“Stop the truck! NO! Don’t reverse!! HOLD IT!”
Chip Morton’s head snapped up from the clipboard, every fiber of his body in high alert as his eyes zeroed in on the frantic cries past Seaview’s diving bell. Sprinting, Chip stopped just on the other side of the sea craft where he sighted the commotion: two of his crewmen were scrambling to hang onto a wooden crate perched at the end of a transport truck. The crate, waist-high and the width of the transport, had its side staved in, the misplaced prongs of the forklift truck still embedded in it. The box was crammed of neatly coiled, arm-thick cables, which Chip recognized as the replacement wiring for the communication-electronics lines. He moved to intervene, but was beaten to it by Chief of the Boat Curley Jones, who bolted from the bell’s hatch in front of him.
“Alright, you meatheads,” Curley shouted, his face scowled in irritation, “don’t move a muscle till I tell ya to!” Jones, portly and stalwart, was one of the older men on the crew and among the most respected. “Blair, Grille,” he yelled to the two blond men atop the truck bed. “Hold tight to that crate!” He turned to the dark-haired driver. “Maack, you pull that forklift back slowly! I don’t want that cable dumpin’ onto the ground like a heap of black spaghetti!”
Those men are gonna catch hell for this, Chip thought with secret amusement. He was glad he wasn’t the one in trouble, and even gladder it would be Curley dishing out the punishment.
Chip felt a gentle, salt-water breeze on his face and raised his head to take advantage of it. He was at the New London Naval Submarine Base in Connecticut, only *two miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean. It was summer and SUBASE was at its height of activity. Two long concrete buildings hosted five repair bays each, and he was not surprised to find all were busy. Various crews scurried around in their missions to fix, upgrade, or administer general maintenance to the array of ships, boats, and equipment in their charge. On the far side of these bays ran a frontage road, railroad tracks, and the Thames River, which flowed east through the state into Long Island Sound. Protruding into the river were numerous stationary docks, including two floating wharves, one of which would be Seaview’s berth when she arrived later that day. The Gray Lady was currently mapping a trench that had been created by a recent earthquake.
Thinking of Seaview, Chip’s chest swelled with pride. The submarine, although privately owned by the Nelson Institute of Marine Research, was on active naval reserve with the U.S. Navy and with good reason. SSRN Seaview was the most modernistic sub in the world. Envied in the scientific community for her advance technology, elite laboratory, and exploratory possibilities, Seaview was also coveted by several foreign militaries for her unprecedented maneuverability, stealth design, and superior weaponry. Chip had been one of the first onboard as her executive officer, while Lee Crane, now his best friend, came later, taking the position as Seaview’s captain. Both served under the sub’s creator, Admiral Harriman Nelson, now retired. Chip grinned; Life doesn’t get better than this. Then frowned; Nor will it, if I don’t quit goldbricking.
Reminded of his duties, Chip, sans his uniform coat and cap, shirtsleeves rolled up, returned to his task. While Seaview navigated the Atlantic Ocean on her mapping mission, he and several handpicked crewmen stayed behind in New London to work on the diving bell’s annual overhaul. His blue eyes intent on the clipboard, Chip meticulously scrutinized each item on the checklist. Every piece of technology and hardware, down to the screws that held the seats to the floor, had to be thoroughly examined and replaced, when necessary.
Chip raised his head, his eyes narrowing in studious thought. To him, the bathysphere will always look like a poached egg in its holder. With that image, Chip chuckled. At the moment, a couple of his men resembled ants as they crawled over and under the submersible, checking every inch of its skin for punctures or visible stress points.
This egg, however, was bright yellow and elevated by several feet due to its round base. A black strip encircling the bell’s middle contained the stenciled, white acronym of its owner, NIMR. Nelson Institute of Marine Research, imprinted in white, rounded over the top of the hatch’s frame. Three large, concave portholes were encased in its Titanium shell; one almost opposite the main hatch, the other two positioned on the port and starboard sides. Exterior observation lights were positioned over each window. The communication-electronics cables—the umbilical cord from the bell to its host vessel—snaked inward through the hull’s summit. Inside, were two chairs, an emergency escape hatch in the floor, and various instrumentation on the walls. These included an environmental control console, depth gauge, telephone, and defense mechanism. Everything, even the floor grid, had to be extracted and gone over with a microscope.
The overhaul was a tedious job, and Chip knew why the Admiral had entrusted him with its undertaking -- because Nelson expected no flaws to get past his executive officer. Chip was renowned for his dogged attention to detail and proudly intended to keep it that way. It was this tenacious attribute that had earned him Nelson’s undivided scrutiny—twice.
The first time was at the Annapolis Naval Academy in Maryland. Chip had enrolled in the Admiral’s class and had challenged one of Nelson’s theories. Nelson, revered as a scientific genius, found it ballsy that a wet-behind-the-ears cadet should question his hypothesis; however, he liked and respected Chip for his individualism.
The second meeting occurred on the USS Casimir Pulaski where Chip was nearing the end of his three-year tour as XO. Chip had steadfastly refused to follow the order of his commanding officer concerning the test run of prototype diving equipment. He argued that the deep-diving suit was faulty and a man would die if someone didn’t say so. Even with the threat of court martial over his head, Chip stood his ground. Nelson, the inventor of the suit, arrived at the ship just as discussions between Chip and his CO heated up. Nelson, although initially furious with his former student, interrogated him about the problem. The Admiral then proceeded with his own investigation and found Chip to be right. The equipment had been assembled with the wrong type of metal, one of inferior quality, which would have shattered under the pressure of the deep dive, and any man assigned to the trial would have died without question. Nelson, before the day was through, asked Chip to serve as executive officer on the submarine his institute had recently commissioned. Already an admirer of the renowned scientist, Chip agreed without a second’s hesitation.
Chip cocked his head and scanned the list once more. All upgrades are complete. But what have we missed that wasn’t on the list. A moment later, he smiled. Everything is done! Now all we have to do is reassemble this baby and wait for—.
“Mister Morton, you gotta see this!” Curley shouted from inside the bell. He sounded pissed!
Hurrying to the hatch, Chip stepped up to the interior floor where Curley waited with a look of disgust on his face. On his lap was a thick box, the size of an eight-by-eleven piece of paper. Inside the container were supposed to be the new Herculite sheets, which were to replace the existing glass covers on the readout displays. Herculite, the see-through alloy invented by Nelson, had achieved prominence when the Admiral used the material on Seaview’s much-publicized “glass” observation nose.
