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This book is respectfully dedicated to the US Navy’s Submarine Service — to the men who wear the dolphins and who operate in the deepest waters
My principal adviser for this second novel was Admiral Sir John “Sandy” Woodward, the Battle Group Commander of the Royal Navy Task Force in the 1982 Battle for the Falkland Islands. After the war in the South Atlantic, he was Flag Officer Submarines, and in later years he became Commander in Chief, Navy Home Command. It would scarcely have been possible to work with a more knowledgeable and experienced officer, the only man to have commanded in a major sea battle in the last forty years.
Kilo Class is a thriller about submarines, and it required months and months of planning. My office was permanently engulfed by charts, maps, and reference books, in the middle of which stood Admiral Sandy, relishing the weaving of the various plots. I was actually quite surprised at his devious cunning and careful attention to the smallest detail. Generally speaking I think the West should be profoundly glad he’s not Chinese.
I also owe a debt of gratitude to Lesley Chamberlain, the English author of the most beautifully written, scholarly book about Russia, Volga Volga. Lesley guided me and my Kilo Class submarines all along the great river and was more than generous recounting her memories of days spent as a lecturer in the tour ships of the Russian lakes.
In the USA I was assisted by a great many Naval officers, many of them still serving. I am deeply grateful for the many hours they all spent checking my work, correcting my errors, keeping me “real.”
To them, I owe much. But to Admiral Sandy, I owe the book.
— PATRICK ROBINSON
CAST OF PRINCIPAL CHARACTERS
The President of the United States (Commander in Chief US Armed Forces)
Vice-Admiral Arnold Morgan (National Security Adviser)
Admiral Scott F. Dunsmore (Chairman of the Joint Chiefs)
Harcourt Travis (Secretary of State)
Rear-Admiral George R. Morris (Director, National Security Agency)
US Navy Senior Command
Admiral Joseph Mulligan (Chief of Naval Operations)
Vice Admiral John F. Dixon (Commander Atlantic Submarine Force)
Rear Admiral John Bergstrom (Commander, Special War Command, SPECWARCOM)
Commander Cale “Boomer” Dunning (Commanding Officer)
Lieutenant Commander Mike Krause (Executive Officer)
Lieutenant Commander Lee O’Brien (Marine Engineering Officer)
Chief Petty Officer Rick Ames (Lieutenant Commander O’Brien’s Number Two)
Petty Officer Earl Connard (Chief Mechanic)
Lieutenant Commander Jerry Curran (Combat Systems Officer)
Lieutenant Bobby Ramsden (Sonar Officer)
Lieutenant David Wingate (Navigation Officer)
Lieutenant Abe Dickson (Officer of the Deck)
US Navy SEALs
Lieutenant Commander Rick Hunter (SEAL Team Leader and Mission Controller)
Lieutenant Junior Grade Ray Schaeffer
Chief Petty Officer Fred Cernic
Petty Officer Harry Starck
Seaman Jason Murray
US Air Force B-52H Bomber
Lieutenant Colonel Al Jaxtimer (Pilot, Fifth Bomb Wing, Minot Air Base, North Dakota)
Major Mike Parker (Copilot)
Lieutenant Chuck Ryder (Navigator)
Central Intelligence Agency
Frank Reidel (Head of the Far Eastern Desk)
Carl Chimei (Field Agent, Taiwan Submarine Base)
Angela Rivera (Field Agent, Eastern Europe and Moscow)
Military High Command of China
The Paramount Ruler (Commander in Chief, People’s Liberation Army)
General Qiao Jiyun (Chief of General Staff)
Admiral Zhang Yushu (Commander in Chief, People’s Liberation Army-Navy, PLAN)
Vice Admiral Sang Ye (Chief of Naval Staff)
Vice Admiral Yibo Yunsheng (Commander, East Sea Fleet)
Vice Admiral Zu Jicai (Commander, South Sea Fleet)
Vice Admiral Yang Zhenying (Political Commissar)
Captain Kan Yu-fang (Senior Submarine Commanding Officer)
Admiral Vitaly Rankov (Chief of the Main Staff)
Lieutenant Commander Levitsky
Lieutenant Commander Kazakov
Captain Igor Volkov (Master of the Tolkach)
Ivan Volkov (his son and for’ard helmsman)
Colonel Borsov (former KGB staff, senior officer on the Yuri Andropov)
Pieter (wine steward)
Torbin (head waiter)
Passengers on Russian Tour Ships
Jane Westenholz (from Greenwich, Connecticut)
Cathy Westenholz (her daughter)
Boris Andrews (Bloomington, Minnesota)
Sten Nichols (his brother-in-law)
