I’m pleased to welcome Robert G. Williscroft here today on his blog tour!
OPERATION IVY BELLS: A MAC MCDOWELL MISSION
I am Robert G. Williscroft, and this is an updated version of my bestselling, semi-autobiographical Cold War Novel. Operation Ivy Bells is a first-person account of a team of saturation divers locking out of the nuclear submarine USS Halibut on the bottom of the Sea of Okhotsk. Fearlessly facing death, these dare-devil divers tapped into Soviet underwater communication cables and retrieved spent missile parts from the seafloor. The intel they gathered tipped the scales to win the Cold War. This story is based on real events—I led one of the teams depicted in this book.
Is Mac McDowell really me? Some folks would say Yes, but frankly there are many differences between us. I was an excellent submarine and diving officer, but Mac is definitely more capable than I. I would welcome your visiting my website to check out my background. Then compare the real me with Mac and let me know what you think.
A warm thank you to my host for sharing this blog.
Recognition for Operation Ivy Bells
This is what Martin H. Bloom, former President of The Los Angeles Adventurers’ Club, had to say about Operation Ivy Bells:
Magnificently written! A powerful and riveting account of the Cold War fought beneath the oceans by the world’s most famous enemies. Bristles with the same hair-raising authenticity that launched The Hunt for Red October to world notoriety. The factual and detailed descriptions are so realistic they submerge you deep in the ocean depths and make you feel a part of the sub’s crew on a remarkable mission told by veteran submariner, Robert Williscroft, who details an almost unimaginable war of nerves under the most trying conditions, and of the men who possess the incredible capabilities to carry out this mission.
Excerpt from Operation Ivy Bells
I’m not sure who got to Bill first, the Basketball or the other divers. What I do know is that suddenly, the monitor was filled with Bill trapped at his thighs under the forward starboard skid. Right next to him his umbilical passed under the skid as well.
“Green Diver, what’s your condition?” Jack was right on it.
“I’m pinned under the skid. I can move my toes. Don’t think nothin’s broke, but I can’t move.”
“That’s good news.” It was the Skipper. “We’ll get the sub up off him. Get him onboard ASAP.”
“Right, Sir,” I said as he left for the Conn. I reached for the mike. “Listen, you guys,” I said, “Blue Diver back to the Can right now. Get yourself rigged to get Green into the Can. We’re gonna lift the sub gently. You guys get him out, and free his umbilical. Then carry him back – don’t let him swim. As soon as you get him in the Can, Red Diver, you go to the pod bay and retrieve the cable. Stow it securely with no rattles, and then return to the Can.”
On the 1MC Larry (who had assumed the watch) notified me that they were ready to lift the Halibut on my say-so.
“Are you guys ready?” I asked the divers.
“Dive Control, Red Diver, we’re standing by.”
I gave Larry the go-ahead. Bobby moved the Basketball as close as possible without interfering with the operation. The skid inched off Bill’s legs, and two shadowy figures yanked him out from under it.
“Dive Control, Red Diver, we got another problem. When we yanked him out, the umbilical wrapped completely around the skid. We can’t pull it out.”
That was a shitty situation. We had only two options. We could lift the sub high enough to thread Bill through the skid, and then under it, and then through it again to unwrap the umbilical, or we could cut the umbilical and hustle Bill to the Can on his come-home bottle. I could feel the sub reacting to the surface swells. We had to do something right then. I looked Ham in the eyes and ordered, “Red Diver, Dive Control, cut Bill’s umbilical and get him back to the Can immediately. Blue Diver, you jerk the cut umbilical free and then drop it and help Whitey.” I took a deep breath. “Go…Now!”
Dr. Williscroft is a retired submarine officer, deep-sea and saturation diver, scientist, author of numerous books and hundreds of articles, and a lifelong adventurer. He spent 22 months underwater, a year in the equatorial Pacific, three years in the Arctic ice pack, and a year at the Geographic South Pole. He holds degrees in Marine Physics and Meteorology, and a doctorate for developing a system to protect SCUBA divers in contaminated water. A prolific author of both non-fiction and fiction, he lives in Centennial, Colorado, with his family.