An unconquerable fortress, the US Nimitz-Class Aircraft Carrier Thomas Jefferson is the most powerful nuclear-powered warship in the world, stationed in the Arabian Sea to preserve the peace and Western allied interests. But the unthinkable occurs when the billion-dollar ship is destroyed in what appears to be a nuclear accident -- it is the greatest peacetime disaster in US history. Whilst America mourns for the lives of the crew, Intelligence reports begin to suggest that the cause of the tragedy may be a rogue ex-Soviet submarine, and Admiral Arnold Morgan is called in to investigate. But no one knows who is on board, where it came from, or how it came within striking range of the Thomas Jefferson unnoticed. Worse still, no ones knows where it is or if it will strike again. Political tensions mount as Middle Eastern connections are suspected, and a deadly chase ensues when a victim's brother seeks his revenge on the killers ...
In a scenario rendered with terrifying plausibility, the Nimitz Class aircraft carrier Thomas Jefferson, on station in the Arabian Sea, surrounded by its Battle Group of cruisers, destroyers and frigates, with its aircraft, weapons and 6000 sailors, is vaporized by a nuclear explosion. What appears at first to be a horrible accident turns out to be an act of terrorism, the result of an attack by a nuclear-tipped torpedo. Behind the attack lurk Baghdad and a "genius" Iraqi submariner trained by the British and now on the loose in a Russian-built Kilo sub. Only Lt. Commander Bill Baldridge, brother of one of the officers slain aboard the Thomas Jefferson, has the requisite experience and imagination to understand the possibility and implications of the attack. Now he must convince his superiors and his colleagues in other nations of his theories before he can set about staving off further attacks and achieving justice. While the rich technical detail here is impeccable, every bit the equal of Clancy's, the storytelling is not. British journalist Robinson writes ponderous prose and his pacing is fitful as the action too often gives way to talk while the Western military forces develop strategies to deal with the situation. Military fiction fans will admire his authoritative exploitation of weaponery and tactics, however, and most readers will be engaged, despite some sluggish passages, by his persuasive cautionary tale about the perils of military downsizing at a time when rogue nations are amassing weapons of great and terrible destructiveness. 250,000 first printing; $325,000 ad/promo; film rights optioned by John McTiernan; simultaneous HarperAudio; foreign rights sold in the U.K., France, Germany, Holland, Brazil and Italy; translation, first serial and dramatic rights: Ed Victor.