China is on the move. It is speedily developing the raw materials of Africa, now vital for its economy. China next realises it needs an expanded, modern navy to protect its trade artery - exactly as the British had done centuries before.
China does not yet rule the waves, but it is working on it, and largely in secret. To that end it also needs to negotiate and then control naval bases, especially around the Indian Ocean. The tiny unknown Amsterdam Island finds itself at the very centre of things.
At the same time the oil states of the Middle East are determined to build some kind of alliance, an overdue display of unity in a fractious world. They eventually agree the simplest such entity would be a naval alliance, allowing ships of one navy to use the port facilities of another.
In due course these two naval forces combine their efforts to create COTO, the Central Ocean Treaty Organisation. In so doing they cite the success and global acceptability of NATO, on which it is modelled.
James Heaton is a British naval officer, and together with another Dartmouth cadet Warwick Sydenham of the Royal Australian Navy, begins piecing together an unfamiliar military jigsaw puzzle spreading across whole continents. He is ahead of the game, and to begin with few accept his thesis. Traditionalists in Whitehall and elsewhere prefer the more familiar comforts of strategic patterns of the past.
Christopher Meakin’s first novel explores an increasingly tense global military situation. It is viewed from Britain’s Ministry of Defence, from the White House and Ten Downing Street, from Beijing, from Paris and Riyadh, from Canberra, from Nairobi and from Cape Town.
Everything ultimately revolves around a container ship sailing from Southampton to Sydney laden with the top-secret equipment needed to re-equip Australia’s navy. The Chinese take strong objection to what they consider a provocative military incursion in their own back yard. But is it really the repeat of a famous military and political confrontation in the Atlantic Ocean of over fifty years previously?