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"Choke Points" by Mike Walling

It’s a simple plan – force the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq by shutting down key US ports. No need for weapons of mass destruction, ordinary explosives easily obtained would do the job. The complex part is for Coast Guard Lieutenant Mark Fletcher to stop it from happening. Faced with an unknown enemy from his past and betrayal by his superior officers, Mark is caught in a labyrinth of deceit. His only allies are a retired Navy SEAL and a beautiful black helicopter pilot. Stretching from the treacherous shores of Iraq to inner circles of power in Washington, DC, Choke Points leads the reader deep into the heart of the War on Terror and the real threats of attack on the U.S. This is the first book of the Fletcher Saga that stretches from the tumultuous Colonial times to the ever-dangerous present.
Norfolk, Virginia, 1:00 PM Eastern Time

A low haze hung over the water as the 567-foot Navy cruiser USS Concord eased her way up the channel.
"It's been a long nine months and we're almost there," Concord's captain, Pete Wallace said to his Conning Officer, Lieutenant Barbara Hearn.
"You're right about that, Captain" she answered absently, more concerned with maintaining the ship's position than her CO's conversation. They were just 4,000 yards away from the opening through Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel and there were myriad small boats in the area to watch out for. Moving at fifteen knots, Concord would be through the opening in four minutes.

On the main deck crew members patrolled with loaded weapons while down below others were finishing last-minute packing or donning their dress white uniforms prior to manning the rail for entering port. Six thirty-foot Navy security boats, each with a four-man crew and mounting two machine guns, designated Papa 1 through 6, wove a protective pattern around Concord . Overhead an Air Cobra attack helicopter circled. Further out a local television station helicopter kept pace, its crew filming Concord's return for the evening news.
"Bridge, Lookout."
"Bridge, aye," replied Lieutenant Pete Spectle, the Junior Officer of the Deck
"Bridge, I got what looks to be a boat on fire with two people onboard, bearing zero-nine-zero, range one thousand yards."
"Bridge aye," acknowledged Spectle. Wallace, overhearing the report, issued the orders: "Have Papa six investigate and send a MAYDAY to the Coast Guard on Channel sixteen."
"Aye, aye. Captain."

Picking up a radio handset, and using Concord's tactical call sign "Minuteman," Spectle radioed the instructions to Papa 6, patrolling astern of Concord . As the boat pealed off at high speed in response to the order, the lookout called:
"Bridge, there are two speedboats bearing three-four-zero and two speedboats bearing zero-two-zero off the bow, range to all four boats approximately two thousand yards and closing."
Spectle again acknowledged the report, "Lookout, Bridge. Roger, we see them."
He relayed the report to the captain.
"Pass the info to Papa One and Papa Two and have them intercept," ordered Wallace.
"Aye, aye, Captain," responded Spectle. "Papa one, Papa two, this is ­Minuteman, over."
"Minuteman, this is Papa One, over."
"Papa one, be advised there are four, repeat four speed boats on our bow, two to port, two to starboard, range approximately two thousands yards. Intercept and report. Over."
"Roger," Papa 1 answered and then radioed, "Papa Two take the two to starboard. I'll cover the two to port." Papa 1 and 2 increased speed and headed for the contacts while Papa 3 and Papa 4 moved from there positions to cover the now exposed area ahead of the cruiser.
As Papa 1 approached the intruders, one of her crew yelled, "Will you look at this!" Each speedboat had a gorgeous bikini-clad brunette standing up in the bow, waving a "Welcome Home" banner.
"Minuteman, this is Papa Two. The contacts look like a welcoming committee."  
"Papa Two, roger, move them out of the zone."
"With pleasure. Out."

