Sunday, February 5, 2017

What's Up With Me?

It's funny. I'm retired and have more time in my hands but my blog is still neglected. 'Gotta change that.

What have I been busy with?

For the most part of last year, I've been working as a consultant. Most people are surprised to know that I still work. When they hear my reason, they usually nod their heads in agreement.

A person needs to have something to occupy his mind after retirement. Many retirees I know who just stopped working and staying at home doing nothing are now dead. Living a sedate lifestyle, doing nothing but watch TV or talk with the neighbors will not improve your health and when you're getting along in years, you need to stay healthy to live longer. Also, keeping your mind active keeps your brain healthy. I'm a believer in the adage: "If you don't use it, you'll lose it."

Is working as a consultant the same as working as an employee?

A consultant will know the answer but an employee might not.

As a consultant, I have my own time. I don't have a boss though I have a client. When you have a client, you're more or less at the same level. They can't change what you're doing because the contract says you only work on what you agreed with them. Most of the time, this means I work on only one thing at a time. It's easier to plan and work the plan.

Do I have any new books in the works?

Yes, I'm working on something about public speaking. I'm also working on something about making presentations while creating a seminar about presentations. I hope to start offering the seminar by next month.

Anything else?

Well, my eldest daughter graduated in January last year and is now working. She had planned to work at my old place of work but for some reason, they ignored her application. It's okay because she seems to be happy where she is right now. She's far from home but she's happy, and that's okay.

My mom came over for a vacation here with me last December 22 until January 15, which means she spent Christmas and New Years here with me and my family. This is the first time she's done that and also the first time in a long time that we've spent Christmas and New Year with her.

I also had an opportunity to go to Cabuyao to work on a factory's evaporator. They had a problem and couldn't run so me and three former co-workers went over to help them. I was there from December 27 to 31 and then again from January 3 to 7. I caught a cold and a flu while I was there the second time. On the flight back to CDO, my ears blocked and wouldn't adjust to the pressure during the descent. Nothing I tried worked and it was very painful. I had to suffer from partial deafness for a full day. I went to the doctor and she diagnosed my condition as bronchitis and prescribed antibiotics. It took two weeks to fully recover.

Last January 16, we had a low pressure area (LPA) around Norther Mindanao that brought heavy rains for about six hours or so and caused flooding in many areas around the city. The house is situated on a hill so we were not affected by flooding though water did seep into the house. It was raining so hard that the ground couldn't absorb the water fast enough. The water crept up through the foundations and came out of the convenience outlets. I had to turn off the electricity to prevent electrocution. We had to mop up the floor every few minutes but we managed.

Around four in the afternoon, my youngest daughter called and said their school had released them early due to the flooding in the city. The school wasn't affected but the kids might have difficulty getting home through the flooded streets. My wife and I fetched her and had to wade through the raging currents to get her. On the return leg, we had to take a long detour because the bridge that goes to our subdivision was covered with fast flowing water. When we had passed it earlier, it was not covered yet but in the hour or so that transpired, the water had risen to the level of the top of the bridge. I was still sick at the time and it probably prolonged my recovery.

That's it. I'll have to try harder next time to keep this blog alive.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Legend of the Moon is on 50% discount!

Get your copy now! My book, Legend of the Moon, is on sale all throughout the month of July 2016. Just us the coupon code SSW50 when you checkout to avail of the discount. Go to: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/425317 to get your copy.

You can also browse through other books on Smashwords' catalog: https://www.smashwords.com/books/category/1/newest/1

Don't miss this opportunity!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Working on the new book

I've downloaded the whole story of The Silent Sub. I'm going to convert it into an ebook and publish it soon. There will have to be a lot of changes though and not just in spelling or grammar. The story will have to be modified somewhat. I'm also going to depart from my usual practice of deleting the blog version when the ebook is published. I did that with my other stories and my blog looks like it's been neglected.

In addition to writing, I've been working part-time at my old place of work. Many of my friends tell me that it must be like old times, coming to work everyday. In some ways, yes, and in some ways, no. What's the difference?

When I was an employee, I could bring my cellphone into the factory. As long as we don't use them in the production areas, this was allowed. Now, however, I have to leave my phone at the guardhouse and pick it up when I go home.

