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Rick Campbell

Power Play

AMERICAN CHARACTERS

UNITED STATES ADMINISTRATION

Kevin Hardison — chief of staff

Christine O’Connor — national security advisor

Bill DuBose (Colonel) — senior military aide

USS MICHIGAN (Ohio class guided missile submarine) — Crew

Murray Wilson (Captain) — Commanding Officer

Charlie Eaton (Lieutenant) — Navigator

Clif Bradley (Lieutenant) — Junior Officer

Jeff Porteous (Lieutenant) — Junior Officer

USS MICHIGAN—SEAL Detachment

John McNeil (Commander) — SEAL Team Commander

Jake Harrison (Lieutenant) — SEAL Platoon Officer-in-Charge

Jeff Stone (Special Warfare Operator Senior Chief)

Sam Carver (Special Warfare Operator First Class)

USS PITTSBURGH (Los Angeles class fast attack submarine)

John Buglione (Commander) — Commanding Officer

Rick Schwartz (Lieutenant Commander) — Executive Officer

Bob Cibelli (Lieutenant) — Navigator

Mike Williams (Lieutenant) — Junior Officer

NAVAL UNDERSEA WARFARE CENTER, NEWPORT DIVISION

Tony DelGreco — Director, Code 85

John Hinves — lead torpedo mechanical engineer

Dave Reynolds — lead torpedo electrical engineer

Gino Cerbarano — lead torpedo warhead engineer

OTHER CHARACTERS

Logan Chance — Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI)

Carmen Aguirre — Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI)

Eric Mason — ONI Russian submarine expert

Dave Harrelson — ONI Russian torpedo expert

Vivian Best — Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)

John Kaufmann — CIA interrogator

RUSSIAN CHARACTERS

RUSSIAN FEDERATION ADMINISTRATION

Yuri Kalinin — president

Andrei Lavrov — foreign minister

Sergei Andropov (General) — Chief of the General Staff

K-561 KAZAN (Yasen class attack submarine)

Anatoly Mikhailov (Captain Second Rank) — Commanding Officer

Erik Fedorov (Captain Third Rank) — First Officer

OTHER CHARACTERS

Alexei Novikoff — design lead for Russian Type 53 and Type 65 torpedoes

Georgiy Ivanov — former commander-in-chief of the Russian Navy

Elena Krayev — CIA agent

CHAPTER 1

MOSCOW, RUSSIA

Russian President Yuri Kalinin entered the Kremlin conference room, joining his senior civilian and military advisors. All stood when Kalinin entered, returning to their seats after he took his position at the head of the table. Kalinin sensed the tension in the room as he prepared to review the aftermath of their invasion of Ukraine and Lithuania. The Americans had overcome Russia’s attempt to prevent them from intervening and had soundly defeated the Russian Navy in the process. Black plumes of smoke were still rising from Russian surface combatants — those lucky enough to have not been sunk — and hours earlier, Kalinin had been forced to order the withdrawal of all Russian troops from the two Eastern European countries.

Assessing the status of Russia’s military, along with potential damage control on the political front, were the main topics of this morning’s meeting. Kalinin turned to Foreign Minister Lavrov, who delivered his brief, focusing on efforts to repair diplomatic relations with Ukraine, Lithuania, and the United States, as well as the entire NATO alliance. Preventing additional economic sanctions, on top of those already in place for Russia’s annexation of Crimea, was high on the agenda. Various conciliatory proposals were discussed. However, when the topic shifted to the status of Russia’s military, the tone took a decidedly different turn.

General Andropov, Kalinin’s senior military advisor, addressed the Russian president. “We cannot let this stand. America has humiliated us. By the end of the day, images of Russian warships on fire and drifting aimlessly will be displayed on every Russian television broadcast. Public confidence in our military — and in your administration — will be seriously degraded.”

Andropov didn’t have to expound. Kalinin was up for reelection next year, being challenged by a Vladimir Putin protégé who currently led in the polls. When the country learned of the military debacle, he’d surge even further ahead. Drastic action would be required to shift public opinion and reestablish the world’s respect for the Russian military. Kalinin listened intently as Andropov continued.

