Liberators
Author: Godfrey Raphael

Chapter 22
We Have an Oscar!

Chapter Twenty-two: We Have an Oscar!

 

Aboard the submarine K-311

Somewhere in the Kara Sea

November 2, 2008 1805 Rivymiyitevko time (1605 Krakozhian time)

 

"Hey, Lieutenant, have you heard?" asked Seaman Nikolai Alekseyevich Brtlanka. "The K-312 and the K-331 have captured one of the Oscars that Rivymiyitevko bought from the Russians."

 

"Is that true, Nikolai?" replied Goran Marenko. "Where did you come upon that bit of news? Maybe it's just from one of those trashy tabloids that you young people are so fond of."

 

"No, sir, this one's real." Brtlanka took the seat beside Marenko. "Remember when we were moored alongside the Rokossovsky a few hours ago? Well, I heard two of the Rokossovsky's crew talking about how the K-312 and K-331 gave the Anadyr—I think that's the name of the Oscar—a beating that would put her in the shipyards for six months or more while they try to fix her launch tubes! It's amazing, isn't it?"

 

"That may be true, Nikolai, but did you know that I've been waiting for you for the past thirty minutes? And when you finally decided to come here, it was because of some story about our fleet's exploits, and not because you finally remembered that you're the deputy sonarman for today's watch. Put on your headphones, young comrade, and we're on sonar picket today."

 

Nikolai sighed, put on his headphones, and listened to the sounds of the sea. The flow of water outside the submarine's pressure hull was mesmerizing to him, and the hidden dangers in it only made him more curious to it.

 

He noticed an odd, rhythmic rumbling sound through the water. Turning to Goran, he said, "Sir, I have some whirring sounds from my sector. I think it's the blades of a surface vessel."

 

"Don't worry, Nikolai," he replied. "It's just the Alanich, I believe. It's on radar picket today."

 

Aboard the frigate Alanich

That same time

 

The Alanich was not the largest ship in the Kara Sea—that honor went to the Project 1010 battleships—but in terms of firepower, she was very deadly to those crazy enough to try to attack her. A Burevestnik-class frigate—Krivak to the West—she was armed with four SS-N-14 Silex missiles in separate launchers and four seventy-six-millimeter guns, which could blow any of the Rivymiyitevko Navy's World War Two-era gunships into the next millennium, two SA-N-4 Gecko surface-to-air missile launchers for those rebel jets, and two RBU-6000 anti-submarine rocket launchers and eight 533-millimeter torpedo tubes for the occasional submarine that crosses her path. She was commanded by Captain First Rank Foma Adamov, one of the Krakozhian Navy's premier skippers. With a combat history reaching back to the pre-Revolution sea skirmishes between Bulgaria and Romania during the early Eighties, Captain Adamov had fought in all theaters of war, and the Kara Sea theater was one of his favorites.

 

To fight in this "favorite theater," he had the Alanich's Combat Information Center to help him. From here, he could fire any of his weapons at any surface, submarine, or airborne target. Large liquid crystal display screens showed maps of the Kara Sea in detail, and every contact within the vicinity of the Alanich was tracked onscreen, with green symbols representing friendly forces and red for unknown or enemy contacts. The shape of the contact was also determined by how much of a threat it was to the frigate. Right now, Captain Adamov was focused on a red square southwest of the Alanich. It meant an unidentified/hostile submarine contact that was currently out of range from the frigate's weapons.

 

"Captain, the bridge watch reports that a periscope feather has appeared right where our submarine contact currently is," said the electronics warfare officer.

 

"Did they now?" replied Adamov. "Sonar, what is our contact's status?"

 

"I'm still working on it, Captain," replied the sonar officer.

 

"Then you should hasten your work, Andrushka. Our lives are at stake."

 

"Captain, the bridge watch reports that the submarine contact has surfaced," said the EWO. "It's an Oscar-class submarine, they say."

 

"An Oscar-class sub, eh?" Adamov muttered. "Weapons, I want every missile, rocket, and torpedo that we have pointed at that submarine right now!"

 

"Aye, Captain!" The weapons officer inserted a key into the weapons control panel and pushed a flashing red button. Unfortunately, the Silex missiles needed time to warm up their engines and load their target coordinates into their respective battle computers. And that time could be the difference between life and death for the Alanich.

 

"Captain, the bridge watch reports that the Oscar has fired two missiles!" the EWO shouted.

 

"Engines all back full!" shouted Adamov. "Weapons, fire everything we have on that Oscar! And activate the CIWS!"

 

The Alanich's engines brought her backwards as she began to unload her supply of RBU-6000 anti-submarine rockets at the still-surfaced Oscar, and the AK-176 Close-In Weapons System (CIWS) swung around their turrets to face the coming threat. The four semi-automatic anti-aircraft cannons managed to shoot one of the incoming missiles off course, but for the second one, they could do nothing. The massive P-700 Granit (SS-N-19 Shipwreck) missile smashed right into the Alanich's missile launchers, rendering them inoperative and separating the bow from the rest of the ship. Red lights and shrill alarms rang throughout the ship, and in the CIC, Captain Adamov was trying to staunch the flow of blood from his nose but making a messy effort on it. "Send out our distress signal," he ordered. "Get the whole frigging Navy here if you have to!"

