Run Silent, Run Deep is the quintessential submarine novel set during World War II. The reason for it is the novel's stunning authenticity, with detail and accuracy exceeding Tom Clancy's wildest dreams. The author, Commander Edward W. (Ned) Beach, was an authentic war hero. Beach served as executive officer to "Dusty Dornan" on USS Trigger and Congressional Medal of Honor winner George L. Street on USS Tirante, two of the most successful American submarines of the war. Beach earned the Navy Cross aboard Tirante. He made dozens of war patrols and personally watched many Japanese ships sink through a periscope. As it states in the introduction, "I have personally tasted Bungo Pete's depth charges." Beach went on to command a number of submarines, including the twin reactor USS Triton. It is a novel of submarine operations, its teething pains as the force moved from peacetime into war, and of command at sea.

The story begins soon after Pearl Harbor. The Navy is hungry for qualified captains, and Lt. Commander "Rich" Richardson has a talented exec, Jim Bledsoe. But Bledsoe still needs some seasoning, and Richardson is forced to take over the boat, aborting Bledsoe's qualifying cruise. Though his action was correct, Bledsoe feels betrayed, and this creates a tension between the two that will last for much of the book.

The pair are kept together as their old S boat is turned over to some Polish sailors, and they are to prepare a new fleet boat for sea, the Nerka. The pair are successful, and eventually Richardson is wounded in combat, and Bledsoe takes command of the Nerka.

Richardson is moved to staff duty during his recovery, and the book traces the real struggles the Navy had perfecting its torpedoes. And he watches as Bledsoe turns his anger at his former captain into burning aggressiveness, cutting a swath through Japanese shipping until the Nerka is lost somewhere inside the Bungo Suido. To a Japanese hunter-killer team headed by a man known as 'Bungo Pete'.

Nerka wasn't the first submarine to fall to that most capable enemy. Five boats have been lost to Bungo Pete, including Bledsoe's Nerka. A former submariner himself, Bungo Pete's teams has killed so many American subs that the Bungo Suido had been declared off limits to submarines. Richardson is sent back to sea in a new submarine, the Eel, with the mission to kill Bungo Pete. This enemy is simply too good. For the sake of the American submarine force Bungo Pete must die. The battle between Richardson and Bungo Pete is an excellent fight between two skilled adversaries where no quarter can be permitted.

Though fiction, this is a novel of truth. 'Bungo Pete' really existed. From the Is-Was string based firing computer used on the S-boats to opening the group vents to trim the sub, everything about the novel is real, written by someone who was there. This novel can teach as much as any history written on the submarine war of the era. It has a sequel, Dust on the Sea which is also quite good, and equally realistic.

The book was also made into a film starring Clark Gable as Richardson, and Burt Lancaster as Bledsoe. Though it deviates from the book in important ways-- not unusual for a film-- it still offers a taut drama and more authenticity than any other submarine film until Das Boot, or perhaps the Robert Mitchum film The Enemy Below. Highly recommended.

A Data Center Game based (pretty loosely) on the Ned Beach novel of the same name. In the playing of Run Silent, Run Deep -- contestants take on the role of submarines in the data center. This one requires a bit more set-up than most of the Data Center Games and will only work under a raised floor with a fair amount of spare room.

The point of this event is for the athletes to navigate the space under the raised floor undetected. Normally, the contest is set up to coincide with server maintenance, data center tour, or other population-heavy event. When possible, it is best to have a referee to help set up the event by placing tokens of some kind at the target locations to be collected during the competition.

The contestants must enter the plenum from the same location and at the same time. The competitor’s goal in Run Silent, Run Deep is to collect a token from each of the target locations and re-emerge at the point of entry, undetected, before all opponents.

The obstacles under a raised floor are numerous. Some of them are dangerous (hot water pipes, sharp corners, high voltage lines), some of them are delicate (fiber-optic data connections), and some of them are just a really tight squeeze. Because of the nature of this event, though it seems like a speed event, the crawling speed of the participant is actually fairly trivial compared to knowledge of the plenum, lack of claustrophobia, body size, and the ability to remain still and silent when necessary. Oh yeah, and balls the size of New York helps too.

Many people who don’t mind the philosophy of irresponsibility that is needed to compete in the data center games, are still unnerved by Run Silent, Run Deep because it specifically flirts with death (or at least unemployment). Crawling along under a tour given by your Vice President isn’t actually all that dangerous because the chance of being caught is pretty low. But if (s)he did just pop down with a surprise floor puller and lifted the floor tile right over you, you’d definitely be screwed! Because of this danger, practicing for this event is often more fun than the actual competition.

GTKY: Last year on Father's Day I brought my son into the data center at the company where I was employed. I showed him the plenum and took him for a fairly tame fifty-foot crawl with a flashlight, pointing out and explaining the various equipment, utilities, connections, etc. He had a blast. He may be among the next generation of submarines, so watch out!

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