Story 8 - Shadow in the Night.
"Something is going on out there," said Ross, "I can feel it in my bones. Something doesn't add up." He went to the telescope again and added an infrared filter, the image processor adjusted itself accordingly. Suddenly Sylvia and Heather shouted in unison; "There it is!"
There was indeed something like a lifeboat near the fishing vessel, or rather two, one beside the other. But they were too steady for lifeboats.
"No, that's a submarine," said Sylvia calmly.
"What submarine!" yelled Ross, pushing aside Tony, who stood in his way. "Quickly everyone, turn all the lights off in the house!" Ross shouted, "...in the kitchen too," he yelled at Tony, "quickly please!"
He worked some more with the image processor. Now, on the screen before us were the clear outlines of two submarines, submerged almost to their tower that was barely visible. Both were aligned parallel to the boat.
"Get those lights out," Ross repeated, "if they see us watching, we may be as good as dead. And the basement lights too!" he shouted towards the kitchen.
After a little more fiddling the sub's identification markings became visible.
"That's an old Yankee-1 class sub. They are used as a nuclear-powered supply ship and attack submarine," said Ross after a few moments, wiping the sweat off his forehead.
He said the Northern Fleet has sixty percent of all the Soviets' nuclear missile subs, most of which are permanently stationed off the US coast for pin-down missions against ICBM fields to prevent our missiles from being launched while their big SS-26s are coming in from Siberia to destroy the missiles in their silos. "Whoever strikes first, has nine-tenths of the battle won."
Ross added that the subs' missiles might also be targeted against our coastal cities to destroy the nation's harbor facilities, which takes somewhat less then three minutes. Some of them might even be targeted against our strategic bomber fields, which can be reached in less than eight minutes.
"It is impossible to get anything off the ground in that time frame," said Tony.
Ross told us that the two subs were of an older model of the Yankee-1 class. They had been taken out of service as missile carriers, but had still plenty of life in them to serve as cargo ships, attack submarines, and backup missile carriers. He suggested that they might be supplying the spy ship. He just couldn't figure out why they would have come so close to the shoreline.
"Perhaps the sea is too rough farther out," suggested Tony.
Ross agreed that this might be a reason.
Nothing much happened while we watched, as if they could see us watching them and were now waiting for the darkness to settle in.
The trawler and the subs might just be communicating, Tony surmised.
Ross was much calmer now when he went back to the telephone. He called Norfolk again. He told them that we were watching the whole show and that we had the whole thing on video tape. Norfolk decided they wouldn't intervene at this point.
Ross showed us where the launch tube hatches were. He said there were at least thirty Russian subs on station at any given time, just outside the U.S. territorial limits, a few Yankee-1 ships, with the bulk made up of Delta-I, Delta-III and the newest Delta-IV boats. He said, at first they showed up during naval maneuvers. Then the maneuvers became more frequent, until they finally remained on permanent patrol. Ross said, what we were seeing was a rare showing of a supply submarine. He told us that we were watching two of the five supply boats that are known to service all the other boats in the area. He said, this principle was used along the West Coast as well.