Book 2 Chapter 172

I slipped on a tee shirt, pajama bottoms and slippers, then with agents and the football in tow made my way to the elevator for the tunnel and then the command center where any conversation could be secure.
Tom was working the control panel as we went in.
”I guess you have been told what has happened. Aaron is sending the video from the fast ships in a few minutes, Andy is on his way over. He should be here in the next few minutes.”
”Ok – I need you to connect to a government link.” I gave him the connection information. After a few minutes I was looking at the night crew from the joint chiefs.
Rear Admiral John Beck was the Navy representative tonight. ”Madam President, at 1000 Saudi Arabia time 0300 local, the destroyer USS Hammann was attacked in the Persian Gulf off Al Jubayl in the transition area to enter Ad Dammam international seaport. The ship was severely damaged but is still afloat. One hundred sailors are dead and over one hundred injured,” he said.
”Who were the attackers?” I asked as if I didn’t know.
”Iranian fast boats and several helicopters,” the rear Admiral said.
” All the video from the GoPro cameras has loaded,” Tom said just as Andy stepped into the room.
”Add Aaron to this conversation. Let’s find out what happened!” I said.
Aaron came on the screen that was now divided into four smaller ones.
”Aaron, can you tell us what happened?” I asked.
”Last night at 2000 hours four of our escort ships from the Dubai site escorted the tanker Exxon Orient out of the Persian gulf and into the Arabian sea where they were picked up by four more from the Masqat site. The USS Hammann was steaming into the Persian Gulf to dock at Ad Dammam.”
”Our ships accompanied the Hammann into the gulf. The four ships handed off the Hammann to four of our ships from the Ad Dammam site at the Dubai – Qatar temporary anchorage,” Aaron said.
”The four Ad Dammam ships picked up the tanker Global Mystic from the temporary anchorage and the USS Hammann and along with two of the Dubai escorts that were going to the Ad Dammam maintenance site dry dock for service.”
”The Ad Dammam harbor master directed the USS Hammann to the transition site to wait until it’s docking and display area was ready. It was to be a thirty minute wait. Our six fast ships also went to the transition area because of congestion in the harbor.”
There were two transition areas. One encompassed the Saudi Arabia territorial waters and other Iranian territorial waters. A buoy marked neutral zone between the two for ships transiting further up the gulf.
”Minutes after the radio message four Iranian helicopters came over the horizon from the north east and twenty IRG fast boats came out of the marshes off Fars Island,”
”The helicopters opened fire with missiles when still twelve miles away. The close in defense systems disposed of fourteen of the missiles, but two still hit the ship. The ship fired anti-aircraft missiles and destroyed all four helicopters just before the missiles hit the ship. The Iranian fast boats moved in to attack firing more missiles as the JBG ships moved in to help the Hammann.”
”Four missiles from the fast boats made it past the close in defenses and struck the Hammann. They had fired over twenty.”
“The JBG fast ships took on the Iranian fast boats. The Hellfire missiles and Hydra 70s sank ten of them. The other ten were raked with gunfire from the Hammann and the JBG ships sinking eight more. The last two fled the area,” Aaron said.
”I have serious injuries and three casualties in the JBG force, all ships have battle damage,” Aaron added.
”Tom, copy all the GoPro video to thumb drives, I will look at them in Washington,” I said.
”Admiral Beck, do you have an update from the Hammann? I is it going to stay afloat or sink?” I asked.
”The report indicated damage control has stopped the flooding, it is under its own power. Fires are still burning but contained and nearly out,” Admiral Beck said.
”The ship’s triage teams are treating minor injuries aboard ship, the serious are being taken to the hospital in Ad Dammam. As soon as they are transportable they will be flown to Landstuhl Army Medical Center in Germany and then home,” Admiral Beck added.
”JBG ships are assisting in transporting the injured to awaiting ambulances. When that is complete they will assist in transporting the deceased to shore,” Andy said.
”Andy, give all the help you can to the Hammann. Transfer men to do it, whatever it takes! We will work out the details later. It’s going to take hours for the Navy to get there. I don’t want that ship sinking there,” I said.
”A C5M out of Germany is on the way to pick up the deceased. They will be flown to the morgue in Dover for identification and prepared for funeral. A 747 medical unit with staff is flying in to pick up the injured. It will be there in three hours,” Lt General Rogers said. He was the Air Force duty officer to the joint chiefs.
”First is to find out if the ship will survive or do we need to take other measures quickly. Next is the injured to see if they are getting the care they need, make sure it is timely and then get them home. It looks like that is in progress. Third is the deceased and their return to the US. I will be in Washington within the hour; I want to be updated when I get there,” I said.
”Order Marine One to pick me up in the marked landing area by the parking lot in twenty minutes,” I instructed the Secret Service officer.
