CDR Craig Etka is a retired nuclear submariner. He commanded USS POGY (SSN 647)from 1979 to 1982. He is currently VP Underwater Systems Technology for Down Range Global Solutions, Inc. and Chairman of the Marine Technology Society (MTS) Seafloor Engineering Committee. He is the Author of:
The Scorpius Connection, 1994, American Literary Press, Inc. The Kilo Affair, 1998, American Literary Press, Inc. MANTRA RISING -The 1999 Trident Affair, 2011, American Literary Press, LLC[The first two novels were reviewed in the 1990 ‘s for The Submarine Review by John Pritzloff. a previous Chairman of the International ROV Safety Committee]
Throughout my life, I have considered that each event that happens and each person we encounter can become part of teachable and shareable moments. My wife, Fran, supported me in one way or another in my career and helped me finish the first novel started so long ago. She taught me about the female thought process and provided many of the mental reflections of the women presented in my novels. In addition, as an Emergency Medical Technician-Shock Trauma, she was invaluable in explaining to me the details of the medical traumas I presented in my novels.
While qualifying in submarines and standing watch as Officer of the Deck and Engineering Officer of the Watch on USS STONEWALL JACKSON (SSBN 634B) during three Polaris Deterrent Missile Patrols out of Guam, USA, in 1967 and 1968, I had a persistent theme running through my mind, which included space platforms that could attack United States missile submarines and my thoughts that women really could serve onboard SSBNs and help prevent the ultimate demise of the world, unlike the novel and movie On the Beach.
One patrol after I qualified in 1968, I was transferred from STONEWALL JACKSON and arrived at the DIG (Editor’s Note: Navy Nuclear Power Plants are designated alpha-numerically to identify general use, variation of a series and manufacture. Thus DIG was meant for a Destroyer, was the first of a series and was manufactured by General Electric) Nuclear Power Training Unit in Ballston Spa, NY, where I qualified as an Operator of the Bainbridge Plant, and started as a School House Instructor for the ongoing dispersion fuel conversion. I led the re-write of the Reactor Plant and Propulsion Plant manuals and all training materials, and got them approved by Naval Reactors [still Admiral Rickover]. I became the DIG Training Officer and was qualified as Engineer Officer of the Bainbridge Plant by Admiral Rickover before being transferred.
While at DIG, finally time became available in 1969 to start my notes on the first novel, with a nuclear powered submersible, space station, and shore based command and control for both. These notes were made possible because of my B.S. in Aeronautical Engineering from the U.S Naval Academy, my Scuba certification by the National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI) while at USNA before graduating in 1965, my Navy Nuclear Power Training, and my certification as the Outstanding NAUI Instructor in 1969; not to mention my interactions with myriad personalities in my short career to that date. The capabilities I developed for my initial hardware in the first two novels were from my imagination. I taught Scuba courses for Staff members at DIG.
After I was transferred in 1970 to USS HALIBUT (SSN 587) in Mare Island, CA, to be the Engineer Officer, I had no time to write anything more, but I was still able to teach Scuba courses for crew members. During that tour, I was contacted by personnel at Electric Boat (EB) concerning being Engineer of a proposed commercial 900 foot long nuclear submarine that would carry oil back and forth from the north coast of Alaska to the Groton area. The plan was for the submarine not to surface and allow the crew to go ashore for three years at a time; a real bummer. Nevertheless, that submarine became an important aspect in all three novels. Unclassified notes and interactions with unique submarine operations and submarine personnel continued.
After I was transferred from HALIBUT in 1974, I obtained a Master’s Degree in Oceanography from Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, CA, in 1975. Interactions with my younger classmates, the bottom topography guru at Scripps for the SSBN Navigation Program, and the people of La Jolla filled my coffers with more notes and ideas, before being transferred in 1976 to USS HA WK.BILL (SSN 666), another tour in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. More notes and ideas filled my files for the upcoming novels, including those resulting from the fact that HA WKBILL was a DSR V mother ship. I continued to teach Scuba for crew members and also taught Oceanography classes on deployments through Chaminade University in Hawaii as part of the Navy’s Program for Afloat College Education (PACE). While on HA WK.BILL, I had numerous opportunities to visit Yokosuka Naval Base and create more ideas for the impeding novels. That started my interactions with the Japanese people, interactions that continue to this date as I am an invited [attendance by invitation only] member of the U.S.-Japan Sea Power Dialogue and the U.S.-Japan Technology Forum.
