While on vacation in Ohio, I met a friend of my father in law who is a submarine veteran. While chewing the fat and swapping sea stories, he asked me if I had ever read the book Cold Choices by Larry Bond. I responded in the negative, and he ran back into his house and returned carrying a well loved (read: ragged) copy of this fiction novel complete with coffee stains. He handed it to me and told me not to worry about it returning it, just to enjoy it on my trip home. Well, I glanced at the cover that had a picture of a seawolf class submarine (with the wrong numbers on the sail, not like we put them on there anyway), and told him I would definitely read it and thanked him whole heartedly. I love a good war story, fiction and real. A week later, as my wife and I were embarking on our flight back to beautiful SoCal, I pulled it out and started reading. Larry Bond is a wonderful author and has a lot of experience with submarine construction. His attention to detail is amazing, and I felt as though I was on the USS Seawolf (which I have toured before) and makes you feel like you are really there. Here is the description from Amazon:
Navy pilot turned submarine officer Jerry Mitchell is now the navigator aboard USS Seawolf. On a reconnaissance mission deep in the Barents Sea, Mitchell and his crew prepare to watch the Russian navy as it trains for battle. Although they are outside Russia’s territorial waters, the U.S. boat is ambushed by Russia’s newest attack submarine, Severodvinsk. Its aggressive new captain, Aleksey Petrov, harasses the American intruder with dangerously fast, insanely close passes. The subs collide, and the Russian ship sinks to the bottom, crippled. Only Seawolf knows where Severodvinsk is, but the Russian authorities are too angry to listen to the Americans, even in matters of life and death. Mitchell and his shipmates must keep their own damaged vessel afloat, figure out a way to make the Russians listen, and keep the trapped submariners alive until they can be saved – if that is even possible. Larry Bond uses his experience as an intelligence officer, warfare analyst, and antisubmarine technology specialist to give readers an expertly crafted techno-thriller. Like Run Silent, Run Deep and The Hunt for Red October, Cold Choices takes readers deep into the minds of submariners and the treacherous world in which they dwell.
One part that really got to me was describing the terror and dread that comes with flooding on a submarine. I felt myself actually getting choked up while reading about some Soviet sailors that were forced to seal off a watertight compartment with live crewmembers in there fighting to keep the inrushing Barrents Sea out. It is so well written, that I forgot it was fiction for a little while. As a Bluenose, I have been up into the Arctic Circle, under the ice and it really struck a chord with me. I love this book, although I am only half way through it, I can already recommend that all Submariners read this as well as anyone who wants to know what life is like in times of crisis onboard a submarine. This book also shows the special bond shared between all submariners no matter what country they are from, allies and enemies. As a final note, I really appreciate how the author used names of actual fellow submariners that died aboard the USS Thresher, USS Scorpion, and the K-141 Kursk as the fictional characters in this book. Let us never forget all fallen submariners that rest in the eternal cold and darkness of the ocean floor. You will never find a more closely knit band of brothers than those that have served and continue to serve in the submarine service.