Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Melberg Convoy ambush fails

Continuing heavy losses on Melberg forced the Tau high command to make a decision: Resupply the campaign of withdraw from the planet. Sunstrike made his case to the ethereals and they agreed with his judgement, Melberg must be reinforced and taken. It was key to the whole Zadoc expansion campaign.

With this in mind the Tau knew they would have to resupply the planet with fresh troops and supplies. Although the Kor'Or'Vesh now had superiority in the system, the Tau knew that the Warspite and a great many escorts werestill at large and patrolling Melberg space.

Admiral Coldsight decided that all transport vessels bound for Melberg would have to do so in convoy as the threat from the Imperial fleet remained an unknown. The first to arrive, a flotilla of ten vessels, was escorted by two Protector class cruisers and two Castellan escorts. Coldsight had been right, the Imperial fleet was waiting for them near the jump point.

Rear Admiral Phillpots aboard the Warspite had spread his fleet of fifteen escorts and one Dominator cruiser around the vicinity of the expected jump arrival of the Tau fleet. With this formation he hoped one group of escorts would find the Tau fleet, form up with the rest of the destroyer flotilla and attack in strength, the Warspite providing long range support with her Nova Cannon. All that mattered now was how accurate his psykers had been in determining the point in real space where the Tau would appear. Phillpotts positioned his flagship behind a gas cloud and waited.

The Tau appeared right on target. In fact, they appeared so close to the Warspite herself that the Imperial cruiser was taken by surprise. Frantically the crew of the Dominator class cruiser tried to steer her away from the approaching Tau as two Protectors bore down on her.
With her escorts to too far away to help the Warspite quickly became a victim as the two Tau cruisers poured railgun fire into her. She was a blazing wreck in minutes without inflicting a telling blow to either of her attackers. Seconds later the ship exploded, killing all but two of her crew.

The remaining escorts did what they could to disrupt the convoy of men and materiel to Melberg. However in doing so they suffered grevious losses. Every ship in the escort flotilla, eight Swords, six Firestorms and two Cobras, was either heavily damaged or destroyed. In turn the Tau lost five of their ten transports.

Despite these losses the Tau were able to reinforce Melberg with a substantial amount of troops and equipment. Of the transports destroyed only 8% of passengers and crew were rescued, but every Fire Warrior was crucial to the war effort. The Imperial fleet now had to concede that it would be unable to mount similar raids on Tau relief convoys.

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