The Royal Academy of Underseas Exploration

Ben Bateman would like to inform you that your application for a submarine is rejected based upon your reckless past use of submarines.

To the Seaman formerly known as Captain,

After what may be our briefest period of consideration to date, the Academy has chosen to refuse your request for a seventh submersible. Your exploits with sea craft, ostensibly in the name of the RAUE, have been of such dubious legality and purpose that, were it not for the nigh inexplicable public adoration you have managed to raise for yourself in the Queen’s country, we would have ceased associations long before now.

If these words seem harsh, they are quite to the purpose.

As it is, your most recent exploits have propelled you beyond salvation. We have never encouraged the exploration of the unfathomably deep Rottardum Crevasse, are not insured for losses resulting from “Hitherto Unknown Beasts of the Deep,” and put no stock in your reports of discovered — but never recovered — treasures at “the bottom of the sea.”

submarineHow you managed to survive the destruction of six (six!) of our Royal Academy’s fine submersibles baffles and disappoints us every day. Admittedly your first loss, the HMS Cruxton-Bently, was an unprecedented boon for the RAUE. Not only was your discovery of the sub-African Sea Gorilla colony on the front of every newspaper from here to Shanghai (and elsewhere, I would wager), but your brilliant number-fudgery guaranteed the incident massively profitable through our erstwhile successful insurer.

But the loss of your second vessel, the HMS Tre Bleu, brought neither the promised below-seas Northwest Passage nor the remains of the failed Franklin expedition, and your failure to insure your vessel against ice damage because “ice floats on top of the water” led to a 100% loss of property for the Academy.

Nonetheless, your improbable rescue by seals brought the RAUE good press, and with increasing pressure to be a “green” organization, we felt obliged to retain one as clearly favored by God’s creatures as yourself.

Admittedly we were responsible for the loss of the HMS Sturgeon .We placed Dr. Pfinkly on your sub knowing full well that he worked for Dutch Aquatic Intelligence & Sciences. We should have foreseen his mission goals, but we valued his skills as a deep-water astronomer too highly. The Academy again offers its apologies, and commemorates you for saving the lives of the better part of your crew.

But you have never provided us with a sufficient explanation for the loss of the HMS Brighton-Laurghie, despite significant press coverage and innumerable interviews following your unexpected and inexplicable return (after four years!) from who-knows-where in a clearly stolen Russian spacecraft.

Regrettably, most donations to the Academy at that point were marked solely to finance your exploits. Against our most ardent desires, we were forced to procure for you the HMS Bellington Post-Quarterly. May its crew know peace in death.

It was on that ill-fated voyage that you found the now infamous Rottardum Crevasse. It is clear to us now that this discovery, whether based upon myth or hearsay, was the true goal of your mission, especially considering the Indian Seabats cited in your grant proposal do not exist. We suspect that if they did — again, they do not — that you would not have begun your search for them off the coast of Iceland.

The very public “First Descent” may be the largest press fiasco in the history of the Academy, not excepting the 3rd Minister of the Underseas drowning of his entire family in their Babryswich home in 1873. The HMS Bellington Post-Quarterly had been below waters for less than one hour when your private escape submersible resurfaced. While the Academy was not surprised to learn that you had a private escape submersible — after your escapades, it is eminently logical to carry one — but rather that you had the gall to use it. Your claim that your men were still alive in the crevasse, struck with madness and trapped “in a world of many terrors, a world transmuted from dream” are mere fantasy and supposition. Your life sentence at Cherbyshire Prison was a fitting and just rejoinder.

We needed no assistance in conjoining your escape from Cherbyshire and the disappearance of our new flagsub, the HMS Hennimore Baptist, which is to say that your letter to the Herald Tribune explaining such, the Academy’s ineptitude, and your plans to return to the Crevasse to rescue your crew was completely unnecessary.

The incident is three months past now, and it is no exaggeration to say that we were quite surprised to receive a request for another submarine — by Polar Falcon no less! You claim to have found your crew alive amidst host of far-fetched beings and treasures. While you display no end of inventiveness and charm, it is not the purpose of the academy to finance your personal fantasies, and it is therefore my delight to inform you that the RAUE will not be sending a sub to rescue you in the Rotterdum Crevasse, will not be informing other governmental agencies of your missive, and will not, by any mean, reinstate your rank as Captain.

Instead we will be taking tea with Bixleton Thurgood, a promising young seaman and biologist from Haxington. Of course you are invited.

I am attaching to the selfsame Polar Falcon in the hopes that it is trained to return to you. Best of luck.


Pentforth Runtbottom
14th Minister of the Underseas

Illustration by Hallie Bateman.

Ben Bateman is an editor at The Bygone Bureau. He grew up on a mountain in the middle of Nowhere, CA, and his eerily encyclopedic knowledge of nowhere and mountains stultifies critics and other animals. You can email him, follow him on Twitter, and read the rest of his work here.