The first cruise of a newly commissioned Annapolis graduate takes him to the brink of war in the Arctic--in another realistic naval adventure by the author of The Med (1988) and The Gulf (1990). Reporting for the first assignment of his career, Ensign Dan Lenson steps onto the unmanned quarterdeck of USS Ryan and learns within seconds that he's on a troubled command. Built to last the duration of WW II, the destroyer has instead sailed into the mid- 1970's, and it's worn out. Assigned by the Ryan's corrupt executive officer to serve as first lieutenant, Lenson is responsible for the seaworthiness of all topside spaces. His crew of boatswain mates ranges from the criminal to the subnormally intelligent. But even if they were thoroughly competent, there aren't enough of them to effect the repairs left undone when the ship was yanked early from dry-dock overhaul. It's in this state that USS Ryan sets out for duty above the Arctic Circle, where the ship is to test experimental sonar gear. The duty is very nearly the death of the craft. Storms, ice, and a renegade Soviet nuclear submarine combine to test the limits of the ship and crew. The executive officer, drug-dealing sailors, and the relentless grind of duty also test the limits of Dan Lenson. When at last the Ryan is freed from Arctic duty, the exhausted crew is sent to operate with a fast carrier attack force west of Ireland, and there Ryan's luck runs out. The upshot of a horrifying tragedy at sea is a cold examination of the essence of naval command. A first-rate naval adventure. Poyer's depictions of the contemporary American Navy continue to be unequalled for authenticity.