Threading her way through the channel of a congested San Diego harbor, the containership Devonshire Trader—stacked to the pilot house with shipping containers including Suzie's Royal Paradise hair gel from New Zealand—is just moments away from the end of a routine, almost monotonous crossing of the Pacific. Without warning, a tower of seawater suddenly envelops both sides of the bow and a massive shudder passes down the length of the ship. With the deck under his feet rapidly taking on a foreboding list and reports of massive flooding in his ship's forward compartments, the captain takes the only course of action he has left.
Navy personnel are astonished to see a commercial ship entering the restricted waters of the Point Loma submarine base and grinding to a halt on the seafloor near the entrance of San Diego's harbor. In less than an hour, a nuclear-powered attack submarine was to transit the channel now blocked by the massive cargo ship. Other warships scheduled to depart the base are also trapped.