One reader of Unknown Waters: A First-Hand Account
of the Historic Under-ice Survey of the Siberian Continental Shelf by USS Queenfish (SSN-651) said, “Captain
Fred McLaren's well-told story about cold war submarining in the 1960s, and through to the early 1970s, is a good read for
armchair travelers, arctic explorers, and scientists. McLaren has provided lots of good photos that help humanize the book.
Unknown Waters provides a first-hand
account of life and exploration in a nuclear submarine, the Queenfish, while it and its crew explored and mapped important
and remote regions of the Arctic Ocean. The Arctic-Siberian Shelf Expedition of the 1970s represents the bulk of the story.
McLaren, using the first person, describes
in fascinating detail how a giant nuclear attack submarine operates under thick polar ice and makes its way between icebergs
that penetrate long distances below the surface. Chapter 11 is of special interest to the layman; it includes the submarine
surfacing at the North Pole and how it got there. McLaren provides a lot of photos of the surfaced submarine with crew members,
including McLaren, posing with Jack Patterson dressed as Santa Claus on August 5, 1970.
It was nice to read a personalized
description of the legendary Admiral Rickover and how he selected his submarine captains, an ordeal for any self-respecting
naval officer. McLaren sat through 15 interviews with Rickover and thus became an expert on where to sit for an advantage
and how to respond to challenging questions. The reader will end up with a good feeling and lots of respect for the Admiral.
McLaren has provided a good index of 11 pages that can help the reader to back into the book to find favorite stories.”
According to the book description of
Unknown Waters: A First-Hand Account of the Historic Under-ice Survey of the Siberian Continental Shelf by USS
Queenfish (SSN-651), “This title tells about charting the Siberian continental shelf during the height
of the Cold War. This book tells the story of the brave officers and crew of the nuclear submarine USS Queenfish (SSN-651),
who made the first survey of the remote and important Arctic Ocean region. The unpredictability of floating sea ice, shallow
waters, and possible Soviet discovery, all play a dramatic part in this fascinating 1970 voyage. Covering 3,100 miles over
a period of some 20 days at a laborious average speed of 6.5 knots, the attack submarine threaded its way through underwater
canyons of ice and rolling seafloor, at one point becoming lodged in an "ice garage." Only cool thinking and skillful
maneuvering of the nearly 5,000-ton vessel dislodged it. The second phase of the journey began 240 nautical miles beyond the
North Pole with a detailed survey of the Siberian shelf, working back to the Bering Strait through the Laptev, East Siberian,
and Chukchi seas. The skipper of the Queenfish had been trained and selected by Admiral Hyman Rickover and, inspired by this
polar experience, McLaren became one of the world's foremost Arctic scientists, studying first at Cambridge University, and
obtaining his doctorate in polar studies from the University of Colorado at Boulder.”