"Trick-Fuck," Mayani spits. He has a lot of respect for Habib but refers to him as "Trick-Fuck" because Habib is always tricking him into doing crazy things. And, from where Mayani is standing, this is going to be the biggest trick-fuck yet.
It's certainly one of the craziest things Reed has ever seen on the sea. He boards the Makushin Bay, and Habib grimly hands him Johnson's computer. Reed agrees with Johnson's assessment — the ship could easily flop. To decrease that risk, the team needs to make sure that the largest low-side ballast tank is filled, so it counterbalances any rapid roll. The crew had reported that they left it half full. This will be the team's first important task: a journey to the deepest part of the ship to drill a hole in the tank and fill it all the way.
To get there, they will have to descend like spelunkers. So Habib orders his men onto the Redeemer, a 132-foot tug that has joined the operation. He greets them gruffly and takes hold of a rope hanging from a railing on the Redeemer's upper deck and begins to climb using a device called an ascender. They're at the mouth of the Samalga Pass — there's no time for small talk.
Mayani looks at Stender out of the corner of his eye and asks him what's wrong with Habib: "He a fucking monkey now?"
"Shut up!" Habib shouts. He explains that the Cougar Ace has become a labyrinth. Since it's heeled onto one side, they'll have to learn how to walk on walls and scale the sloping, perilous decks. Unfortunately, they'll have to learn to do it in the middle of the ocean. This will be their only chance to practice before they board the ship. Hopefully, no one else will die.
While the team trains on the ropes, the tugs haul the Cougar Ace safely through the pass and into the calm waters of the Bering Sea. The vents ride higher above the surface — that's one less danger, for the time being. Now they need to get back aboard. The Emma Foss deposits the newly expanded team on the low side of the Cougar Ace's back deck, just a few feet from where Johnson died.
Reed serves as the navigator through the intricacies of the vessel's holds — he has spent the past 24 hours memorizing the Cougar Ace's complex design. But it's one thing to picture the orderly lines of a blueprint, quite another to traverse the dark confines of a capsized ship. As a result, Reed is not always sure where they are, and the darkness fills with a steady stream of Mayani's elaborate Spanish curses. Nobody wants to get lost inside this thing.
It takes them almost three hours of rappelling and climbing to descend to the 13th deck, and when they get there, no one is that excited to have arrived. This far down, they are well below the waterline. The Bering Sea presses in on the steel hull. They feel like they're inside an abandoned submarine.
Reed and Habib crawl along the tilted deck, periodically consulting a drawing of the ship's internal compartments. They rap their knuckles on a piece of steel — this is the top of the low-side ballast tank. Trepte pulls out a drill and bores down. Suddenly, water erupts. The tank is already full and pressurized — water must be flowing in through a broken vent on the underwater side of the ship. It sprays furiously. They have unwittingly caused the worst thing possible: The deepest cargo hold is flooding.
In an instant, Trepte covers the hole with the tip of a finger and presses hard. The sound of gushing water abruptly stops, and the shouts and curses of the moment before echo through the hold. Salt water drips off Mazdas, and the panic the men all felt transforms into a contagious laugh.
Trepte is keeping the ship afloat with one finger.
"Well, I guess the tank is already full," Reed chuckles.
"Very funny," Trepte says. "Now whyn't some of you smart chaps go figure out how to fix this bloody mess."
While Habib races to the Makushin Bay to find a solution, Mayani plugs the hole with his finger to give Trepte a break. They go back and forth for an hour and a half before Habib returns with a tapered metal bolt to jam into the hole. Their fingers took a beating, but now they know that the tank is full. Reed enters the data into his computer model, runs the numbers, and tells Habib how much water he needs to pump into the high-side tanks. It's time to roll the ship.
The plan is to position large pumps throughout the ship and begin moving liquid in a sort of orchestrated water ballet. Reed has already choreographed the dance in his GHS model but still hasn't been able to find a solution that guarantees the ship won't flip. When he runs the simulation, GHS sometimes shows the ship righting itself, but sometimes it just keeps rolling until it's belly-up. Then it sinks.