Battle of Trafalgar

Battle of Trafalgar
Part of Operation SERPENT
Start Date December 15, 3059
Location Naval Battle
Planet Unknown
Result SLDF Victory
Factions
Second SLDF Clan Ghost Bear
Commanders and leaders
Commodore Alain Beresick Star Colonel Alonso Gilmour
Forces involved
Task Force Serpent Ghost Bear flotilla
Environment
Space Battle
Conditions
Space


The Battle of Trafalgar was a major space battle of Operation SERPENT, a military operation initiated by the Second Star League to destroy Clan Smoke Jaguar. The meeting engagement took place between forces of the newly formed Second Star League Defense Force, en route to invade the Smoke Jaguar homeworld Huntress, and a Clan Ghost Bear flotilla transporting military and civilian personnel to their Occupation Zone in the Inner Sphere. While both sides had been caught unawares, the Serpent fleet was able to take advantage of the situation and defeat the Ghost Bears, suffering minimal damage in the process and capturing several vessels. The battle also represented the first time in over two centuries that Inner Sphere WarShips had engaged in battle.

Background[edit]

During the formation of the second Star League, the leaders of the Great Houses determined that the only way to end the threat of the Clan Invasion was to destroy entirely Clan Smoke Jaguar, one of the strongest of the Crusader Clans, as a way of sending a message to the other Clans. While Operation BULLDOG would drive the Jaguars from their Occupation Zone in the Draconis Combine, Task Force Serpent would travel along the Exodus Road to capture Huntress and destroy the Jaguar's ability to make war. The task force, after assembling earlier in the year and training together, left from their jumping-off point at Defiance on 1 May 3059, traveling across the Federated Commonwealth and the Outworlds Alliance before leaving known space on 19 July. For the next several months they traveled along the Exodus Road careful to avoid being detected by the Clans.

Prior to this, Ghost Bears had decided on a clandestine plan to move their entire Clan wholesale to their Inner Sphere Occupation Zone, with efforts starting in early 3055 and continuing until the last Ark-Ship left the homeworlds in early 3060.[1] As part of this relocation effort, the Winter Wind, an Invader-class JumpShip, journeyed along the Exodus Road with a small naval escort carrying a thousand Ghost Bear civilians to a new home in the Inner Sphere.

The Fleets[edit]

Task Force Serpent[2]

The FCS Rostock, another Fox-class corvette provided by the Federated Commonwealth, stayed behind to defend the rest of the task force's JumpShips and DropShips and did not take part in the fighting.

Clan Ghost Bear naval convoy[2]

The Battle[edit]

On 15 December 3059, Task Force Serpent jumped into an unnamed star system at 1810 hours. Almost immediately the Lola III-class Ranger identified several bogies in the vicinity of the jump point, and quickly classified them as Clan starships - three WarShips and a JumpShip - though it could not immediately identify to which clan they belonged. Commodore Alain Beresick ordered the Rostock and all designated Fleet Defense DropShips to protect the transports while the rest of the fleet moved to engage them.[3]

Simultaneously, the Clan ships had detected Task Force Serpent jumping in, and while going on alert they initially thought it to be another Clan fleet. When Star Colonel Alonso Gilmour aboard the Shining Claw was informed the ships bore the markings of the Star League, he was enraged beyond words at the thought of Spheroid "barbarians" claiming to represent such a noble idea. When Marshal Morgan Hasek-Davion, overall commander of Task Force Serpent, issued a batchall to the Clan fleet and named all of their vessels as isorla if they won, Alonso Gilmour accepted and declared he would defend his fleet with every asset at his disposal. All WarShips ordered to either furl or cut loose their jump sails and engage the enemy immediately. When it was suggested that the Winter Wind attempt to escape, the Star Colonel declined to give the order, stating it had been included in the bid and confident of the Ghost Bear's victory.[3]

Despite the Star Colonel's opinion on the matter, Star Captain Hector aboard the Winter Wind believed it imperative that they warn the rest of the Clan about the Inner Sphere task force. The jump sails were disengaged and the K-F drive hot-charged to ready for immediate jump. Still the closest WarShip to the Clan flotilla at a distance of 470km, the Ranger detected the energy spike in the Winter Wind, indicating it making ready to jump. Ordered to 'stop that ship jumping', Captain Mercia Winslow obeyed quite literally: moving the Ranger to within 300km of the Winter Wind the vessel fired a White Shark missile at her, the first shot fired in anger by an Inner Sphere WarShip in centuries. Unable to make evasive maneuvers and with its PPCs too clumsy to shoot it down, the Winter Wind took the hit from the White Shark. The damage inflicted by the missile and a follow-on barrage of Naval Laser fire knocks out both the ship's field inhibitor and drive controller, leaving it dead in space.[4]

