When the nuclear-powered submarine USS Triton was commissioned in November 1959, its commanding officer, Captain Edward L. Beach, planned a routine shakedown cruise in the North Atlantic. Two weeks before the scheduled cruise, however, Beach was summoned to Washington and told of the immediate necessity to prove the reliability of the Rickover-conceived submarine. His new secret orders were to take the Triton around the world, entirely submerged the total distance.
This is Beach’s gripping firsthand account of what went on during the 36,000 nautical-mile voyage whose record for speed and endurance still stands today. It brings to life the many tense events in the historic journey: the malfunction of the essential fathometer that indicated the location of undersea mountains and shallow waters, the sudden agonizing illness of a senior petty officer, and the serious problems with the ship’s main hydraulic oil system.
Intensely dramatic, Beach’s chronicle also describes the psychological stresses of the journey and some touching moments shared by the crew. A skillful story teller, he recounts the experience in such detail that readers feel they have been along for the ride of a lifetime.