This one is quite different however. It is present day military. The title is 'Still On Patrol'. This one is a little shorter than The Dragon and The Princess so it may not take as many nights to put up, but here is tonight's first installment.
Still On Patrol
“Dive, make your depth six-hundred feet. Helm, all ahead one-third.”
“Six hundred feet, aye. Five degree down bubble. Make depth for six-hundred feet. All ahead one-third.”
“Five degree down bubble, all ahead one-third.” came the reply.
Captain Stephen Frey leaned in over his command screen and scanned the data rolling up. He watched the display as the electronics on his Virginia class sub continued to change according to his orders. He could feel the boat change attitude as they passed five-hundred feet. Most wouldn’t notice, but he’d been doing this quite a while. He looked at the chronometer overhead; 18:05. At that moment his XO stepped into the control room.”
“You’re late Commander,” he said.
“Sorry sir, my stomach’s been acting up. Not feeling so well.”
“You able to skipper my boat?”
“I’m up to it sir. Stopped by to see the doc,” Lieutenant Commander Eugene Torres replied. “He gave me something to quiet it down.”
“Boat level at six-hundred feet,” said the Office of the Deck.
Torres stepped inside the control room and looked down on the screen his captain was again studying. He was new to the boat and needed to make a good impression on his captain.
“We’re a little deeper than normal as we come up on the abyssal plain we’re to study.”
“Isn’t it rather odd that a naval attack boat is on a scientific mission?”
“Not these days,” Frey replied. “It helps to cover the costs of these boats. We’re a bit expensive in some people’s minds.”
“I understand.” Torres leaned in over the charts and began evaluating their position. “What are these notations here, here, and here?”
“We’ll be dropping some new sensors developed by Woods Hole to study the subduction zone against the continental shelf. They’ll hit bottom about eleven-thousand feet.” He looked up to his XO with a serious face. “I’ve no desire to test the crush depth specs of this boat, if you know what I mean.”
“Understood sir,” Torres replied with a slight grin. He wasn’t sure how to read his new captain just yet.
“Signal me when we get ready to deploy the sensors.”
“Aye sir,” Torres replied as he watched his captain step out of the control room.
The first officer of the USS Virginia, the first vessel of her class, looked about the control room. He was new to this boat, this crew. He met the gaze of one or two but they casually turned back to their stations. He checked the distance to the first scheduled drop. It would be another three hours. He pulled up the coordinates from the last surfaced GPS readings. They were on course for the initial rise of the continental shelf where the Indonesian archipelago began, a hotbed of volcanic activity where the Australian continental plate slipped beneath. It was generally considered the southern-most point of the Rim of Fire, the volcanic zone that rings the shores of the Pacific Ocean.
The next hour passed without fanfare, only the routine chatter among the crew, the normal comings and goings of life aboard a submarine. Torres skimmed through the routine orders of the day and generally paced back and forth. Command at this level was different than what he was used to. Other tasks about a submerged boat gave you a focus. Being over everyone else wasn’t focus, at least to him.
The Virginia being the first of her class had recently undergone a refit. She received upgraded electronics to her bow sonar systems and a slight redesign of the pulse propulsion system along with routine maintenance. This was her first deployment out of the refit trials.
“High speed screws in the water! Three thousand yards.”
“What!” The announcement caught Torres off guard. “Emergency flank speed!” he yelled. “Left full rudder. Blow ballast. Ten degrees up bubble.”
He listened as the commands were repeated through the Officer of the Deck and echoed from his helmsman. He could feel the sudden change in the boat. Everyone could. He stabbed at the com button and yelled.
“Captain to the bridge. Captain to the bridge.” He finished his last word when Stephen Frey came running through the hatch. “Con, mark the time.”
“What’s going on with my boat Commander?”
“High speed screws in the water aft,” repeated the helmsman. “Distance now twelve-hundred yards.”
“Deploy countermeasures. Launch noisemakers,” Frey ordered.
They could hear the compression as the decoys launched. Frey looked down and watched as the numbers rolled up his screen.
“Four-hundred feet and rising,” came the call.
“Put it over the speakers,” Frey ordered, and just like they were in a World War II movie they could hear the sonar sounds echoing through the boat.
“Five hundred yards,” sonar announced. “Object is veering toward starboard decoy.”
“Trace back the firing line,” Frey ordered. “Con, all stop.”
“Con aye. Helm, all stop.”
“All stop,” helm replied.“All quiet on the boat.”