Monday, May 25, 2015

Libria III: Pendragon ambushes the federal fleet

For months the federal fleet had been carrying out an effective blockade of the Libria system. Since the defeat of the imperial fleet in the outer reaches, the federacy had kept up a significant presence in the Libria system Initially their goals were far reaching, including supporting troops on the ground, keeping supply lines open and preventing enemy forces from reaching the theatre on Libria III.

This remit was almost impossible to fulfil. The federal fleet had been largely succesful in keeping supply lines open, but without tau support their force wasn't large enough to be everywhere at once, and the crusade in particular were able to continuously resupply their own forces using their fast moving astartes warships and conduct orbital strikes.

To counter the crusade specifically in 05.015M42 the federal admiral moved his ships much closer to Libria III itself. His force consisted of the battleship Haskell, heavt cruisers Pride of Tallax, Peacemaker and Liberator, as well as the dauntless class cruisers Romulus and Remus, with support from four firestorm frigates.

This new deployment prevented the crusade orbital strike capability and enabled the crusade to move forward with their ground campaign, but the close blockade of Libria III put the federal fleet at risk. The battlegroup was now stationary around the planet, and deprived of its scouts which would warn against attack. To mitigate against this the federacy began to build defences around Libria III, converting two vessels into defence monitors and laying minefields.

These defences were far from complete when the loyalist fleet, led by Admiral Pendragon, launched an attack against the federacy. Admiral Jellicoe approved the plan submitted by his junior admiral, and detached an additional force to supplement Pendragon's fleet.

The imperial force arrived in the Libria system in late 05.015M42 and remained undetected as it moved in system. Rear admiral Somerville's supplementary force led by Lion was detatched to patrol the area of the jump point, while Pendragon's fleet, led by the battleship Sir Gallahad and the grand cruiser Sir Bors, moved towards Libria III itself.

As the imperial flotilla approached the planet, Pendragon ordered silent running, and the imperial battlegroup was able to close to deadly range before being detected by the federal warships, which were mostly in orbit around the world. This ran significant risks as the imperial ships were running on 30% shield power, and an ambush would have been catastrophic. Fortunately the federal force remained in orbit, unaware and unprepared for what was about to happen.

The initial salvo from Pendragon's ships was the first the Federacy knew of the loyalist presence in the system. This could have been devastating, but poor fire discipline from the loyalist ships meant that the defence monitor Emancipation took much of the intial fire, reducing her quickly to a wreck. In reply the federal fleet scored immediate hits, with the vast majority of the alliance vessels reacting quickly to the appearance of an enemy battlegroup in their midst. The exception was Peacemaker, and the dominator class vessel failed to move, her guns staying silent and she soon became an easy target for the imperial vessels.

The federal admiral was immediately able to cross the imperial "T" with his fast moving firestorms supported by Romulus and Remus manoeuvring into position broadside on to the advancing enemy vessels. To counter this, Pendragon ordered his dictators to rush ahead, launching a devastating torpedo and bomber attack which saw two firestorms wrecked, Remus hulked and Romulus crippled.

The initial action had been a success for the imperium, but the dictator class vessels Sir Percival and Sir Bedeviere now took the full firepower of the federal battlegroup, with Sir Bedeviere destroyed in minutes, her plasma reactor detonating showering the immediate area with debris. Sir Percival managed to escape the fusilade, but the grand cruiser Sir Bors was badly damaged by nova cannon fire.

In retaliation the imperial dominator class cruisers switched their fire to the enemy flagship Haskell, and accurate nova cannon fire caused crippling damage to the federal battleship, while Peacemaker, still inactive, became a sitting target for the loyalist fleet as they passed her by. Twenty minutes into the engagement Peacemaker was put out of action, her power generators knocked out, and she took no part in the battle.

The advantage was now strongly with the imperial admiral, and the federal battlegroup began to turn to port, forming a line parallel to the imperial vessels but travelling in the opposite direction. As they passed down the starboard side of the approaching imperial battle line, a bombing wave from Pride of Tallax wrecked Sir Bors, who had failed to get herself out of the battle line following heavy damage. Even with this success, with Peacemaker lost, Haskell badly damaged and his fast squadron eliminated, the federal admiral knew he was in an impossible tactical position. After a few more exchanges, during which Liberator was crippled, the federal fleet disengaged en masse, leaving the imperial fleet in control of the planet.

Pendragon realised too late that his enemy had disappeared, and lacking escorts, he was unable to relocated the enemy vessels. Peacemaker was captured, but the hulk of Romulus was taken in tow by the federal fleet, and the rest of the battered battlegroup was able to escape. The victory was widely hailed in loyalist circles, and provided a much needed morale boost to General Launceston's beleagured forces on Libria III, but given the tactical situation and the risks taken, Admiral Pendragon was left with the question "why didn't you get the lot?"

LOSSES Loyalists: Grand cruiser & cruiser destroyed
Federacy: cruiser & light cruiser destroyed, 3 escorts. Battleship & 2 cruisers crippled

Order of Battle:
Federal Fleet
Haskell (crippled)
Pride of Tallax
Liberator (crippled)
Peacemaker (hulked - captured)
Romulus (crippled)
Remus (hulked - escaped)
4 Firestorms (2 destroyed)

Imperial Fleet
Sir Gallahad
Sir Bors (Hulked)
Sir Bedeviere (hulked)
Sir Percival
Sir Tristran
Sir Robin

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