An empty cargo ship suddenly appears in the LA Harbor. Problem: apparently there are no passengers or crew. Jonathon Stone finds out that the ship was abandoned at sea and the CIA had been tracking the vessel from the Far East. The op seems to be stalled until Jonathon gets information from an unexpected source. Drugs, guns and money all come into play.
Excerpt from Operation Adrift
I had gotten an alert from our office in San Francisco. A cargo ship named the Tiki Sun, with no crew was floating outside the LA Harbor. Our Far-East CIA group had been trying to track this vessel for the last two weeks but had lost it about a hundred miles out. It had left the Philippines two weeks ago headed toward San Diego.
As I drove across the Vincent Thomas Bridge toward Terminal Island, I could see the swarm of Coast Guard boats surrounding the ship in the distance. As I had been briefed, they were not going to let it into the harbor until it was cleared by me.
I made my way to the dock and headed to the Coast Guard offices. I had been here several times before. Most of the time, I was in a supporting role. This time was different. I was in the lead role until the boat was released and allowed to enter the harbor.
“I need to talk to Agent Jennifer Shoemaker. I believe she is in charge of the abandon ship in the Harbor?”
“May I tell her your name?”
“I’m Agent Jonathon Stone, CIA.”
I displayed my credentials.
“She has been expecting you, Agent Stone. She is right through that door over there,” he said, pointing to an office on the other side of the room.
I hadn’t worked with Shoemaker before but I was familiar with this Coast Guard unit.
I introduced myself as she stood and shook my hand. “Call me Jenny.”
“Thanks for coming. At this point, we really don’t know what we have. All I can say is this is a large cargo ship with no crew and no cargo. We are handling it like it’s a crime scene because of the strange circumstances. We have a unit that just went aboard. Also, the FBI and the Long Beach Port Police are on alert. The CIA was the first agency that had any information on the ship so you get the lead.”
“So here I am. I need to get to the boat and check it out.”
She turned to an officer standing on the other side of the room.
“Take Agent Stone to the ship. Use the emergency speed boat. We need him there as soon as possible.”
“Thank you, Agent Shoemaker,” I said.
“I will join you after I can get through this paperwork. The DOD is all over this for some reason.”
We hustled down to the dock and boarded the speed boat. This was one of the newer models the Coast Guard had available. They had procured them recently to try to stop drug trafficking from Mexico. It seemed like we were flying across the small waves of the bay. I could feel the spray in my face every time the boat hit the water with a thud.
We moved quickly under the bridge and headed to open sea. In the distance, I could see what appeared to be a group of ships, in a circle, dead ahead. As we swerved by a Coast Guard patrol boat, I saw a large cargo ship sitting in the middle of a group of smaller boats.
Our captain maneuvered around one of the boats, to a temporary ladder hung over the side of the cargo ship. There were two officers that I could see with automatic rifles, standing guard at the top of the ladder.