 

Aboard the submarine K-311

 

"How could I have been so stupid?" Marenko asked himself. "I let that Oscar get too close to the Alanich! It was hiding behind her plant noise all along!"

 

"Sir, calm down," said Nikolai Brtlanka. "If we want to take them down, we have to work together with both our minds in the right place."

 

"Right, Nikolai," Goran breathed out. "Thanks for screwing my head back in place. Now, where were we?"

 

"The submarine contact on bearing 090 is a confirmed Oscar-class submarine," Nikolai said for Goran's benefit. Her plant noise sounds like the one on the K-534 Dikson."

 

"That's one of the submarines that Rivymiyitevko bought from Russia," said Marenko. "It looks like they finally decided to use them."

 

"Hold on!" shouted Nikolai. "I have another submarine contact on bearing 100. Her plant noise matches that of the K-287."

 

"The Dikson better watch out," muttered Goran. "Gennady Yurievich has a surprise waiting for her."

 

Aboard the submarine K-287

 

"Firing solution updated, Captain."

 

"Thank you, Georgiy," replied Captain Gennady Poryk. "Weapons, firing point procedures, match bearings and shoot, tubes one and two on the Dikson!"

 

Two TEST-99 torpedoes burst out of their tubes with the help of pneumatic pistons. With eight hundred pounds of special explosives in each warhead, the TEST-99 was designed to kill. And after what the Dikson did to the Alanich, Gennady Poryk wanted to kill.

 

Aboard the K-534 Dikson

 

"Captain, torpedoes have been launched! I can also hear their MG-25Z active sonar bombarding us! It's type-specific to the Hotel-class submarines of the Krakozhian Navy!"

 

"Release countermeasures and take us up to twenty knots and around the nearest submarine!"

 

"Yes, sir."

 

The Oscar bucked forward as her twin screws powered her up to twenty knots, the fastest this unit could go. As it charged through the water, the Dikson released as much countermeasures as it could, trying to disturb the Oscar's large sonar return to the TEST-99s' seekers, and the navigator, helmsman, planesman, and diving officer worked together to bring their lumbering submarine onto its unconventional course. Slowly, but surely, the Dikson brought itself to the aft of the K-287.

 

The K-287

 

"Captain, the Dikson's doing something really weird," said the sonarman. "She's trying to outrun the torpedoes and going on a circular path. This could have been brought by desperation, Comrade Captain."

 

Poryk looked at Dostalinsky, who merely shrugged. The captain ran the scenario over in his mind, and then he finally realized its purpose. "Weapons, self-destruct our torpedoes now!" he shouted.

 

"Why, Captain?" asked the weapons officer. "What is it?"

 

"Dikson's leading our own torpedoes to us!"

 

"Oh, my God," muttered the weapons officer. Then, to his deputy, he ordered, "Semyon, self-destruct the torpedoes!"

 

"Engines, all ahead full!" Poryk ordered. "If the Dikson goes behind us, I don't want our own torpedoes to lock onto ourselves!"

 

"One TEST-99 has safely self-destructed at six thousand yards," said the sonar supervisor. "The second TEST-99 is active. I can hear its Apollo-V rangefinder sonar right now."

 

"Why hasn't the second torpedo self-destructed?" Poryk asked.

 

"I don't know, Captain," replied the weapons officer in a panicky voice. "It could be a short, a blown fuse, anything!" As he spoke, he kept pushing the glowing yellow button marked SELF-DESTRUCT on his console.

 

"TEST-99 at one thousand yards," said the sonar supervisor. At the same time, Gennady could hear the pings of the torpedo's attack sonar as it bore down on either his sub or the enemy's.

 

"Seven hundred and fifty yards." The weapons officer cursed and pounded harder on the self-destruct button.

 

"Five hundred yards." Executive officer Georgiy Dostalinsky made the sign of the cross.

 

"Two hundred and fifty yards." Captain Poryk took his dog tags and held them in his hand.

 

"One hundred yards." As the weapons officer pushed the self-destruct, the command, in the form of an electric pulse, traveled from the weapons console to the forward torpedo room to the second torpedo tube to the guidance wires of TEST-99 Torpedo Number 128715, the second torpedo fired against the K-534 Dikson by the K-287. After going down the wires, the pulse went through the onboard battle computer, which it translated to self-destruct. The computer then overloaded a fuse leading to the warhead, and the subsequent loss of stabilizing electric current caused the explosive to combust and detonate. The explosion was far away enough from the K-287 to cause no serious harm to the submarine's pressure hull, but that was not all that the explosion had. The K-287 had made the mistake of turning away from the explosion, and the shockwave pushed the sub's stern diving planes into their full dive positions, sending the K-287 to the bottom. The planesman and diving officer, noticing the error, tried to compensate by pulling back the control column and pushing the forward diving planes to full ascent, but their combined efforts couldn't stop the inevitable.

