Paul Mann

The Britannia Contract

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The Britania Contract

"...a pip of a thriller..." - U.S. Publishers Weekly. see more reviews

The IRA hijacks the royal yacht, Britannia, with the Queen and Prince Philip on board, during a state visit to Saudi Arabia and demands the withdrawal of all British forces from Northern Ireland. The British government plays for time while Special Boat Squadron veteran Colin Lynch launches the ultimate hostage rescue operation.

The Britannia Contract is the last of my techno-thrillers featuring Special Boat Service veteran, Colin Lynch, and I think the best.

It all came together for this final book of the series; the plot, the research, the high level of cooperation I got from the United States Navy, former Special Boat Service commander, RAM Seeger and Ralph Osterhout, special adviser to the United States Chief of Naval Operations.

I'd been thinking of the story for a while and when the time came to write it, everything fell into place. The hijacking of the royal yacht, Britannia, with the Queen and Prince Philip on board, is one of the most high stakes hostage dramas you're ever going to get. It puts the Special Forces of the U.K. and the USA into play against a global backdrop of political intrigue and double dealing – and it was the most fun I had writing any book.

By this time I'd learned that when it comes to research you ask everybody for everything. The worst they can do is say no. And this time they all said yes. For the sake of drama and accuracy it was important to set the platform for the rescue operation aboard a United States aircraft carrier. I wrote to the U.S. Navy and to my delight was granted access to the USS Carl Vinson, the biggest nuclear aircraft carrier in the U.S. Fleet, and the center of Battle Group Charlie, during war games in the Indian Ocean. My hosts were the captain of the Carl Vinson, Captain Doyle J. Borchers, and Rear Admiral T.W. Wright, Admiral of the carrier battle group, which numbered some 17 vessels including battle cruisers, destroyers, submarines and a marine amphibious landing force.

Having got that far, at dinner with Captain Borchers and Rear Admiral Wright, one evening, I asked where they would quarterback such an ambitious rescue operation. Rear Admiral Wright said 'the War Room.' I asked if I could see it and after a moment's hesitation he said 'yes.' A detailed description appears in The Britannia Contract.

There was one other touch of authenticity I just wouldn't have known unless I was there. Around four-o-clock every afternoon an America aircraft carrier is permeated by the aroma of hot popcorn. Because that's when they fire up all the big popcorn dispensers around the ship. Check out The Britannia Contract for yourself and I think you'll find – it pops!