5 August 2005. On a secret mission to an underwater military installation thirty miles off the coast of Kamchatka, Russian Navy submersible AS-28 ran into a web of cables and stuck fast. With 600 feet of freezing water above them, there was no escape for the seven members of the crew. Trapped in a titanium tomb, all they could do was wait as their air supply slowly dwindled. For more than twenty-four hours the Russian Navy tried to reach them. Finally – still haunted by the loss of the Kursk – they requested international assistance.

On the other side of the world, Commander Ian Riches, leader of the Royal Navy’s Submarine Rescue Service got the call: there was a sub down. With the expertise and specialist equipment available to him, Riches knew he had a chance to save the men, but Kamchatka was at the very limit of their range, and time was running out.  They had only 72 hours in which to rescue the crew before the air in the submarine ran out. As the Royal Navy prepared to deploy to Russia’s Pacific coast aboard a giant Royal Air Force C-17 airlifter, rescue teams from the United States and Japan also scrambled to the area.

On board AS-28, the crew shut down all non-essential systems, climbed into thick thermal suits to keep the bone-chilling damp at bay and waited, desperate to eke out the stale, thin air inside the pressure hull of their submarine. But as the first of them began to drift in and out of consciousness, they knew their time was almost up…

72 HOURS tells the extraordinary, edge-of-the-seat, real-life story of one of the most dramatic rescue missions of recent years.

An important Note on Sources that got left out of the hardback edition, but which will be in the paperback.

* * *

The inside story of a daring bid to raise a sunken trove of 15th century porcelain from the depths of the Dragon Sea, a treacherous stretch of water off the coast of Vietnam. As archaeological manager, Pope had a front row seat on the dramatic deep sea recovery of the precious cargo from the Hoi An wreck.

His tale is replete with a cast of compelling characters: Renowned Oxford archaeologist Mensun Bound teamed up with a canny financier, a crew of hardened saturation divers and the Vietnamese military in a test of ingenuity and resolve.

The stakes were high, but so were the potential rewards. Bound would have the chance to discover a lost era in Vietnamese civilisation, his backer stood to make millions at the auction block – if they could survive the threat of typhoons and pirates.

In Dragon Sea Pope delivers a rivetting real-life thriller packed with danger, adventure and ambition- a fascinating object lesson in what happens when scholarship and commerce combine in the recovery of lost treasure.

“Extraordinary… as exciting as it is suspenseful-a thoughtful and gripping true thriller.” Clive Cussler

“Treasure and typhoons, conflict and greed… Frank Pope’s tale has all the ingredients of a classic thriller. But it’s all true. A stunning debut.” Nicholas Evans, author of the Horse Whisperer

For more reviews, photos of the expedition and movies from the seabed, visit the book’s website at

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