I also have to wear my ID while I'm inside the factory. I never liked having anything hanging from my neck because it sometimes gets in the way. Fortunately, I don't have to work on any machines that may snag the ID and pull me down toward something deadly. The biggest inconvenience is when I brush my teeth. The ID swings into the path of my spit. I have to insert it into my shirt to prevent that.

The better difference from before I retired and today is that I'm working on one thing at a time. Back when I was an employee, I had to juggle several activities, some of which I wasn't fond of.

Many of the things that haven't changed don't involve me, however. It's the environment inside. I'm talking about things like having to come up with a budget and seeing it get used by someone else; requests that take months to resolve; and people's seeming acceptance of the situation they're in but still unhappy. I'm not exposed to these anymore but my friends are. I made the decision to get out but they don't have that option, unfortunately.

Friday, May 27, 2016

THOUGHTS ON "THE SILENT SUB"

It was a story that had germinated in my mind for years. What if the Germans had successfully built a nuclear submarine back in World War II?

For submarines, staying underwater is safer than being on the surface, especially during war. For the German U-boats, the depths provided them with cover for attack as well as escape. So what advantage would a nuclear submarine have had for them? A submarine that doesn't need to surface or can at least stay underwater for long periods of time. Couple that with a silent propulsion engine and silent torpedoes and you have a weapon that would devastate the Allied merchant fleet as well as the American and British Navies.

I began writing the story in November 1, 2015 and finished May 19, 2016. It should have taken that long though. The gap between the last chapter and the previous one was five months. One reason was I had no idea how to end the story. My original ending was very different but I decided I didn't like it. The second was time (but that's not an excuse, I know). The result is an ending that was too abrupt.

If I ever decide to publish this story (as a free ebook), I'll need to make some changes. I'm not sure if a saboteur mouse would sit well with the readers. :-)

Thursday, May 19, 2016

THE SILENT SUB CHAPTER 20 - FIRE

U-1215

"Tubes 1, 4, 5, and 6 are ready for launch, Captain," Schneider informed his commanding officer. Werner turned to his sonar crew.

"Sonar?"

"The two destroyer escorts are still searching, Captain, using ASDIC. Still no sound from the carrier." Werner nodded his head and looked at Schneider.

"Launch torpedoes."

Schneider gave the order to fire the weapons. Werner fought the urge to move to the non-working periscope. It was a much favored tool by submarine commanders and he could not imagine being able to perform his job satisfactorily without it.

Four torpedoes left their tubes and sped their way toward their assigned bearings, not directly at the circling destroyer escorts but away to the sides.

The two destroyer escorts were 8000 meters away. All four torpedoes were set to go active at the same distance. They would then turn toward the their targets and converge on them from all sides. The chances for hitting both vessels were high.


USS BUZZARDS BAY

"We're ready to restart the engines, Admiral."

Admiral Brown thought hard. This u-boat was a new type and had both silent engines and silent torpedoes; that much he had deduced. Keeping the carrier shut down was probably keeping her alive. The u-boat was probably having trouble finding her and he thought it was a good idea to continue being invisible. Buzzards Bay's survival, however, hinged on the two remaining destroyer escort 's finding the elusive submarine. It had turned into a pitch black night and it would be difficult for the sub to see them. If the two destroyer escorts are sunk or damaged though, Buzzards Bay would not last very long, whether they were moving or not. He shook his head.

"Keep them off for now, Captain. We stay invisible."

Captain Bennet nodded giving orders for the engineering crew to stand by. He also ordered a complete black out of the ship, no external lights, no work lights outside the ship, all outside hatches closed. 

"Captain?"

Bennet turned back to Admiral Brown. "Yes, sir?"

"Call the two destroyers."


USS JAMES SMITH

Lt. Commander Denning looked at his XO incredulously.

"He said WHAT?"

"Those are exactly his words, Skipper." The XO himself couldn't believe what he'd heard either but his was not to reason why. "He also said, now."

Denning nodded, not liking it but orders were orders.

"Do it."

On USS John Johnson, the same order was being given.


U-1215

"Torpedoes should be going active in three minutes, Captain." Schneider reported. 
His captain nodded almost imperceptibly. He'd been watching the clock as well.

Silent torpedoes! When we get back, I'll tell the admiral what I think about his silent torpedoes! He thought. No way to track them, no way to find out where they are. All we're doing is guessing!

His peripheral hearing picked up someone cursing and he turned toward the sound. Johann Merk was hurrying toward him.

