CARRIER 7: AFTERBURN By Keith Douglass

wars, incidents, and territorial disputes, but more because Turkey

feared being dragged into the rapidly spreading wildfire of war and

insurrection engulfing her once powerful neighbor to the north. Too,

Turkey’s Kurd and Armenian minorities were growing restless again and

might use the chaos across the Russian border to resurrect their own

hopes of dismembering eastern Turkey and creating states of their own.

When the United Nations had passed Special Resolution 1026 five weeks

ago, they’d turned to the United States to provide the military and

technological expertise necessary to enforce the newly imposed no-fly

zone over Georgia. The United States, in turn, had begun pressuring

Turkey to allow the basing of U.S. warplanes on her soil in order to

support UN activities. That pressure, as Tombstone had heard it, had

damned near caused a complete and final break in Turkish-American

relations. Ankara feared that American aircraft and personnel based on

Turkish soil would cause an explosion in the country’s Moslem

fundamentalists, and they’d refused, point-blank. There’d followed

several days of acrimonious exchanges, until at last a deal to allow the

entry of a carrier battle group into the Black Sea had been hammered


Tombstone didn’t know what deals had been struck or what kind of markers

had been called in to induce the Ankara government to permit the

Jefferson battle group to traverse the straits to the Black Sea, but he

imagined that the promises made had been considerable, something

bordering on extortionate. The Montreux Convention of 1936 specifically

prohibited foreign aircraft carriers from transiting the Dardanelles and

Bosporus. In earlier years, the Soviets had gotten around that

restriction with their light carrier Kiev by identifying her as an

antisubmarine cruiser; presumably they’d made other arrangements for

passages by their larger, more recently built carriers.

What had Washington promised the Turks to get them to permit Jefferson’s

transit? Or had the promise been something more on the order of a


He glanced again at Ecevit. He seemed a decent enough sort, if somewhat

restrained. Tombstone wondered what he thought of the political storm

suddenly howling across his part of the world.

At last the shorelines of the Bosporus were passing abeam, little more

now than gray smudges on the horizon. “We’re out of the channel,

Captain,” the helmsman called. “Clear to navigate.”

“Very well, Chief,” Brandt replied. “We’ll be heaving to while Mr.

Ecevit transfers to the pilot boat.”

“Aye, aye, sir.”

“Commander Hadley?”

Jefferson’s executive officer had been waiting in the wings for his cue.


“Perhaps you would be good enough to escort Mr. Ecevit to his boat.”

“Aye, aye, Captain!”

“It’s been a pleasure to have you aboard, Mr. Ecevit.”

“Thank you, Captain,” the civilian said in a thick accent, facing


“Permit me to say that this, this vessel of yours is truly remarkable.

I’ve never had such a view of the water ahead.”

“We like her,” Brandt said.

Tombstone chuckled. “Conning a CVN has been compared to driving

Manhattan Island from the top floor of the Empire State Building.”

“I have never been to Manhattan Island,” Ecevit said. “But this ship of

yours does have the feel of an island.” He hesitated, then licked his

lips, a nervous gesture. “You should be careful out here. An island is

an easy thing to find. It would be a pity if the wrong people found it.”

“Just who do you mean, Mr. Ecevit?” Brandt asked casually. “Our status

here will be as peacekeepers.” He grinned broadly for a moment, showing

clenched teeth. “See? We’re friendly.”

It was a variant on a joke popular aboard the Jefferson, but Ecevit

either missed the point or ignored it.

“There are many in this part of the world who do not want peace. To

them, this floating island of yours would be a most tempting target. And

a vulnerable one.” He shook his head. “I was directed not to discuss

politics with you gentlemen. I’ve said too much as it is. But I. .. I

admire this wonderful ship of yours and would hate to see her


“A modern carrier takes one heck of a lot of destroying,” Tombstone


“The Jeff’s been through a few scrapes already and come through in one

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