Below is the first chapter of SILENT RUNNING, the next episode in my CRASH DIVE series. The episode officially launches February 15 and is available here for preorder. Enjoy!
REMEMBER PEARL HARBOR
Naval Station Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
Charlie Harrison set down his sea bag and stared at his new home.
The Tambor-class boat lay tied at the end of one of the piers extending from the jetty that housed the Submarine Base. A sea tender refitted her for war. Shirtless workers in dusty dungarees toiled in the sun amid a tangle of hoses, wiring, and gear.
No sign of her crew, who’d long left for Oahu’s beaches and beer halls.
She was a football field in length and twenty-seven feet wide at the beam. Four big GE motors drove her at a top speed of twenty knots on the surface. A pair of Sargo batteries propelled her at nine knots while submerged at depths as low as 250 feet. She could travel an impressive 11,000 nautical miles.
Her name was Sabertooth.
Like all submarines, she’d been named after a creature of the sea. The sabertooth fish was a small but fierce tropical predator with big curved teeth. Sabertooth’s teeth consisted of twenty-four torpedoes, from which she could bite from six tubes forward and four aft.
The air sounded with the whir of rivet guns. Sparks flew from welds. Trucks unloaded spare parts. A pair of sailors in a rowboat repainted the hull. Mattresses hung on a line to air out. Charlie watched the sailors go through their routine.
Sabertooth was captained by Lieutenant-Commander Robert Hunter. With a name like that … Charlie had hoped it was an omen. That the captain knew how to find and sink Japanese ships. But Sabertooth’s war record spoke otherwise, he’d found out back in Brisbane. Three patrols, only two sinkings.
To the west, dozens of proud surface vessels lay moored, an impressive display of American power even at rest. With the calm blue waters and the palm trees gently waving in the balmy breeze, the scene looked quite peaceful.
Then he spotted the distant listing hulk of the great battleship Oklahoma, which still lay half-submerged in the water. A grim reminder of the day that started the war.
December 7, 1941.
In just a few days, the Navy would mark the first anniversary of the vicious surprise attack that devastated American power in the Pacific.
It was hard to stand here, where America’s war began, without feeling reverence for the dead. That, and a sense of awe.
Charlie gazed out across the pristine waters of the harbor and tried to picture what it must have been like on that terrible day.
Nearly 200 fighters and bombers roared out of the rising sun.
He knew the story well enough; every man in the Navy knew it, if not the exact same version. Every fist-clenching, teeth-grinding, blood-boiling bit of it.
The first wave assaulted Battleship Row and the six airfields. In just minutes, a bomb crashed through Arizona’s two armored decks and struck the magazine. The resulting explosion ripped her sides open like tin foil and broke her back in a massive fireball. She sank within minutes, taking more than a thousand souls down with her. Six torpedoes hammered West Virginia, which also went under. Nine torpedoes drilled into Oklahoma, making her list so heavily she almost capsized. The fighters strafed the airfields, chewing up the planes parked wingtip to wingtip in neat rows. Then the second wave screamed out of the clouds; 170 planes joined the attack. Flag flying and AA guns blazing, Nevada steamed through black smoke toward the open sea, surrounded by a swarm of howling bombers. After several hits, the battleship beached herself off Hospital Point.
The sons of bitches. The dirty sons of bitches that did this.
For the men at Pearl, it had been two hours of pure horror.
Charlie could imagine it now. Bombs whistling. Geysers from misses. The great battleships bucking at the hits. Massive fireballs bursting. Black smoke rolling across the sky. Planes roaring past. Tracers streaming up from the AA guns. The bow of the destroyer Shaw exploding in a spectacular spray of fire and debris.
The men screaming in the water. The water afire and choked with corpses.
Everybody helpless against the merciless onslaught.
A year ago, he heard the news of the attack while serving on the destroyer Kennedy in the Atlantic. He’d listened to the President’s address on the radio. He’d joined the submarines hoping for to pay the Japanese back for what they did. He’d longed for action, and he’d found plenty of it on his first war patrol with the S-55. He had the wounds, Silver Star, and promotion to prove it.
Now he stood ready to do his duty and get back into the war.
The ghosts of that war still haunted Pearl, but so did the martial spirit of an angry awakening giant. The battle had ended, but the war went on. A big reckoning was coming. Japan had started it. Men like Charlie were determined to finish it.
For this was not a battle of nations, but of men, and of the endurance of men.