OPERATION IVY BELLS: A MAC MCDOWELL MISSION
I’m Robert G. Williscroft. I am presenting you with an updated version of my bestselling, semi-autobiographical Cold War Novel. Operation Ivy Bells is my first-person account of how a team of saturation divers locked out of the nuclear submarine USS Halibut to fearlessly risk death on the bottom of the Sea of Okhotsk while putting a tap on Soviet underwater communication cables and retrieving spent Soviet 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 a team like that depicted in this book.
Is Mac McDowell my alter ego? Some think so, but in all fairness, whereas I was a competent and capable submarine and diving officer, Mac is smarter, more capable, and better than I was. I would welcome your visiting my website so you can get to know me better, and then compare the real me with Mac. 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 Navy Captain Kathleen Hoff, Arctic Explorer, had to say about Operation Ivy Bells when she read it:
Cold war veterans will love this exciting submarine adventure! Dr. Williscroft brings readers along for a thrilling odyssey in which engaging characters experience the danger, passion, and complexity of the underwater warrior’s world!
Excerpt from Operation Ivy Bells
Just as Bill got to his knees to loosen some hardened silt from under the cable with his fingers, a flash of silver swept out of the murk, and a large grouper-like fish grabbed Bill’s left arm.
“What the fuck!” Bill shouted, as he dropped the pneumatic gun and reached for his leg knife.
Bill’s struggle with the big fish stirred up the bottom so that the Basketball lost the picture completely. Bobby maneuvered it around to the north side, up-current, and poked in and out of the cloud to try and see what was happening, twin beams of the Basketball getting sucked into the muck.
I picked up the mike at the Dive Console and said, “Harry, get ready to go to their assistance if they need you.” I knew Harry was watching the activity on the monitor in the Outer Lock.
Just then the sub did one of its lurching rolls again. It didn’t seem to affect the guys out in the water—at least not Jer, since we still couldn’t see Bill. Then the cloud began to clear as the current swept it away. What we saw was incredible. The grouper-like fish was easily six feet long. It wasn’t long like a barracuda, instead it was fat and roundish, and it was definitely moving Bill around, flashing his headlamp beam around the murky water. Bill was swinging his eight-inch blade at the giant fish’s left eye. As the blade plunged into the fish’s unblinking orb, its mighty tail flipped, so that Bill and fish flew five feet south, with the fish thrashing wildly, but not letting go, jerking Bill all over the place, his headlamp beam flashing wildly. Bill stabbed again, aiming for the brain cavity just above and back of the eye socket, but he hit bone, and his knife bounced off.
Jer flew into shocked reaction. He picked up the pneumatic gun and jammed it into the big fish’s mouth. He activated the gun, hitting the fish’s pallet with gushing high-pressure air, while simultaneously using the steel barrel of the gun as a lever to pry the fish’s mouth open.
Bobby maneuvered in as close as he could, but just then the thrashing creature hit the Basketball with its tail, and we temporarily lost the picture while Bobby regained his orientation and relocated the struggling divers and their tormentor. As the image in the monitor cleared, we could see Jer finally prying the fish’s mouth open. Bill pulled back, and reached under the fish where he slashed a two-foot gash in its underbelly.
“Jer, the belly!” Bill shouted as he pulled away nursing his arm.
“Bobby,” I said over the intercom, “try to distract the fish with the Basketball.”
Immediately, the image in the monitor began to swing and sway, and to dart in and out, as Bobby worked to keep the fish’s attention with the flashing twin beams from the Basketball. From the flashes I could see, Jer had pushed himself under the big fish and had stuck the tip of the air gun into Bill’s slash. As the high-pressure air rushed into the fish’s body cavity, the giant fish thrashed once again mightily, and then rose rapidly into the murk above us. The divers and Basketball followed its passage with their beams of light until it disappeared. I would imagine that the fish exploded about halfway to the surface, and joined the food chain significantly earlier than planned.
Watch the one-minute trailer
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.