Unknown Waters

  • by Alfred S. McLaren
  • Narrated by Jack Chekijian
  • 7 hrs and 55 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

This audiobook tells the story of the brave officers and men of the nuclear attack submarine USS Queenfish (SSN-651), who made the first survey of an extremely important and remote region of the Arctic Ocean. The unpredictability of deep-draft sea ice, shallow water, and possible Soviet discovery all played a dramatic part in this fascinating 1970 voyage.
Covering 3,100 miles over a period of some 20 days at a laborious average speed of 6.5 knots or less, the attack submarine carefully threaded its way through innumerable underwater canyons of ice and over irregular seafloors, at one point becoming entrapped in an "ice garage". Only cool thinking and skillful maneuvering of the nearly 5,000-ton vessel enabled a successful exit.
The most hazardous phase of the journey began 240 nautical miles south of the North Pole with a detailed hydrographic survey of an almost totally uncharted Siberian shelf, from the northwestern corner of the heavily glaciated Severnaya Zemlya Archipelago to the Bering Strait via the shallow, thickly ice-covered Laptev, East Siberian, and Chukchi seas.
The skipper of the Queenfish had been trained and selected by Admiral Hyman Rickover and, inspired by this polar experience, McLaren became one of the world's foremost Arctic scientists, studying first at Cambridge University and then obtaining his doctorate in physical geography of the Polar Regions from the University of Colorado at Boulder.


What the Critics Say

"Unknown Waters is a splendid adventure. Captain McLaren's spellbinding account of his unparalleled voyage into the unknown beneath the ice off Siberia constitutes a treasure house of knowledge never before conceived of a dark and forbidding part of the globe. Audacious as well as entertaining!" (Clive Cussler)
"Captain McLaren, a highly decorated submarine officer and one of the world’s foremost Arctic scientists, has written a riveting account of the first hydrographic survey of the Soviet Union’s Siberian coastline by a nuclear submarine." (VADM. John H. Nicholson, USN (Ret.), commanding officer, USS Sargo)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

For naval and arctic explorers and Cussler fans

This fascinating book was written by the man who captained of the USS Queenfish during her voyage beneath the Arctic Seas in an historic assignment to map the often treacherous areas which could only have been done by a nuclear submarine. I got comfortable with a cheap atlas, and a free world map from Doctors Without Borders ( which I interest-folded to the Arctic) and settled in to join the captain and crew on their exploration. Although maps are flat, McLaren naturally gave latitude/longitude references, making it easy to follow along. Certainly, there is a lot of navy/submarine jargon, but Dirk Pitt/Clive Cussler aficionados will have no problems with that. There are numerous historical references to much earlier explorers, as well as the journey of the USS Nautilus, given with appropriate respect.
It is also a brief of McLaren's professional life and gives some insight into naval life and politics for those of us who have never been in that field. And how many of us could really have willingly faced the dangers, boredom, and claustrophobia of such a life. Not important to most, but one of those was a man who served as SONAR technician. This man had a masters degree from Juilliard in the cello!
If you have any interest in Arctic exploration, submarines, and the evolution of such adventures, you will, indeed, enjoy this well-written book.
Jack Chekijian did an outstanding performance and probably deserves a medal just for his facility in pronouncing all of the Russian place and explorer's names. Hearing this book was a marvelous experience.
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- Jan

Book Details

  • Release Date: 03-23-2012
  • Publisher: University Press Audiobooks