Chapter Eleven

Until Death Do Us Part

The helicopter searching for the Russian submarine radioed a find. “Located target. The coordinates are 27.49 North and 161.59 East. Do you copy?”

“Mathers copies,” replied a voice from the ship.

“We have visual confirmation. She just surfaced for air. She’s heading due East at about fifteen knots.

The chief looked at the coordinates of the submarine. It was thirty miles to the east of the USS Mathers.

“I figure it will take us a good two hours to intercept if she remains at fifteen knots and doesn’t run. If she decides to run, we know she has the capability to outrun us. Hell, we clocked her at fifty knots underwater! Captain, we need all the power you can give us to intercept her.”

The Captain ordered full throttle and the Mathers was on her way.

Time went by so slowly. All eyes were on the sonar screen just waiting for her to arrive. As it neared the end of the two hours, all eyes remained glued to the sonar screen anticipating the sound of the Russian sub’s propellers. On deck, observers search the radar and seas for the Russian submarine.

“We got her again Chief!” A voice sheepishly called out. “This time we will not lose her, Sir.”

Reliving what happened after that just brought on anxiety attacks to those closest to the incident.

Several weeks past and the USS Mathers was returning to the sight of the incident. During this time, Bubba remained conflicted.

After much thought and prayer, Bubba decided he was going to tell Bob about the incident.

Where do I begin?

Bubba knew that if he trusted Bob with his secret, he ran the risk of admonishment for revealing the clandestine operations that were so portentous.

He knew the risk he was about to take but felt as if he had no choice. The inner turmoil he was experiencing was greater than any punishment the U. S. Navy could subject him to because of his actions.

He knew he wasn’t the same since the incident and that he couldn’t talk to anyone about it.  Yet, Bob seemed to be the only one he could confide in regarding the gravity of what happened.

 “Could I come right out and say it?


He found it difficult to talk to anyone.  He noticed that he lost his temper quickly now and that the nightmares haunted him.  He was terrified of sleep.

Those damn nightmares. Please, please don’t come back – enough, I don’t want to remember anymore! Maybe if I tell someone I will feel better. 

The next day, Bubba went down to sonar to stand his watch.  He could hear a voice over the encrypted transmission line from Grand Marina Explorer.

They were trying to raise the submarine from the floor of the Pacific Ocean!  He paused to listen to the conversation. Operation Snail was in full progress!

The Grand Marina Explorer was equipped with a sling inside the framework of the camouflaged ship.

She draped the sling under the submarine lying on the floor of the Pacific Ocean.  They began to raise the ship up from the depths and were rejoicing over the success they were having.  When they reached the depth of fifty fathoms, something happened.

Suddenly, the submarine started to crack.  The underwater hydrophones picked up a loud screeching sound and then!  Bang!

“What the fuck happened?” a voice came out of the small group surrounding the sonar screen.  Those watching the underwater cameras recording the retrieval of the submarine couldn’t believe what they were seeing.

The submarine was splitting in half!

“Gently, gently.  Now stabilize her”, came a voice over the line.

“We lost the back half of the sub!  Careful now, we don’t want to trigger a nuclear reaction!  Let’s keep what we have and bring her to the surface as quickly as possible.”

Bubba couldn’t believe his ears.  Just then the Chief entered sonar.

“Oh my god, Chief, the damn sub broke in half as they were raising her up.”

“Sailor let me take over the controls.”

The chief could not believe what he was hearing.  They only had the front half of the submarine tethered on the sling!  The Chief gave Bubba back the headset.   Bubba couldn’t believe what he overheard. He couldn’t bear to hear any more,

Not only did we sink that sub, but now we are disturbing their gravesites. 

He put the headset back on and dared to listen.

“Steady we’re still at fifty fathoms and starting to go up.”

Bubba said to himself, please let them raise her without any more problems.

The Grand Marina Explorer continued doing its job.  Fathom by fathom they raised the damaged submarine.  They had the front half of her and that was where the nukes were!  Maybe just maybe they could recoup the items they needed without causing a nuclear explosion.

“We got her!  She’s on the surface and steady!”

As Bubba listened to the voice coming from the Grand Marina Explorer, he said a prayer of thanksgiving to himself.  He was so grateful that nothing else went wrong.

“We are boarding the vessel now.  We’ve got four dead and no action anywhere. What shall we do with the remains?” questioned the chief who was onboard the sub.

A voice came back over the secured line, “We’re sending over cement crypts and we will honorably bury them at sea.”