However, what currently lay in the box was more akin to mud.
“What the . . . ?” Chip sniffed deeply, his brow furrowing. “What smells like gasoline?”
Curley, too, drew in some air, following the smell downward. “It’s the box! It’s saturated with it.”
“The Admiral isn’t going to like this. Looks like we’ve found the only weakness for his creation.”
“He’s not gonna to like it! I’m not gonna to like it!” Curley growled. “I was hoping for liberty tonight.”
Chip stifled a grin. Curley eager for liberty usually meant a jovial reunion with former shipmates. He’d been hoping for liberty himself. One of the perks at SUBASE was the golf course sitting at the end of the lane, a short distance from where they were working.
“What can we do about the Herculite, Mister Morton?”
“I have several ideas, Curley.” Chip glanced at his wristwatch. “It isn’t even ten yet so we still have a chance to make liberty.” He patted the big man on the back and made a beeline for the telephone sitting on the aluminum transport crate near the bay’s side door. Chip, for convenience purposes, had requested an auxiliary phone be set up near where they worked because the permanent telephone for this repair bay was in an office way on the far end of the structure. Along with the overhaul, Chip had other matters to address on Nelson’s behalf, and he knew he and Curley would have wasted more time going back and forth to the office for the phone than they would have spent working on the bathysphere.
Chip pressed the receiver to his ear and dialed the Institute’s main number, the digits thoroughly ingrained in his memory. As he waited, he mentally listed his options. After two rings, he heard the sweet, sultry voice of Marilyn on the other end. Marilyn, one of several switchboard operators employed by the Nelson Institute, was a redheaded goddess who made Chip’s heart skip every time he heard her speak. She was also happily married with three kids. When Seaview was out on non-classified missions, the main switchboard handled the transference of calls. Classified missions, on the other hand, went strictly through Angie, Admiral Nelson’s personal secretary, via a radio unit locked in Nelson’s office.
“Morning, Marilyn! It’s Chip Morton. How are things in California?”
“Santa Barbara is gorgeous this morning, Chip.” He could hear the smile in her voice. “And I’m happy to say work is quiet to the point of boring. Usually is when you fellas are out of town. You want me to patch you through to Seaview?”
“Actually, I need you to connect me to Angie at her home number.”
“Chip, it’s six-thirty in the morning here,” she said, a tad surprised.
“I know, but a problem’s come up and I need to talk to her.”
“Okay. Hope you get it squared away.”
Me, too, Chip thought as he waited. A minute later, Angie’s voice came on the line.
She sounded alert, Chip noted. With Nelson as her boss, she was probably inured to calls at all hours of the day and night, he reasoned, feeling guilty nonetheless. Angie was a dark-haired, attractive woman, yet quiet and unassuming, the opposite of Nelson’s outgoing and decisive personality. She had nerves of steel, was totally devoted to the Admiral, and having been a Navy brat, was able to take Nelson’s demands and eccentricities in good-humored stride.
“Angie, Chip. Sorry to disturb you so early, but we have a huge problem here. We need the closest Herculite supplier.” Within half an hour, the secretary had returned Chip’s call with the needed information.
“Curley, I only expect to be gone about ninety minutes,” Chip told him, slipping on his uniform jacket.
“Ninety? But that means we can’t rebuild anything until you get back!”
“Can’t be helped.” Chip snatched his hat from beside the telephone and squared it on his head. “At least this supplier was nearby. The next manufacturer on the list was in South Carolina!” A jeep pulled alongside him and Chip swung himself into it. “You and the men grab a coffee, or an early lunch, or something. I’ll be back A.S.A.P.”
“Why is it when I make plans, something always comes up?”
“I don’t know, Curley,” Chip grinned fondly, “but I’ll do the best I can.”
“Aye, sir,” Curley sighed. A menacing look came to his face as the jeep pulled away. He turned, targeting two specific crewmen. “Grille, Blair,” he said with a sugary sweet grin before eyeing a third. “And Maack. You three are gonna take the new cable and check it for damage!”
As promised, Chip returned within the allotted timeframe by the same driver who had whisked him away. Cradled on his lap was an eight-by-ten box. When the vehicle neared their assigned bay, Curley appeared beside the jeep even before it had the chance to come to a complete stop.
“Did you check ’em?” the burley man asked, taking the item from Chip’s outstretched arms.
“Of course,” Chip replied, hopping out. “The Admiral would have blown a gasket had these been defective as well.”
“He ain’t the only one! Blair!” Curley shouted then waited as the lanky, blond crewman double-timed it over. “Get started on these right away,” he ordered, handing off the parcel.
Speaking of the Admiral . . . . Chip glanced at his watch then stepped to the telephone. Before the officers had parted for their respective assignments, a pre-arranged time had been chosen for Seaview to come to periscope depth. This had to done in order for Chip to make telephone contact by which they would coordinate their individual progresses, per the Admiral’s orders. “Hello, Marilyn, it’s Chip again,” he grinned.
“Hi, Chip. Was Angie able to help you?” she asked, her concern making Chip melt.
“She came through with flying colors and we’re back to running like clockwork.”
“So who would you like to be connected to this time: Seaview, Angie, or . . . ,” she said knowingly, “one of the girls in the secretary pool?”
Chip felt himself redden. “Right now I need Nelson on Seaview.”
“Hold just a minute.”
“Thanks, Marilyn.” It wasn’t long before Chip heard: “Go ahead, New London.” The transmission was fuzzy, but that was normal for intercontinental phone patches. Regardless, Chip would have known that voice anywhere. “Hello? Admiral?” he paused, taking a quick glance at the clipboard Curley handed him.
“How’s the overhaul going, Chip?” Nelson returned. “Fine, I hope.”
“Yes, sir.” Nelson sounded jovial, Chip noticed, which meant things were going well on their end.
“Is it done?”
“They’re still working on it.”
“How much longer?”
“Um, in couple of hours.” That is if nothing else goes wrong, Chip kept to himself. There would be plenty of time to fill the Admiral in on it later.
“Good,” Nelson replied. “We’ve finished mapping. We put into New London by 1400 hours. Give the crew liberty tonight and we’ll sail for California in the morning.”
“Aye, sir. See you in a couple of hours.” Fantastic! Chip grinned, hanging up, giving a glance at his watch as he headed for Curley. It’s twelve o’clock now, we finish by two, go on liberty by three.
