Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Adventure at Sea in The Voyage of the Stingray by Richard Steinitz

‘LT. COMMANDER WOODBRIDGE IS HEREBY ORDERED TO REPORT TO THE OFFICE OF THE COMMANDER, NAVAL SUBMARINE FORCES (COMSUBFOR), AT THE PENTAGON. HE IS TO CALL THE OFFICE OF COMSUBFOR TO COORDINATE THE MEETING WHICH IS TO TAKE PLACE ONE MONTH FROM TODAY.’
***
In the early morning New England fog, a pair of paramedics pushed a gurney up a ramp from inside a dry dock. The dock was closed off from the rest of the world, due to a huge screen or wall that was built around it, keeping anyone and everyone from looking at what was being built there. On the gurney was a black ‘body-bag’, zipped shut but obviously full. At the top of the ramp stood a man in a dark trench coat. Though the coat was civilian, the man was obviously military. He stood by while the paramedics loaded the gurney onto an ambulance, all the while clenching his teeth, and his fists, at the same time. He showed obvious signs of anxiety, and anger, but little or no signs of sadness or mourning. 
Once the ambulance had left, he walked down into the bowels of the dry dock, and looked at what was going on there. He was not pleased by what he saw, and after a short conversation with the shipyard supervisor, he left. It would not have been a good time to approach him, or ask him what was wrong. When he got to his government-issue car, the driver opened the back door for him, and drove off without asking where to go. Though fully entitled to have a plane at his disposal, he preferred to take the car, which gave him time to relax and also to get work done. This trip, he spent the entire ride back to Washington, D.C. on an encrypted mobile phone. Five hours later, back in uniform and back in his office in the E-Ring of the Pentagon, he was in a slightly better mood, and actually thanked the driver for a quiet and uneventful drive.
***
Two days later, Lt. Commander James Jefferson (Jeff) Woodbridge, USN, reported as ordered to the Commander, Naval Submarine Forces (COMSUBFOR) in the E-Ring of the Pentagon. He thought he knew why he had been summoned, and he hoped he was correct. After more than 15 years in submarines, he was about to get his first command...
~~~

The Voyage of the Stingray


By Richard Steinitz

Lt. Commander Jeff Woodridge had been hoping, wishing, looking forward to the time when he would be given his own command of a Naval Submarine...

When the time came, though, he found that it had come to him as a result of the murder of the former Captain, although they had not declared it murder when Jeff had accepted the position.

He also didn't know that he was to captain a new type of submarine--one that had not yet been built! 

The new submarine had not yet been named, but it was very apparent that the design copied that of nature's stingray...


The Captain’s main task, as long as construction was still under way, was to keep track of progress and try to keep things moving. The other officers tried their best to assist him in any way they could, so it was with great surprise that, early one morning, Woodbridge’s voice came over the loudspeaker system and said: “Now hear this! All crew members are ordered off the boat immediately. Report to the Chief of the Boat at the circle in front of Electric Boat headquarters in 15 minutes. I repeat, everyone off the boat NOW, and report to the Master Chief on shore. Go Go Go!” As they were leaving the boat, several sailors were heard to remark on the absence of all the civilian workers that day. Basically, Stingray was being left totally deserted, except for the Captain – and Ethan Roth. On shore, the Chief collected all the crew, checked his list to see that they were all there and then shepherded them on to two Navy buses that were waiting for them. “This is a reward by the Captain for all the hard work you have been doing. We are on a field trip to a park not far from here, where we will have a day of R & R, on the Captain’s expense. We will be back on board by 3pm and work will resume then.”
The abandonment of Stingray had been organized by Woodbridge so that various pieces of top-secret equipment, mainly from UCI, could be installed without too many questions being asked. Almost immediately after the buses departed, two 18-wheelers appeared and began unloading large crates, using extra-long hydraulic booms to get them over the fence and down onto the dock. The whole exercise had been meticulously timed to coincide with a gap between intelligence collecting satellite passes. A crew of DoD workers arrived at the same time and proceeded to unpack the crates and remove the equipment. With the help of a dock-side crane, the machinery was swung over the edge of the dock onto Stingray’s foredeck, and from there down the forward cargo hatch into the bowels of the boat. Most of it went into the com room where Ethan instructed the DoD workers on where and how to place the new machinery, but one piece that was swathed in layers of bubble-wrap went into a very small compartment labeled FRR, between the wardroom and the crew’s living quarters. The Captain personally came to oversee the arrival of this piece, checked that it was put into the right place and then made sure the door was securely closed and locked. By the time all the unloading had taken place and the trucks were gone, it was already almost 3pm. The crew arrived back on time - rested, well-fed and re-energized after a day of baseball, hot-dogs and soft-drinks, and immediately went back to work. The civilian workers came back the next morning at 6am as usual, and all hands started installing the new equipment except for the machine in the FRR compartment.
~~~

Even though work was coordinated to ensure top-secret security, it wasn't long until the intrigue began to be known and those interested in what America was doing new in sub boats brought about destruction and danger. Still, Jess was doing a good job in keeping the crews working as well as coordinating the interactions with those off-site.

The details of boat building was strangely compelling as readers see how and what was happening to create and develop new capabilities that could occur based upon the new design. However the adventure of the book begins once the sub is ready for testing and then full operation. As a real stingray can hide stealthily before a full attack, so, too, did the new Stingray's capabilities allow for missions to be totally handled differently. One main difference was its ability to move closer to shore than any other boat, and still be hidden...

While not going into specific scenes, I felt that the type of "new" abilities from such a design were well done and showed both the complexity of dealing with events that would call for such actions and how they could be better achieved with advanced and newer technology, which interested me the most. This included a company representative that was acting as liaison to the crew and wound up as an important "stowaway." I loved the results coming from just this one character. But each of the characters carried well in their specific roles. A thoroughly enjoyable dive into creativity...with adventure! Highly recommended...


GABixlerReviews


Richard Steinitz (b.1947) was born in New York to German Jewish immigrant parents, After four years at S.U.N.Y. at Buffalo, he moved to Israel where he has lived since then with his wife, Naomi. They have two children and two grandchildren.
As a 40+ year resident of Israel and veteran of more than 20 years service as a Medic in the Israeli Army Reserves, he was disappointed by the scarcity of books that paint a true picture of the Israel-Arab conflict. Many works of fiction presume to give an accurate description of the area and events, yet contain glaring errors of fact and even simple translation.
His first novel, Murder Over the Border, builds upon his intimate knowledge of the country, the people that live in and around it, and on the hopes and dreams of all the peoples of the region. It is a classic detective story, set in the turmoil of the Middle East Peace Process, and is available both in print [ISBN: 978-0692261828], and as a Kindle E-book.
Kaplan's Quest, his second novel, is a journey of discovery – both personal and historical. It is an exciting tale with unexpected twists and revelations, "that will keep you enthralled 'til the very last page." It is available in print [ISBN: 978-0692250372] and as a Kindle E-book, and has been given a Five-Star review at the Readers' Favorite website: https://readersfavorite.com/book-review/35436
His third novel - The Voyage of the Stingray - has just been published. His website, with free sample chapters and more information, can be found at: http://richard0999.wix.com/richard-steinitz