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Boom Boom Out Go The Lights

Boom Boom Out Go The Lights

Boom Boom Out Go The Lights

By Bob Gelms

Charles D. Taylor has written an all-together fascinating account of a modern day nuclear attack submarine called Boomer. Boomer is the nickname for the class of submarine that Mr. Taylor is writing about. It just so happens that I have a friend who spent 6 years in the Navy, 3 years in training and 3 years active duty on a boomer in the missile room. I peppered him with questions about life on board, aspects of sailing under water for 3 months at a time and the non-top-secret capabilities of the boat. There were some things he couldn’t talk about.

What I did find out was that Boomer is very accurate with the plethora of detail regarding a submarine as a modern weapon and what it can do to you. It reminded so much of books by Tom Clancy. Mr. Taylor has written a sea saga that is nightmarishly real.

I want to add something of a spoiler alert here. All the plot points I reveal are disclosed by the author in the first 30 pages or so. It’s the next 300 pages that will keep you from your normal daily activities like eating and sleeping.

In the distant past, the Soviet Union placed a sleeper agent here in the USA. This long-term plan was designed by Russian spymasters to subvert the single most important and lethal weapon in the US arsenal. The agent, Wayne Newell, joins the US Navy and rises to captain of the boomer USS Pasadena. His mission is to sneak up on other boomers and sink as many as he can. There is a diabolically clever cover story to get his officers and crew to go along with this. They are told that the Russians can mimic to a T the sound of US boomers. So it might look like a US submarine on all the instruments on the bridge but it is, in fact, a Russian submarine—all lies. Captain Newell has orders and documentation from the highest authority in the US Navy, all forged perfectly. The drama being played out aboard the USS Pasadena is duplicated in spades at headquarters when subs go missing. This book is wonderful.

boomer

The new Russian Premier has inherited this operation from a former spymaster and a former Premier. It is, without a doubt, an act of war. Part of the Russian thinking is that a nuclear war with the USA is survivable if all the boomers are taken out of the equation. I’m not so convinced of this and neither is the new Premier. The tension in the boats is ratcheted up way past ten on the anxiety dial but I have to tell you that you will feel it, too.

The characters are three-dimensional and the story is mind boggling. The scientific apparatus available to boomer crews is so advanced as to be close to science fiction. Just the listening devices alone are astounding. Not only do they have them on board but also planted on the sea bottom. The US Navy has a sound signature of every Russian boat afloat and, in reverse, the Russian’s have signatures of all our boats.

Stealth is the whole game. Noise, even more than an enemy boat, is the thing that will get you and everyone on the boat killed. I found one little piece of strategy utterly intriguing. The ocean is full of noise, both man made and biological. There is a frequency that nearly duplicates the background noise in the ocean that is the combination of the man made noise and the noise made by all the creatures that live in the sea. A boomer can come reasonably close to mimicking this background noise so as to become almost completely invisible to anything but a sonar ping. Since a sonar ping will give up your position as well as helping you find the enemy position, it’s not normally used.

I double down guarantee that as you read Boomer you will try to imagine how it ends. Save the electrical impulses racing through your brain. The story is a real life in the here and now kind of story so it has to have a real life in the here and now kind of ending. You can’t cop out and kill everybody off in a nuclear holocaust because that would be the easy way out. Mr. Turner didn’t cop out. He simply delivers an action pact sea saga of the first order.