Praise for Joe Buff from NY Times Bestselling Authors:

"Superbly researched and well-written, Joe Buff's novels are the creme de la creme of submarine thrillers."
--Stephen Coonts

"Joe Buff takes the reader through a labyrinth of action and high adventure. A rare thriller, highly entertaining."
--Clive Cussler

"If you want a hair-raising trip to the bottom of the ocean, Joe Buff's the guy to take you there."
--Patrick Robinson

[Joe Buff / JoeBuff.Com]
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October 15, 2002

An Interview With Joe Buff

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[Joe Buff / JoeBuff.Com] Here I am at the periscope of the USS MIAMI, SSN-755, a Los Angeles-class nuclear powered fast-attack sub -- at periscope depth, “somewhere in the North Atlantic.”

I was at sea on the MIAMI for four days, got to steer at flank speed at operating depth (DATA CLASSIFIED) and everything, and the food was great!
(All photos by Walter P. Noonan)

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[Joe Buff / JoeBuff.Com] Here's a glimpse inside the USS MIAMI's torpedo room. The torpedo room is actually rather big, but as you can see in this narrow-angle photo, head room and elbow room are extremely tight.

The curtains under the green and orange "unit" (with its casing for the guidance wire at the back, facing the camera) are for sleeping "racks." Cumfy, huh?

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[Joe Buff / JoeBuff.Com] Some folks do get "real" sleeping quarters. Here's a view into the "nine man" compartment, which has three bunk-bed tiers, each three racks high, all squashed together.

While on the MIAMI I got to sleep in a top rack -- not much head room, is there? And if you aren't careful, you might roll over in your sleep and fall out! (This photo doesn't show most of the bottom one of the three racks in that tier.)

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[Joe Buff / JoeBuff.Com] And here is the USS MIAMI at the pier, after our safe arrival in Halifax, Nova Scotia. (Yes, it was raining.)

Halifax was a very important port-of-origin for North Atlantic convoys during World War II. It's still one of the busiest seaports in the world. And the best way to get there is definitely by nuclear submarine, courtesy of the United States Navy!

The following is a rough summary of an interview with Joe Buff on the Radio Station WAIC, Springfield, MA, on October 15, 2002.

Q: Joe, CRUSH DEPTH is one of the scariest books I’ve read recently. The submarine and Navy SEAL battle scenes are incredibly realistic. How did you do it?

A: When I started writing professionally, I knew strong research on facts had to be the foundation for any fiction. My goal in CRUSH DEPTH and my other novels is to write good, exciting, but very accurate stories. Talking to real-world submariners and SEALs, heavy background reading, attending lots of conferences and networking. I got to visit the fabled SEAL training compound in Coronado, CA. The best and most fun part was going to sea for four days on a nuclear sub, the USS Miami, running silent and deep and everything. There I saw and felt first hand what it was like to live and work in a submarine, and I got to know many of the officers and crew and they were fabulous people!

Q: CRUSH DEPTH takes place in the not-too-distant future. How much of the amazing technology in the book really exists?

A: It’s all real, including the oceanography and sonar phenomenon, everything. People don’t realize how far submarine equipment and capabilities, and the knowledge and training of the crews, has come in the past ten or twenty years. Let me give you just a few examples of things the naval community is really excited about, but most civilians don’t even know exist. Whole new types of on-board sonar systems, that let a submarine passively detect an enemy sub and determine an accurate firing solution instantly. Passively means without even pinging, so no one knows you’re there. The firing solution is needed to lead a moving target with a torpedo or missile, and it used to take many minutes of careful listening and maneuvering and listening more to guess at that firing solution. A revolution in capabilities comes with the new Advanced SEAL Delivery System minisubs. These are truly autonomous undersea vessels, battery powered, carried to their operating area on a host nuclear sub “mother ship.” The minisubs are only eight feet high, and can go into very shallow water, and sneak right into an enemy’s front yard. SEALs leave the minisub warm and dry and rested, and begin their mission of combat or salvage or espionage without being exhausted just getting on site to begin with. Unmanned Undersea Vehicles are small robotic probes, that can be launched from a parent submarine, all covertly underwater. These vehicles are linked to the mother ship either by a fiber-optic tether, or an acoustic link. They can map out minefields, locate wrecks of enemy ships so divers can go and steal the code machines, you name it. So our nuclear submarines are becoming more and more like undersea aircraft carriers. Simulations software, and virtual reality wargaming, are making crew training vastly more realistic and also efficient and cost-effective, compared to the past. And it’s the crews that make the submarines come alive.... This is all really happening right now, and the potential for stronger national defense is truly mindboggling, I think.

Q: What exactly are nuclear submarines doing for us, today and in the foreseeable future?

A:. Some people think that nuclear subs are a relic of the Cold War . . . and since we won that war, they ask why we still need submarines. But subs are really still extremely relevant, now in the Anti-Terrorist War. The fact is nuclear submarines are the only way to maintain a continuous and prolonged forward presence in secret, gathering intelligence without being bound to the predictable schedule of when a satellite passes overhead. They can be our first source of warning about an enemy attack. They also can deliver Special Forces commandos and SEAL divers completely undetected. They can launch Tomahawk cruise missile to project power more than a thousand miles inland. They can lay mines, or detect and warn of enemy mines. They can bottle up enemy ships in harbor, or put them out of action once and for all. The strategic missile subs, the boomers, are an important deterrent against thermonuclear blackmail, a threat which still exists and is if anything getting worse. And most of all, because of their stealth, our submarines can put the seed of doubt in an enemy’s mind: where are the American subs? what are they doing? how many are surrounding us? Even Sun Tzu in the Art of War three thousand years ago said to make your strategy be invisible and fluid to your enemy. I try to illustrate all this in CRUSH DEPTH and my other novels.

