The USS Memphis has been given one last mission by the newly elected president. The task: To sneak illegally into Russia's coastal waters and recon the leaking nuclear fuel containers hidden on the floor of the Arctic Ocean. More than just an environmental nightmare, this radioactive burial ground houses enough nuclear capability to destroy most of America's major cities.
The Memphis's commander, Lowell Hardy, had been looking forward to flag rank and pleasant duty upon the sub's decommissioning. Now he is trapped in an inconceivably dangerous and illegal mission that could easily end his career, if not his life and the lives of his crew. And it's the crew who feel Hardy's tension as he tyrannizes over everyone onboard in an effort to ensure they'll be ready for anything:
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The submariners: Seething with rage at their Captain Bligh-like commander and the equally domineering Joanna Patterson, they are also at war with Jerry Mitchell and one another. Like the captain, they feel they deserve better, not this antiquated relic of a sub, not this hostile scientist, not this novice weapons officer, and definitely not this disastrously dangerous mission.
Nor is the mission what it seems. Lurking beneath the frigid, black, radioactive waters is a secret far more deadly than anything naval command could imagine - a secret so menacing the Russian fleet is hell-bent on destroying the Memphis and all who sail in her.