“Will do, what about the treasure we’re after?”

“Keep looking.  Find it as soon as possible so we can lower her back to where she belongs and get the hell out of here.”

Bubba wondered what the treasure was.

He continued to monitor the conversations and then he heard one word which tweaked his curiosity, that word was encoded.  “Oh my god, they are retrieving the encryption equipment!  It contains the code to decipher our top-secret messages! That’s what this is all about!”

He sat back and thought about everything that just took place.

Bob was coming down the passageway.  It was time for Bubba to be relieved from his duty station and he wanted to talk to Bob.

Bubba intercepted Bob as he neared sonar.

“Bob, I need to talk to you.  Do you have some time?’

“What’s this all about?”

“I need to talk to you NOW!”

“Sounds important, Bubba.  Where do you want to go?”

Bubba thought for a moment then answered, “Let’s go to that quiet corner on the deck where no one can hear me talk.”

Bob looked at him in a very suspicious way and asked, “Are you gay, Bubba?”

Bubba chuckled and replied, “Definitely no”.

At their familiar spot, Bubba sank down to the deck and positioned himself in a way that he was able to see Bob.  In this position, he didn’t have to yell.  It was important to tell Bob what was going on but in a quiet manner.  He was afraid that he would lose control and scream out what was happening.

“Bob, I know I can trust you, right?”

“Of course, you can. Have I ever betrayed a trust you put in me before?  I don’t plan on starting to now.  What’s up?”

“Where do I begin?  I know you were trying to find out why we were going in circles and what was happening to the ship, right?  I know why!”

“Don’t stop and keep me hanging on your every word, spill the beans.”

“The problem is I don’t know where to begin.”

Bob tried to help Bubba by getting him started.  “Okay, Bubba, what do you know about the happenings on this ship?  Bubba, you’ve got to tell me. I can’t stand the suspense.”

“Okay, okay.  Let me start by telling you what happened two weeks ago.”

Bubba took a deep breath and thought to himself “Here I go”.

“Do you remember two weeks ago when we were practicing using the ASROC.”

Bob acknowledged by shaking his head “yes”.

“It was no practice session.  It was a real firing of our ASROC missiles.  We found the Russian submarine and were given the order to ‘sink it’.  We followed orders and we sank it.”

He took a deep breath and looked at Bob.  Bob had a look on his face that was petrifying.

He opened his mouth and uttered, “Oh my god, we didn’t do that, did we?”

“Yes, we did.  There’s more too!”

Bob couldn’t wait to hear what Bubba was sharing with him.

“You know that oil drilling ship that’s out there? It’s the Grand Marina Explorer!

She’s retrieving the submarine we sank and raising her up to the surface. You can’t see it because it is cloaked in secrecy.  The center of the ship is open to the ocean and when the sub is raised, it will be brought to the surface inside the ship!”

“Wow!  Now that’s some science fiction idea, isn’t it?!

“Honest Bubba I swear on my mother that I never will tell anyone, never!”

“Bob, you know the risk I’m taking by talking to you about this.  I just had to tell someone, and you are my closest friend”.

After taking a deep breath Bubba began to talk about some of the details.  This was the hard part and it took all he had to muster up enough courage to share what was keeping him up at night.

He proceeded to tell Bob that the “sub we sank was caring three nuclear warheads, it is believed that she carried two missiles upfront and one towards the back.  She retrieved some of the encryption equipment from the USS Santa Fe.  Although she was supposed to head back to Russia, they lost contact with her.  They were afraid that she was going “rogue” and headed toward Hawaii to fire her three nuclear missiles.  It was feared that this action would start World War III.  That’s why we intercepted and sank her.  It may have saved the lives of millions if that sub fired the nukes at Hawaii.”

Bob swallowed hard and tried to keep his composure. It wasn’t easy when you know what you did!  Bubba wanted to tell him more but needed a chance to get his thoughts together.

“Bob I can’t sleep at night.”

“All I picture are the four men whose bodies they retrieved from the sub. They were unrecognizable. The effects of the pressure at 37,000 feet distorted the bodies and rendered them unrecognizable. They tested the atmosphere for radiation and detected a high concentration in the sub.  There were two nuclear missiles in the front half of the submarine.  The radiation had to come from the two nuclear missiles.  They discovered they were right – the missiles were the source of the radiation emission.  It was decided to encase the missiles in a cement box to contain the radiation being emitted from them. The sailor’s remains were contaminated too so they put what remained of their bodies into cement caskets to prevent any further radiation leakage”.

