“Compelling and visionary. DiMercurio’s characters run as deep as his submarines themselves!”
--Joe Buff, author of Crush Depth and Thunder in the Deep

"DiMercurio really knows his subs...his characters step right off the sub deck and onto his pages."
--Larry Bond

"A Master Rivaling Tom Clancy."
--Publishers Weekly

--San Francisco Examiner

--Associated Press

"Superb storytelling."
--Virginia-Pilot/Ledger Star


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Passive Sonar -- -- Most common mode of employment of submarine sonar systems. Sonar system is used only to listen, not to ping out active beams (since active pings give away a covert submarine’s presence). Use of passive sonar makes it difficult to determine a contact’s range, course and speed (solution). TMA or Target Motion Analysis is used to obtain a parallax solution when using passive sonar.

Patrol Quiet -- -- Ship system’s lineup to ensure maximum quiet while allowing normal creature comforts such as cooking, movie watching and hotel showers for sonar girls. Maintenance of equipment is allowed with permission if it will not involve tools banging on the hull. Noisy operations are permitted only with the captain’s permission, such as steam generator blowdowns, reactor coolant discharge, TDU operations, etc.

PCO -- -- Prospective commanding officer, the man who will relieve the present captain and become the future captain. Also Prospective Commanding Officer School, a boondoggle for PCOs in which they play in the attack center simulators and board SSNs and try to shoot each other with exercise torpedoes (PCO ops).

PCO Waltz -- -- Occurs often during PCO ops when both submarines have detected each other and are attempting TMA on each other simultaneously. See “melee.”

PD (Periscope Depth) -- -- An operation in which a ship comes shallow enough to see with the periscope. Certain operations can be done only at PD by decree of the Submarine Standard Operating Procedures manual, such as steam generator blowdown, shooting trash from the TDU, and blowing sanitary. Other things may only be done at PD not by decree but by the laws of physics, such as radio reception of satellite broadcasts, reception of the GPS NavSat and ESM operations. Being at PD slows the ship down since speeds higher than 8 or 9 knots can rip off the periscope. Being at PD is dangerous since surface ships can get close without being detected by sonar.

Pig Boat -- -- U.S. submarines during World War II

Ping -- -- An active sonar pulse.

Plank Owner -- -- Original new construction crew of a ship under construction.

Polaris -- -- First generation submarine-launched ballistic missile.

Poopy Suit -- -- Underway uniform worn by American submariners. Usually cotton coveralls. Origin unknown, but probably refers to frequent occurrence of showers and laundry service being curtailed when rigged for ultraquiet or when the evaporator is broken, causing the coveralls to stink. Submariner’s ideal poopy suit would be Dr. Dentons, with built-in slippers and a flap in the back for gong to the bathroom.

Poseidon -- -- Name of a second-generation American SLBM.

Port -- -- Left as you look forward.

Pos One -- -- Furthest forward console of the firecontrol system and the battlestation officer who mans this console. Usually set up to the dot stacker mode with the captain’s or XO’s guess solution to the contact, or shows the geographic display for a God’s eye view of the sea.

Pos Two -- -- Firecontrol console aft of Pos One. Usually set up to the line-of-sight mode so that the Pos Two officer can generate his own independent firecontrol solution under the XO’s supervision.

Pos Three -- -- Furthest aft firecontrol system console. Usually set up to show the geo plot or God’s eye view of the sea.

Power Range -- -- Nuclear power level above the intermediate range. In the power range, steam can be produced by the reactor for propulsion.

Prompt Neutrons -- -- Neutrons with high energy born immediately after uranium nucleus fission which results in two lower mass nuclei and several fast neutrons. Also called fast neutrons, because of their high kinetic energy. Usually prompt neutrons will just leak out of the core unless they are slowed by a moderator.

Prompt Critical -- -- A reactor that is critical on prompt neutrons alone, which no longer needs the effects of the moderator to slow prompt neutrons to become thermal neutrons. The time between generations of fissions in prompt criticality is a millionth of the time between generations of fissions in normal criticality, and hence, prompt critical reactors are difficult to control – the control system would have to have nanosecond reaction time. Therefore, a prompt critical condition is essentially a runaway out-of-control reactor. In other words, if you possess a prompt critical reactor, you essentially own a nuclear weapon that is detonating. Run!

Prompt Critical Rapid Disassembly -- -- The disappointing condition in which a nuclear reactor has so much reactivity in it that its chain reaction can be sustained on prompt neutrons alone, which means that it is highly supercritical and its power level will escalate severely to the point that the coolant will be unable to accept the high levels of thermal energy transfer from the core, and the result is the coolant “flashing” from liquid to vapor with consequent rapid pressure rise, and the pressure rises much higher than the mechanical strength of the core and piping systems, and the system rapidly comes apart (disassembles). The above description is by definition an “explosion,” but nuclear engineers hate that word because the media keeps trying to say that nuclear reactors can explode like nuclear weapons, so the disassembly term is used. While most civilian nuclear reactors cannot achieve a prompt critical rapid disassembly but would merely melt down, naval reactors with their bomb-grade uranium can go prompt critical. The disassembly would be a simple steam explosion 999 times out of 1000, but there is a small chance that a naval reactor undergoing a prompt critical condition could experience a nuclear weapon-type detonation, although it would be many orders of magnitude weaker than a Hiroshima bomb. A Russian submarine being refueled on the Kamchatka Peninsula experienced a prompt critical rapid disassembly that blew enough radiation to the environment that it required the permanent abandonment of a six mile stretch of land and the refueling pier.

Propulsor -- -- Sophisticated screw that uses ducting and multistage water turbine blades for propulsion instead of a conventional screw. Similar to a water jet. Extremely quiet and nearly impossible to cavitate. Disadvantage includes slow response and acceleration due to relatively low thrust compared to conventional screws.

PSA -- -- Post-shakedown (drydock) availiablity, or maintenance period following sea trials.

Michael DiMercurio
Princeton, New Jersey

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