With most of the attention focused on Papa 1 and 2, Wallace focused on Papa 6. Though his binoculars he saw Papa 6 pull alongside the burning pleasure boat.
"Oh my God," he whispered as the burning boat exploded, obliterating itself and Papa 6.
"Spectle, order Papa Five and Hawk One to head for the scene and sound the Rescue and Assistance alarm."
Overhead the Air Cobra, with Papa 5 following, headed for the smoke and burning wreckage marking the remains of Papa 6.
With most of the ship's crew preparing to deal with the disaster astern, Papa 1 and Papa 2 moved toward the four speed boats off the bow. On board Concord the Bridge Watch monitored the operations.   After getting a good look at the incoming boats, Wallace turned to Hearn and said: "Looks like they have it under control."
Closing the last hundred feet to their respective targets with weapons ready, the Papa crews tensed as the girls reached down and brought up brightly colored water guns.
"Don't shoot!" the Navy gunners called out to their mates, "they're super-soaker water guns," and everybody relaxed.
Seeing the water guns, Spectle muttered, "Looks like somebody's idea of a joke."  

The women began firing and bullets from the disguised AK-47s ripped the Navy crews to shreds. After brushing aside the closest security boats, the intruders' guns turned first on the two remaining security boats, then on the cruiser.
Dashing to the 1MC, the ship's public address system, Wallace yelled, "Deck Security, open fire, repeat, open fire. All hands man your Battle Stations. Set Condition Zebra." The last meant all doors and hatches were to be closed, turning the hull into a series of watertight compartments.
Blood ran down Concord's sides as the attackers' fire tore into her crew. A ragged cheer went up when defensive fire killed one of the attackers. The cheering stopped as the boat kept heading straight for Concord's bow. Zigzagging, the other three boats drove on, their hulls splintered, the women gunners dead, but the helmsmen safe behind armor-plated consoles.

Harry "Slick" Jones, coxswain of Papa 4, was dying, the rest his crew already dead.
"Just one," Jones prayed. "Just let me take one of the bastards with me." The fourth attacker had swung wide, apparently heading for Concord's stern and Jones saw his chance. Using skills honed by a life time on the water, he quickly calculated an intercept point. The enemy coxswain didn't see Papa 4 approaching until it was too late. Screaming: "So long, motherfucker!" Jones rammed the speedboat's side, triggering an explosion which obliterated the two craft.
That detonation rocked Concord , and before anyone could recover, the remaining three boats, each loaded with explosives, crashed into the cruiser's hull and exploded, catapulting people into steel walls, crushing limbs and lives. The blast blew the bridge windows inward; screams accompanied the black smoke that began wafting upward. A piece of glass ripped open Hearn's throat, showering Wallace with blood. The helmsman's legs were shattered, his bones sticking out from tattered trousers. Others were dazed, wounded or unconscious. The lookout on the flying bridge was killed by the concussion from the explosions.
Groping his way to the intercom, Wallace called: "Damage Control, this is the Bridge. Report." Waiting for the reply, he wiped at Hearn's blood in his eyes and spattered on his face.

The team in Damage Control Central, buried in the bowels of the ship, had been badly shaken, but was still functioning. Commander Juan Ramirez, the Executive Officer, scanned the status boards by the light of battery-powered battle lanterns and listened to reports pouring in from the Damage Control parties investigating interior spaces. The news was all bad. Fires from electrical short circuits and ruptured fuel lines raged unchecked. Ladders were down, blocking passageways; jammed hatches prevented access to many spaces, trapping many of the crew below decks. In the darkness the survivors crawled on hands and knees, looking for ways out that no longer existed.
"Captain, there's a fifteen-foot hole in the port bow, a twenty by ten foot gash amidships starboard side," Ramirez reported. "One explosive smashed the stern, opening it to the sea. We've lost power. No report from the engine room watch, they're probably dead from the explosion. No report on casualties yet. It's too soon to accurately count the dead and wounded," he concluded.

Concord's momentum kept her moving forward, closer to the opening between spans of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. Water surging into the hole in the bow pulled Concord to port and the incoming tide pushed the ship's stern broadside across the channel. Wallace watched helplessly as the ship healed is healed right word? to port and started sinking in the opening. Feeling a hand on his shoulder, he turned to see Pete Spectle standing beside him.
"Mr. Spectle, order all hands to abandon ship."
He knew nothing more could be done for Concord.