The tortuous passage of a British WW II convoy from Iceland through the Arctic Ocean to Murmansk is also the setting for the passage from youth to manhood of a young sailor in this strongly authentic sea yarn. Cockney Lobby Ludd, eighteen, fighting against U-boat ""tinfish"" (torpedoes), arctic gales, and bone-weariness, hears the ribald tales and learns the tricks and techniques of survival from his salty older shipmates. These broadly humorous lower-deck scenes (in almost impenetrable dialect) offer comic counterpoint to the high drama happening above--the convoy passing through a nearly seamless network of U-boats, Nazi warships, and aircraft. We get a step-by-step account of each development and see clearly the uncertainty of the decisions the convoy commander must make in the face of increasing losses and an ever-changing strategic situation. Bassett, longtime British Navy man and author of many books on the military life, not only captures vividly the fear and boredom of life on a vessel at war--he makes complex tactical questions comprehensible and as taut and engrossing as the more personal aspects of combat at sea.