Thursday, April 08, 2010

Thok's raid foiled by Beatty

Admiral Beatty was keen to make amends for the escape of the chaos cruisers Rheintochter and Hyrrokin on 2003.010M42 and he got his chance when the irascible admiral decided to ambush the Imperial fleet under Beatty’s command in the Frottrheim system in the Perseus Deeps on 0204.010M42.

Navigating a single ship in the warp is a challenge. Keeping a fleet of vessels together is nigh on impossible. This necessitates a large fleet to periodically drop out of the warp after anything more than small jumps. Beatty’s fleet was no exeption. His battlegroup, centred around the heavy cruiser Canopus and his flagship, the fast battleship Tiger dropped out of warp in the Frottrheim system on 0304.010M42. This is the time of most danger for a fleet as the vessels attempt to form up to provide themselves with mutual protection, but it is difficult for enemy fleets to predict when and where such a rendezvous will occur. Somehow however, admiral Thok’s vessels, including the heavy cruiser Rheintochter, were waiting in ambush.

Fortunately for Beatty his fleet had jumped in fairly good order with no stragglers, and the chaos admiral was unable to pick off a cruiser or escort squadron with impunity. Even so the day after Beatty arrived three of Thok’s cruisers suddenly appeared from a rent in realspace as they tore a hole in reality upon exiting the warp. Audacious was the closest vessel to the chaos fleet and she faired the worst. Appearing behind her, the chaos battlegroup quickly crippled her before the Imperial vessels, forming up near a small planetoid with several asteroid fields in the vicinity, were able to react.

The chaos ships had plotted their course well, appearing off the port quarter of the Imperial line and intending to sweep around the rear of Beatty’s vessels. Beatty however had been prepared for this, as he had had several conversations with Jellicoe about what to do in this very situation. Rather than turn his fleet to port in an attempt to get round the rear of the smaller, but faster, chaos formation, Beatty turned his fleet at once to starboard, swinging his entire battle line around in a course parallel to Thok's ships and accepting a long range duel with the chaos fleets.

Gradually the Imperial battle line took station several thousand kilometres from the chaos vessels, with Beatty’s fastest ships, his firestorms and the dauntless class Ajax to the rear of the line, racing at full speed to join the fight. With these vessels still out of range and the Audacious out of action, it was the Canopus and Tiger who exchanged long range broadsides with the three chaos cruisers.

At these long ranges the Imperial ships had a considerable advantage.Canopus and Tiger both had long range batteries and were the ideal ships to engage in a long range duel. Only the Acheron class Rheintochter was really able to respond, and Beatty focussed his attentions on her. The chaos vessel was forced to twist and turn to put off the Imperial gunnery, in turn all but neutralising her own ability to respond. At the outset of the battle the two Imperial vessels, with the aid of three sword class escorts had stripped the chaos cruisers of their own escort screen, and now the chaos ships were stuck in an uneven duel with the Imperial Navy. Taking hits and with the Ajax and her consorts approaching rapidly to deliver a crushing blow, the chaos commander abruptly turned his ships to starboard, away from the Imperial vessels and disappeared amongst the many asteroid fields.

The battle had seen the Imperial vessel Audacious crippled, but the chaos fleet had been damaged, and had lost three escort craft. The encounter had demonstrated the validity of Jellicoe’s standing orders for ambushes and sent a clear message to admiral Thok that to attempt surprise ambushes on a larger Imperial fleet was to risk disaster.

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