Dom Bukauskas’ expression reflected his boredom as the seaman monitored the airwaves. As one of several radio operators on the Navy cruiser, he was accustomed to the monotonous routine. At least we’ll be in Connecticut soon, he thought, sprouting a delighted grin. His father had served on a sub during World War II and after his ship moored at State Pier, he planned to visit New London’s nearby sub base. The base had its own museum, which included the renowned USS Nautilus, the first nuclear-powered submarine in the modern fleet. I’ll finally get to see one up close just as soon as—Alarmed, Dom shot upright, his back ramrod straight, and grabbed a pencil. He wrote furiously on the message pad, his face waning with each word. When done, Dom, swallowed hard and flipped a lever.
“This is the bridge,” the known voice answered almost instantly.
“Skipper, Sparks. I just got a distress signal from SSRN Seaview.”
“Unknown, sir. Their signal was short and went dead before I could get their exact location.”
Angie, despite being roused out of bed so early, hummed as she typed up the latest report from her absentee boss. On her way to the Institute to fulfill Chip Morton’s request, she discovered it was going to be a magnificent day in Santa Barbara and had decided to treat herself. Early in the office, early out of the office, she smiled with anticipation. A little furniture shopping, a late leisurely lunch . . . . The telephone rang. Keeping the beat, Angie tapped the last key, swung her arm out to sweep up the receiver, and propped it on her shoulder. “Admiral Nelson’s office, Angie speaking,” she cheerily announced, her fingers back on the keyboard.
Ralph parked the mail cart in the hallway just outside Nelson’s office, as usual, slid a hand into an olive green hanging folder, pulling out several, various-sized envelopes. The lanky twenty-year-old veered into the Admiral’s suite, going straight to Angie’s desk. Seeing the secretary on the phone, he gave her a friendly wave. Normally, she would have smiled and returned his gesture, flavored with a bit of cordial chitchat. Today, however, her face was taut as she abruptly swung away from him, her attention transfixed on the call.
By her actions, Ralph knew something was up—wrong even—as he deposited the mail on the corner of her desk. As he neared to the door on his way out, he dropped down to one knee where he pretended to tie his shoe. “Seaview was mapping a trench,” he heard Angie say. There was tension and worry in her voice.
“No, Admiral Nelson was onboard and so was Captain Crane. Lieutenant Commander Morton, however, is in New London.” Angie paused then said, “I’ll get you Seaview’s last recorded coordinates. Hold, please, while I transfer you.”
Ralph watched avidly as Angie bolted from her chair and into the main office. “Oh, wow,” he muttered, “this is bad.” The realization for a moneymaking opportunity formed in his mind as a smirk spread across his face. Hurrying into the corridor, Ralph forced himself not to act overly anxious, and had to rein himself in to keep from running down the stairs to the mailroom on the first floor. Entering the sort room, Ralph peered around to see who was there and where. Satisfied to find most of his coworkers were still making the afternoon delivery, he grabbed the telephone on the main counter, punched in eleven numbers, and kept a vigilant eye on the door while he waited. “Hello, you reporter brother of mine, have I got a scoop for you!”
Chip pushed himself up from the egg’s floor, where he had been inserting cables, and stepped outside. Stretching skyward, he heard his bones pop as the maneuver pulled kinks from his neck and shoulders. Next he bent toward the Earth. As Chip straightened, a jeep braked hard beside him. He recognized the driver from earlier except this time the man’s expression was taut as he handed Morton a single sheet of paper.
Lifting the single fold, Chip felt the warmth drain from his body as he read the mere three words on paper: “Seaview missing - Angie.” Chip could barely breathe as gut-wrenching horror and flashes of his friends and coworkers collided into imploding, mangled images—Seaview’s missing, the analytical side of his brain shouted: She’s not destroyed! In that split second, the knee-jerk reaction vanished and Charles “Chip” Morton squared his shoulders, resolve filling his face as he stepped to the telephone and dialed the familiar number. Listening to it ring, Chip took a deep breath, his fingers tapping anxiously on the side of the aluminum crate, while prepping himself for the worst. “It’s Morton,” he whispered when Angie answered. “Tell me everything you know.” He remained emotionless as he absorbed the paltry information she had to relay.
“Understood,” Chip replied when Angie was done. “Keep me informed.” Hanging up, Chip dissected the circumstances. Seaview down, who was onboard? Lee, Harry . . . Kowalski, Patterson, O’Brien. . . . What could have gone wrong? Reactor explosion . . . they hit something or something hit them. Where might they have gone down? I had talked to them at noon, two hours ago. Where did Nelson say they were? I don’t think he said only that they had finished the trench and they were starting their way back. What was the depth of the water in that general vicinity? What . . . , he finally allowed himself to ask, were their chances of survival? Seaview is the best made, the strongest sub in the world, she won’t break up easily. He went over all the tests the Gray Lady had been through and whereas other ships would have collapsed, Seaview had emerged with little more than a scratch. Chip felt some of the worry ease. Crane and Nelson are with her, along with some of the best-trained men in the Navy. Whatever happened, the Admiral and the Skipper are the two men who can—and would—find ways of keeping her together.
“Mister Morton, SIR!”
Chip startled. It was Curley.
“Is something wrong, sir? You look ill.”
“Yes, Chief, there is.” He glanced down at the sheet. “A big wrong. I need to talk to the men.”
“Swell, you can add that to my bad news,” he said with blatant irritation
“And what would that be?”
“There’s a short in the wiring.”
“Then find it and fix it,” Chip replied evenly, swallowing his irritation.
“It’s in the new wiring, Mister Morton! It can be anywhere. Damn it! My first date in six months and I gotta give it up for a strip of wire.”
Chip held up the paper, his eyes leveled with Curley’s. “The wiring’s not the only thing you’re sacrificing your date for, Chief.”
The banner blared from the front page of early evening edition of California’s Star Dispatch. The newspaper sold out within minutes, a record, to its West Coast customers.
Alerted to the breaking news via Santa Barbara’s wire services, newspapers, radios, and television stations around the world proclaimed similar headlines within hours.
Chip stood next to the bathysphere, a lit cigarette held in his lips. He stared hard at the row of repair bays across from him, but what he really saw was Seaview on the Atlantic floor. For the last few minutes, he had been calculating every scenario of her well-being. Bottom line, he concluded, regardless as to where she landed, it’ll have to be our diving bell that’s sent down to get her. His stomach clenched. Even if she’s in pieces, we’ll have to be the ones to—Chip snatched the cigarette from his mouth, stomping it out on the ground. Don’t jump to conclusions, he ordered himself. He turned to the bell where Curley was on the its floor sorting cables. Chip took a step closer but then stopped to watch the men atop the submersible for a half a second. Impatience flooding his expression, he then leaned on the hatch-frame where he peered down at Chief Jones.
