Shattered Tridentby Larry Bond
While trailing a Chinese nuclear attack sub, Jerry Mitchell, the captain of USS North Dakota, is shocked to see the Chinese boat torpedo a Vietnamese merchant ship.
This blatant act of aggression is the opening gambit in a war that has blindsided the U.S. and quickly embroiled all nations in the western Pacific. These nations, bound together in the newly/i>
While trailing a Chinese nuclear attack sub, Jerry Mitchell, the captain of USS North Dakota, is shocked to see the Chinese boat torpedo a Vietnamese merchant ship.
This blatant act of aggression is the opening gambit in a war that has blindsided the U.S. and quickly embroiled all nations in the western Pacific. These nations, bound together in the newly formed Littoral Alliance, have begun a covert submarine campaign aimed at crippling China's economy before China can set in motion its own plot to dominate the region.
In a desperate attempt to buy the president enough time to resolve the crisis diplomatically, Mitchell's submarine squadron is ordered to interfere with attacks by both sides. China and the Littoral Alliance are both determined to win, no matter the cost, and as each side increases the level of violence, they approach a dangerous tipping point. Larry Bond's Shattered Trident is a race against time, as the submarines of Mitchell's squadron must execute their mission before the world witnesses an economic catastrophe—or worse, a nuclear exchange.
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“This ripped-from-the-headlines tale…shows once again his absolute mastery of the military action novel.” Publishers Weekly, starred review on Exit Plan
“A perfectly timed, first-class read.” Kirkus Reviews, starred review on Exit Plan
“Fans of military thrillers, especially those by Clancy and his ilk, should devour this one.” Booklist on Cold Choices
“Calling to mind such undersea techno-thrillers as Clancy's The Hunt for Red October...this latest offering by Bond...is an edge-of-the-seat yarn.” The New York Times Book Review on Dangerous Ground
Read an Excerpt
By Larry Bond
Tom Doherty AssociatesCopyright © 2013 Larry Bond and Chris Carlson
All rights reserved.
WE HAVE AN AGREEMENT
8 August 2016 Hanoi, Vietnam
Dr. Komamura Sajin took in the view of Hanoi as they drove. Much of the architecture still reflected French rule, although modern buildings were mixed in everywhere, replacing ones destroyed in "The War."
The city was filled with history. After his lecture yesterday morning, he'd visited the B-52 Victory Museum, escorted by a large party of Vietnamese officers and officials. They'd even arranged a meeting with a veteran of the war who'd flown MiGs against the Americans. Komamura was still getting used to his celebrity status, but he loved the perks that came with it.
His official escort, Commander Nimh, had chatted with the professor in English, since Komamura spoke little Vietnamese. Nimh had read the new Vietnamese translation of Komamura's book, and was obviously enthused to meet its author. Nimh made it clear that he considered the assignment a privilege, and that there had been fierce competition for the spot.
They were close to the ministry now. It occupied an entire block of Hanoi, but looked more like a college campus than office buildings or a military headquarters. Light-colored brick buildings with red roofs surrounded a grassy quadrangle with a fountain in the center. Trees dotted the grassy areas and almost surrounded the ministry buildings.
They turned out of the morning traffic and stopped at the security gate. In spite of the official car, the driver and Commander Nimh both had to present their identification. The commander showed a letter vouching for Komamura, and the guards checked him against their own access list.
There were more security checkpoints after they entered the main building and went to the top floor. As in other military headquarters he'd visited, Komamura passed relics in glass cases, paintings of battles, and several images of Ho Chi Minh and General Vo Nguyen Giap. At the last checkpoint, he surrendered his smartphone.
Komamura was nervous; he'd been treated like royalty, and had enjoyed every minute of it. But there comes a time when royalty has to earn its keep. Normally he didn't pay much attention to his appearance, but he'd dressed for the occasion in his best suit with a wave-patterned dark blue silk tie embroidered with the kanji character for "umi," the sea.
Nimh led him to a top-floor conference room. Instead of a large table, there were several groups of comfortable-looking chairs. Occupying three were several older naval officers. Preparing for the trip, Komamura had studied Vietnamese rank insignia. These were senior admirals.
A junior officer stepped up to translate, and the professor was quickly introduced to Admiral Hieu, the navy's chief of staff, and Admirals Phai and Duan, the heads of the Vietnamese Navy's political and intelligence directorates. He realized they'd all been at his lecture yesterday, but they hadn't been introduced to him at that time.
