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Sea of Shadows by Jeff Edwards

Sea of Shadows by Jeff Edwards

    Missiles are fast. They’re dangerous. They’re sexy. So when we think about warfare at sea, it’s natural that missiles are the first things we think about. But we can shoot down missiles. We can decoy them with chaff—jam them—hide from them with infrared suppression systems and minimized radar cross-sections.
Our Kingfisher sonars can detect mines, and we can destroy them or maneuver to avoid them.
Our ships are hardened against chemical and biological weapons.
But how do you stop a torpedo? Thirty years of R-and-D, and we still don’t have a viable system for intercepting torpedoes. We can’t shoot them down; we can’t jam them; we can’t hide from them. And, even third-world torpedoes can do upward of fifty knots, so we sure as hell can’t outrun them. We do have decoy systems
     We build the toughest warships on the planet, but the best engineers in the business agree that nearly every class of torpedo currently being deployed has the capacity to sink one of our ships with a single shot. To make matters worse, none of our potential adversaries believe in shooting torpedoes one-at-a-time. Typically, they shoot salvos of two or three.
     R-92 was a state-of-the-art acoustic homing torpedo. It was a cybernetic predator: an electro-mechanical killing machine. Fast. Smart. Unbelievably lethal. Every component, from the shark-like hydrodynamic form of its fuselage—to its multi-spectrum acoustic sensors—to the axial-flow turbine that formed its engine, was optimized for the undersea environment. Its brain was a fifth-generation digital computer, hardwired for destruction with a machine-driven relentlessness that no living predator could match. R-92 and its brethren had been honed for the chase and the kill by two and a half centuries of technological evolution.
     Bowie timed it carefully, lifting each foot at just the right second as he ducked through the hatch combing of the open blast door and ran out onto the forecastle of his ship. Twenty-one laps around the deck today and his breaths were still coming evenly, but the air was hot and so humid that it felt like breathing soup. Sweat plastered his short black hair to his forehead, and his sleeveless U.S. Naval Academy T-shirt stuck to his skin, the faded goat mascot logo blending into the perspiration-darkened fabric. It wasn’t even noon yet, and the sun was already fierce enough to blur the visual horizon with rapidly evaporating water. At least the seas were calm at the moment—not exactly a given in the Arabian Gulf this time of year.

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