A Wolf in the Deep
General Reid's eyes lit up like a kid in a candy store when he heard the news. British Intelligence reported that the country of Poretos was sending a lone aircraft carrier to the Teutonic States, supposedly bearing humanitarian aid. The captain would not even have discretion to launch his planes if necessary. Duxburian satellites confirmed the report, it was a carrier all by itself, heading into a restricted area controlled by Davishire.
Reid was elated to find that the Steward saw what he saw - a chance to sink an unprotected capital ship of a non-allied nation with complete anonymity. Such opportunities were extremely rare and not to be wasted.
He got his authorization, now he just needed to find the right submarine to execute the mission. Reid logged into Valkyrie to find a sub and was greeted with its assistant program.
"Welcome, General Reid. Shall we play a game of chess?"
"Actually, I was hoping to play Conquer the World."
A map of Europe came up with the locations of all major Duxburian forces highlighted.
"Show me just the Navy."
"These are the real time positions of all Duxburian naval vessels."
He eyed the options. Most of them were in port or around the Red Sea. Fleet 2, however, was on its way back from patrol in the North Atlantic.
"Zoom in to Fleet 2."
The individual ships now appeared on the map. Reid was looking for submarines. The core of the fleet was far away, but the submarines were known to take a wider course. He spotted one very close to the Davishire blockade zone.
"Zoom in on Block 420 and bring up customized ship information."
"This ship is SSN-187, the DNS Wolverine. It is a Seawolf-Class attack submarine, nuclear-powered. It has a stealth speed of 15 knots, sprint speed of 42 knots, 8 torpedo tubes, and carries 50 Mark 48 heavyweight torpedos. The commander is Vincent Cody. The ship's current destination is Mortec."
"Send the following message to Commander Cody using the deep sea buoy system and class A encryption…"
Commander Cody was getting some much needed sleep after a routine, but long patrol across the Atlantic. He wasn't happy to be woken up by the XO, but apparently there was an encrypted message coming into the Comm room from 5 Star General Reid himself.
He read the decoded message and thought the General must be pulling his leg. Run the Davishirian blockade and sink a skimmer belonging to a neutral nation? The skimmer is alone and defenseless? None of this made any sense. However, his request for clarification came back with auth code 538722, a code used and known only between the Commander of SSN-187 and the Steward of the Duxburian Union. Regardless of the motive, this was a real attack order.
Cody got dressed immediately, rushed to the control room, and ordered the nearest person to press the big, red "Battle Button". The raid alarm sounded, alerting the ship's crew of a change in status.
"ALL SUBMARINERS REPORT TO YOUR BATTLE STATIONS, ALL SUBMARINERS REPORT TO YOUR BATTLE STATIONS, THIS IS NOT A TEST. ALL SUBMARINERS REPORT TO YOUR BATTLE STATIONS, ALL SUBMARINERS REPORT TO YOUR BATTLE STATIONS, THIS IS NOT A TEST."
What had been a generous-sized room was now filed with over a dozen people. Screens came online, writing boards popped out, the watch was replaced by the Helmslir and command staff. Crew rushed to the torpedo room and the sonar room, ready to get down to business. The only person who seemed out of place was the Commander-in-Training, Stephen Davis.
"Lir Davis! Come have a seat! Today is your lucky day, you're going to see the Wolverine in real action," exclaimed Cody.
Davis was confused, for they were scheduled to return home with the fleet, there was no more to do on this tour. The Duxburian Union had no enemies out here, what were they going into action for?
"HELM," Cody bellowed, "COME RIGHT TO 102."
"ENGINE…FOWARD TO 15, DIVE TO 1658."
"SONAR…SWITCH TO PASSIVE."
"ALL SUBMARINERS PREPARE TO DIVE."
"Lir Davis, we are about to engage upon a risky, dangerous mission. It is critical that all crew members know exactly where they need to be, exactly what they need to do, and exactly how to do it. This is why I bust their balls with drills, drills, drills. So when the day comes where we must actually engage in real combat, they are prepared to execute the mission, no matter what is asked of us. Observe the crew, these are skills you can not pick up in a classroom."
After what seemed like an eternity, the sub reached Commander Cody's desired depth.
"HELM…LEFT TO 97."
"We are passing through, -or rather, under- the Davishire naval blockade of Teutonic States," Cody explained to Davis. We could maintain stealth as high as 20 knots, but 15 is safer. We absolutely cannot risk being detected yet. I fully expect Davishire to try and enforce its blockade."
After several hours of listening to Commander Cody bark orders varying the sub's speed, depth, and course, they arrived at a position that the Commander was satisfied with.
"HELM…KEEP HER SO."
"ENGINE…HOLD 15, RISE to 325."
Cody would normally have to spend hours locating his prey, but Reid had given up the GPS coordinates of the skimmer's last known, satellite verified, location. It couldn't have gone far in three hours.
Sure enough, passive sonar picked up a line. Fire control sprung into action, scribbling furiously on the boards, trying to triangulate possible positions.
"The first person to find a targeting solution will receive a big, special dinner tonight on me," promised Cody. He explained the work to Davis.