While Nimh served small cups of tea, Komamura took a seat next to the chief of staff. The admiral was old enough to have a puckered scar on his left arm that ran up under his shirtsleeve. Komamura had heard he'd been wounded in the south. He hadn't heard how.
Komamura was only slightly younger than the admirals, but his expensive suit contrasted sharply with their dark green uniforms. He was also nearly six feet tall, a full head higher than Admiral Hieu and the others. Komamura's large frame filled his chair, and his Buddha-like bulge would never have been tolerated in military service. Their only similarity was a lack of hair. Komamura had a fringe of white, Phai's was thin to the point of transparency, while the other two had simply shaved their scalps.
"Admiral Kubo sends his best wishes," Komamura said. "I spoke with him just before leaving Japan. He remembers your meeting in Honolulu warmly."
"At the Pacific defense chiefs' conference," Hieu remembered. "Our first discussions there were most helpful."
Once Nimh had made sure everyone was settled, he disappeared, leaving Komamura with the three admirals and the translator. The professor knew he faced his examiners.
Admiral Phai, the head of the political directorate, began the conversation. "The new Vietnamese translation of Navies for Asia has been very well received here. It was even reviewed in Quan Noi Nhan Dan, a mainstream newspaper, although the reviewer criticized it for being 'pro-Chinese.'"
Komamura laughed, almost a chuckle. "That's what he gets for not reading carefully. Recognizing the growth of Chinese military power doesn't mean I support that growth."
"We agree with you that the Chinese threat is only going to get worse," Phai responded. "Every country bordering the South China Sea has suffered attacks on their exploration ships, unauthorized fishing in their waters, and confrontations with Chinese paramilitary vessels. The number of these incidents is growing, and China makes no apologies."
Hieu asked, "Have other navies besides Japan and Vietnam shown interest in your book?"
"I've lectured in America, and received e-mails from almost every littoral nation. Many are from naval officers. I've had to hire a secretary. I will be visiting the Republic of Korea almost as soon as my trip here is finished, and a little later, India."
"Why did you choose naval strategy for your latest work?" This came from Admiral Duan, head of the Second General Department, the armed forces' intelligence branch. "You teach economics at Tokyo University. Your earlier books have been about economics or history."
Komamura nodded. "True, but it's impossible to separate economics from politics, or politics from war. My latest book began as an analysis of China's rapid economic growth in the new century, but that massive growth demands resources, especially energy and food." He shrugged. "China has always been hungry, but now her hunger drives her to the sea. I decided to share my conclusions."
Duan continued, "You are a member of the New Renaissance Party, which promotes a strong military and reverence for the emperor. Isn't your book just a reflection of your political beliefs?"
The professor shook his head, disagreeing. "My political beliefs are rather a reflection of my research." Komamura began ticking off points on his fingers. In Japanese fashion, he raised his little finger first.
"First, Chinese economic growth requires far more resources than they have. They see those resources close at hand, in the South China Sea. The rapid growth is masking artificialities and serious flaws in the Chinese economy. If their economy slows too much, and it is slowing, it will likely collapse.
"Second, in pursuit of those resources, China is transforming her navy from a coastal defense force to a blue-water regional power. This is a clear signal of their intentions.
"Third, U.S. military power in this part of the world is waning. They are still paying the bill for two long wars, and force modernization has suffered. There are also questions about their political will. China is America's second biggest export customer, as well as her greatest importer. Furthermore, China is the largest holder of U.S. debt. I submit that we cannot depend on a distant, weary America to counterbalance nearby Chinese military power."
Komamura finished, "I joined the New Renaissance Party three years ago, and hope to advise them on economic and security issues."
Admiral Hieu had listened as Komamura made his arguments. "There are nations that would not be happy to see a stronger Japan, not only free of American support, but unrestrained by any obligations to America." Komamura knew that Vietnam had been occupied by Japan during the Second World War, although they had not suffered as badly as Korea or the Philippines.
"I do not advocate becoming stronger individually, but rather increasing our strength through alliances independent of U.S. interests, which may not be the same as our own. And what drove Japanese aggression during the Pacific War?" Komamura asked pointedly. "Demand for resources to support her rapid industrialization. Japan's military leadership in 1941 was filled with a sense of their own manifest destiny. I believe China's leaders are driven not only by national pride, but also fear. If their economy falters, they risk losing power. If it collapses, the nation could go with it. For the Chinese leadership, aggression in the South China Sea presents fewer risks."