Curley, his expression grim—and knowing what the officer was going to ask before he asked it—shook his head at the Morton’s silent plea.
Chip felt his frustration building. His head pounded from thinking and worrying, and he needed to do something, but there was nothing he could do. The bathysphere already had as many men working on it as its space allowed; the Navy and Coast Guard, alerted earlier to Seaview’s disappearance, were doing all they could to find his ship, and it had been over three hours since his last transmission with Nelson, therefore, Chip paced. He started for the sailor on the side of the bell’s hatch, but knowing the seaman couldn’t give him a better answer than Curley had, Chip veered towards the repair bay. There’s got to be a way to—the whine of an approaching jeep made Chip whirl as his heart once again pounded in his chest. When the jeep stopped alongside him, Chip felt the air vacate his lungs as he reached for the message the driver held out for him. Despite his shaking hand, he scanned the note and then yelled at the top of his lungs, “They’ve found them!” Chip felt a renewed sense of determination as he rushed to Jones. “Twelve miles out! Shake it up, Curley!
“But we can’t find the short in the guidance control system!”
“How long will it take?”
The big man peered into the cabin at the instruments then exhaled heavily. “At least two days.”
Chip bit his lip as he lowered his head to think. Two days to pull everything out, then test every strand. First order of business, find out Seaview’s exact status. “Keep on it,” he ordered, hurrying to the telephone. Chip wanted details and he wanted them now and the first person to start with was Angie.
The Navy’s COMSUBLANT, controller of submarine operations in the Atlantic Ocean, once notified of Seaview’s situation, had immediately deployed several of its nearest ships to hunt for the missing sub. In addition, the Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicle had also been ordered in from its base on Coronado Island in San Diego, California. The small sub would be put onto a C-5A military aircraft, flown to New London, and then transported to the rescue site.
A process, Chip knew that would take at least twenty-four hours to comply.
Two Coast Guard helicopters were also assisting in the search, as well as a retired frigate, now refitted as a salvage barge. The searchers, via shared information and scientific computation, knew Nelson’s creation had to be, at the very least, within a certain radius of shore.
Two and a half hours after deployment, Seaview’s emergency buoy was sighted.
Chip stood at the bow of the small Coast Guard cutter, his back rigid, eyes intent on invisible points ahead. As an officer of the downed ship with invaluable knowledge of the sub and its crew, he had been granted certain courtesies. Included was the offer for him to be onboard the salvage frigate when Seaview’s buoy marker was recovered.
No sooner had Chip stepped aboard the cutter when he was informed that Seaview’s original sinking location of twelve-miles out had been relayed wrong. The true position was twenty-four miles. This was much further from shore than Chip had calculated and thus required a new plan of rescue, with its own inherited and latent problems. The trip to the salvage site took less than thirty minutes, but Chip, lost in thought, scarcely noticed the passage of time, or the ocean spray on his face. Those are my closest friends and colleagues down there. They survived long enough to send the buoy up, which is a good sign, however . . . .
Chip tried to prep himself for the worse case scenario, but just imaging a world without those men was unbearable. He shoved the possibility aside and concentrated on the mission and obstacles ahead. I have to remain cool and clear thinking—detached—if I’m to evaluate the situation properly and find an objective solution. Chip clenched his teeth and forced his mind to let go of the speculation. He knew the best thing he could do now was wait—wait until they reached the rescue boat where he would be given the latest information.
Chip balled his fists, fighting back his impatience as the smaller ship he was riding on skimmed closer to and then along side the towering frigate. Anxiously, he looked over his shoulder at the events happening a few feet from them. They had arrived just in time to witness the frigate’s crane hook Seaview’s buoy.
The cutter’s crew had barely tied off to the bigger boat when Chip grasped the rope ladder and clamored up to the frigate’s deck. There, he was instantly met by Lieutenant Markson. Markson, in full uniform, was a seasoned Navy man in his early forties and assigned as liaison in the recovery operation. Chip rushed towards the upper deck, Markson at his heels, glancing upwards. The red and yellow-striped marker had been hauled up and was now swinging over his head to be brought aboard. He threw a glimpse at the water. Seaview’s umbrella-type antenna was still floating in the ocean with the recovery divers.
High above him, Chip heard Lieutenant Phillips yell, “Easy, easy” to the men directing in the buoy. Chip set his eyes on the marker and there they stayed even as he ascended the ladder under Phillips’ instructions of, “Okay, lower. Easy . . . easy.”
“All right, get that plate off!” Phillips ordered from beside a small circle of sailors. The buoy, elongated and octagon-shaped, was being held upright by several men when Chip and Markson arrived. The sailors’ deft hands quickly unlocked the screws securing the metal cover that protected the telephone cavity, next removing the cover itself.
Chip reached inside, grabbing hold of the black handset that connected directly to Seaview, simultaneously pushing the activate button, commencing the line to ring on the other end. The seconds felt like days. Chip, his throat dry, drew moisture into it as his heart pounded loudly in his ears. Dear Lord, let somebody be alive down there.
“Seaview!” Nelson answered.
“Admiral . . . .” They’re alive! But Chip was afraid to ask the next question. “Are you all right?” To his surprise, a tense chuckle came over the line, followed by a long pause, after which he could have swore he heard Nelson swallow.
“Am I glad to hear your voice,” sighed Harry.
Chip had never heard the Admiral so sincere before. Or relieved.
“But there’s a problem. We landed in a field of derelict mines.” Nelson swallowed again. “Now listen carefully, Chip. Just reaching us through the mines will be tough enough and then you’ll have to couple that bell to our hull. But it can’t be done if our angle of list is more than thirty degrees,” he cautioned.
“Sir . . . ,” Chip’s chest tightened with dread and regret, “they’re still working on the bell in New London.” There was deafening silence on the other end and Chip knew the Admiral was struggling hard to keep his composure and remain optimistic, especially in front of the men.
“H-how much longer?”
Fear was rare in Harriman Nelson’s demeanor and to hear him stammer frightened Chip to his core. That stutter revealed just how afraid Harry really was, as well as the true seriousness of their situation. Chip felt his fortitude strengthen. “Curley’s staying close to it,” he said with confidence. “If they don’t find that short by the time I get back, we’ll bring the bell out here and attempt a rescue by controlled descent.”
“All right, Chip,” Nelson’s voice trembled, “we’ll sweat it out.”