Andre Maklov (White Bear Lake, Minnesota)
Tomas Rabovitz (Coon Rapids, Minnesota)
Nurse Edith Dubranin (Chicago)
Nikolai Ryabinin (Ambassador to Washington)
Taiwan Nuclear Planning Group
The President of Taiwan
General Jin-chung Chou (Minister for National Defence)
Professor Liao Lee (National Taiwan University)
Chiang Yi (construction mogul, Taipei)
Commander Taiwan Marines (Head of Security, Southern Ocean)
Officers and Guests Yonder
Commander Dunning (CO)
Jo Dunning (his wife)
Lieutenant Commander Bill Baldridge (Kansas rancher and navigator)
Laura Anderson (his fiancée)
Ship’s Company Cuttyhunk
Captain Tug Mottram (Senior Commanding Officer, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute)
Bob Lander (Second in Command)
Kit Berens (Navigator)
Dick Elkins (Radio Operator)
Professor Henry Townsend (Team Leader)
Professor Roger Deakins (Senior Oceanographer)
Dr. Kate Goodwin (MIT/Woods Hole)
Frederick J. Goodwin (Cape Cod Times)
She was once a familiar sight on the ocean waters surrounding the European coastline — the 240-foot-long Soviet-built Kilo Class patrol submarine. Barreling along the surface, her ESM mast raised, she was a jet black symbol of Soviet sea power.
Throughout the final ten years of the Cold War, the Kilo was deployed in all Russian waters, and sometimes far beyond. She patrolled the Baltic, the North Atlantic, the White Sea, the Barents Sea, the Mediterranean, the Black Sea, and even the Pacific, the Bering Sea, and the Sea of Japan.
At three thousand tons dived, the Kilo was by no means a big submarine — the Soviet Typhoons were twenty-one-thousand-tonners. But there was a menace about this robust diesel-electric SSK because, carefully handled, she could be as quiet as the grave.
Stealth is the watchword of all submarines. And of all the underwater warriors, the Kilo is one of the most stealthy. Unlike a big nuclear boat, she has no reactor requiring the support of numerous mechanical subsystems, which are all potential noisemakers.
The Kilo can run, unseen, beneath the surface at speeds up to seventeen knots, on electric motors powered by her huge battery. At low speeds, the soft hum of her power unit is almost indiscernible. In fact the only time the Russian Kilo is at any serious risk of detection — save by active sonar — is when she comes to periscope depth to recharge her battery.
When she executes this operation, she runs her diesel engines — a process known as “snorkeling,” or, in the Royal Navy, “snorting.” At this point she is most vulnerable to detection: she can be heard; she can be picked up on radar; the ions in her diesel exhaust can be “sniffed”; and she can even be seen. And there is little she can do about it.
Just as a car engine needs an intake of oxygen, so do the two internal combustion diesel generators in a submarine. She must have air. And she must come up to periscope depth, at least, in order to get it. A patroling Kilo, in hostile waters, will snorkel only when she must. She will snorkel only at night — to reduce the chance of being seen — and for the shortest possible time — to minimize the chance of being heard and pinpointed for attack.
Running slowly and silently, the Kilo has a range of some four hundred miles before she needs to recharge. She can travel six thousand miles “snorkeling” before she needs to refuel. It takes a crew of only fifty-two, including thirteen officers, to run her as a front-line fighting unit. She carries up to twenty-four torpedoes, as well as a small battery of short-range surface-to-air missiles. Two of the torpedoes are routinely fitted with nuclear warheads.
Today the Kilo is rarely seen on the world’s oceans. At least she is rarely seen anymore flying the Russian flag. Since the shocking demise of the Soviet Navy in the early 1990s, the Kilo has mostly been confined to moribund Russian Navy yards. There are only two Kilos in the Black Sea, two in the Baltic, six in the Northern Fleet, and some fourteen in the Pacific Fleet.
And yet this sinister little submarine still serves her country. She is now being built almost entirely for export, and no warship in all the world is more in demand. The huge income derived from the sale of the Kilo pays a lot of bills for a near-bankrupt Russian Navy and keeps a small section of the Russian fleet mobile.