"Captain! We've lost them!"


USS BUZZARDS BAY

"Do you think it's working?" Captain Bennet asked.

"Is there a way of knowing?" Admiral Brown answered.

"Only as long as there's no explosion from a torpedo," Bennet said.

Admiral Brown looked out over the sea toward the two destroyer-escorts, lying dead in the water, their engines shut down, making no noise whatsoever. It was too dark to see them but, occasionally, they'd occlude the light from stars near the horizon so he at least knew the direction they were from him.

"We can't hear them, they can't hear us."

"They might use their periscope."

"They could but it will be difficult for them to see and our radar will pick them up. Hell, they might even surface."

The radar had emergency battery power, which enabled them to use them when the ship was shutdown. The batteries wouldn't last long, however, so they switched them on at fifteen minute intervals, each ship alternating every five minutes. They only made five sweeps before shutting them down again but it couldn't be helped.



U-1215

All sound from the enemy vessels had disappeared. Being silent worked for the enemy as well as for U-1215.

"Sonar, what was the last bearing to the vessels?" Werner asked.

"Last bearing was 168 and 174 degrees for each destroyer escort, Captain. Distance was approximately 7600 meters."

Everyone was unhappy, more so because their captain was unhappy. Their plans had been foiled again. Werner came to a decision.

"We surface."

Schneider straightened in surprise.

"But Captain, you told us we cannot show ourselves to the enemy."

"It is a moonless night so it will be dark up there. Furthermore, our hull is black, which makes it impossible to see us in a situation like this. We bring only the conning tower above the water and we search for them with binoculars. There might be enough light for us to spot them. If so, we fire at them from the surface."

"But what if they see us?" Schneider asked.

"They won't. Get us up on the surface, now." Werner's tone indicated that no more questions were to be asked. Schneider gave the order to surface.


USS JOHN JOHNSON

Everyone's eyes scanned the dark ocean. There were not enough binoculars for everyone but each available sailor squinted their eyes at the darkness even then. One of them might get lucky.

Sonar was thankful for the silence. Listening to an ocean in passive mode minus the sounds of the engines and the waves slapping the hull was as perfect a situation a sonarman could want. Their concentration was as intent as the sailor's up on deck.

Lt. Commander Gonzales was in the bridge, scanning peering out at the blackness half expecting an explosion from a torpedo that he couldn't see or hear. He almost jumped out of his skin when a door slammed open.

"WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING, SAILOR? YOU WANT TO TELL THE ENEMY WHERE WE ARE?" Gonzales' face was bright red from anger as well as embarrassment from being startled. The man's eyes were wide open and he was almost out of breath.

"Sorry, skipper..."


U-1215

U-1215's conning tower broke the surface of the sea and rose up until the submarine's deck was just below the water. Four men quickly climbed out on the bridge and began scanning the horizon. The sky was overcast with only a few holes to offer some starlight to provide illumination. This was not enough for good vision and everyone strained their eyes looking in every direction though the last heading to the destroyers went through the most scrutiny. 
Bucher, an off-duty torpedo handler was one of those assigned to man the bridge. He was looking through his binoculars at his assigned section, scanning left and right.

"What was that?" a man to his right said. Bucher had seen it out of the corner of his eye. It was a flash and he instinctively knew what it was.

"INCOMING!" he shouted. This was followed about a second later by a huge splash to port and a rumble that rolled over the waves.

"We're under fire! Dive, dive, dive. All hands clear the bridge!" No one needed to hear the third exclamation. Everyone was scrambling down the hatch as fast as they could as several more splashes hit the water around them. Water was falling into the hatch opening when the last man closed it. With the bridge clear signal, U-1215 steepened its dive to an angle of 15 degrees.


USS JOHN JOHNSON

Gonzales looked out the bridge windows at the direction of the splashes. The sailor who had slammed the door had announced that sonar had detected the surfacing u-boat. Gonzales immediately restarted the engines, gave the order to swing the guns toward the direction given by sonar and waited for his radar to pick up the u-boat. Once he had the numbers dialed in, the order to fire had been given.

There was no bright explosion, he saw. They had missed.


U-1215

Werner dove the boat steeply, heading for a depth of 120 meters. Items that were not fastened down came crashing to the deck plates along with a few people. They staggered to their feet and held on to anything that would support them.

