Story 8 - Shadow in the Night.
He also told us that on rare occasions one of the Soviet's giant Typhoon subs turn up, which carry twenty long range, nine-warhead missiles. He said they usually operate only near Murmansk and hide out under the northern ice cap where they are supposed to weather out the first round of a nuclear exchange. Their task is to deliver the final, lethal load against any surviving U.S. city should there be no unconditional surrender.
I had heard about the giant subs, but had never seen one. The Ogarkov Plan was built around a credible capability for waging and winning a limited nuclear war. "Who controls the last strike controls the outcome," said Ross. This is the law of the game. The Russians are totally aware of this. Expert chess players know how the game is won in a tight match.
When this episode started, I was tempted to ask Ross what organization he worked for. This large log house, the expensive equipment, none of that existed just for coast guard duties, stargazing, or bird watching. I felt, he might be working for the Navy; I was curious.
"Are you CIA or Navy?" I asked him. But I was one second late. At this very moment the submarine closest to the boat began to unload cargo! A long crate was hoisted out of the tower by a temporary crane. The crate must have been fifteen feet long. It took three sailors to steady it. As soon as it cleared the hatch the crate was lowered onto the deck of the sub.
"A torpedo?" Tony asked.
"Don't be naive, that's a missile," said Ross, and reached for the telephone without taking his eyes of the screen. He had one of those programmable telephones. A single button did it all. "Come on!" he said impatiently.
As soon as the crate rested on the deck of the submarine, hooks were transferred, and it was lifted off from there by the fishing vessel. The crate appeared heavy and difficult to handle in the rough sea. The fishing vessel was a great deal less stable than the sub. It lifted the crate momentarily, then bounced it back onto the sub's deck as the ship bobbed up and down in the heavy swells. The crate also bumped against the sub's tower twice, but it didn't appear to have been damaged.
We stood petrified while this drama unfolded. I think we instinctively knew what this meant, but none dared say it out loud. If this type of cargo transfer is happening all along the coast, we could be witnessing the prelude to the end? I had asked Ross earlier if the Russians had the capability to win a nuclear war. "If they play their cards right, yes!" was his answer.
"Come on! Come on!" shouted Ross more and more impatiently into the telephone. "No, damn it, I want the operations desk," he yelled into the phone. "No, not that idiot! Give me Captain Simons... No damn it can't wait, it's urgent, hurry! Tell Jack, Ross is on the line."
He waited again. The minutes must have seemed to him like an eternity. They certainly did so to me. "Jack, listen good," he started to talk in a loud and firm manner. "I'm watching a Russian trawler some eight miles outside my place, he is taking cargo from a sub, a big crate, long, heavy, something quite big. It looks like a cruise missile! I want you to call Navy Command Center and the Air Force. No damn it, I can't get through. So you must do it. They put me on hold and turned that damn music on. Innocent!!! Sure it may be totally innocent. It may be absolutely nothing. But we can't take the chance, Jack!"
There was silence at our end.
"No Jack, it doesn't look like a crate of engine parts. The crate is over fifteen feet long. It looks like a packaged cruise missile... No Jack, it appears to be too small and too light for a ballistic missile... You don't think it's a missile. Believe me it is... Get Fred involved. No, I don't want to call him from here. I don't want my line tied up with bureaucrats in Washington. I need you to act as my communications center. You guys are more important to me right now... Oh, you got Fred already. That was quick work. What does he think? A cruise missile? Yes, that's what we thought... Gosh I hope not... Hold it Jack! Hold everything! Damn, here comes a second one out of that sub! Yes you heard me swear. I said they are hoisting another crate out... Yes, its the same size and shape. No, it doesn't look like fuel or engine parts, I told you that... Ok, that's a good idea, I agree you should alert NORAD. Right Jack. No, no, no, don't you dare! Are you gone mad? What can you do by yourself against a modern submarine?... Guns? No, I haven't seen any guns; I'm sure though, they have guns on board... What do you mean it is your duty to go and investigate? Let the Air Force go out and take a look!"