 

Gennady watched as the K-287 dropped from one hundred feet to three hundred within the blink of an eye. He knew that at the rate that they were going, they would reach the submarine's maximum operating depth of a thousand feet in no time, and then, suddenly, the sub took a nose-up attitude. Unknown to the crew, the hydraulic fluid controlling the stern diving planes, which had been pushed forward by the explosion, began rushing back to their initial positions, lifting the planes to their full ascent position. But although the submarine had its nose up, it still kept falling to the depths. Suddenly, the K-287 smashed into the bottom of the Kara Sea.

 

The K-311

 

"The K-287 is down, Captain," said Goran Marenko. "I repeat, the K-287 is down!"

 

"Sonar, what's the status of the Dikson?" asked Fyodor Sheshenko.

 

"She's at 11,000 yards from us and going at seven knots."

 

"Fire control, how's the solution?"

 

"Updated, Comrade Captain."

 

"Fire."

 

Two more TEST-99 torpedoes burst out of their tubes in the K-311 and began bearing down on the Dikson. This time, with no countermeasures to launch and her two reactors still recovering from an extended full power run, the enemy crew didn't have a chance. The two torpedoes slammed into the Dikson's two propellers, blowing open the two rear-end caps and sending both submarine and crew to a watery grave.

 

"So, what do we do now?" asked Nikolai Brtlanka.

 

"We reestablish communications with the K-287 and stand guard over her until help comes," replied Marenko.

 

The K-287

2030 Rivymiyitevko time (1830 Krakozhian time)

 

The area where the K-287 had come down was now crawling with ships from the Krakozhian Navy. The Alanich had been towed away by four fleet tugs to Yerotsk, and the floating dry dock Vladimir Kapitanets was standing by to inspect the K-287 once it surfaced. If it could still surface.

 

Meanwhile, in the K-287 itself, the crew were preparing to restart her two reactors, which had scrammed, or shut down, automatically when the sub struck the seabed. "Okay, Kapitanets, we're restarting reactor number one," Gennady Poryk said on the underwater communications set.

 

"Withdrawing control rods for fifteen percent power," reported the chief engineering officer. In the control room, Gennady heard a loud whir, and then the sub's main lights flickered on, blinking a few times, before finally staying on. "We have power," the chief engineer reported.

 

A loud cheer erupted throughout the K-287. The junior personnel hugged, cheered, and gave high-fives, while the officers shook hands and patted each other's backs. "Take her up to fifty percent power, Boris," Gennady ordered through the din.

 

"Fifty percent power, aye, Captain," replied the engineer. Fifty percent reactor was needed to operate the ballast tanks.

 

"Blow all ballast!"

 

Tanks of compressed air were opened electronically and directed to the ballast tanks, which were three-quarters full of water. The water was expelled through holes spaced throughout the pressure hull, raising the submarine's overall buoyancy. Suddenly, the sub took on a nose-up attitude. Gennady checked the altimeter and saw that they had not risen a foot. "What's happening?" he asked. "Why aren't we rising?"

 

"We must be stuck on the seabed!" replied the chief engineer.

 

What luck, thought Gennady. "Make turns for twenty knots," he ordered.

 

The K-287's two five-bladed propellers, or screws, kicked up huge clouds of silt coating the surface of the bottom of the Kara Sea. But while it created two deep clefts before the screws, it only buried the rudder deeper.

 

"Nothing's happening, Captain!" shouted executive officer Georgiy Dostalinsky.

 

"Take us to thirty knots!" ordered Gennady.

 

"We will have to start up the other reactor to do that!" said the chief engineer.

 

"Then do it!" But the silt still held on to the rudder.

 

"Engines all full! And give me one hundred and five percent on both reactors!"

 

The two screws strained with all their might to force the submarine out of the muck, and then, finally, with a loud groan, the bottom of the Kara Sea let go of the K-287. "Slow us down," ordered Poryk.  "We could end up beneath one of our own ships."

 

The K-287 broke the surface a few minutes later, much to the relief of both Admiral Vasily Domovich, commander-in-chief of the Krakozhian Navy, and Vice Admiral Dmitri Kalinin, commander of the Submarine Force, who were onboard the Vladimir Kapitanets. As Captain Poryk brought his sub into the floating dry dock, the two admirals began to discuss the sub's condition. "What do you think, Dima?" asked Domovich. "Can we fix her in time?"

 

"I don't know, Vasya," replied Kalinin. "Based on what I've heard from the K-311, the hydraulic lines of the stern planes suffered a lot of shock damage. That alone would take three months to check and repair. And it looks like they went for one hundred five percent on both of their reactors, so we'll have to check those for damage and possible leaks. That would take a year, and that's my best estimate."

 

"So, simply put, you're telling me that the K-287 is out of this war and in the foreseeable future?" asked Domovich.

 

"Unless the engineers work very hard and start right now, yes, Vasya, the K-287 is out of the game, so to speak," replied Kalinin.

 

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