My mates and JBG employees were flying out so much that Marcy had a landing pad poured behind the offices for helicopters. The marsh and tree line deadened the noise.
I went back to house to dress and tell everyone I was going back to Washington for a while.
Jenny was awake as I dressed so gave her a quick overview and that I was going to Washington and planned to be back in time for the cookout, at least for a while. A hug and a kiss finished the conversation.
I was sitting in one of the Suburbans when the helicopter touched down. I ducked low and was in it while the blades were still turning. It was a quick trip back to the White House. I was on my phone the whole trip.
The world knew by now and the media was out in force, shouting and screaming for a response. It was 0500, just two hours after the attack. I fast walked to the White House and just waved at them.
I went straight to the Oval Office and called down to the national security room, ”Send someone up to update me.”
I sent the same message to the CIA desk and to the joint chiefs office. The kitchen sent up my usual breakfast and two pots of coffee. They were rightfully expecting a long day.
Messengers started placing reports on my desk and quickly exiting. The CIA satellite was overhead and taking pictures thirty minutes before the attack started and as usual, until it went over the horizon and out of view of the gulf.
I flipped through the pictures; they were one minute apart. The helicopters came from one of the forward bases where the Iranian troops had staged after the live fire drills.
The IRG fast boats appeared to come from nowhere. One frame there was nothing, the next there were twenty fast boats. That meant there were covered boat docks. Covered with marsh grasses and there long enough to be green and shaped in to the surrounding greenery.
That was one question to ask Frank when I saw him. Did the CIA know about them, how long had they been there and last but not least, were there any more?
The Chief of Naval Operations came in to give the update personally. “The USS Hammann is still afloat. The deceased crew number is one hundred including the captain and first officer. The injured are one hundred and four, thirty four are serious or critical.”
”The captain and commander were killed with the first missile. Lt. Commander Kelly Martin immediately assumed command and kept the fire teams and damage control organized and the ship fighting,” he said.
”Sounds like a sea promotion is in order for him if he is keeping the ship afloat with only a third of the crew available,” I said.
”Kelly is female and finished in the top ten in the class at the academy,” he said.
”Put it in writing, I’ll sign it!” I said.
”Yes ma-am, consider it done,” he replied.
General Ingram walked in as the conversation ended.
It was 0600 when the full joint chiefs came in; Troy came in a few minutes later. For the next hour and thirty minutes orders for military operations and ship movements were put into play.
Troy sent a clerk to deliver a message to the media that there would news conference at 0800. Messages and phone calls were coming in from our allies.
The green phone rang – it was the British Prime Minister offering condolences for the dead and prayers for the injured. Also, an offer to help any way they could.
”I would suggest that you order all British personnel out of Iran immediately, including embassy staff. You should remove all submarines from the Indian Ocean, Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman,” I said.
”I understand; it will be done,” he said.
The red phone rang while I was talking. Troy answered if for me while I finished the call.
President Orbatch and I talked a few minutes. I informed him that the bomber group and the Naval task force would be leaving in a week for a couple weeks and then be back to continue our agreement.
”Is this going to change any part of the other agreement?” he asked.
”No – there will be no changes. The teams disassembling the missiles will stay there and continue their work. Agreed payments, grain and food deliveries will continue on time,” I said.
”I would suggest that if you have any Russian people in Iran, to remove them immediately – including all embassy personnel,” I said. I repeated what I had told the British about submarines.
At 0800 I walked out to the podium in the news room.
”At 0300 this morning the USS Hammann DD 412 was on a ‘show the flag’ open ship port call to AD Damman in Saudi Arabia. The ship was in the Saudi transition zone waters.”
”While waiting for the dock to become clear, it was attacked by units of the Iranian Republican Guard – by four helicopters and twenty fast boats. The Hammann was hit by at least six missiles and raked by gunfire.”
”Even though taking heavy fire, the Hammann returned fire and destroyed the four helicopters and sank ten of the fast boats. JBG escort ships which were working assignments in the anchorage and gulf area came to their aid and assisted the Hammann, sinking eight more fast boats.”
”Several JBG fast ships took heavy fire and are damaged with three casualties and several wounded. JBG ships are now transporting wounded to shore where ambulances are taking them hospitals in the area.”
”Even though I do not need it under the circumstances, when they return on Monday, I am asking Congress for authorization to carry out military operations against Iran ”
”We mourn for those that died and for their families, we pray for the injured for a speedy recovery.”
”At this time that is all the information I have. As more becomes available it will be passed along. I will take no questions. Thank you, ”I said as turned and walked off the stage.
The Oval Office and lobby was full with everybody wanting a turn for my attention. Several Senators and Representatives were waiting along with Generals, Admirals and several country’s ambassadors. Frank was already in my office with a folder and two of his analysts.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.

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