Q: But America has no more big enemies. We’re the world’s only superpower. Can’t we just worry about Third World rogues like Saddam in Iraq, and terrorist groups? How much more military preparedness do we really need?

A: That’s exactly my point. Generals are always preparing for the last war. I suppose admirals are too, ha ha! Right now we’re fighting the Anti-Terrorist War. President Bush has said this is a new form of war, and it is. We absolutely must win this war. I do believe we will, but as the White House and Pentagon have been saying it will be a long and expensive fight. My point, not to detract from the seriousness of the present battle, is that we need a little bit of looking ahead too, at the next war. Right now people in the military will say that a real problem is we don’t know who our next “big” enemy will be. But the generals and admirals, many of them, are sure that within twenty years or so we’ll be faced with the threat, the reality, of another big war. In the meantime, because of this uncertainty, it is vital to the country that we not grow complacent about the future even as we fight the current battle. So what does the military do? They create scenarios of a possible enemy or new Axis of Evil, and then fight the war on paper and in conference rooms and using computers. They learn everything they can, to guide current training and budget planning and weapons-systems design and acquisition. That’s what I’m doing myself, through writing novels like CRUSH DEPTH.

Q: From reading CRUSH DEPTH, Joe, you’ve obviously spent a great deal of time thinking about and researching weapons of mass destruction, chemical and biological and nuclear weapons. Why did you choose to write a continuing character saga about a limited tactical nuclear war at sea?

A: I think that all technothrillers are in part parables, passion plays, stories that aim to teach, to caution, and to inspire. I do very strongly believe that submarines and special forces will play an important role in all types of future armed conflict. I wanted to explore and illustrate one form of terrible warfare that might actually happen in the future. The Pentagon has known this, and open-source naval literature frankly discusses limited tactical nuclear war at sea as one possible scenario.... Information is power, and prevention is the best cure. In CRUSH DEPTH I go into this, and into the problems of escalation and environmental damage if we do let down our guard and another big war breaks out.

Q: Let’s put together submarines and SEALs and homeland defense against terrorism. What’s going on there right now, closer to home?

A: Let’s focus on harbor defense. This is a very important subject. We hear for instance of worries, very valid worries, that a ship could steam into New York or San Diego or wherever with an atom bomb on board. There are a couple of levels to what’s being done. Many agencies are involved. Not just the Navy, but also the Coast Guard, the FBI and CIA, and local law enforcement. As in everything warlike, a layered defense is best. Closest to home, there’s the threat of enemy terrorist divers. Like I try to show in my novels, enemies can have scuba commandos too! Underwater sensors are being developed and deployed for surveillance against such intruders. Unmanned Undersea Vehicles, like I mentioned earlier, robotic probes, can stand patrol like stealthy sentries, and use sonars and other detectors to warn that some bad guys are coming. The Navy is also using trained sea lions as a form of amphibious guard force. This is for defense, I want to emphasize, most emphatically not for “suicide attacks.” Sea lions can come up on land and chase someone who shouldn’t be there. They can bark their heads off as an alarm, and they weigh hundreds of pounds and have big teeth, and I would not want to be a terrorist scuba diver having an angry sea lion coming after me! The other end of the layered defense is at the port of embarkation of the cargo, especially cargo containers. One merchant ship can hold several thousand containers. New computerized sensors and tracking systems are starting to be used to check these big steel boxes to make sure there are no traces of weapons of mass destruction. Nuclear weapons, for instance, give off telltale gamma ray signatures. These gamma rays are very penetrating, so it’s hard to mask them if you are a terrorist. We can also have the Navy and the Coast Guard form maritime quarantines at sea, far enough from our coasts to stop suspicious vessels and inspect them. If the bad guys panic and push the button, and an atom bomb or whatever goes kablooey, at least it’ll be a few hundred miles from our ports and cities. It’s the same idea as in the Cuban Missile Crisis, updated. A defensive quarantine, and you need a strong Navy and Coast Guard to do that.

Q: Speaking of weapons of mass destruction and terrorists, what should we do about any rogue group getting a nuclear bomb?

A: One painful lesson of military history is that you have to look at enemy capabilities, not just intent. We have to ask not just what does a rogue group or pariah country plan to do, but what are they potentially able to do. Then we need a no-holds-barred forceful containment of that capability. There are several ways to do this, as you can see from the daily newspapers. Pressure from America and from the U.N. certainly helps. But long-term history is not encouraging. Enemies know that U.S. culture is to be impatient and want quick, definitive answers. The bad guys exploit this, they aren’t dumb, they can play us against ourselves by using ambiguity and delaying tactics. Maybe what we need, and what we’ll see, is a sudden, lightning strike by special forces against terrorist weapon labs. This could work much better than a huge invasion with a big, long buildup, and months of advance warning to our opponent. I’d like to see our submarines help sneak some special forces onto enemy turf. I’d like to see America be the one to launch a surprise attack this time. Send SEALs in through the sewers, and use a robotic plumbing snake, and plant a toilet bomb in the enemy leader’s house! You never know. And that’s the whole point. Keep ‘em guessing. Even General Patton said that. Keep ‘em off balance. I try to illustrate this mental aspect of war, in the head-to-head combat between the submarine captains in CRUSH DEPTH.

Q: Joe, what can people do day to day about homeland defense and preparedness?

A: Remember that war is now a fact of life just like crime, like house fires, like drunk drivers. Life will go on, despite the tragedy of trauma and loss. Resolve and calm are important. Support our men and women in uniform, and share their pride in what they do.

JoeBuff.Com / Joe Buff Inc.
Joe Buff, President
Dutchess County, New York

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