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October 11

In 1973, on this day the sonar operatives of the USS Coontz detected "whooshing" sounds coming from a Soviet Yankee Class SLBM submarine in the North Atlantic Ocean.

World War III by David AtwellThe American commander had made a mistake in weapons control, as unbeknownst to the captain, the weapon's officer had taken off all "safeties" as according with the procedures under actual DEFCON 2. Thus, although the captain of the American destroyer assumed that nothing would happen combat wise, & even though he gave a firing order, he expected the usual drill to take place. But, because of the real DEFCON 2 conditions, & not that of a drill, the Coontz actually fired.

Within seconds of the captain's order an ASROC torpedo was launched, via its rocket phase, towards the location of the Soviet nuclear submarine. Panic soon took over the crew of the Coontz as they realised that for once they had actually fired a live weapon. To make matters worse, the sonar operator told the captain that he could hear noises coming from the Yankee boat. These were of a "whooshing" sound.

Fearing that the Yankee had fired torpedos at the Coontz, its captain ordered a 180 degree turn & flank speed. As the American destroyer was doing this, however, attention on the ASROC soon gave way to far more important things. As the crew watched the water, large missile after missile started to break the surface, fired its engines, & rose high into the sky. And so 16 nuclear armed missiles were on their way to the United States.

A Chapter from Hell on EarthIt only took a matter of moments before NORAD knew something was wrong. Early warning satellites picked up the launch of 16 missiles north-east of Iceland. Knowing full well that the Soviets often had their SLBM submarines in the area, it was not hard for NORAD to know who these missiles belonged. What was more, the Coontz quickly reported their encounter with the Soviet Yankee, but deliberately left out the fact that it was they who fired first thus provoking the response. This would be dealt with later. But for the moment, as far as anyone knew, the Soviets were trying a sneak attack in order to wipe out the United States ability to retaliate.

Nixon was made aware of the situation within a minute after NORAD became aware. As a result, Nixon was quickly moved from the White House to Air Force One. From there Nixon would be able to conduct World War III. The only problem with this arrangement was that, with Nixon on the move, ten vital minutes would go by before anything important could be done. And, far more importantly, it meant that the "hot phone" between the leadership of the two countries could not be used in an attempt to really understand the other side's situation. As a result, the Soviets had no idea of what had happened in the North Atlantic only a few minutes ago.

Time was now wasting away, although not for everyone. NORAD confirmed, using secondary measures, that 16 SLBMs were heading for the United States. Yet, as far as anyone really knew, a further 595 SLBM missiles, in other words the entire Soviet SLBM force, could also be heading their way. Interestingly enough, though, NORAD staff wondered why the entire Soviet ICBM force of 1462 missiles were doing nothing out of the usual. Nonetheless Nixon, cut off from the rest of the country & Kissinger, with only information coming in from NORAD, had a dreadful decision to make. Either let the US suffer a horrible attack, on the chance that this might be an awful mistake, or retaliate with everything America had.

In the end, Nixon waited until America had five minutes before being hit. With NORAD pushing him all the way, he finally relented ordering a full retaliative strike. Within a minute, the orders went out from NORAD to bases around America & elsewhere. Not long afterwards, America's arsenal of 1 000 Minuteman ICBMs started to shoot from their silos & were heading towards the Soviet Union. Not long afterwards, 650 SLBMs likewise flew into the sky from numerous American submarines. America was going to make the Soviets pay dearly for their "sneak" attack.

As said, the leadership of the Soviet Union had no idea that their Yankee Class submarine had launched the first salvo of deadly missiles first. And, due to the fact that the ASROC torpedo of the Coontz actually hit & sank the submarine in question, meant that it never even got the chance to report the situation. As a result, the first thing that Brezhnev knew of the predicament was when the Soviet Rocket Forces commander hastily phoned Brezhnev telling him that a massive missile launch had taken place, by the United States, & that these missiles were heading towards the USSR.

Unlike Nixon, though, Brezhnev did not have to think about matters much. All he asked was for the Soviet Rocket Forces commander to confirm, without doubt, the missile attack, which he did two minutes later. For Brezhnev that was enough. Without hesitating, he gave the order for the Soviet Union to counterattack. As a result, 1 462 ICBMs & 550 SLBMs were fired at the United States within five minutes of Brezhnev orders. Not longer afterwards, Brezhnev was taken to the Russian Presidential bunker, not far from Moscow, never to be seen or heard of again.

In the meantime, everyone forgot about Israel & the reasons which caused the Nuclear War of 1973.
Read the whole story on the Alternate History web site

© Today in Alternate History, 2013-. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.