Meyer was one of those staggering to his feet, a cut on his cheek attesting to the force of his fall. Gunther was on the deck, blood pouring out of a wound Meyer could not see. He moved toward the reactor monitors and scanned the gauges, looking for any danger signs. Nothing.

Then he felt the boat level out. We're at whatever depth that fool of a captain ordered, he thought. I'll make a full report to the admiral when we get back to base. If we get back, he thought ruefully.

Then, a flash, a hot searing flash burst out of the generator room, followed by a deafening explosion. The the hot gas swept through the reactor compartment in a second and the inside of the submarine was immediately engulfed in darkness. A few seconds later, flames leapt out of the generator room, sending tendrils out into the reactor room. Those who had gathered their senses ran out through the hatches, leaving several of their comrades either dead or dying in the room.

Meyer had been deafened and temporarily blinded by the blast. He groped around, trying to get his bearings but the room was rapidly being filled with smoke. Memory helped him find his way to the hatch between the crew's quarters and the reactor room. Crew members waited for him to get through before closing the hatch.

The submarine was slowly filling with smoke and, from the smell, Meyer could tell it was toxic. He had to convince the captain to surface the boat and get the crew out. If they tried to fight the fire, the smoke would overwhelm the fire fighters before they could put the fire out.

It was dark and he groped his way toward the torpedo room and the stairs and hatch that would lead him into the control room. The smoke was getting thick, aided by the ventilation ducts that ran the length of the submarine. He struggled up the stairs, pushing his way through crew members who were looking for clean air.

He finally reached the control room, which had red lights on that were running from batteries. The smoke had filled it and the silence meant that it had either been abandoned or the crew were dead. He had to find the ballast tanks controls and surface the boat before he, himself, was overcome.

He crawled his way to the panel, slipping over two dead crewmen. He found Werner, leaning on the panel with the diving controls. Werner turned his head. He was still alive.

Meyer was on his last breath. He slowly pulled himself up and pushed the controls that would surface the boat. Nothing happened.

Except for the red lights, the boat was completely without power. None of the controls would work. Meyer fell beside his captain and looked at him. Werner looked back, he had stopped covering his mouth and nose and freely breathed in the toxic fumes. They both sat silently for a while before Werner said a single word, "sorry." Meyer didn't hear it. He was dead.

Werner gazed at the man for a few moments, an inner strength keeping him alive for a few more minutes until he, too, breathed his last.


USS BUZZARDS BAY

"They hit it?" Admiral Brown asked. Captain Bennet shrugged his shoulders.

"It's possible. Sonar heard what seemed to be an explosion though it was muffled. Implosion noises were heard several minutes later. He's gone."

Admiral Brown looked thoughtful as he went back through the day's events. Two destroyer-escorts sunk, his carrier damaged, his aircraft lying at the bottom of the ocean, it was a fairly decent performance for the u-boat. He would have liked to capture it but that was impossible now. He'll have to send a communique to naval headquarters.


THREE MONTHS LATER

U-1215's SECRET BASE

The admiral stood in Werner's office, gazing out into the empty dock. It had been three months since he had last seen U-1215. There was no clue about what happened to her. Intelligence had reported an attack on a task group near the Madeira Islands but nothing else. He had no way of knowing if U-1215 had been involved.

He sighed. He was alone. He moved toward the chair and sat down on it with a heavy thud. He had yet lost more of Germany's children. He had failed.

His aide was talking with one of the guards outside when a shot rang out. They ran to the office and found the admiral, still sitting on the chair, a pistol in his hand.


Adolf the mouse remains was almost indistinguishable among the carnage of the generator room. The explosions and violent movements of the boat had driven him into a chewing frenzy on the boat's wire insulation. The last were the generator's cables, which carried the most electricity. They shorted and created a great flash, killing him instantly and causing the rest of the insulation to catch fire. Though the fire soon burned itself out, the toxic smoke from the smoldering cables had filled the submarine through the ventilation ducts. U-1215 slowly began to drift down into the depths.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

THE SILENT SUB CHAPTER 19 - PAUSE

What was that? The whole submarine had shuddered violently and had thrown him about. The deafening roar that accompanied it made his ears ring and hurt. He left his hiding place and ran while the crew were busy either recovering or trying to watch the panels. He reached a door and entered, finding himself inside the generator room. There was no one inside so he ran for an opening underneath one of the generators. Someone had opened a cover, probably to inspect the inside. It was a convenient hiding place.