After HA WKBILL, I became CO of USS POGY (SSN 647), another tour in Hawaii [still Admiral Rickover, who agreed with RADM Thunman that I could be sent to command as a LCDR]. Once again, writing was put on the back burner, but notes continued to be amassed, also since POGY was another DSRV mother ship.
After command of POGY, I was ordered to the COMSUBPAC Staff in Pearl Harbor in 1982, where I was summarily sent to the Indian Ocean as the ASW Officer for the Commander Carrier Group SEVEN onboard USS CONSTELLATION (CV 64). I additionally served as the Senior Submarine Advisor in the Indian Ocean to Commander Submarine Group Seven in Yokosuka. In the Indian Ocean with Soviet submarines, Soviet surface ships, and Soviet bombers someplace nearby, unclassified notes were amassed during that tour, as they were during my tenure as the War Plans Officer on the COMSUBPAC Staff for over three years and as Operations Officer on the Staff of the Defence Liaison Office of the VCNO in the Pentagon for nearly four years. While on the COMSUBPAC Staff, I travelled to Washington, DC, to meet at the U.S. Naval Observatory with the late RADM Richard Seesholtz, then Navigator and Oceanographer of the Navy. This provided more notes and ideas for the upcoming novels.
After my retirement in late 1989, I went to work in the design, construction, and operation of underwater systems for Westinghouse, Northrop Grumman, and Oceaneering International. Living in Aquia Harbour, VA, near Quantico Marine Base, I became familiar with the MV-22 Osprey and met one of the President’s Helicopter Pilots on MARINE ONE when he visited my home to buy one of our puppies from a litter; more fodder for the coffers.
When the demise of the Soviet Union occurred, I knew that I needed to complete my first novel soon since many events I had predicated had already become reality. I truncated the first novel so that I would be forced to complete a sequel. The Scorpius Connection was completed in 1994 when I was a subcontractor for Westinghouse in Annapolis, working on underwater systems and the Advanced SEAL Delivery System (ASDS). The nuclear powered submersible, space station, and shore based systems came to fruition, as did the over 50 characters of my first two novels. In the summer of 1996, I was slowed down on the sequel when I became a technical consultant and contributor to the creation of the manuscript for Tom Clancy SSN, Strategies of Submarine Warfare for Tekno Books, a company that had a contract with Tom Clancy. Tekno Books asked me to initiate a movie proposal for a novel that never came to fruition. However, that experience led to my subsequent creation of a Trident Submarine that I converted into an SSPN, Nuclear Submarine, Presidential. That included the design of a Presidential Command Center, Presidential Conference Room, Presidential Suites, an Air Traffic Control Center to control the MV-22 Ospreys, a SOF Operations Center, an SSGN Operations Center, and a special hanger for my nuclear powered submersible from the first two novels. This SSPN includes the first women onboard a nuclear submarine. My experiences in talking with Naval Academy women over the last several years that were going into the nuclear power surface and submarine pipelines, and with my friend, retired Admiral Frank (Skip) Bowman, helped immensely. Unfortunately, my surface warfare daughter, Kimberley, USNA 1988, was too early to become a submarine officer.
In 1998, I finally completed the sequel, The Kilo Affair. I forced myself to complete this before going into surgery for Stage 2 malignant melanoma in January of that year.
Surviving that cancer operation, the next decade was spent writing MANTRA RISING -The 1999 Trident Incident, based on my many years [1965 -1989] as an officer in the Submarine Force during the Cold War with the Soviet Union working with the members of SEAL (Sea-Air-Land) units and additional years of post-retirement civilian work with the Advanced SEAL Delivery System (ASDS), for which I served as the Northrop Grumman Integration and Test Manager, preparing ASDS for manned testing. After ASDS, I served as an Oceaneering International, Inc. Advanced Technologies Program Manager for the preliminary design of the SSGN Battle Management Center (BMC) and Special Operations force (SOF) Tubes, once again working with Navy SEALs and Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) personnel. I had already created my SSPN, so I recused myself from visits to the SSGN conversion yard in Norfolk, VA, relying on my staff to make the right recommendations to me that NA VSEA would approve.
As tribute to history and as a teacher and trainer of my ship-mates, I wanted to portray the late 1980s and early 1990s that saw the demise of the Soviet Union. In 1990, Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev ushered in his policy of glasnost, or openness. As the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), which had been the union of the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic (RSFSR) (Russian as a first language) and the Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republics (ASSRs) (Russian as a second language) dissolved into the Russia Federation, a number of independent countries were determined to maintain their independence from Moscow.
