Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Dark Waves - Chapter 6 - First Skirmish

Captain gave a very quick salute to Arvind and told him of a level-1 security breach, his immediate presence was awaited on the bridge, the operations center of Aircraft Carrier, in less than ninety seconds. Arvind knew that it was not the time to ask questions, he found himself running towards op center. All crew members on the deck looked into his direction and they ran towards alert positions, that were assigned to each sailor on the carrier. At that very second, an alert siren started blaring with red lights flashing all over the carrier, same scene was being replicated across all five escorts as well. As Arvind entered the bridge, he saw Kunal, the Aircraft Carrier's XO, (Xecutive Officer) second in command shouting orders to bring the Carrier and all her escorts to offensive positions. But there was no reply from any of the escorts, something or someone has jammed their communication with the Carrier.

Arvind did not interrupt his XO, he zipped past him and went straight to navigations unit, where most of the activity was happening. Commander Navigations saw him coming and without wasting any second, he started with the briefing of the situation. Navigations Unit has intercepted a sub-surface vessel which has breached the outer security perimeter around the Carrier and since then they have not been able to communicate to any of the escorts. Intruder vessel has not responded to any communication they had tried from their end, it was moving towards the carrier with triple the fastest speed of any known submerged vessel. Soviet submarine of Papa Class. K-162 was known to have clocked the fastest speed till date, 50 Knots. It was in 1969. Since, then no submerged vessel could even come close to K-162. However, this intruder was clocking more than 170 Knots and it was still accelerating.

Just then, a dead console came to life and there was a blip in it, someone was trying to communicate with the Carrier through ultra-secured comms channel via satellite. It was INS Shakti, protecting the carrier from sub-surface vessel, which at this point of time was this fast moving intruder. It was the most pleasant voice, Arvind ever wanted to hear at this point of time, it was Lubin, Commanding Officer of nuclear-attack submarine INS Shakti. Arvind came to the comms console as Lubin filled the bridge with the information about the intruder vessel. It was a 1000 ton submarine, now clocking almost 180 knots and refusing to identify itself, it was all silent except that vociferous speed with which it was approaching the CSG. Its radar signature did not match with any active submarine from any of the major navies of the world. Lubin was now running a scan through second-fiddle navies around the globe, and then a match came on the display. This match showed the intruder vessel with same radar signature, as an obsolete whiskey class submarine from erstwhile Soviet Union. The only navy in the world which still operated this obsolete submarine was North Korea. But it was impossible for a vintage whiskey class submarine to achieve such a phenomenal speed; neither North Korea nor whiskey class had the capability to do this. Nothing was making sense to this under-water chaos.

As the intruder vessel breached the inner-most security perimeter of CSG, Lubin ordered for the strike. Immediately, two wake homing torpedoes were fired towards the intruder, five seconds later two more torpedoes were fired. Lubin expected the intruder to retaliate but he was surprised to see that intruder vessel had changed its course and was now rushing away from the CSG. Lubin knew that every action from the intruder, right from the very beginning was intentional and calculated. He fired some orders to his comms unit and a minute later a console was connected to GAGAN, GPS Aided Geo Augmented Navigation, Indian version of GPS and GLONASS. Unfortunately for intruder vessel, though its speed was too high for INS Shakti to follow it but its depth from the sea-surface was not deep-enough for an eye-in-the-sky. An encrypted message sent from INS Shakti has caused a movement in one of the satellite from GAGAN constellation. In less than three minutes, image of intruder vessel was visible on the console. She was moving with the same high speed, however, interestingly it was moving away from North Korea, into the open Indian Ocean.

Lubin made a comms to INS Vikrant's bridge and Arvind came online. After a quick discussion, two Kamov's were made airborne to the co-ordinates sent by GAGAN. At the same time, four other comms consoles came back to life, INS Vikrant was now again connected to its four surface escorts, its comms unit has reset the communication channels, which had been jammed by the intruder vessel. Guided Missile Frigate INS Shivalik was asked to follow the same co-ordinates, and provide support to two Kamov's, which were already on their way.

Hundreds of knots away, deep in Indian ocean, a naval ship was floating idle. It was a 25,000 ton Kunlun Shan, an amphibious vessel of PLA Navy of China. North Korean submarine Najin was heading towards Kunlun Shan, to a definite head-on collision.

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