Meyer staggered to Gunther, both of them shaken by the massive vibration caused by the exploding depth charge. They stared at the dials, looking for any sign that the reactor or any of its components might have been damaged. Everything seemed normal but they continued looking anyway. After a few minutes, Meyer turned to Gunther.

"Gunther, I'm going to the electrical room. Keep monitoring the reactor. Call me if you see anything that doesn't seem right...even a little, understand?"

Gunther nodded. "Yes, sir."

Meyer climbed the stairs to the catwalk and entered the electrical room. Three technicians were inspecting a panel.

"Any problems here, men?" he asked.

"Everything seems normal, sir. None of the fuses popped during the explosion."

The boat's holding up, Meyer thought. This could work! We need to get back to base and inform the admiral, Donitz, and the Fuhrer. The test is successful! The technology is viable!


U-1215 was moving at 17 knots away from the scene of the last attack. At this speed, it was almost impossible to hear anything on sonar and that was the problem of sonar chief, Johann Merk. He and another sonar operator had taken over the station after Blöhme and Schmitt were wounded by the blast. Right now, all he was hearing was water rushing by his sensors. He had recommended that they slow down to listen, something he didn't really want to do but it was the correct thing to say at the time. Werner wanted to wait a little longer to put a little more distance from the searching destroyer escorts, much to Merk's—and quite a few other's—relief.

Werner turned to Schneider and asked, "What happened to our torpedo?"

Schneider thought quickly. He had suddenly been pushed into second-in-command in the control room and the captain needed his analysis. "With the explosion happening so soon after launch, it's very possible it exploded prematurely, Captain."

Werner nodded. He'd thought as much. "Tube 3 is unusable but all the other tubes are functional. We'll move away for a while and turn around for another try."

After fifteen minutes, Werner ordered ahead slow and a rise to a depth of 50 meters. Merk reported that the two destroyer escorts were now about eight thousand meters behind them, pounding the sea with ASDIC.


USS BUZZARDS BAY

Admiral Brown watched as a launch cast off to pick up Lt. Brian after he ditched in the ocean. He thought of writing a letter of commendation for the pilot. He'd probably saved the carrier. It seemed, however, that he had missed. Sonar had not heard the break up sounds of a submarine sinking towards the bottom of the ocean.

If a submarine is hulled, water would rush in and the boat would sink. Any compartments that are closed would soon implode when the sinking vessel reaches the depth where the pressure of the ocean overcomes the strength of the submarine's hull. This depth is aptly called, crush depth, and the actual value varies for each vessel. The sound of rushing water is unmistakable and the boom that accompanies the implosion, signals that men have died.

Without the telltale signs, or sounds in this case, of a sinking submarine, Admiral Brown had to conclude that the u-boat was still alive and could be coming around for another attempt. The two destroyer escorts, USS John Johnson and USS James Smith, had quickly moved in to the spot where the periscope had last been seen. They were now scouring the sea with ASDIC.

Buzzards Bay had stopped sinking though several compartments had flooded. They were going to attempt to light the boilers again to get the ship moving. A motionless ship is a sitting duck and usually didn't live very long. There was also a possible second u-boat out there and they had not found it. The two destroyer escorts were scouring the surrounding sea, looking for the telltale echo of a u-boat swimming by.

"Captain," a junior officer called out, "James Smith reports no contacts."

Admiral Brown shook his head. We have to find him before he can shoot again.


U-1215
Werner made a discovery that made him swear but would have made Meyer very happy. The periscope had sprung a leak and was unusable. There was no way to repair it except to surface, find the leak, and repair it. He'd have to rely solely on sonar. Since the carrier was not making any noise, he would not be able to shoot a torpedo at it. He could still take out the two destroyer escorts, however.

Schneider took a glance at the torpedo controls. "All tubes are loaded, Captain, and waiting for targeting information."

"We'll shoot at the two destroyer escorts," Werner said. "After they are out of action, we'll surface and finish off the carrier."

Schneider nodded and was about to turn away when he remembered something.

"Captain, we can't show ourselves to the enemy."

Werner didn't speak for a few seconds. Schneider was right. The admiral's orders said to make sure that no one, friend or foe, sees U-1215. He, however, knew something that the young officer had not thought of.

