Seas of Crisisby Joe Buff
The Allied Powers continue their uncertain and deadly war against the Fascist Berlin–Boer Axis. The Russians remain ostensibly neutral––but their actions hint at something far more dangerous. When the U.S. discovers that the Russians are providing the Axis powers with weapons technology that could shift the balance of power, Captain Jeffrey Fuller
The Allied Powers continue their uncertain and deadly war against the Fascist Berlin–Boer Axis. The Russians remain ostensibly neutral––but their actions hint at something far more dangerous. When the U.S. discovers that the Russians are providing the Axis powers with weapons technology that could shift the balance of power, Captain Jeffrey Fuller, one of the most decorated heroes in the U.S. Navy, is called in to put an end to this potentially catastrophic Russian involvement.
The plan to punish Russia is audacious. It is bold. And it is potentially suicidal. Jeffrey Fuller's orders are to clandestinely transport commandos to Russia, where they will infiltrate a nuclear missile facility, and fire one of their weapons––at the United States. If the plan is successful, the commandos, posing as German forces, will destroy the missile at it reaches the atmosphere, creating a dramatic shift in global politics and forcing Russia to ally with the United States against Germany.
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Seas of CrisisA Novel
By Joe Buff
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2006 Joe Buff
All right reserved.
Late June 2012
War isn't hell, it's worse than hell, Commander Jeffrey Fuller told himself. He sat alone in his captain's stateroom on USS Challenger, whose ceramic composite hull helped her to be America's most capable nuclear -- powered fast -- attack submarine. Jeffrey's many successes, during tactical atomic combat at sea in a war that the Berlin -- Boer Axis had started a year earlier, had made him one of the most highly decorated submariners in U.S. Navy history. But his Medal of Honor, his two Navy Crosses, his Defense Distinguished Service Medal, and his crew's receipt of a Presidential Unit Citation all put together couldn't dispel Jeffrey's present dark mood.
Challenger was five days outbound from Pearl Harbor, deeply submerged and steaming due north, already past the Aleutian Islands chain that stretched between mainland Alaska and Siberia. She was bound for the New London submarine base, on Connecticut's Thames River, having been sent by the shortest possible route: through the narrow Bering Strait choke point looming a few hundred miles ahead, separating the easternmost tip of pseudo -- neutral Russia from Alaska's desolate Cape Prince of Wales. Jeffrey would sail past Alaska and Arctic Canada. Then he'd sneak through the shallow waters between Canada and Greenland, into the Atlantic, to arrive at home port in two weeks for a reception he already dreaded.
There'd been no medals awaiting Jeffrey or his people at Pearl to recognize their newest accomplishments, despite an earlier message implying there would be. No one was allowed to go ashore. Challenger had been told to hide underwater, off Honolulu, taking on minimal supplies and spare parts via minisub. No admirals came to shake hands, no squadron commodore gave any pats on the back. And Jeffrey was sure he knew why.
He'd broken too many unwritten rules -- too many even for him -- on his latest mission spanning half the globe. He'd stepped on too many toes, made too many well -- placed political enemies in Washington, while exercising initiative that had seemed to make sense at the time. In something that verged on a shouting match, he'd quashed an onboard CIA expert whose advice he was supposed to respect. On his own accord he'd clandestinely violated a crucial ally's sovereignty, planting seeds for what could still become a disastrous diplomatic incident. Worst, while obeying ironclad orders to preserve his own ship's stealth at all cost, he and everyone else on Challenger had had to listen, horrified, doing nothing but flee the fight while dozens of good men -- friends and colleagues -- died under Axis attack in the Med on another American submarine.
And when Challenger had arrived in Australia for crew leave, one of his star performers, Lieutenant Kathy Milgrom of the UK's Royal Navy, who'd served as Challenger's sonar officer on the ship's most vital missions, had been summarily detached. Jumped two ranks to commander, she was now on the Allied naval staff in Sydney. This was terrific for Milgrom, Jeffrey felt delighted for her, but he'd been disturbed that he found out about it only after she got the orders directly and then told him; the way it was handled by the powers -- that -- be violated correct protocol.
Jeffrey listened to the steady rushing sound that came from the air -- circulation vents in the overhead of his stateroom. The air inside the forward parts of Challenger was always cool, to keep the electronics from overheating. Jeffrey was used to it, but this evening for some strange reason he felt chilled. He looked up for a moment at the bluish glare of fluorescent fixtures, like plant grow lights to keep submariners healthy when deprived of sun for weeks on end. He glanced at the grayish flameproof linoleum squares that covered his stateroom deck, then gazed around at the fake -- wood wainscoting veneer, and bright stainless steel, lining the four bulkheads of his tiny world.
Outside his shut door, in the narrow passageway, he heard crewmen hurrying about, headed to different stations to perform the myriad tasks that helped the ship run smoothly every second of every minute of every single day. There was no margin for error on a nuclear submarine. Jeffrey dearly loved this endless pressure, much as he'd grown accustomed to the constant, potentially killing squeeze of the ocean surrounding Challenger.
He sighed. On his last mission, it appeared, he'd gone too far in some ways, and not far enough in others. There'd be whispers in the corridors of the Pentagon that he was an uncontrollable cowboy, a commander who risked others' lives to gain personal glory. Jeffrey knew he'd done the right thing at every stage of that mind -- twisting mission, but what he knew inside didn't count. He had to assume that he was bound now for some shore job far from the action. Soon another man would sit at this little fold -- down desk, sleep in this austere rack, put up photos of wife and children, assert his own personality and habits onto the crew. Challenger would have a different captain, because Jeffrey's run of luck as captain had finally run out.
Someone knocked. "Come in!"
His executive officer entered, Lieutenant Commander Jackson Jefferson Bell. A few inches taller than Jeffrey, but less naturally muscular, Bell was happily married and had a six -- month -- old son to look forward to seeing again. Cautious in his tactical thinking when Jeffrey was superaggressive, Bell complemented Jeffrey in the control room during combat. Often he'd played devil's advocate in engagements where split seconds mattered, when the waters thundered outside the hull and Challenger shook from stem to stern as if tossed by an angry sea monster -- and Jeffrey's crew looked to him to somehow, some way, keep them alive, while an Axis skipper did his damnedest to smash their ship to pieces and slaughter every person aboard. That hair's -- breadth survival, so many times, brought Jeffrey and Bell very close.
Jeffrey grimaced to himself. Soon Bell will have a new boss.
Bell had arrived to give his regular 2000 -- 8 P.M. -- report as XO to his captain. Bell's words about the ship's status held no surprises. He wrapped up crisply and left, pulling the door shut behind him.
Excerpted from Seas of Crisis by Joe Buff Copyright © 2006 by Joe Buff. Excerpted by permission.
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Meet the Author
Joe Buff is a Life Member of the U.S. Naval Institute, the Navy League of the United States, the CEC/Seabees Historical Foundation, and the Fellows of the Naval War College. Respected for his technical knowledge, he is considered an expert on submarines and national defense. Two of his nonfiction articles about future submarine technology have won the Annual Literary Award from the Naval Submarine League. He is the author of five previous highly regarded novels of submarine warfare—Straits of Power, Tidal Rip, Crush Depth, Thunder in the Deep, and Deep Sound Channel. He lives with his wife in Dutchess County, New York.
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Joe Buff writes a good fast action book. He knows what he is writing about.