Bob wondered how this happened.  Bubba explained “when the submarine sank to the depth of 37,000 ft or over 1,000 fathoms, the pressure was too great on the submarine.  At that depth, bolts and welds would have so much pressure on them that they would pop.  The struts in the body of the submarine would also be under distress due to the extreme pressure forced on it.  The extreme pressure at that depth would have caused an implosion.  The force itself causes the subsidence of the vessel. The ground beneath it moves causing stress on the structure itself.  Water rushes through the tiniest hole with such force that you would not be able to stop it.  All this compression on the submarine structure compromised the soundness of the entire submarine.

Water thrust through the weakened area of the submarine. The high pressure exhumed the telltale signs of an imminent implosion.  It was no wonder the Grand Mariner Explorer had a difficult time raising L-154.  This phenomenon caused much damage to the submarine and its contents.  The damage could not be assessed prior to raising the submarine.

It was unimaginable to picture the destruction done to the submarine by the torpedo and the implosion.  Even the bodies of the sailors turned into an unrecognizable form of a body.  It wasn’t a pleasant sight.”

Bubba continued,” There were two nuclear missiles in the front half of the sub.  We were able to rescue those missiles.   It was later discovered that when the USS Santa Fe was captured, a Russian airplane flew into Upper Nappeun with an unknown mission.  Later, the consensus assumed the plane was there to take back to Russia as much of the encryption code equipment as possible.

The Grand Marina Explorer is here to finish the job and extract the last part of the encryption equipment that was on L-154. About a year ago when the Santa Fe was captured, the Russians stole some of the encryption equipment from the captured spy ship.  The loss of the encryption equipment costs many of our men their lives because the enemy was able to detect their whereabouts.  The enemy was able to translate our top-secret movements and intercept our troops.

Bob stared off over the ocean.  “How could I have been on this ship and not realize that all this was going on?”

He felt as if he wasn’t paying as much attention to his surroundings as he should have.

Bubba reassured him that only those with top-secret clearances were involved in this undertaking.  If he hadn’t been in sonar at the time of the event, he probably wouldn’t have the slightest idea what was going on around him.

Bubba continued to explain to Bob that he couldn’t sleep, he didn’t have the desire to live anymore and the sadness he felt inside was eating him alive.

“Just the thought of those innocent sailors going down because it was something that I did! It seems as if I’ve gotten high on LSD.  I did it and I have to face the fact that the deaths of those sailors rest with me.  It was my hand that helped to fire the weapon.  What have I done?  This is tearing me up inside.  I wonder if I will ever be able to close my eyes and not see the horrible death those sailors faced.”  He couldn’t get these thoughts out of his head.

“I’m consumed with these thoughts and feelings. Bob, I don’t know what to do.”

Bob thought for a second and then told Bubba what was on his mind.  “You’ve changed, and I think you need to talk to a doctor when we get in port.  In the meantime, I am here for you.  Just think of what you’ve been through in the past few weeks.  My God, your eighteen years old and experienced more than most men twice your age.

Bob paused for a few minutes and debated whether he should continue to share his thoughts.  This was a tough decision.  Look what he shared with me.  I need to see if I can help him.

“Bubba, I’m not a doctor, but my grandad was.  I used to stay with him when I was little.  He’d take me on his rounds when he saw patients.  I remember one time we went to visit a young man who just came back from the war.  He couldn’t have been more than twenty-one years old.  He was having difficulty fitting back into his environment.  He had many of the symptoms you are experiencing.  My grandpa talked to him and told him it was called “shell shock” back in those days.  I think they changed the name to psychiatric problems, I’m no doc, but maybe that’s what is beginning to happen to you.  Grandad told the solider that it takes about six months to manifest itself.   I’ll be here for you and we will just be finishing up this tour of duty. You’re going to be all right.”

“I really appreciate the fact that you’re trying to help me. If I go to the Doctor when we get in port, they are going to take away my top-secret clearance and I may even be kicked out of the Navy. I don’t want that. I’ll deal with it and hope the nightmares stop soon.”

There was a silence shared by both and they just stared off into the ocean.  It was the ocean that kept many secrets.

Bubba looked at Bob, “Now the ocean is quiet, peaceful and beautiful, but within hours she has the ability to change and turn into a violent, raging sea.  Do you think that maybe, just maybe the ocean suffers from psychiatric problems?”

<<<<<< The Beginning | Next Chapter >>>>>>

 

 

 

 

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