“Sir, the last communication with the submarine occurred at 0331 on the 5th of this month. May I play the message now?” Lieutenant Matthew Masert acknowledged the Captain’s nod and ran Captain Arnold’s message:
“Alert! We are being surrounded fore, aft, starboard and port by Russian subs. This started when we completed our Kamchatka assignment. Now we’re halfway to …”
Captain Ensano frowned. “That’s it?”
A week later, no further word from the Possama nor had any searches succeeded in discovering any reason for the boat to be missing. Russia denied any activity around the sub at all. The USS Possama became another lost submarine in the Pacific, flags at half-mast.
Captain Arnold laid his cards down with a grin as the other three officers of the Possama fanned their hands out in defeat. The Captain took the last package of chocolate cookies and quietly secured them in his satchel. His comm unit vibrated. He reached for it and held it close to his ear. He replied in a whisper, “We’re ready but do not make any outside communications yet.” He pulled the cookies out slowly and opened them with a shove to the officers as he rose and went forward with care to not pant too loudly. Perhaps this ultra-silence could end soon!
Later that evening, Lt. Masert trotted to the Captain’s quarters and knocked, hoping Ensano hadn’t hit the sack yet. When the door opened, Masert stood at attention and stated, “The USS Possama is now found.”
Captain Ensano clenched his hands before his chest, almost as a prayer. “Is the crew alive?”
“Uh, Sir, the submarine just pulled into Ballast Point, all alive.”
“San Diego? That boat is out of Hawaii! Que Demonios?” His arms fell limply to his side.
“Admiral Musavel wants us to make way to San Diego for an update with no mention of this to anyone.”
Ensano stepped lively on his way forward on his Destroyer USS Kentucky and reached the Control Room. Soon they were in the lane to southern California. He laid on the power as this he did not wish to miss!
The meeting room had past Admorals’ pictures in an array around the walls. Captain Arnold stood at the podium in full dress uniform and greeted his old friend Pablo Ensano, Admiral Musavel and several others not familiar to him. When they all got seated, he began.
Arnold straightened his lips side to side and closed his eyes for a couple seconds, then appeared more relaxed and spoke. “Welcome all. First, I apologize for causing anxiety over our lack of any signals. I have a reason and I believe the ruse was absolutely worth it.
“We took photos and recordings at the Kamchatka mission site. As we left, Russians ganged up around us and tried driving us to the west. We did not want to end up in their custody, so we opened our torpedo hatches and were immediately fired at. We pushed the reactor as high as it would go and sent out a decoy. It worked but we pretended it did not, with us opening some valves to let out bubbles. We settled into a low spot and cut all services. At least one Rusky sub observed us for nearly a week before leaving and thank God for that as the O2 had gone down to beetle crap. We eased on some vital services and searched for any sign of Rusky presence. None! We left as swiftly yet secretly as we could and beelined here.
“They probably kept monitoring south in case we tried to get back to Hawaii, so we came here due west with as much stealth as we could muster. You see, we caught proof of a temporary installation of Ruskies near Alaska, under an extending shelf with buoys floating around above them that were not left by fishermen. I have all the data including cryptic signals being reviewed now.”
Arno stared at the attendees and tapped his right foot. “No comments?”
Ensano stood. “You went back into your days in the country! You played possum!”
Arnold smiled big.