Distraction - BBOT
In St James' Square, London, a man sat in a wood panelled room at his desk. He sifted through the glossy photographs in his hands and looked up.
"And these are accurate?"
"Yes sir, they are accurate. So you see the gravity of the situation," replied an American man in a dark suit and tie sitting opposite.
"All this is classified sir, I'm sure you understand, any leak would have to be..."
The two men looked at each other in silence, the man holding the photographs felt the cold of the man's tone.
"...plugged, Mr Hayward," the American said finally.
Hayward shifted a little in his seat.
"Plug the leak, I like that, very good. And the compensation to us for admitting liability?"
The American pulled an envelope from his briefcase and slid it across the desk.
"I imagine this will suffice."
Hayward took the envelope, opened it and smiled.
"Yes, that will suffice indeed."
Two weeks later, the USS Nimitz cut through the Atlantic waves like Moses through the Red Sea. Sailing home from it's recent visit to the Middle
East, the colossal carrier and it's crew had been diverted from some much needed and well deserved shore leave. Captain Michael Roe stood on the
bridge, leaning on one of the many consoles illuminating the room and stared through the window, almost catatonic. A voice interrupted his
"Captain, we've just entered the Gulf Of Mexico sir."
Roe turned and nodded in acknowledgement. He pushed away from the console and headed for his radio room at the rear of the bridge, entered, and closed
the door. He sat in the large leather skinned chair that dominated the room, raised his hands to his face, and pulled a key from his jacket pocket.
Unlocking the top drawer of his desk, he reached in and retrieved a large envelope, emblazoned with the seal of the Department of Defense and stamped
'Top Secret' in an omenous red coloured ink. The envelope was already open, Captain Roe had already read the contents thoroughly, and had to re
read them again and again, not through curiosity, but through disbelief. He opened the beige card folder and sifted through the documents, stopping at
a group of sonar images. Captain Roe had been in Naval Intelligence for over thirty years, he'd overseen many operations of a clandestine nature and
handled many envelopes, but not one was anything like this. The voice of Lieutenant Johnson crackled through the intercom, bringing Roe back to
"Sir, we've arrived. We're moving into formation with the fleet sir."
Roe pressed the button.
"Thank you Johnson, I'll be right out."
He packed away the documents back into the envelope and gently replaced it in his drawer as if it was about to explode at any moment. He turned the
key slowly and walked toward the door.
Over one hundred miles northwest in a steel walled room, a man dressed in a green boiler suit began to check scuba equipment. Appearing satisfied, he
pulled a drysuit from a locker, tucked his pants into his socks and worked his way into the rubbery skin. With the drysuit zipped, the man placed a
pair of steel toecapped boots into a plastic bag, and in another he placed, very carefully, a black box. He put both plastic bags into a black holdall
along with a white hardhat and attatched the bag to his waist belt, swivelling it round to his rear. Finally, he lifted the scuba tank onto his back,
secured it, and tested the breather once more. He was ready. The man pressed a large green button on the wall and a hatch in the centre of the floor
rose up revealing the ocean water below. He stood next to the opening and stared into the watery shaft. He paused, crossed himself, and leapt.
The JASON submersible famous for filming the Titanic moved through the ocean darkness. Able to operate at unfathomable depths, JASON was the obvious
choice for this work, and follwing his discovery of the Bismark and the ability to retain silence regarding it's cargo and the real reason for his
search, Dr Robert Ballard was similarly the obvious choice for this operation. He stood leaning over JASON's pilot and stared at the array of
screens, fed by the multitude of cameras covering JASON's steel skin.
"Six five double o and diving," said the pilot unwavering from his gaze.
"Good, keep going, he's looking good," replied Ballard. He turned to the four starred epellette to his left.
"Are you going to tell me what we're looking for General?"
The General didn't move, he just spoke.
"All in good time Doctor Ballard, all in good time. From the Bismark to here eh Doctor Ballard?"
Ballard looked at him for a few moments and returned his sight to the screens. The Bismark had been a big operation, there were many ships in the
search, and once the ship and more importantly it's cargo had been located and successfully recovered, a large funding allowance was received. This
job made the Bismark look like a fishing boat recovery, there were at least three times as many vessels in the water, and more stars on uniforms and
men in dark suits than a Presidential inauguration. It gave Ballard a feeling of dread held at bay by a feeling of curiosity and wonder.
"Eight thousand feet Doctor Ballard," stated the pilot.
"Not long now," said the General. "I'll signal the ships."
The Deepwater Horizon drilling platform stood in the water towering above the black frogman emerging from the ocean surface. He held onto one of the
gargantuan legs and pulled himself up the rungs of the ladder. Reaching a platform half way, he began to remove his diving equipment and drysuit. He
stowed it all away under a black basha, pulled on his boots and donned the hardhat. From the holdall he took the black box, placed it on the platform
and peeled away the black plastic film revealing a red metal toolbox. Ready, he climbed the ladder he controlled his breathing so to remove the
appearance of a man who had just swam a mile underwater, and assume that of a workman ending his shift. Calm and focused, he paused five rungs from
the top, checked his watch and listened. His timing was impeccable, the day shift had come to an end and the graveyard crew were about to take over.
With only the hum of machinery and the venting of pressurised steam to be heard, he cautiously climbed the ladder's last few rungs and emerged on the
Captain Roe smiled as the young crewman handed him a cup of coffee. He sipped as he pondered the contents of the dossier in his desk. The grainy sonar
images were scorched into his mind, he could think of nothing else.