“Despite our surface combatant losses, our submarine fleet remains a viable asset. We still have thirty-five diesel and nuclear attack submarines, while America has only eighteen fast attack submarines after their war with China and the losses inflicted at our hands. Additionally, we may soon have an unsurmountable advantage over our American counterparts. Kazan heads to sea tomorrow for the next phase of testing. If the test is successful, our submarines will be invincible. The American Navy will be at our mercy, which opens the door to numerous possibilities.

“However,” Andropov added, “the required test is unusual and carries notable risks. Before the Navy proceeds, we need your approval.” He slid a folder across the table to Kalinin.

The Russian president read the directive, carefully considering the plan and its ramifications. After a long moment, he signed it. He looked up at Andropov.

“Proceed with the test.”

CHAPTER 2

THE BARENTS SEA

Ten miles north of Kildin Island, just off the coast of Russia’s Kola Peninsula, USS Pittsburgh cruised westward at periscope depth. Lieutenant Mike Williams, on watch as the Officer of the Deck, rotated the port periscope slowly, his right eye pressed against the eyepiece. As the scope optics swung to the south, Williams shifted the periscope to high power for a detailed scan of Kola Bay — the exit point for Russian warships stationed in ports along the shores of the Murmansk Fjord. He paused at the fjord entrance and pressed the doubler, increasing the periscope magnification to maximum.

Still nothing.

Williams released the doubler and shifted back to low power, continuing his clockwise revolution. In another thirty minutes, he’d be relieved by the next Officer of the Deck, who would have the pleasure of walking in circles for the next six hours. Although he looked forward to the end of his watch, he was disappointed. He’d hoped to be the one to spot Russia’s newest nuclear attack submarine, K-561 Kazan, entering the Barents Sea.

This morning’s intelligence message had reported Kazan would likely head to sea today. Reconnaissance satellites had monitored Kazan’s crew loading supplies and torpedoes. Shore power had been disconnected; the submarine’s reactor had been brought on-line in preparation for getting underway. Where Kazan was headed was what COMSUBLANT wanted to know, and USS Pittsburgh had been tasked to find out.

Pittsburgh’s operational order had been concise: gain trail on Kazan as she emerged from Kola Bay and follow her until she exited the Barents Sea. There were a few options as to where Kazan was headed, with the leading contenders being west toward the GIUK gap for an Atlantic Ocean or Mediterranean Sea deployment, north under the ice for transfer to Russia’s Pacific Fleet, or into a local operating area for training. Anywhere was fine with Williams, as long as there was something to trail. They’d been on station for two weeks thus far with nothing to show for it.

Williams’s thoughts were interrupted by the Sonar Supervisor’s report over the Conn speaker. “Conn, Sonar. Hold a new contact on the towed array, designated Sierra two-one, ambiguous bearings two-one-zero and zero-three-zero. Analyzing.”

Pittsburgh’s towed array was a valuable asset, detecting contacts at longer ranges than the submarine’s other acoustic sensors. However, the array was an assembly of hydrophones connected in a straight line, which meant it could not determine which side the sound arrived from, resulting in two potential bearings to the contact — one on each side of the array.

Williams acknowledged Sonar’s report and rotated the periscope to a bearing of zero-three-zero, shifting to high power and activating the doubler. There were no contacts. He swung to the south. As he examined Kola Bay, he spotted a small speck on the horizon. He called to the Electronic Support Measures watch. “ESM, Conn. Report all radar contacts to the south.”

“Conn, ESM. I hold no contacts to the south.”

Williams selected the Captain’s stateroom on the 27-MC control box, then with his eye still against the periscope, retrieved the microphone from its holder.

“Captain, Officer of the Deck.”

A few seconds later, John Buglione answered. “Captain.”

“Captain, Officer of the Deck. Hold a new surface contact visually and on the towed arr ...