"It's night up on the surface, Lieutenant. They won't be able to see us approach. They'll have a few lights, I'm sure, and that will give us the correct bearing to launch an attack."

Schneider nodded again, smiled, and turned away. Werner moved to the sonar room to get range and bearing information on the two moving warships. They were most likely sailing around a spot on the ocean where they last detected U-1215. They didn't know that the u-boat was already way out of their search box. Werner planned to launch four torpedoes, two for each vessel, but not directly at them. He would fire them at an oblique angle and then have them turn toward the ships from different directions. He hoped it would increase the chances of getting a hit.

He had not recovered from the fright of all the noise and shaking earlier. His nervous tic was really strong right now and there was nothing he could do to stop it. He stayed underneath the generator, shaking badly.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

THE SILENT SUB CHAPTER 18 - DAMAGE


The typical acoustic torpedo has "ears" on either side of its warhead. Directional control is simplicity personified. If the left ear hears a louder sound than the right ear, the torpedo changes course to the left and, when the right ear hears a louder sound than the left, the torpedo changes course to the right. If the sound has equal loudness in both ears, the torpedo steers a straight course.

U-1215's torpedoes had an additional feature designed to target submarines as well as surface ships. It had two additional sensors, one on top and one at the bottom of the warhead. This allowed it to follow a noise source down into the depths.



UNIT 1
The two torpedoes headed for the noise sources, switching their attentions every now and then before deciding on one each. Unit 1 hit USS James Smith's Foxer noisemaker, exploding it and tearing it apart.


UNIT 2
Unit 2 was slightly ahead of USS John Johnson and was hearing both the ship's screw and engine as well as the noisemaker. It steered for the space between the two noise sources and its path put it on a direct collision course with the noisemaker's tow cable.

It hit the tow cable but didn't explode. The cable snapped but not before damaging the top fin of Unit 2. The weapon lost control and began running in circles and arcs, its maneuvering commands scrambled by the damaged fin. USS John Johnson's Foxer sank to the depths, still intact and making noise.


UNIT 6
The unit intended for the carrier had turned around and had been tracking USS Johnson's Foxer when the noise suddenly seemed to dive. Unit 6 followed the noisemaker down into the depths and smashed into it, obliterating it in a massive explosion.


U-1215
Blöhme frowned. He had his sensors turned down in anticipation of the explosions from the torpedoes but he was having trouble interpreting the sounds he was hearing. There were three torpedoes in the water, one was heading in the opposite direction of the other two. He heard the two explosions in the directions of Units 1 and 2 but nothing from the direction of Unit 6. Furthermore, the second explosion had come about a half minute after he had expected it. The sound also seemed to come from a deeper depth.

Werner listened to his sonar crew describe the information they were getting from their sensors and helped in interpreting them. The two Foxer units had certainly been successful in decoying their torpedoes and the two destroyer escorts were still moving. The absence of an explosion in the direction of the carrier meant that Unit 6 had missed.

"Make Tubes 3 through 5 ready! Unit 3 for the carrier and Units 4 and 5 toward the two destroyer escorts. Quickly, before they deploy another Foxer!" Werner was going to take another shot at the warships, determined that he would be taking home six pennants. "Head for the carrier, we'll shoot from very close range and at periscope depth to make sure we sink her for sure."


Meyer was not in the control room to hear this but he would not have made any objections. He had accepted that Captain Werner would not listen to reason anyway and decided to monitor his precious reactor. Besides, he was having problems of his own.

One of the electricians had reported that one of the fuses for the reactor control had popped. It was fixed immediately and did not seriously affect the reactor's operation. Meyer asked himself whether he should inform the captain of this new incident but decided not to. The captain was dead set on sinking every ship in this flotilla. Nothing, short of saying the sub was sinking would probably make a difference.


The repeated explosions frightened him and he ran from one hiding place to another. One of the wires had given him a terrible shock and he was resting behind one of the numerous panels in this vast room. The other occupants were clustered around another panel he'd been in about half an hour ago.


"Up periscope!" Werner had brought the boat back to periscope depth and was sailing toward the carrier. The floating airfield was not moving and would be an easy target. Tubes 3 through 5 were set, their outer doors open.

"Captain! The two destroyer escorts are heading for us!" Blöhme and Schmitt worked their sensors, trying to gather enough data to give their captain a chance to launch weapons.