"Captain, General Nicander is on the line sir," came a voice from across the room. Roe was unresponsive, his attention still on the envelope's
"Captain Roe, sir, the General is on the radio," Johnson restated. The bridge crew began to turn and look at Roe.
"Captain?" said a freshfaced ensign in front of him, "are you alright?"
Roe's thoughts dispersed in an instant and he returned to the bridge.
"Yes, of course," Roe replied with a dismissive smile. He walked across the room to the communications officer and took the handset.
"General Nicander, this is Captain Roe, go ahead sir."
"Captain, are your men ready?"
"Fifteen minutes sir, I was just about to give the order."
"Good. Contact me when you are, they are at nine thousand feet and will be on it soon. Fifteen minutes Captain, no more."
"Yes sir. Fifteen minutes."
"He's gone sir," said Johnson without turning his head. "Shall I raise the crew Captain?"
"Yes, shipwide broadcast Johnson, they're not going to like this."
Thomas Overton, one of the night shift technicians or "tiffy's" started his work like any other night aboard Deepwater Horizon. He sat in his
swivel chair and began to run through his checklist. Pressing a myriad of switches and buttons and checking their corresponding lights, he ticked the
boxes on his list and rose from his chair. As he continued to proceed with his routine, a voice caused him to spin violently.
"Jesus Campbell, you almost gave me a heart attack!" Overton exclaimed.
"Sorry Tom, just wondered if you wanted a coffee," replied the grinning man.
"Yeah, why not. Black, no sugar," said Overton, himself now seeing the funny side.
Campbell was about to leave when something caught his eye on one of the screens.
"Hey Tom, you better tell that guy he's leaving his toolbox."
Overton looked at the screen indicated by Campbell's pointing finger. There was a man walking away from the drilling maintenance platform and he was
indeed leaving behind his toolbox.
"Who is that?" he asked Campbell.
"Dunno, probably Mitchell, he's always doing stuff like that. Last week he left his lid in the canteen, the guys filled it with beans."
"Its not Mitchell, he's sick."
"Could be Jones? He works the drill."
Overton shook his head. "Not Jones either, he's not on board."
Campbell joined him at the desk and peered at the screen.
"Hey Tom?" he said quietly, "Why haven't we seen his face?"
"What do you mean?"
"Well, we've been watching him now for about a minute and he hasn't once shown his face. Almost as if he was hiding it."
Overton lifted the telephone handset on the desk and dialled. A voice answered.
"This is Thomas Overton, technician at sector 7G."
"Go ahead Overton, what's the problem?"
"I think we have an intruder, drilling maintenance, lower level."
With the toolbox in place, the former frogman left the platform and headed down a white lit corridor. He emerged the other side in open air and made
his way to the ladder he had used to board the rig. He was around twenty metres short when a group of men appeared shouting at him to stop.
"You, in the white helmet, stop where you are."
The man ignored them and continued on his way, moving closer to the guardrail on his right.
"We are armed and authorised to use lethal force, so please, stop where you are and raise your arms. Now."
He stopped and raised his arms, surveying his surroundings.
"Good, now turn around, slowly," said the security officer in a firm but cautious tone.
The man turned to face them arms raised. He looked at his watch and back at the security team. He smiled.
"Whats so funny?" asked one.
The only reply he received was the sound of eight pounds of C4 tearing through the drilling maintenance platform and it's surrounding structure. The
security team dropped to the floor, hands over their heads as flames licked the walkway around them. One screamed as his trousers were engulfed
setting him ablaze. The others responded quickly, wrapping their jackets around his legs and midsection trying to extinguish the fire. The sound of
klaxon sirens filled the air, drowning out the crack of the growing inferno and the groaning of stressed metal. The rig shook again as the safety
valves were worked free by the vibrating steel and pressure from the oil which then burst through, igniting into a fountain of fire, probably the most
basic signal General Nicander had ever used.
"Operation Charlatan has been completed. Start the press releases in one hour. The Gulf is to be a no fly zone in six," said General Nicander to the
assembled brass of the fleet.
"Why six hours? Why not impose a flight ban now?" suggested Captain Miller of the Albatross.
"Because that will raise suspicions. The news will be centred on the rig disaster, not us, so let them have their video, then bring in the no fly
zone. They'll do most of the cover up for us," replied Nicander firmly and with a wry smile.
"This will be the greatest ecological disaster of all time ladies and gentlemen. But the importance of the discovery beneath us outweighs that cost.
I trust you are still on board as it were?"
There were nods of agreement from every man and woman in the room. This was worth it, and they all knew. The environmental effects would be
monumental, but British Petroleum would bare the brunt of the public's anger leaving them to get on with the operation.
"Are you certain that six months will be sufficient time to examine the find?" asked a woman in United States Air Force apparel.
"It's all we have. BP has agreed to attempt various clean up operations, all of which will fail to some degree. Our whitecoats say that ten weeks
will be the crux point where damage will reach coastal areas of the United States, BP will then step up it's methods and by six months will have
contained the oil and the leak." General Nicander began to pace across room, heads turning to follow. He stopped and leaned on his chair.
"The spill is secondary, the find is of the upmost importance, but the pressure to contain the leak will grow day by day, so six months is all we
There was a ponderous silence as the men and women looked at each other for a few moments. With no voluteering of opinions, the General concluded the
"Right, everyone has their instructions, so lets get to it. Six months is not a long time. Let's change the world people."
The group disbanded and the deck of the Nimitz saw the launch of a flock of helicopters, each bound for a different vessel. As Captain Roe stood
watching this mechanical migration, Johnson ran towards him.
"Captain, we've just received word from Doctor Ballard. They've found it sir."
Hope it was worth reading.