"The Navy always insists on maintaining capabilities even if we lose all power. Hence, markers and whiteboards. What Fire Control is doing, is using trigonometry to calculate the position of our skimmer -that's submarinerspeak for surface target- so we can fire torpedoes. Passive sonar does not tell you distance, course, or speed - just that something is there. Active sonar would give us these details, but it would also give away our position.
See those dots on the computer screens? As these things are worked out, the dots start to stack up in a line. Once you have every dot stacked, you have a firing solution. You cannot just aim and shoot a torpedo like you could a missile, it involves cold, hard math. I hope you paid attention in trig…"
Davis was a little nervous now, as he'd mostly blown off trig as a boring class.
"FIRING SOLUTION TUBE 4!" The guy couldn't have been older than 20.
"EXCELLENT WORK NORMAN, distribute to all tubes," said Cody. "THANK YOU LIR!"
That was unusually quick for a firing solution…Cody pondered to himself…that meant the target must be extremely close by.
"TORPEDO ROOM…LOAD UNITS, FLOOD TUBES."
"HELM…RIGHT TO 108."
"ENGINE…RISE TO PERISCOPE DEPTH."
"Even when preparing to strike a target, I still try to move the ship," Cody explained to Davis. "If any hostile subs are tracking us, changes in speed, course, and depth will increase the time it takes to achieve a firing solution. The more we move, the more they can not stack their dots on us. They won't risk firing torpedoes unless they have a 100% solution."
Cody took a look and was stunned at what he saw. The Poretos aircraft carrier was floating in visual range, and it had not launched any planes. Apparently, it had not yet detected the sub's presence. However, there were two other ships in the vicinity, Davishire-flagged. He needed to be exceptionally careful here.
He could fire now, but he realized a mistake - he needed to be facing the carrier from the direction of the coast, in order to pass this off as a possible attack from the greatest number of countries.
"ENGINE…DIVE TO 430, FORWARD TO 5, YES I SAID 5, SLOW NO SOUND.'
"HELM…LEFT TO 99."
"We are going to pass UNDER the target, and possibly Davishirian vessels, so everyone SHUT UP."
Time stood still as they crept under the carrier to the other side, but nothing happened. That thing must have been really not expecting to be attacked.
"ALRIGHT, HELM…COME RIGHT TO 220…EASY…10 AT A TIME…ALRIGHT MEET HER, STEADY."
"ENGINGE…RISE TO PERISCOPE DEPTH."
"HELM…HOLD HER SO."
"FIRE CONTROL, I NEED A NEW SOLUTION."
Theo were on it, but they also had to distinguish between multiple lines that weren't present before. Cody backed way out in fear of being spotted by Davishirian skimmers. Eventually, however, they got the new solution, and it was definitely on the carrier. Both other ships were smaller.
"DISTRIBUTED AND PROGRAMMED IN. TUBE 1 IS LOCKED AND READY TO LAUNCH."
"TUBE 2 IS LOCKED AND READY TO LAUNCH."
"TUBE 3 IS LOCKED AND READY TO LAUNCH."
"TUBE 4 IS LOCKED AND READY TO LAUNCH."
"TUBE 5 IS LOCKED AND READY TO LAUNCH."
"TUBE 6 IS LOCKED AND READY TO LAUNCH."
"TUBE 7 IS LOCKED AND READY TO LAUNCH."
"TUBE 8 IS LOCKED AND READY TO LAUNCH."
"SONAR…SWITCH TO ACTIVE, PING 1."
"Lir Davis, I do this briefly, just a single ping, to confirm the solution. At this point our position will be given away by firing the torpedoes, so there's no reason not to."
Cody liked the results, again…so close…he could practically snap a picture of the carrier's hull if he so chose to.
"SONAR…SWITCH TO PASSIVE."
"FIRE CONTROL…PREPARE TO ENGAGE…,….,…FIRE," bellowed Cody.
The 8 torpedoes were away, but the Commander wasted no time watching them.
"ALL ROOMS PERMISSION GRANTED FOR SHORTFORM ORDERS."
"DETECT 1, DETECT 2…HOMING!"
"ENGINE…FORWARD 40 DIVE 2000."
By now, their position was in jeopardy, so it was time to dive deep and vanish. As they dove, Cody briefed Davis on what just happened.
"Lir Davis, this is how a sub makes a clean getaway - we dive…DEEP…down into the darkness. Only another sub can follow, surface assets are of no use in deep water. From there, we will resume our zig zag route, constantly changing course, speed, and depth, until we make it out of the Davirshire blockade zone and into the open ocean. We have one of the highest sprint speeds of any vessel in any navy - even if a sub can track us, they will find it very difficult to keep up.
Unfortunately, I have no way of confirming if we actually sunk the target, we have to make a quick getaway. However, with 8 units fired on a good solution, I like our chances."
These MK 48 units have nose sensors and are wire-guided. That means their course can be adjusted or adjust itself. In the event of a miss, the unit can even be steered back around to make another run at the target! "Detect 1 or 2" means they've found the target, "homing" means they are moving to attack speed and closing in on it.
These are heavyweight units, which means they don't penetrate the hull. Instead, they blow under the ship with HE and create an air vacuum. The ship can't support itself, its back breaks, and the whole thing snaps in half like a twig."
He hoped that Davis had learned invaluable lessons on how to conduct a real attack on a big skimmer, while evading potential threats.