The earlier formation of the Baltic States consisted of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. In my earlier novels, I created a new alliance which was formed by the other previous non-Russian, or constituent, republics that became independent. I call these SAWRS, or the Southern And Western Rim States, with their equivalent of our Washington, D.C., government located in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev.
Of these fifteen ex-Soviet Republics of the real world ASSR, the most important during the time frame of this novel included Belarussia with its state capital still in Minsk and Kazakhstan with its state capital still in Alma Ata. Both were nuclear weapons republics. Kazakhstan was the second largest republic in the USSR, having nearly five times the land mass of the Ukraine. Yet the population density of the Ukraine was nearly twenty-two times that of Kazakhstan. Plus the Ukraine has sea access. Coupled with the Soviet Antonov cargo plane having been designed in the Ukraine, these facts explain my assignment of Kiev as the seat of my fictitious SAWRS government. During the dissolution of the USSR, we are aware that a number of other important republics and cities, not just in the newly formed states, changed their names back to what they originally were many years before.
These real events surrounding the demise of the Soviet Union were followed by the actual sales of Russian KILO Class diesel submarines to Iran in 1992, 1993, and 1997.1 allowed the first two of them to be stolen by some of my 1994 novel characters from Iran for use in my 1994 and 1998 novels involving the Colombian Drug Trade. Subsequent to my 1994 novel involving KILO submarines being used in the Colombian Drug Trade, the FBI arrested some nefarious characters in Miami who were trying to buy KILO submarines, probably for Colombian Drug Cartels.
My fiction novels provide the capabilities of my Thulium-170 isotope nuclear powered USS SCORPIO (SSN X-1) [Credit to the power plant designed by Lawrence Livermore Laboratory for an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) decades ago]; a 20,000 foot depth capable, DSRV look alike submersible with laser fire power [based on my meetings with a defecting Soviet Union laser scientist from the University of Physics in Irkutsk, near Lake Baikal, who decided to leave the Soviet Union before its demise, following an Olympic sailing event that crossed the Pacific Ocean]. This fictitious submersible was originally named SCORPIO X-1 before it was commissioned in my novel by the President of the United States as a nuclear attack submarine (SSN).
All the novels include the capabilities of the United States and Soviet Union (USASU) Space Platform; the Underwater Research Activity (URA) Complex on the island of Abaco, Bahamas; and the 900 foot submarine, THE WALL, moored at a depth of 800 feet against the southern wall of Abaco, N. E. Providence Channel, near the Tongue of the Ocean. This 900 foot long submarine, originally envisioned for use as a double-hulled oil transport carrier between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans under the Arctic Ocean ice, was in the stages of conceptual design by Electric Boat Company in the late l 960’s – early 1970’s. I have also added some unclassified and fully published aspects of the Trident Submarine, the most formidable weapons platform in the history of the world as we know it today and as it will be into the millennium.
My latest novel includes details on some other submersibles, real and fictitious, including the real USS NEV ADA (SSBN 733), with some of my author’s prerogatives with respect to additional modifications that might someday be considered; the real Soviet Union-now Russian -KILO Class diesel submarine, several of which were sold to Iran in the l 990’s and continue to operate to this day; some real U.S. and Russian aircraft; the Advanced SEAL (Sea-Air-Land) Delivery System (ASDS), and a carship I designed based on VHF radio conversations with carship Pilots and Masters plying the Chesapeake Bay.
FORSAN ETHAECOLIM MEMINISSE IUVABIT
[Perhaps One Day These Things Too Will Be a Joy to Remember][From a Plaque Presented to me by the Navy Operational Intelligence Center]
2012 FLEET AWARDS
RADM JACK N. DARBY AWARD
FOR INSPIRATIONAL LEADERSHIP
AND EXCELLENCE OF COMMAND
CDR J.Carl Hartsfield, USN
USS NEWPORT NEWS (SSN 75O)
MASTBR CHIBP PRANK A. LISTBR AWARD
FOR EXCEPTIONAL LEADERSHIP AND MOTIVATION
WHILE SERVING AS A CHIEF OF THE BOAT
BTCM (SS) Eric.J.Murpby USN
USS NEW MEXICO (SSN 779)
VADM CH.ARLBS A. LOCKWOOD AWARD
FOR SUBMARINE PROFESSIONAL EXCELLENCE
LCDR John T. Fryu USN
USS CITY Of CORPUS CHRISTI (SSN 705)
STSC (SS) Jamus W. Music, USN
USS CITY OP CORPUS CHRISTI (SSN 705)
MM1 (SS) Kavis S Swanson, USN
USS HOUSTON (SSN 713)
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