Book 3 Chapter 39

I went into the passenger area lounge where I could hear the radio transmissions with the Orbatch’s presidential plane.

Even though Andrews was a military base, there were many VIP passenger flights in government and military planes. The Air Force had dozens of Gulf Stream and Boeing planes for VIP services.

Generals, Admirals, department heads and Congressional leaders – especially committee chairs and special investigative committee members – could not fly commercial, afraid someone would recognize them and give them hell or attempt to assault them. All those people expected plush accommodations and demanded it.

Plus – now with all the taxpayer provided bodyguards and aides – the government would end up buying a dozen tickets for each member of Congress.

I listened to the conversations between the plane and Andrew’s tower and there were technicians in the lobby talking about the plane problems. Apparently, the engine problems started two hundred miles from the USA coast.

Number one engine started smoking and burst into flames. The fire suppression system had put out the fire three different times and was now running out of suppression material. If the plane did not get on the ground soon, there was a fear that a portion of the wing could collapse – especially under the stress of landing.

All the fire apparatus was staged on the field and taxiways at various points. A few minutes later the plane was three miles out and closing fast. I could see a trail of smoke from number one engine. The pilots declared they were coming in hot to get it on the ground as quickly as possible.

Then it was a mile and the smoke trail from the engine was growing. Smoke was rolling from the main gear as the pilots braked hard, trying to get it stopped.

As soon as it stopped rolling three Striker airport rescue vehicles were pouring foam on the engine and water on the wing to cool it off. While that was being done emergency slides had opened and the passengers were getting out fast.

I walked to the plane to greet the Russian delegation that was obviously stressed out. President Orbatch and Anton Pavlenko were at the bottom of one of the emergency chutes.

‘’That was a close call! Are all your people OK or do you have some that need medical attention?” I asked.

‘’Everyone is fine, scared a little bit but fine. Worst thing is I need to be back in Russia in three days and I don’t think I want it to be on this plane,’’ President Orbatch said.

‘’They would normally send the backup plane, but it is down for repairs and maintenance,’’ he added.

By now all the foam had been rinsed off the wing and towards the storm drains. I walked with Orbatch and Anton to look at the wing. The underside looked a mess. In places the aluminum was melted and sagged. I sent one of the maintenance men to get a man lift so we could look at the top of the wing.

The top was worse. I could see into the interior of the wing and see the spars and engine attachments and mounting.

‘’I think this plane is going to be on the ground for a while,’’ I said with Anton and Orbatch agreeing.

‘’Have you had problems with this plane before?’’ I asked.

‘’Minor problems, but nothing like this,’’ Orbatch replied.

‘’At least you are on the ground safe and sound, I can send you home in one of ours,’’ I said.

President Orbatch and Anton were on time for the big fancy lunch the chefs had put together for us. Lunch was a relaxed affair with discussions about the flight from Russia and how we were going to get them back to Russia.

 Limos and Suburbans carried his party to the Blair House to freshen up for the lunch at the White House and talks. Then we were to go to Aberdeen Proving Grounds to cut the last fuel tank, signifying compete destruction of that missile group. The agenda for their visit had been planned for weeks and gave them only a few hours a day for unplanned events.

The trip to Aberdeen in a fifty vehicle convoy was slow; the roads were so busy that the police were complaining about the traffic backups that were being caused along the way in the communities and towns.

It was a media event with hundreds of news people there from many countries. The UN Secretariat even had representatives there. At one time I even toyed with denying them access to the event.

The UN was still trying to insert itself into the process. They were even trying to pass a resolution and accompanying rules that would block international treaties and agreements unless the UN was leader in the process.

With the remote controls to the big power saw in hand, we each cut a fuel tank apart. The tanks had been cleaned and purged of all the harmful chemicals from the exotic fuels the missile engines used.

Then I cut a one-inch-wide band to present to President Orbatch as a token to signify that this class of missiles was finished as required by the treaty.

After that, we finished with the media asking questions by the dozen and then the press departed.

‘’Our research shows that there is a very large armor museum here. Do we have time to walk through and look at it?’’ Orbatch asked.

I wondered why at first but in the conversation, it came out that Orbach’s grandfather had been a tank commander in the great war and one of his hobbies was the study of military armor.

The Aberdeen Army Ordnance Museum at Aberdeen Proving Ground had exhibits that dated back to colonial times and practically a copy of every piece used by all sides in WW1, WW2 and others.

Some of the tank displays had portions removed so visitors could look inside and see just how cramped the operators were. The museum gave the visitor a look at the simple arms of ancient times to the powerful battlefield weapons of today.