Chip hung-up and turned to Markson. “Give me the update.”
After Markson’s briefing, Chip re-established contact with Nelson to gather complete details about the sinking, the ship’s condition, and any vital facts that would help in the rescue. The Admiral’s report was short and to the point. There was an argument in the Control Room; the sonar man left his post to stop the fight, thus allowing Seaview to sail into the abandoned minefield. Nelson sent Seaview’s mini-sub out to cut the mines, but something went horribly wrong. Several of the bombs detonated, destroying the small ship. In turn, the concussion threw the nuclear reactor offline, knocking out their radio and all their power, sending the large sub to the bottom. Right now they were sustaining on battery power only.
For Chip, that meant another time limit they had to beat.
Can’t this tub go any faster?! Chip looked at his watch. It had only been five minutes since they had departed the salvage barge.
The newest information Markson had given Chip had been sparse. The terrain Seaview rested on, while rocky yet level, was still below crush depth for any other U.S.—or foreign—submarine. Markson, while waiting for Morton’s arrival, had researched what diving bells from other facilities could reach the submarine. None of them were on the east coast at that time and it would take over twenty hours for any of the other submersibles to be delivered to New London.
Chip sunk his teeth into his lip, his thoughts and emotions whipping around like a roller coaster. At first worried at not receiving communication from Seaview, he’d been thrilled when the boat had been found, petrified they might all be dead; joyous they were alive, fearful as to whom might be dead, and now he was terrified they would all die if he was unable to reach them. Chip looked at his watch again. It was all within the past *ninety minutes.
Chip clutched his fists tight, stiffened his backbone, and stowed away his passions. He had to because, from then on, things could still get a lot worse.
When the jeep drew up to their bay, Chip jumped out before the vehicle halted, bolting to the diving bell, anxious for an update from Jones whom he had spotted atop it. “Curley!”
“Yes, sir?” the Chief replied. He had been threading the new communication-electronics cabling into the bathysphere’s topside access cavity.
“Any luck?” Chip hurried up the wooden ladder leaning against the submersible. He didn’t want to shout their conversation and alert the base to their dire status.
“We’ve got to get this bell to them,” he urged, trying to keep the desperation out of his voice. “They’re running out of time!”
“Can’t we take it the way it is?” Curley pleaded.
Chip shook his head. “No, they’re in a minefield. Trying to get through without a guidance system would be suicide. Keep pushing the men!” he ordered, retreating down the ladder, and then pausing at the hatch. “This is the only bell on this coast that can go that deep!” He disappeared inside.
During the repairs over the last two hours, Chip had anticipated the defect in the guidance controls to be found, but to his ever-increasing alarm, no such announcement came. Each passing minute means less oxygen for them, he calculated, gnawing intensely on his lip as he sat on the bell’s entry rim. His argument to Curley about “it would be suicide” had echoed relentlessly in his mind, and the more he analyzed the reasons as to why the bell could not go down, the more he countered with ways that it could. It wasn’t the diving bell that was the issue, Chip came to realize, but the handler.
He himself, at Nelson’s request, had been the first of Seaview’s newly commissioned officers to train on NIMR’s diving bell. Chip used to kid around with Lee as he taught him the controls, saying that, “Nelson hired me for more than my charm and good looks.” Crane was listed in the Navy record books as being the youngest man to qualify for rank of captain; however, to Lee’s frustration and embarrassment, he had taken several months to perfect the driving technique, whereas Chip had learned it in only two.
Outside of Nelson, I’m probably the one who knows the bell’s quirks and characteristics the best. He and the Admiral had taken the bathysphere through trials with and without the guidance controls, in simulations, in the ocean, in fierce currents and stilled waters. But to dive to those depths, into an uncharted minefield, where water currents are unknown, with other nameless, but just as potentially dangerous factors, Chip’s reasoning perused, would be negligently stupid! And I would have to do it alone. I couldn’t request any other man to go down with me.
Chip looked to his right at the yellow lift truck parked in front of the bell. He had sent for the transport hours ago, in readiness for when the guidance system was fixed, yet since its arrival, the vehicle has instead mocked his helplessness. And what if they don’t make it? Lee and Harry . . . and the others? His stomach roiled with the thought. Would I even want to stay in the Navy after that? Chip set his jaw. Bottom line . . . if those men are to have any chance at all, I’m gonna have to be the one to give it to them. Chip peered at Chief Jones, determination and adrenaline surging through him. “All right, Curley,” Chip shouted, “let’s go!” He pushed himself off the rim.
Curley stood over a microwave-size instrument display panel, one of the last units needing to be double-checked. In the mist of reattaching a connection, Curley paused to look up. “Did you find it?” he asked, surprised that he hadn’t been informed.
“No,” Chip replied, looking at the large yellow hauler. “Get that lift crane over here,” he ordered, rolling down his right shirtsleeve, “we’re shoving off anyway!”
Shocked and concerned, Curley ran to him. “But the minefields!”
Chip turned, looking him straight in the eye. “We’ll get through it some how. Come on, get that lift crane!” he repeated, nodding at the truck. “We’re wasting time!”
“Yes, sir!” Curley rushed away, emanating Morton’s confidence.
Chip pulled his cap off the hatch’s inside bar, dropping it on his head as he turned to Grille. “Put that equipment back in,” he ordered, nodding at the control panel Curley had been working on. “Let’s go!” He rolled down his other sleeve as numerous crewmen scrambled to fulfill the command. Grille lifted the panel and headed for the hatch as Chip followed with its trailing wires.
Within a record thirty minutes, NIMR’s diving bell was completely re-assembled. Chief Jones hawk-eyed the actions of his crew as they loaded then locked the submersible into place on the lift truck. “Make sure it’s good and secure, men,” he bellowed. “For our brothers below, this could be their only chance.”
Chip stood silently beside Curley, leaving the chief to do the barking. Detach, Chip impelled himself as he watched Seaview’s scant remaining contingent of men. Men he barely knew. I must stay strictly objective. I can’t even let myself think of them as friends, otherwise, my mistakes could end up killing them. Chip felt a strange eeriness settled over him. Where there was once fear and uncertainty, there was now calmness and acceptance of the unknown. At least within a handful of hours, we’ll know how this will all play out.
But there was one matter he needed to address. He wasn’t looking forward to it, nor to the argument that would surely follow. Squaring his shoulders, Chip braced himself to say no.
“Curley,” he called.
“Yes, sir.” Jones turned halfway so he could see his Exec and keep an eye on the men, at the same time.
