David Lavallee points out in the author’s note at the start of his novel that the US Navy calls its rehersal for undersea rescue operations “Exercise 1000”; should a real rescue mission occur, the designation will change to “Event 1000.” Thus explaining where the title of the book comes from.
Lavallee walked the walk and talked the talk as both a US Navy submariner and a deep sea diver, giving each and every page of this submarine yarn a crackling authenticity that is unimpeachable.
The plot: one evening in May the USS Lancerfish, part of the newest fleet of attack boats in the United States Navy, surfaces 100 miles southeast of the Ambrose Lightship off New York City and proceeds to head in to New York, New York on the surface.
The officers and crew are businesslike but relaxed, knowing they are almost home.
Little do they know that a fateful encounter with an outbound surface freighter will kill twenty-two of a crew of eighty-three, with death stalking the remaining survivors from illness, accidents, and suicide as delays and difficulties with the rescue result in the crew of the Lancerfish being trapped for weeks on the bottom with the air turning ever stale and the food supplies dwindling to canned goods even as the boat’s reactor keeps on trucking keeping life support systems functioning.
Alas, but the McCann Rescue Chamber (that which saved the survivors of the USS Squalus in 1939 andstill the primary means of undersea rescue in 1971; the year the novel was first published) is plagued with difficulties resulting from the whims of the undersea currents on the downhaul cable attached to the sunken Lancerfish, balky winches, and other frustrating glitches that results in a proposal for the new DSRV manned submersible rescue vehicle being used instead … but it isn’t quite ready for deployment yet although an advocate for it – a navy captain named Shepherd- is convinced it will work when it arrives.
But the rescue force commander –Commodore Holmes- isn’t keen on waiting any longer than he has to. More and more, his thoughts turn to a deep sea diving bell that has been offered on a nearby Soviet research vessel named the Nikolai Trunov named the Bentos V. The Soviets have graciously offered it for the Americans use, but Cold War politics and pride makes the United States turn down the offer.
Will Holmes toe the line, or do the sensible thing and ask the Russians for help as the clock ticks on the dwindling band of survivors hundreds of feet below?
If you get a chance to, read this pulse-pounder of a novel to find out. It’s a page turner!