It's as big as the Empire State Building, a massive floating fortress at the throbbing heart of a U.S. Navy Carrier Battle Group.Its supersonic aircraft can level entire cities at a stroke. Its surveillance gear can trackevery target within thousands of square miles--in the air, on the surface, and under the sea. Its crew of six thousand works night and day to keep this awesome military machine at peak performance. It's a Nimitz-Class nuclear carrier, the most powerful weapons system on the planet. Nothing can touch it. So when the first stunned messages say only that the Thomas Jefferson has disappeared, the Navy reacts with disbelief. But as her battered escorts report in, the truth becomes inescapable: a Nimitz-Class carrier has been claimed by nuclear catastrophe--the mightiest military unit on earth, vaporized without warning by an accidental detonation of unimaginable power. No other explanation is possible.But as Navy maverick Bill Baldridge begins to investigate the disaster that claimed his idolized brother's life, another chilling alternative begins to emerge from the high-tech web of fleeting sonar contacts and elusive radar blips. It points to a rogue submarine commanded by a world-class undersea warrior with the steely nerve and cunning of a master spy. Suddenly it's up to Bill Baldridge to track down this shadowy nuclear terrorist, who has already turned America's ultimate weapon into the biggest sitting duck in history--and who still has another nuclear-tipped torpedo in his tubes. He's already proved he has the icy ruthlessness to incinerate six thousand sailors without a qualm. What will he do for an encore?In these pages the modern military springs to life, form the Pentagon's tense conferences to the screaming flight deck of a giant carrier to the silent conning tower of an attack sub on full alert. But as Bill Baldridge races against time to pursue the nation's most deadly enemy, we are forced to ask ourselves serious real-life questions: Have defense budget cuts jeopardized our national security? Are we prepared to defend ourselves against naval terrorist? How safe are we? Nimitz Class is a world-class techno-thriller with a plot as riveting as Hunt for Red October--and an explosive twist out of tomorrow's headlines.Today it's a novel. Tomorrow it might be the news.
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February 01, 2004
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Excerpt from Nimitz Class by Patrick Robinson
April 22, 2002. The Indian Ocean. On board the United States Aircraft Carrier Thomas Jefferson . 9S, 92E. Speed 30.
They had waved him off twice now. And each time Lieutenant William R. Howell had eased open the throttle of his big F-14 interceptor/attack Tomcat and climbed away to starboard, watching the speed needle slide smoothly from 150 knots to 280 knots. The acceleration was almost imperceptible, but in seconds the lieutenant saw the six-story island of the carrier turn into a half-inch-high black thimble against the blue sky.
The deep Utah drawl of the Landing Signal Officer standing on the carrier stern was still calm: "Tomcat two-zero-one, we still have a fouled deck--gotta wave you off one more time--just an oil leak--this is not an emergency, repeat not an emergency."
Lieutenant Howell spoke quietly and slowly: "Tomcat two-zero-one. Roger that. I'm taking a turn around. Will approach again from twelve miles." He eased the fighter plane's nose up, just a fraction, and he felt his stomach tighten. It was never more than a fleeting feeling, but it always brought home the truth, that landing any aircraft at sea on the narrow, angled, 750-foot-long, pitching landing area remained a life-or-death test of skill and nerve for any pilot. It took most rookies a couple of months to stop their knees shaking after each landing. Pilots short of skill, or nerve, were normally found working on the ground, driving freight planes, or dead. He knew that there were around twenty plane-wrecking crashes on U.S. carriers each year.
From the rear seat, the radar-intercept officer (RIO), Lieutenant Freddie Larsen, muttered, "Shit. There's about a hundred of 'em down there, been clearing up an oil spill for a half hour--what the hell's going on " Neither aviator was a day over twenty-eight years old, but already they had perfected the Navy flier's nonchalance in the face of instant death at supersonic speed. Especially Howell.
"Dunno," he said, gunning the Tomcat like a bullet through the scattered low clouds whipping past this monster twin-tailed warplane, now moving at almost five miles every minute. "Did y'ever see a big fighter jet hit an oil pool on a carrier deck "
"It ain't pretty. If she slews out off a true line you gotta real good chance of killing a lot of guys. 'Specially if she hits something and burns, which she's damn near certain to do."