by A21 Reporter Andy Clems
International Rescue have suffered a devastating accident during a recent rescue mission resulting in the loss of their underwater rescue craft, Thunderbird 4.
The disaster unfolded in the early hours of yesterday morning when International Rescue received a distress call from the bathyscaphe Challenger, the personal craft of renowned ocean explorer Doctor Lynne Fortescue.
Doctor Fortescue was making a close survey of the wreck of the World War III heavy cruiser Vanguard when the Challenger became entangled in the debris around the ship’s main weapons battery. Despite Doctor Fortescue’s undersea experience, her efforts to free the stricken bathyscaphe proved futile. With her air supply running low the Doctor sent out a mayday on the Challenger‘s Mk. V thorium beam transmission circuit. The signal was picked up by Alan Tracy in Thunderbird 5, who relayed the details to International Rescue’s secret base.
Wasting no time, Thunderbird 2 was launched with Virgil, Gordon and John Tracy on board, carrying Thunderbird 4 in its equipment pod. Arriving at the danger zone, Gordon launched Thunderbird 4 and proceeded to the Challenger’s position, while Virgil and John directed the submersible from Thunderbird 2.
Once contact had been established with the bathyscaphe, Gordon fired the long range air drill to supply the Challenger with enough fresh oxygen for its ascent and set to work with the laser cutter. After approximately 15 minutes work, Gordon had succeeded in freeing the craft from its predicament, and instructed the Challenger to pull away. However, as Doctor Fortescue engaged the ascent motors, the motion disrupted the delicate wreck and Gordon heard a loud clang on the ventral surface of Thunderbird 4.
While Thunderbird 2 prepared to retrieve the Challenger, Gordon checked his instruments to determine what had struck his craft. To his horror, he discovered the clang had been made by a magnetic mine. With icy calm, he relayed the disastrous finding to his brothers in Thunderbird 2. John, a keen military historian, advised that any attempt to shake the mine loose could precipitate a detonation, particularly as the weapon’s condition was uncertain.
Virgil proceeded to haul the Challenger from the surface of the ocean while Gordon, with steely determination, decided to risk a slow and careful ascent. John contacted a specialist in the World Navy undersea combat unit, requested urgent direction on how to assess and disarm the explosive and donned his underwater gear in preparation for the hazardous task.
However, before John began his descent to rendezvous with Thunderbird 4, Gordon reported a fluctuating signal coming from the mine and gave the code-word “Sub-smash”. Shortly afterwards, the sound of an explosion was picked up on Thunderbird 2’s sonar equipment. Without a seconds hesitation, John dived into the water, equipped with a propulsion pack and spare oxygen supply. Directed by Virgil, John found Gordon floating free some distance from the wreck of the International Rescue craft, which had made it to dive-depth before the catastrophe.
Gordon is being treated for severe injuries, but at this critical early stage it is not yet known when or if he will recover. Stay tuned for further updates on this story.