It clearly showed that whatever man built to fight a war, someone else could build ways to blow it up with enough time. Even the best weapon that gave one army an advantage was only short lived.

That was why countries spent hundreds of billions of dollars on research and development to have the next best gadget of war for that short-lived advantage.

As we walked the displays, museum guides showed up to describe and answer questions about them.

Dad carried Jake and me to the museum when we were teenagers for a Saturday trip and another time to the Navy yard at Norfolk when a carrier task force had returned from sea duty and was open for tours. I have often wondered if the sights at the museum and the carrier had anything to do with me joining the Marines after I graduated from school.

We returned to the White House with Orbatch returning to the Guest house. In an hour there was the state dinner.

The state dinner was an extravagant affair as usual when put on by the state department.

 Tomorrow there were more talks. There had been meetings for weeks and finally there had been a lot of progress with getting many manufactures to agree to moving their off shore manufacturing from China to Russia.

I was even more determined to get as much manufacturing out of China as I could. Mexico, The Philippines, and Russia were at the top of my list depending on the industry. Russia was winning the heavy manufacturing with Mexico second.

The Philippines was wanting light industry and electronics. Mexico was experiencing its own problems with heavy industry. Now that the cartel was on the run and the dead in the streets was nearly eliminated, they were pushing tourism. The country was rich in history and they were wanting to capitalize on that segment. The cruise ships were returning in numbers, things were definitely improving for Mexico.

Russia had plenty of heavy manufacturing factories and equipment to handle that kind of business. Getting the oil and coal to run those factories was no problem to them.

There had been giant steps in returning oil and coal production to previous levels with parts to repair equipment and new equipment being manufactured in the factories. Exports were beginning to recover.

Our meetings lasted the into the wee hours of the night and more agreements were signed. The Russian delegation left Friday morning in one of the executive planes for home, after the normal news conference.

A Russian group of aircraft mechanics were coming to evaluate the wing, make repairs and also replacing the engine.

I was leaving for the island to be with my family tonight. I wanted to hear all the pieces of the contracts again and to see my mates. I was worried about Marcy after all the hours on the plane and the long hours negotiating the new contracts.

I was packing, getting ready to leave when General Ingram came in with a handful of papers, not looking happy.

‘’There has been an incident in the East China Sea. The SSBN Nevada struck an underwater object traveling at fifteen knots at a depth of seven hundred feet. We think the object was another submarine, there are no undersea mountains at that depth in the area. There is substantial damage to the outer hull, however the pressure hull remained intact,’’ General Ingram said before continuing.

‘’Twenty submariners were injured, none life threating. The reactor is operating normally and the missile tubes are still water tight. The sub surfaced to do damage assessment and control,’’ he said.

‘’Several Navy destroyers are on the way along with the Coast Guard from Japan and the Philippines’’ he said.

‘’Were they playing cat and mouse games with another sub?’’ I asked.

Submarines playing cat and mouse with other submarines was a normal thing. Other nations tried to find ours and we theirs and sometimes they got to close to one another. Details of such contacts were classified for all kinds of reasons unless someone died, or the damage was substantial. It was viewed as normal training for a sub crew. If a major event happened, we needed to be able to sink the enemy subs before they sunk ours.

‘’What nationality was the sub?’’ I asked.

‘’China, we think – we do not know,’’ General Ingram said.

‘’No, no operations; they were on normal patrol and there were no reported contacts of any other subs or underwater objects,’’ he added.

‘’Discretely contact our allies to see if they had any submarines in the area and if they have lost contact with any,’’ I said.

‘’Has any debris been spotted or any bodies?’’ I asked.

‘’Did the Nevada report any sounds of a submarine being crushed by the pressure?’’ I asked.

‘’No, nothing yet, but search planes are just getting into the area,’’ General Ingram answered.

‘’Was there equipment failure that the other sub was not detected or has China developed a cloaking device? Those are questions the investigation needs to answer,’’ I said.

An aid knocked on the door and then handed the General a note.

‘’The ‘Nevada’ is making five knots towards Japan; escort ships will meet up in four to six hours. One of the ships is the assault landing ship ‘Wausau’, its helicopters will be in range in a couple hours and its F37s will do air cover until it meets with the Nevada. China is rushing ships to the area,’’ General Ingram said.

‘’Keep an open channel to the Nevada if you can. Keep me informed,’’ I said.

‘’If the Chinese ships attempt to interfere with the Nevada’s travel – sink them,’’ I said.

I finished packing up and walked out to Marine One that was waiting.

Edit by Alfmeister

Proof read by Bob W.

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