“Curley,” Chip measured his words, filling them with the utmost respect he had for this man. “This is very important. I wasn’t sure if there would be time later, so I’m telling you now. The barge crew are not familiar with our gear so you’ll need to keep a tight line and a sharp ear out from the deck. Make sure—”
“—from the deck? Who you taking with you!?”
“No one. I—”
“You can’t go by yourself!”
“It’s a suicide mission, Chief. I can’t ask you to go.”
“Then I volunteer.”
“Skipper, you can’t do it alone. No one can!”
Chip bristled. “Need I remind you, Chief, I have piloted the bell solo on many occasions.”
“That was kid stuff compared to this mission!”
“Under numerous hazardous conditions, all of them successful!”
“Was a minefield included?” Curley shot back.
“I can’t let you do it, Chief.”
Curley snapped to full, rigid attention. “With all due respect, Mister Morton, those men down there are just as much my responsibility as they are yours. I recruited some of them and trained most of them. I comforted them when they had problems at home, straightened out others when they went astray, and even taught one or two of them how to win their lady loves. Most of those men are like sons to me, you and Lee Crane included.” His eyes settled onto Chip’s. “You’ll need two set of eyes and hands if we’re to make it to Seaview alive. If I have to die, I’d rather be with my crew and my officers—my family, sir—than ordered to remain alone and landlocked.”
Chip studied him a moment. There was a haunting sincerity in the man’s eyes he had never seen before and could not ignore. “Are all your papers in order, Chief?” he finally asked. He didn’t need to explain what “papers” meant: a Last Will and Testament. Every sailor understood the implication.
Curley gave him a single, solemn nod. “Yes, sir.”
“Then let’s move. Seaview’s waiting.”
Chip scanned the ocean from the upper deck of the salvage frigate, his eyes narrowed in thought and annoyance. There were over twenty boats circling about; some were rescue, most were private, including a few vacationers who had chanced upon the operation. Several of those pleasure boaters had also been hired by newspapers to carry their reporters, who lived by the ill-conceived dreams that by proclaiming the first word on the mission’s progress, whether it be good or bad, would gain them world notoriety.
Chip shifted his eyes to the lower level where Seaview’s submersible was the hive of bustling activity. A queue of sailors was passing oxygen tanks into Curley, who was loading the cabin with as many canisters as he could store inside. Hopefully, that’ll be enough air to get us through the minefield with plenty to spare for Seaview’s crew.
During the trip from the repair bay to the dock, Chip and Curley had continued brainstorming rescue plans, stumbling upon an ingenious means on how to maneuver the tethered craft. The diving bell’s base was built with numerous air nozzles. When the bathysphere coupled with its destination, the pressurized air from the tanks was blown into the space sandwiched between the two structures. This forced the water out, creating a vacuumed tunnel by which people then passed through from one point, whether it be submarine or research facility, to the other. It was the same procedure used for the escape hatches on submarines. While the bell was loaded onto the coast guard cutter, Chip ordered the hinged protective cover over the bell’s base removed and the nozzle control wiring reconfigured. He would then use the pressurized air to “push” the bell into the direction they needed to go.
“Careful,” Chip heard a seaman admonish to the man in line beside him concerning the oxygen tanks, “you drop one of these the wrong way and it will explode.”
Now there’s another item I didn’t need on my worry list, Chip frowned. For the last few minutes, he had been fighting a battle to keep his emotions in check; at his feet lie the emergency buoy, and in his hand the telephone that was, at this moment, the last lifeline to Seaview and the men aboard her. Only a few minutes ago he had fully apprised Admiral Nelson of the finalized plan. All hazards and solutions Chip, Markson, and company had come up with had been scrutinized to where even Nelson himself could offer no new obstacles to be wary of or additional insights as to how to proceed. Before hanging up, Nelson had again reassured Morton that he, Lee, and the crew were doing all right. But Chip had heard the doubt in his superior’s voice.
Chip clutched the telephone hard, clenched his jaw, and banished his penetrating fears. He next peered at Phillips across from him. The young lieutenant’s expression was grim. Phillips had been in Morton’s class at Annapolis and had worked with Nelson and Crane on several occasions. Phillips, like so many others, had admired the Admiral’s brilliance. Chip had even caught scuttlebutt about Phillips being in line to join Seaview’s crew when an opening came up—Chip redirected his attention over the railing, just in time to see the last canister get handed inside. A sailor climbed out. Next appeared Chief Jones, who leaned outwards from the hatchway and peered up at Chip. “All secure, Captain,” he shouted.
“Then let’s go!” Chip replied.
Chip handed the phone to Phillips then stepped to the ladder.
“Good luck, Commander,” Markson said.
“Thanks,” Chip nodded, starting his climb down. As he approached the bell, he heard Markson yell above his head, “Ready on the winch” to the man at the hoist controls. Chip grabbed the stepladder, but paused to glance over his shoulder at the hoist controller. The man was set and waiting. Chip then turned to a second operator nearby. “Lower away on signal,” he said. Chip then entered the vessel.
Inside, Chip turned in time to see Curley haul in and store away the ladder. The cabin darkened as the hatch shut and was secured by the outside crew. Streaming sunlight from the viewports above created pockets of shadows within, but he would not turn on the interior lights until they were submerged.
Taking his seat, Chip peered upwards past the higher yet smaller port window. From this angle, he could see that Markson had moved to the corner railing of the deck where he could better supervise the operation. Markson mouthed something and although Chip couldn’t hear what he said, he could guess what it was about by the officer’s hand gestures. Sure enough, a moment later, he felt the egg jolt as it was lifted off the ship. Chip stretched out his arms to brace himself against the erratic careening and threw a glance over his shoulder, noticing Curley had done the same. When the craft stabilized, Chip turned to his station and began setting the gauges. By the sounds behind him, he knew the Chief was doing likewise.
Overhead, the sky faded from view, replaced by the Atlantic’s swirling waters. Chip flipped on the interior lights. Not long after, the ocean blue gave way to the ebony depths.
“Do it by the book,” Chip told Curley. “We don’t need any unknown factors popping up, in addition to what we’re all ready dealing with.”
“By the book, aye, sir,” he replied. Curley slipped on the headset by which he would relay orders and information back to the salvage barge.
So far, Chip noted with satisfaction, everything is working perfectly—with the exception of the guidance controls, that is—and hopefully, it’ll stay that way. He looked to the white telephone on the hull to his right and felt his gut tighten. He would maintain contact with Seaview via this handset. Chip wiped his forehead where beads of sweat had already formed and reached for the receiver. It was time to re-establish contact with the Gray Lady.
