• Dark Waters

  • An Insider's Account of the NR-1, the Cold War's Undercover Nuclear Sub
  • By: Lee Vyborny, Don Davis
  • Narrated by: Braden Wright
  • Length: 9 hrs and 40 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (191 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Operating alone and unarmed on the bottom of the sea, the U.S. Navy's smallest nuclear-powered submarine is one of its biggest weapons. Tied up at a pier, the boat with the bright orange sail looks absolutely minuscule, innocent and out of place beside its big brothers, the fleet's huge missile-carrying and attack submarines, but it can dive deeper, stay down for a month, and accomplish missions far beyond the capabilities of any of them. The ship has been cloaked in mystery. It wasn't commissioned or given a name, and even today it is hardly known beyond a select fraternity of sailors and scientists. They simply call it the NR-1

The little submarine was born in controversy, served in secrecy, survived potential catastrophe on numerous occasions, and is still in operation almost forty years after being conceived. It was and remains the only one of its kind ever built. 

The story of the NR-1 is told against the tense background of the Cold War and peopled with such rich characters as the acerbic Admiral Hyman Rickover, ocean scientist Robert Ballard (who found the Titanic), the designers and builders who faced almost impossible tasks to give life to the ship, the unique officers and sailors who took the little boat down into depths on covert missions, and the families who waited for them on shore, unaware that there would be no escape if the boat ran into trouble. 

Dark Waters: An Insider's Account of the NR-1, the Cold War's Undercover Nuclear Sub is a thrill-a-minute book of submarine adventure, imminent danger, personal bravery, technological wonder and historic discovery. It will be a proud addition for listeners who love stories of the sea, history and intrigue.

©2003 Lee Vyborny and Don Davis. (P)2018 Brilliance Publishing, Inc., all rights reserved.
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

What listeners say about Dark Waters

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    5 out of 5 stars

One of the best books on the subject. Simply put.

This is a book that I've already restarted twice and I'm on my third run-through. I don't really want to spoil it too much but this was an amazing account of the NR-1, Admiral Rickover's brilliant tactics and bureaucratic supremacy (and arrogance and tendency to be a mean bully!). I couldn't get enough of the tales of sneaking around in the Mediterranean, observing objects of interest on the sea floor and running salvage missions from the depths. Amazing narrator too, who did an amazing job expressing the intent of the authors. Thank you lee Vyborny, Don Davis and Braden Wright for this awesome partnership. Thanks for your Naval service and professionalism in putting this book + audio book together. I freaking loved this one. I've read all of then, Red November., Blind Man's Bluff, Scorpion Down, and probably 10 others in this non-fiction space. This is a stand out. So good.

10 people found this helpful

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Fantastic book!

This is one of the best submarine books I have ever read. Very well done and preformed. Would definitely recommend.

3 people found this helpful

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Top Notch...absolutely riveting.

This story is so interesting. You will feel as though you were almost there. And the narrator is excellent. Enjoy.

2 people found this helpful

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The Best Need No Accolades

The first matter I must mention is in remembering the the men that went down with the Thresher and Scorpion, and it is our responsibility to pass their stories down to our descendants.
The book itself is a great read and or listen for those that love the lore of the seas.
I need to mention though the catalyst and founder of the "Nuclear Navy" and the USA answer to Capt James Cook, Admiral Rickover.
I want to mention the journeymen at Electric Boat for running one perfect bead over and over, and producing a mechanical marvel. The Admirals spirit will always be with the extraordinary men that man the boats today, and women who take up valuable space at the expense of others.
I cannot close without passing on to Adm Rickover he was a pissant and cannot thank him enough for just carrying out his orders. There was a day in the Oval Office where Rickover was in charge for 15 minutes.

2 people found this helpful

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Detailed, very detailed..

Ok, this is an interesting listen (not quite finished yet) but certainly not the most intriguing book I’ve listen to. There are events described that make you wonder a bit such as when they discovered a cargo ship bearing down on them - seems they had enough time to discuss it but no orders barked out “all back full” or all ahead full with no explanation on why action was not taken to avoid the near miss. And then leaving the keys to the ballast locks back at the boatyard - seriously? All that training but no one thought of adding that to a checklist - maybe they didn’t have a checklist? An awful lot of money for a vehicle to drive on the ocean bottom..

Update: The more I listen to this book the more frustrating the experience. It's unbelievable that through all the rantings and ravings of Admiral Rickover and the time and money spent on the design of the NR1 that it ended up having one disaster after another some that simply defy logic. I applaud those who crewed it but also have to wonder what mystical magic drew them to be part of such an ill conceived craft.

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Fascinating topic

I greatly enjoyed the subject and the presentation. A real tribute to the men that crewed the vessel.

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Sentimental but not very interesting

If you're looking for insights into top secret sub missions during the cold war, you'd do well to look elsewhere. This "insider" account focuses on information that was already public. The book also tracks people who were important in the program, and important to the author, but not very important to the readers. It's sentimental in that old Navy style without being interesting. Oh, and there are lots of things that the narrator needs to learn to pronounce.

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great story. tough men.

very informative on a great submarine. you dont realize how hard their tasks were.
would recommend it.

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Interesting story, style of pros odd to me.

I played this book at 0.8 speed as I kept missing elements. Th8s is the only book this happened to me on.
very interested in subject matter.

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Interesting not enthralling

Not a lot of there there, but interesting nonetheless. Several times I thought some cool catastrophe was about to happen, just never did. No torpedoes, no Enigma, no meltdown, no collisions. Drove-around and got stuck in the mud; I laughed, I cried.

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  • Steve
  • 02-27-19

A bit monotonous

The story and the idea behind it seemed great as a read. However the narrative was repetitive and the narrators voice almost robotic at times. After three goes and two hours of listening I gave up.