Recommended Readings – Submarine Edition

The Silent Service: Books About Submarines
Submarine Books by William H. Keith

With this list, I’m focusing on a particular sub-genre…military submarine stories, ranging from historical fiction to science fiction. I expect these books will be of interest mainly to the military SF folks amongst my reading audience. For myself, well, I read widely—I think it’s required for the type of writer I aspire to be.

All of these books are by William H. Keith, under two different pseudonyms. H. Jay Riker was a “house name” for a publisher who commissioned Keith to write military fiction about the Marines (10 books) and then the US Navy’s submarine service (5 books). The books were so successful that the house name was ultimately reserved for Keith’s sole use. The Bill Keith pseudonym was used for two relatively futuristic SF novels about the submarine service for an America that has lost its superpower status thanks to war.

Note: My research has revealed that Grayback Class was written by J. Andrew Keith, the brother of William H. Keith. Sadly, Andrew died in 1999 at age 40. William wrote the remaining books in the series.

Personally, I thought the seven books fit together nicely as an ad hoc series extending from 1985 to the future. I know they weren’t intended as a complete series that way but, hey, it worked for me.

  1. Grayback Class (2000) – by H. Jay Riker

    It’s 1985 and the Soviets are testing an advanced new attack submarine prototype, the Akula, which may change the balance of world power. Commander Frank Gordon is tasked to take the USS Bluefin, a nearly obsolete Grayback class submarine, to infiltrate the Soviet submarine’s home port. Once there, a platoon of SEALs will land ashore to bring back intelligence. Meanwhile, Commander Mike Chase, aboard the Los Angeles class sub, the USS Pittsburgh, has been tasked to surreptitiously aid in the Bluefin’s escape from Soviet waters.

  2. Los Angeles Class (2001) – by H. Jay Riker

    It’s 1987 and Commander Frank Gordon assumes command of the Los Angeles class submarine USS Pittsburgh from Commander Mike Chase. The new commander is tasked to take the Pittsburgh into the Sea of Okhotsk to deliver a team of intelligence agents for a special mission. Unfortunately, events don’t go as planned. They quickly learn that they’ve been lured into dangerous waters.

  3. Seawolf Class (2002) – by H. Jay Riker

    After a 1999 international incident during his command of the USS Pittsburgh, Tom Garrett’s career as a submarine commander appears over. Until 2003 when Frank Gordon, a former submarine skipper turned naval intelligence officer, secures him a new berth as a replacement executive officer for a Seawolf class attack sub. The only catch: he’ll be sailing into a burgeoning conflict between China and Taiwan.

  4. Virginia Class (2004) – by H. Jay Riker

    In 2006, a rogue Kilo-class submarine starts striking targets in the South China Sea, resulting in sunken ships, hundreds of deaths, and a nasty hostage situation. Worse, the rogue sub may even have the surreptitious support of a major nation. Commander Tom Garrett’s mission: Take the newly commissioned attack sub Virginia, smaller and less heavily armed than a Seawolf-class sub, into the Pacific, hunt down the rogue sub, and field a Seal team to rescue the hostages.

  5. Ohio Class (2006) – by H. Jay Riker

    In 2008, Commander Keith Stewart takes command of the Ohio, a former ballistic missile sub newly refitted to support littoral operations including Seal team insertions and sea-to-land missile bombardment. The sub’s first mission, a daring plan promoted by former sub commander Tom Garrett to insert a Seal team into Iran to investigate a mysterious new military facility. The only problem…Iran knows they’re coming.

  6. Sharuq (1993) – by Bill Keith
  7. Stingray (1994) – by Bill Keith

These books can be a little hard to find. Some of them are available on Amazon, often through third-party sellers. I also had good luck finding the last two volumes of “The Silent Service” books via Thrift Books, a used bookstore chain with an extensive selection through their website.


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