Chip scanned the waters outside out of habit. “We’re on the descent, Admiral,” he said, when Nelson had come on line. “How long can you hold on?”
“Not much longer,” Nelson replied. “You have air?”
“Plenty of it. What’s the present angle on the escape hatch?”
“It’s twenty-three degrees. It’s difficult, but not impossible. If we don’t settle again, we can make the connection. But you’ll have to negotiate the minefields, Chip, it’s gonna be tricky.”
Nelson sounded terse, but upbeat, Chip thought. “Yes, sir, we know,” he replied calmly. They had gone through the details several times, and he knew precisely what he had to do. He was about to say more when he heard a soft click on the other end and realized Harry had hung up. He understood why; he didn’t want to say good-bye either.
Chip returned the phone to its base and peered outward. All he saw was pitch-blackness. He glanced at his watch. They’d been in the water for little over half an hour; time to turn on the exterior lights. He flipped the lever. Now let’s see what’s . . . . he glanced outside and froze in terror. “Curley, I’ve got trouble!” His observation light hadn’t come on! Chip knew they had over ninety minutes before they neared the bottom, but descent time was crucial—Seaview was running low on air. He was against wasting precious minutes by stopping the descent, and decided on doing the repairs en route. But Chip didn’t want any surprises either; therefore, he ordered Curley keep a diligent watch outside
Minutes passed quickly as Chip worked feverishly to avert a subsequent disaster, and had, after taking off part of the wall and floor plates, traced the problem to a wire below the flooring. The small susceptible line had been pulled loose when the seats had been reattached.
“Keep your fingers crossed, Curley,” Chip said, reaching up for the light selector.
He flipped the first lever, but no lighting came on. He hastily threw the next two levers in succession—no light. Chip’s pulse raced as he systematically flipped, turned, and pushed every switch, dial, knob, and “on” button within his grasp. Suddenly, the exterior water illuminated. Swiping the sweat away with his sleeve, Chip paused a moment to bask in his relief. In the crews’ haste to reassemble the equipment, someone had switched the wiring of the observation light with the emergency oxygen release connection. I don’t care who screwed up at the moment, Chip thought as he replaced the flooring and retook his seat, just as long as the damn lights are working! But if we survive, I will have someone’s ass for this! Chip peered outside with a look of suspicion, then at the lever. He pushed down the lever to “off,” then up to “on”; his fear evaporating as the outside light glowed brilliantly.
“Skipper! The mines!!” Curley shouted.
Startled, Chip glanced at him. Jones was looking down through the lower porthole. They had arrived sooner than he had expected! Chip leaned in, straining his view upward, fearful they had already entered the field—they had! He held his breath as the submersible descended past a tethered orb dead-set in front of him. Chip dropped lower, tilting his head for a better upward angle, and saw what he needed to see: none of the other mines were, at this time, anywhere near them. Scrutinizing the devices, Chip’s throat went dry. They looked lethal. Completely rounded, they were half the size of the diving bell itself, with foot-long spikes protruding from their metal shells. Steel cables, looking to be an inches thick, anchored the deadly balls to the seafloor at various heights.
Chip felt a glimmer of hope as he studied the field. The cable anchors had been widely spaced when planted. That disparity had allowed Seaview to slip through the destructive grounds, he realized; amazed and in awe that the submarine hadn’t been destroyed, regardless. And if she can get through all of this then so can we! He dissected the movement of the mines and the sea life around them. The wave action was gentle and to a degree, steady. Even better, he noticed, the waters were swaying the next nearest bomb away from them. “They’re shifting with the current,” Chip said off-handedly, his mind on the obstacles. “Slow the descent.”
“Aye, aye, sir.” Curley pushed the headset to his ear and pulled the mouthpiece closer. “Slow the descent,” he relayed to the salvage frigate.
Chip peered downward. The descent path looked clear for the most part. He turned the knob on the regulator at his left shoulder, adjusting the oxygen/nitrogen mix. “We’ll have to inch our way through and pray we don’t touch one of them.”
Curley, changing a selector switch on the panel behind him, shook his head in amazement and disbelief. Inch through? Houdini would have a problem slipping through this stuff!
In a matter of minutes, Chip had worked out a “stop and go” routine between Curley and the frigate, by which they timed their drop with the veering of the mines. The tactic was slow, yet after forty minutes, proved successful. Chip, his knuckles white from clutching the seat cushion, watched as they bypassed three more orbs. So far so good, he exhaled. “Curley, what’s it like on your side?”
“Clear. But I can’t see—”
A hard rap and sudden jostling made Chip spin to his left. At the viewport between him and Curley, he caught a short glimpse of an ascending mine—the bomb had been mere inches from the hull! He looked at Curley; the Chief looked back at him. Jones’ eyes were large with fright, his face the color of milk.
“Focus, Chief,” Chip ordered with intentional calmness before swinging around to his post. He hoped his demeanor would to alleviate Curley’s fears.
“Aye, sir,” Curley returned, his voice heavy.
Chip took in a long, deep breath and then slowly let it out. Although shaken, he was more concerned about Curley than himself. He had never seen the man so rattled before. Chip bit his lip and turned in his chair. The Chief’s back was to him, but by Curley’s brusque movements, he could tell the man was already back in duty mode. Chip grinned, filled with new confidence about the mission. With Curley as my Exec, there’s no way we can fail.
Chip peered at the fathometer. We should be nearing Seaview! His adrenaline surged as he struggled to spot either the next bomb threat, or the sub below. Suddenly his view blurred as his stomach filled with a violent “swinging” sensation. The bell’s caught in a current—no! The mines aren’t moving! Something’s pulling us off course! Chip strained to look outward for the cause, at the same time he became aware of a metallic scrapping outside on his right. What the . . . ! “Hard left! Hard left!” He yelled, hoping the direction change would cancel the problem. He heard gurgle of the air jets below their feet, but the rasping continued. “HARD LEFT!” he shouted.
“She’s not responding!” Curley snapped, scrambling between instruments.
But Chip saw the submersible had responded. The water elements whooshed by them while the metal-on-metal screech persisted, except now Chip felt a distinct resistance in their dive. He ducked down, pressed his face into the glass, and peered as upwards as far as he could, his jaw dropping in disbelief—a mine’s tether was snared on the portal’s housing, and the metal line was sliding downward in conjunction with the bell’s descent, pulling its mine down along with it!