"Dr. Komamura, how did you first contact the Japanese Maritime Defense Force?"
"They contacted me," Komamura answered. "After Navies was published, I gave lectures at several naval bases and the academy at Etajima. After a lecture at Yokosuka, I participated in a long discussion on naval developments with a small group of officers. Admiral Kubo himself joined the group for a short while. Afterwards, I was approached by one of his aides."
Hieu looked at the other two admirals, who both nodded firmly. He turned back to Komamura. "The original purpose of this meeting was to discuss the concept of an alliance of South and East China Sea littoral nations, an idea you have championed and your Admiral Kubo Noriaki fully supports. Unfortunately, circumstances have changed."
Komamura looked confused and uncertain. "In what way?"
Admiral Hieu spoke quickly. "Professor, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, with the full approval of the Politburo and the Defense Council, agrees in principle with your 'littoral alliance.' We are ready to work out the details of the collaboration immediately. Every country in the region is threatened by Chinese aggression. Even working together, it will be difficult for us to stop that aggression. Individually, we don't stand a chance."
The academic was pleased and excited, but puzzled. "But this is wonderful news! I will convey your answer to Admiral Kubo as soon as I return to Japan. But what else has changed?"
"China's plans," Hieu explained, "and our infant alliance faces an immediate challenge." He turned to the translator. "Ask Commander Ty to join us."
Commander Ty was in his early thirties, and still had all his hair. While he quickly set up a laptop, the translator hurried over and sat next to Komamura, whispering to the professor as Ty began his brief.
"Good morning, Dr. Komamura, I am Cao Van Ty. I am assigned to the Second General Department, our intelligence branch." Ty bowed toward the academic, then Admiral Duan, his superior. "I will be presenting highly sensitive information about an imminent Chinese threat which affects both our countries. Professor, can we have your promise that you will not share what you learn today with anyone else, unless we give you permission to do so?"
"Of course," Komamura replied quickly. Curiosity filled him, but also foreboding. What was going on?
Ty pressed a key and a flat screen at one end of the conference room came alive with a map of the South China Sea. The Vietnamese coast lined the left edge, while Hainan Island was in the center. The Leizhou Peninsula reached out from China's southern coast toward Hainan. The mainland coast angled northeast from the peninsula until it disappeared at the upper right corner.
Ty stood next to the screen. "I'm sure you're aware of Liaoning's exercises last week."
"Their new carrier?" Komamura answered. "Yes. It was even covered by the mainstream media. Inaccurately, but at least they noticed."
Ty continued. "Liaoning is now back at her homeport in Yalong Bay. Her captain reports that several minor mechanical issues need to be corrected. He is also loading fuel, ordnance, and the rest of Liaoning's air group. This will consist of ten J-15 fighters, six Ka-28 sub-hunting helicopters, and four Z-8 radar helicopters. He reports they will be ready to sail in five days.
"When she does sail, she will be escorted by the same six warships that took part in the exercise, three destroyers and three frigates, all armed with advanced guided missiles. The task group will rendezvous with two amphibious ships of the Type 071 class, then proceed to Guangzhou." A line appeared on the chart, starting at the southern tip of Hainan Island, heading north to the naval base at Zhanjiang, where the Leizhou Peninsula joined the Chinese mainland, then north again to the Guangzhou shipyard near Hong Kong.
"We have photos of a platform being built at Guangzhou." The screen changed to show pictures of a very large, flat structure, spotted with different colors of primer and gray paint. Open girder framework showed in many places. The images were overlaid with circles and labeled in Vietnamese. "The shipyard there builds many offshore oil platforms, but this structure is larger, and has a different configuration. But more importantly, it is armed.
"The circles mark the location of protective fiberglass domes, most likely covering point defense weapons." He pointed to one corner of the structure that did not have a dome. "The foundation here is consistent with the Chinese HHQ10 point defense missile system. These large fiberglass structures near the front are shelters for sensor and communications antennas."
Ty pressed a control and the map returned. A bright line led south from Guangzhou deep into the South China Sea. "The Liaoning task group will escort the platform, under tow and accompanied by several self-loading container ships, to Thi Tu Island." Ty used the Vietnamese name for the island. The Chinese claimed it as "Zhongye Island," but the current occupiers, the Philippines, called it "Thitu Island." Thitu was the largest island in the Spratly archipelago, and even sported an airstrip. "The transit will take five or six days, depending on the weather.
"When they are close, marines from one of the amphibious assault ships will seize the island, currently held by about forty Filipino soldiers, and the platform will be anchored at one end of the island. Prefabricated containers carried by the merchants will be placed on landing craft and taken ashore, creating barracks, repair shops, hangars for fighters, and other facilities.
"Our engineers estimate it will take three days to anchor the structure. Within twenty-four hours after that, the Chinese will have a base defended by an integrated air-defense system, capable of operating a squadron of high-performance fighters and garrisoned by a battalion of marines."
Komamura was chilled to the bone. The Chinese had long claimed the entire South China Sea, ignoring other nations' borders, but that was only words. A strong military base would let them enforce that claim. Not one of the nations surrounding the South China Sea had the firepower to dislodge such a foothold. The Americans could, but he was convinced they wouldn't risk open war with China, not over a collection of small, disputed islands. Even if the United States wanted to fight, they were unprepared. He was sure the Chinese, with the strategic initiative, would be ready to counter just such a move.
"But one small island with forty soldiers doesn't require two Kunlun Shan landing ships to capture it." Ty put an image of the ship on the screen. It was a large, modern-looking design. "Each Type 071 landing ship dock carries up to eight hundred marines and eighteen armored vehicles. Simultaneous with the attack on Thi Tu, the Chinese will also invade Song Tu Tay Island, also known as Southwest Cay, and Northeast Cay approximately forty-four kilometers to the north. The first island is Vietnamese sovereign territory, the second is Filipino," concluded Ty.
The Japanese academic fought to hide his shock and surprise.
"There's more," Ty said firmly. "Soon after China occupies key islands in the Spratly chain, they intend to invade the Senkaku Islands claimed by your country."
Komamura was stunned. To seize so many of the disputed islands and reefs in rapid succession was mind-boggling. The Chinese intentions, if true, were beyond bold. One question surfaced in his mind immediately.
"This information is very detailed. I'm not an intelligence specialist, but I've learned that naval intelligence is usually guesswork and deduction. How sure are you of this information?"
Hieu answered, "Very sure. We don't have many of the resources available to Japan or her allies, but we have a source. Over time, it has provided us with much valuable information on the Chinese, but this is priceless. We are telling you of this so you will be confident when you speak to Admiral Kubo, but you will have to convince him on your own. I won't say anything more about this individual. Knowledge of the source's mere existence is highly classified. Please do not speak of this source to anyone outside this room, even Admiral Kubo."
"I understand." Komamura knew little about espionage, but he could imagine a Vietnamese national masquerading as a loyal Chinese citizen, working in a headquarters or on a naval base. He hoped they lived long enough to receive the medal they'd earned.
"What is the chance of this information being fabricated?" Komamura asked Duan.
Excerpted from Shattered Trident by Larry Bond. Copyright © 2013 Larry Bond and Chris Carlson. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Meet the Author
LARRY BOND is the author of numerous New York Times bestselling thrillers, including Exit Plan, Cold Choices, Vortex, Cauldron, and The Enemy Within. He also worked with Jim DeFelice on the Larry Bond's First Team series as well as the Larry Bond's Red Dragon Rising series. A former Naval Intelligence officer, warfare analyst, and anti-submarine technology expert, he makes his home in Springfield, Virginia.
Larry Bond is the author of several bestselling military thrillers, including Crash Dive, Cold Choices, Dangerous Ground, Red Phoenix and the Larry Bond’s First Team and Larry Bond’s Red Dragon Rising series. He was a naval officer for six years, serving four on a destroyer and two on shore duty in the Washington DC area. He's also worked as a warfare analyst and antisubmarine technology expert, and he now writes and designs computer games, including Harpoon and Command at Sea. He makes his home in Springfield, Virginia.
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This book was a bit difficult to read, unless your an x navy exec. or an expert in trident submarine terms. It's certainly well researched, and well written, and the subject premiss is quite interesting. It's just so dry, technical and long! Over 1,000 pages. The story line is bogged down with too much technical mumbo jumbo.
Enjoyed the series , i hope the author contiues this series of sub fiction
Larry Bond has a knack for making a complicated plot understandable (admittedly at the end) and pretty much keeps you on the edge of your seat. Well written with plenty of action.
It has mystery and suspense. Kept me excited and wondering what would happen next.Very enjoyable for me.