Europa (Individual Congress-class WarShip)
- This article is about the Congress-class vessel. For other uses, see Europa (disambiguation).
The Europa was a Congress-class frigate in service with the Star League Defense Force black water navy as the SLS Europa during the Star League Civil War, and was one of 40 WarShips selected by General Aleksandr Kerensky to form Task Force Leonidas, a key component of Operation LIBERATION, that battle to liberate Terra in the Sol system.
Task Force Leonidas had an unenviable role; 932 WarShips jumped into the Sol system when the order was given to jump at 16:12 Terran Standard Time on the 23rd of January 2777. It took several hours for those ships to reform into two large groups and set course for Terra, but the SLS Europa and the other thirty-nine vessels of Task Force Leonidas weren't a part of either group; instead, Task Force Leonidas was waiting in the New Earth for a separate order from General Kerensky. Task Force Leonidas' role was that of a suicide contingent that would jump into the Terra system between Sol and Mars for the express purpose of engaging and destroying absolutely as many Caspar drones from the Terran SDS as possible before succumbing to overwhelming numbers. The hope was that thanks to the efforts of Task Force Leonidas, the thousands of DropShips and other transports carrying the bulk of the SLDF to Terra would stand a much higher chance of making it to Terra through the hundreds of drones anticipated to be in the Sol system.
All those selected for Task Force Leonidas knew that the mission would be a suicide mission, and General Kerensky offered all those aboard the forty ships the option to back out. In total, less than thirty members of the eight thousand men and women serving aboard those ships opted to back out of the mission. General Kerensky Kerensky gave the go order to the SLS Europa and the other ships of Task Force Leonidas on the 26th of January, three days after Operation LIBERATION began; appended to the order was a last personal message from General Kerensky.
|“||My brothers and sisters, the hope of the Star League goes with you. May your bravery never be forgotten. Good luck and godspeed.||”|
|— General Aleksandr Kerensky to the ships of Task Force Leonidas, 26 Jan 2777|
The WarShips of Task Force Leonidas were equipped with nuclear weapons, unlike the other lead groups of robot-controlled ships that had assaulted the defense installations in Terran orbit on the 23rd. Those weapons initially went unused - the Europa and the rest of Task Force Leonidas jumped into a pirate point in the L1 stability zone between Sol and Mars, some million kilometers towards Mars, and attacked the drone ships nearby, but the plan called for the Task Force Leonidas ships to save their nuclear weapons in those initial engagements to avoid tipping the drone ships off to their presence initially.
For three hours, the ships of Task Force Leonidas attacked every drone ship they could find, initially engaging small groups of two and three Caspars at a time, with the advantage firmly in favor of the Europa and her sister ships. The number of drones engaging the Task Force steadily increased, and at the end of the third hour of battle the Task Force was engaged with more than thirty Caspars. It was at that point that the Europa and several other WarShips unleashed capital missiles tipped with nuclear warheads in the 250-650 kiloton range.
The initial effect on the Caspars was devastating - sixteen Caspars were destroyed immediately, with a number of other drone ships suffering crippling damage. The SLDF had anticipated when planning the mission for Task Force Leonidas that the use of strategic nuclear weapons would result in the drones backing off temporarily to assess the effect of the weapons; instead, the drones went into a frenzy, focusing their attacks on those ships that had launched the nuclear weapons. The result was a brutal, bloody melee, with the Europa becoming the first of the Task Force Leonidas ships to be destroyed, and several other SLDF ships took heavy damage, but by the time Task Force Leonidas had fought off the frenzied attack the number of drones destroyed or out of action stood at almost forty.
In total, Task Force Leonidas fought for forty-two hours; two of the SLDF WarShips were scuttled in a lull in the fighting, having been rendered ineffective due to cascade failures, with the crews escaping in lifeboats, but the remaining ships fought to the end, with some even resorting to ramming attacks against the Caspars. By the time the last active ship of Task Force Leonidas, the cruiser SLS Sovetskii Soyuz, had been destroyed, the forty ships had accounted for no less than one hundred and six Caspars, some two-fifths of the total drone fleet believed to be operating in the Sol system.
- Historical: Liberation of Terra Volume 2, p. 59-60, "Task Force Leonidas"
- The Star League, p. 91, "The Launch"