“Fouled cable!” How do I—the two orbs collided, the explosion flinging Chip from one side of his post to the other and almost out of his chair. He reached up to steady himself when his arm was knocked free by a second blast, this time from below. The impact thrust the bell upwards, the freefalling craft jolting to an abrupt stop seconds later, only to be tossed again when a third detonation repeated the battery.
Chip clung tight to the panel’s underside. Let the bell’s cable hold! he prayed. He expected his life to end with the next heartbeat, and was stunned when death didn’t happen. Pushing on the hull, Chip raised up as the cabin plunged into darkness, then lit up with emergency lighting.
“We’re alive!” Chip muttered, thrilled to find they were still in one piece. But he still had a job to do. Holding on the hatch frame with his right hand, he altered the pressure settings with his left. “Curley?” he asked, afraid to look.
“I’m all right, Skipper,” The Chief replied, sounding weary and none too enthusiastic.
Cold fear suddenly shot through Chip. Seaview?! He pressed his face against the window, but a barrage of bubbles blinded him from seeing anything. His heart pounding, he snatched up the white receiver. “Hello, Seaview . . . hello, Seaview. Admiral! . . . Admiral!” Receiving no answer, Chip’s throat tightened as another realization came to him. All those bubbles . . . they’re not just ours—Seaview’s flooding! Chip could no longer forestall his terror. Gloom swept over him. There won’t be any survivors because we couldn’t get to them in time. He felt the blood drain from his head, and his arm that held the telephone became very heavy. “The line’s dead,” he said, his voice flat, numb. He turned to Curley, not knowing how to tell him that their friends would be dead by the time they got there.
Curley saw Morton’s blanched face and knew what the man was thinking, but he wasn’t going to let him think that way because he didn’t believe it himself. “The mine did it,” Curley said, with a nonchalant air before his XO could utter the fatal words. “But we’re over the sub now,” he emphasized with assurance. Curley saw a sudden change take over Morton; a small look of hope had appeared on the Lieutenant Commander’s face.
Chip whipped around to his window and found Curley had been right. Not only had the bubbles lessened, but the diving bell hung straight above midship of his beautiful submarine. As far as he could tell, she had no gaping holes, zero debris, and only a minimum amount of leakage. Minor damage to the ballast tanks, maybe, where there would still be residual oxygen, which, Chip reasoned, could explain the escaping air. Seaview’s intact, he grinned, uttering a silent prayer of thanks. That means there’s still a chance. But he also saw they had a new problem—Seaview was listing dramatically. He shook his head, his optimism slipping. “I don’t like the looks of that. The angle’s too steep.”
Curley, feeling a drip of sweat above his lip, wiped it away. “Can we make a connection?”
“I don’t know, Curley,” Chip said with another shake of his head, his eyes riveted below. “I don’t know.” He began racking his memory for solutions.
“Skipper!” Curley shouted suddenly, jerking Chip from his ideas. “Something’s happening down there. Seaview’s rolling!”
Chip looked out, but was again blinded by assaulting oxygen, as well as silt and matter from the seafloor. Just how much air are they losing and how much do they have left to lose? he wondered in alarm. The murkiness couldn’t dissipate fast enough for Chip, and when it did, “Curley!” he shouted. “Her tilt’s corrected! It’s less than ten degrees, I bet my bars on it!”
“Yours and mine, Skipper!” Curley said, his face beaming.
Chip grinned from ear to ear as he lunged at different instruments. “Let’s dock this thing and get them the hell out of there!”
He gave Curley instructions for the frigate to move at dead slow, several feet to their right. With few mines hanging in the immediate area of the submarine, it was an easier maneuver than when the bell had first entered the field. All he and Curley had to do was keep the submersible steady, and stop her from swinging out of its designated pathway. Yet even that simple exercise took them over thirty minutes, and for Chip, it was a lifetime he never wanted to experience again.
“Little left,” Chip said for the umpteenth time, his attention on points below.
“Yes, sir.” Curley replied flatly, his exhilaration replaced by exhaustion. He opened the air valve and waited until told to close it.
Excitement shot though Chip. We’re getting close! “Hold it,” he said. Just a few more— “Right, right.”
“Yes, sir,” said Curley, duplicating the procedure.
“Hold it there.” The diving bell’s base was now directly inline with a topside hatch on the forward side. Chip’s next instructions were for the frigate to lower the line. “Steady . . . steady.” He stared breathlessly as the yards, feet, and inches shrank beneath them until he felt the cabin shudder with a familiar jarring that signaled the bell’s coupling to the hull. Chip smiled and turned to Curley.
“We made it,” Curley sighed, his delighted grin matching Chip’s own.
As Chip started down the sail ladder, he felt his chest tighten and his throat go dry. He released the last hatch to Seaview’s interior and slowly opened it, fearful of the boat’s condition and what he was about to find.
But the compartment was dry. And full of oxygen. And strangely quiet.
Gripping the ladder to the Control Room, Chip heard a murmuring that grew with each rung he took until it reached a jubilant crescendo. Greeted by ecstatic familiar faces and numerous cheers, Chip paused near the bottom, his heart pounding. His dread was nearly gone, but there was one thing left he had to do. He turned toward the plot table where he hoped to see two well-known faces. “Permission to come aboard, sir?” Chip asked, searching them out.
Harriman Nelson and Lee Crane, both smiling brilliantly, strolled towards him.
This story is dedicated to my mother, Domicella Bukauskas, who passed away during the converting of this story and never got the chance to see her name in print.
Note to Readers: This story was a labor of love in many ways. The episode had been my favorite since my childhood and as a children (and sometimes as adults), we often do not question elements of a television show. It wasn’t until I started adapting “Submarine Sunk Here,” that I discovered just how many areas of continuity and physics had been circumvented. Such as the bell coupling to the top deck yet Chip descending through the sail. I tried to give reasonable explanations for some parts of the story, while others I thought best not even to try (i.e. while the Navy’s COMSUBLANT wasn’t more involved with the rescue). Regardless of the show’s discrepancies, this story means to highlight Chip Morton’s loyalty, determination, and bravery, as well as add a new dimension to the episode's original origin.
USS Casimir Pulaski (SSBN-633), a James Madison class sub, was named after a Polish general who commanded the American troops during the Revolutionary War.
My sincere thanks go to the women of PNG for helping me keep it real and logical.
Special thanks go to Mark B. and K, who, as ex-navy men, gave me assistance with the technical side of Navy procedures and terminology.
"Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea" ® is a registered trademark of Irwin Allen Properties, LLC. © Irwin Allen Properties, LLC and Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved.