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Rig for Silent Running, by Anthony Genualdi

Discussion in 'Military Books' started by ColHessler, Mar 19, 2016.

  1. ColHessler

    ColHessler Member

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    I told you when I joined that I'm a published author. One of my works is Rig For Silent Running. It's about an American WWII submarine commander named Dominic Tomassi. I follow him on patrols and on shore from Fremantle to Pearl Harbor from August, 1942 onwards. One of his missions is in dealing with a Japanese whaler converted to a tanker. Here's a sample of the book. The language is a little salty. It's on Kindle, Nook, and print-on-demand paperback. Enjoy.

    CHAPTER FIVE

    9 SEPTEMBER 1942

    After two days of lying low, the Eel now stood off of Singapore harbor. In the meantime, Tomassi and Van Wert looked through the Merchant Ship Recognition Manual to find one of the victims of the mines they’d laid in the Strait of Johore. It was a 6,000 ton freighter. Tomassi made note of it in the log, as if it were a torpedo sinking, and hoped to get credit for it.
    It was just about 09:00 on the morning of the 9th. Mr. Odom, the OOD, had just been relieved on periscope watch by Van Wert. Van Wert looked toward the harbor, which the Japanese had made bustling with traffic. In addition to the various patrols, merchant vessels of all kinds, large and small, were moving in and out of the harbor. Among them was a leviathan the Eel had seen before.
    Van Wert looked off to the starboard side when he saw her. His jaw just about hit the deck. “Mr. Odom, sound general quarters.”
    “Aye, aye, sir,” Odom replied and pushed the button for the general alarm, also known as “The Bells of St. Mary’s,” since it’s steady bong-bong-bong sound was rather like church bells. Odom also called over the squawk box, “Captain to the conning tower. Captain to the conning tower.”
    Tomassi tumbled out of his sack and slipped on his sandals. He rushed back to the control room and clambered up the ladder. The talker was just telling Van Wert, “Forward torpedo room, manned and ready.”
    The alarm was just stopping when Tomassi asked, “What have you got, Van?”
    “Skipper, just look.” Van Wert stepped aside and Tomassi stepped up to the periscope.
    Tomassi didn’t need any manual to tell him the ship that was steaming along a few thousand yards away. Her image had been burned into his brain over a month ago. She was over five hundred feet long, with a superstructure near the bow, cranes amidships and two smokestacks, side-by-side, near the stern.
    It was her. Luzon Maru #4.
    “Oh, my Lord,” Tomassi exclaimed. He looked to Van Wert. “It’s really her!”
    Van Wert nodded, “I know, skipper.”
    Tomassi pointed to the far side of the periscope, indicating Van Wert should call the bearing and range to the fire control party. Van Wert stepped over.
    Tomassi made the call, “Bearing, MARK.”
    “Zero-eight-zero.”
    “Range, MARK.”
    “Five-five-double-oh.”
    “Angle on the bow, one-hundred-twenty port. Estimate target speed, ten knots. Set torpedoes to five feet. Gyro angle fifteen right.”
    Lt. Odom was putting all the data into the Torpedo Data Computer (TDC), trying to come up with the solution that would ensure a hit. For his part, Tomassi was hoping no errant patrol vessel would come along and ruin things for him, as had happened at Truk. He’d had to fire in a hurry then, and even though the fish were duds then, he felt if he’d had an extra moment then, he’d have gotten this big beast.
    “Course and speed check, sir,” Lt. Odom reported.
    “Very well,” Tomassi replied. “Stand by bow tubes.”
    “Stand by bow tubes,” repeated Benton, as he reached for the firing button.
    “Sound,” Van Wert asked, “any other contacts?”
    “Nothing else around, sir,” came the answer from Marcus.
    “Final check, Van.” Van Wert stepped up. “Bearing, MARK.”
    “Zero-seven-zero.”
    “Range, MARK.”
    “Four-oh-double-oh.”
    “Check,” said Van Wert.
    “Set,” said Odom.
    Tomassi folded up the periscope handles. “Down scope,” he ordered. As the scope lowered he said to Benton, “Fire one.”
    “Fire one,” Benton said as he pressed the button. “One’s away, sir.”
    “Fire two.”
    “Fire two. Two’s away, sir.”
    “Fire three.”
    “Fire three. Three’s away, sir.”
    “Fire four.”
    “Fire four. Four’s away, sir.”
    Tomassi turned to the soundman. “All torpedoes running hot, straight, and normal, sir.”
    Now came the most nervous part. Van Wert had his stopwatch running. “We should have a hit from number one in thirty seconds, skipper.”
    The seconds moved like hours. All hands knew the torpedo problems that had bedeviled them before could come on again. The deep running problem was solved for now with the settings. Five plus eleven meant a sixteen feet running depth, which would be good enough to take out this big tanker. But what of the warheads? Do they work? Only time would tell.
    “Ten seconds, skipper.”
    “Up scope,” Tomassi said. He was looking now right at Luzon Maru #4.
    “Five seconds. Four, three, two, one.”
    No explosion. Tomassi could only see what would be the torpedo break against the hull of the target, with the tell tale burst of air that meant the fish had broken in half.
    “Number two,” Tomassi asked.
    “Five seconds, skipper. Four, three, two, one.”
    Again, no explosion.
    “Sound,” Tomassi asked, “what do you hear?”
    “Bumping noise against the target, followed by a burst of air,” Marcus answered.
    “What about torpedo three?”
    “Three seconds, two, one, zero.”
    Nothing!
    “God damn it,” Tomassi yelled.
    Van Wert said, “Number four should hit in four, three, two, one, now.”
    Nothing again!
    “Son of a bitch,” yelled Tomassi. He slammed the handles against the periscope. “Down scope.”
    As the scope lowered, Van Wert said, “Can’t we try again, skipper?”
    “No,” Tomassi thundered, “They’ve radioed in by now. Jap tin cans will be along quick enough.” He looked down to the control room and said, “Mr. Beck, make you depth two hundred feet.”
    “Two hundred feet, aye, sir,” came the reply.
    The Eel would sit it out until nightfall, then come up to charge batteries. Tomassi finally said, “Secure from general quarters.”
    Van Wert went to the squawk box and said, “Secure from general quarters. First section, take the watch.”
     

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