"How long?" Werner asked.

"At this speed, we estimate they will be on top of us in twelve minutes," Schmitt answered. "They are still building up speed. They might have detected our periscope, Captain." Schmitt was wrong, however. Someone else had detected their periscope.


Lt. S.G. Walter Brian was circling the carrier. He couldn't land because the ship was not moving. There would not be enough space to bring his plane to a stop. The flight deck was also full of personnel pushing planes over the side, trying to keep the ship afloat. Besides, it was too dark already and the carrier was totally blacked out with only a few lights. His friends on other planes had already ditched and were being picked up from the water. He was waiting until the last minute before ditching his own fighter. He chanced to look down to his radarscope when he spotted an anomaly.

There were three ships on the water but he was seeing a fourth blip on the screen. It was small and was moving toward the carrier.

"I've got a periscope on the surface 2000 yards from the carrier! I'm going down," he called to the radioman on Buzzards Bay. He dove steeply for the approximate location of the blip. Without a visual sighting, he was flying blind. With one eye on his altimeter and another on the blip, he felt with his fingers for the bomb release. He had one depth charge and one chance. He caught sight of the periscope feather, dimly illuminated by phosphorescent sea plankton. It was a god sent opportunity. Half watching the altimeter and half watching the luminescent trail, he pulled the release at 500 feet.


U-1215
Werner's eye was locked onto the carrier's image on the periscope. Their close range made it appear large. He ordered slow speed to bring the boat directly abeam of the dead, but still floating, carrier.

"Tubes 3 through 5 are set, Captain," the chief said, "anytime you're ready."

Werner kept silent, watching the carrier on his scope. He had heard the chief but he wanted the carrier. It was a bigger prize than the smaller destroyer escorts. He knew that the destroyer escorts were more dangerous at this time, however, so he took his eyes out of the eyepiece and nodded to Fischer. The First Watch Officer gave the order.

"Shoot Tube 3!"

Unit 3 left its tube and ran straight for the carrier, now 1600 meters away. Werner looked back into the eyepiece and gave the final order himself.

"Shoot Tubes 4 and..."

Werner never completed the order. Brian's depth charge fell into the water 200 meters in front of the submarine, and sank to 50 feet before exploding. Werner's order to slow had ruined Brian's aim, causing him to overshoot U-1215.

"AAAH!" Both Blöhme and Schmitt pulled off their headsets, blood coming out of their ears, deafened by the explosion of the depth charge at very close range. Crew members staggered as the boat shuddered from the force of the blast. Training, however, galvanized everyone into action. The sonar chief quickly pulled out Blöhme and Schmitt. Then he and another sonar operator sat on the chairs and clapped the headsets to their ears.

From the deck plates, Werner shouted. "All ahead flank, right full rudder! Dive to 150 meters!" He scrambled to his feet along with the others.

The two helmsmen, who were strapped in, quickly operated their controls. Because U-1215 had been at ahead slow, even turning at right full rudder took a longer time and the engine took time to pick up speed. Soon, however, they were diving for the specified depth and were running at 14 knots and increasing. Fischer was still on the deck, writhing in pain, both legs broken by the violent shaking that accompanied the explosion.

Schneider, shaken but uninjured, staggered to his captain. Werner took one look around and decided Schneider was the only other officer in the control room who was uninjured.

"Schneider! Get damage reports from all compartments," he ordered. As Schneider leaped up to the all-ship communication system, Werner ordered crewmen to take Fischer into sick bay. Several men were also moving toward the medical facility with similar injuries. Some of them would have to be taken to their bunks and treated there.

"Captain," Schneider called, "all sections report minor damage and all systems are operational. Torpedo room reports a leak in Tube 5's breech door."

"How bad is it?" Werner asked.

"It is a minor leak, Captain. The outer door has been closed and the leak has gone down to a small trickle." Schneider's voice trailed off as Werner made his way to the torpedo room.


Werner made way for a group of men carrying one of their injured mates into the crew's quarters. He moved to the torpedo loading area and turned to the torpedo room chief. "Report."

The chief showed Werner the leaking breech door. "It's not a major leak, Captain. The door was stressed during the explosion due to the outer doors being open. After we closed the door, the leak began to slow down. It's still decreasing as you can see."

Werner could see that the leak was indeed decreasing. This is not a major problem, he thought.