wounded vessel. Every fifty yards of forward motion was another second of life. But it wasn’t going to be enough. The torpedo was faster, and—unlike its target—it was not slowed by damage. The weapon was rapidly overtaking the destroyer. The seconds were beginning to run out.
Standing behind the Tactical Action Officer’s chair in the air-conditioned semi-darkness of Combat Information Center, Captain Bowie watched the chase rushing toward its conclusion on the giant Aegis display screens. The fingers of his left hand gripped a steel crossbeam in the overhead, steadying his body against the motion of the ship. His right hand rested casually on the back of the TAO’s chair. His posture was carefully-relaxed, and he concentrated on keeping the tension out of his facial expression.
He knew without looking that the men and women of his CIC team were watching him out of the corners of their eyes. They were measuring his reactions, drawing confidence and hope from the calm assurance of his demeanor.
His crew needed hope right now. They were scared, and they had every reason to be. They were exhausted, and their bodies were bruised and bloodied. More than a few of their shipmates were already dead. Their ship was grievously damaged, and the fight was not over yet.
Bowie ran a hand through his short black hair, and relaxed the set of his shoulders. He looked more like an accountant than a naval officer, and he knew it. His long face and narrow cheekbones gave him an air of clean efficiency, and the slight downturn of his mouth tended to make him look pensive, even in the most relaxed of circumstances. The effect was usually offset by his quick brown eyes and his easy laugh, but there was nothing to laugh about tonight. Nothing at all.