With the Winter Wind disabled, at 1825 hours Commodore Beresick ordered the Haruna to close with the JumpShip and deploy its DEST teams to capture the disabled vessel, while the Invisible Truth engaged with the Ursus. The Ranger, still 60km ahead of the Haruna, moved to engage the Shining Claw and at a distance of 280km fired two White Sharks at it. The armored prow of the Congress-class frigate easily withstood the impacts though, and as the two vessels closed the distance the Shining Claw launched her two Union-C-class DropShips to join the fight. Ranger would respond by launching her own fighters, and while they targeted the lead Union-C the second one was shattered with naval laser fire. The Shining Claw followed up by launching a missile at the Ranger which, lacking appropriate point-defense weapons, tried to evade but was hit on the port side, violently shaking the ship though not breaching the armor.[5]

In that moment the Starlight swooped in and used its prow Naval Autocannons to unleash a punishing barrage on the Shining Claw, knocking out some of its starboard side weapons. Star Colonel Alonso Gilmour ordered the Shining Claw to pass between the two ships and unleash its own broadsides on its opponents, causing greater damage to the Starlight with its functional port side batteries and forcing the ship to stagger off for repairs. As the Ranger fought against its own inertia to bring its broadside weapons into action, Alonso Gilmour pushed the Shining Claw past its ostensible stress limits and brought it around 135° followed by a 180° roll, putting it above, ahead and to the right of the Ranger with its undamaged port side facing.[5]

While the Shining Claw and Ranger continued their dangerous ballet, the Haruna pressed onward towards the stricken Winter Wind only for the Fire Fang, a Whirlwind-class destroyer, to move to intercept it and protect the disabled JumpShip. Though its opponent was better armed, the Haruna hoped to use its advantage in support craft to even the odds. As they closed and launched fighters, the Haruna targeted the Fire Fang with its Naval PPCs while using its point-defense weapons to ward off the Clan fighters targeting the still-docked Bisan. Even under the punishing fire of the Fire Fang's autocannons, the Haruna maintains its course towards the Winter Wind rather than try and present its broadside batteries. Coming to her aid, the Antrium and two Avenger-class Dropships intervene against the Fire Fang, allowing the Haruna to break through the enemy's defenses.[5]

At 1840 hours, the Haruna pulls to within 85km of the Winter Wind and launches the Bisan towards the JumpShip. Though Star Captain Hector orders his vessel's DropShips to engage, only the two Union-C-class DropShips are able to launch; the Ice Dart is stuck to the Winter Wind due to its Docking Collar being damaged by the Ranger. Though outnumber, in a display of superior skill the Combine DropShip outmaneuvers the two Clan DropShips, performing a sharp pirouette to savage the first Union-C and launch its fighters to harry the second. Making a fast pass along the Winter Wind at a velocity of 600kph, the Bisan launches its two NL-42 "Battle Taxis".[6] The DEST boarding parties, equipped with Kage suits, board the ship at 1850 hours and engage the security element of Elementals in battle armor and armed crew members. The first group succeeds in capturing the engineering space and docking bays, while the second is delayed from seizing the bridge by more Elementals, buying the bridge crew time to smash the control panels and dump the computer core.[7]

By 1925 hours, the battle has approached its final act. Despite the considerable tonnage mismatch in its duel with the more powerful Invisible Truth, the Ursus had used its speed and maneuverability to dance around the slower vessel and avoid its tremendous punch, though it inflicted little harm and could not avoid taking some damage itself. The final deathblow came when the Invisible Truth launched a pair of missiles and, though succeeding in shooting down the first one, the Ursus was hit by the second, followed by a barrage of laser, PPC and autocannon fire. With the Ursus on fire, its hull torn open and out of control, Commodore Beresick attempted to communicate with the stricken Clan vessel, only to be told that his ship's communications array had been damaged in the exchange and needed repairing. Instead he launches the DropShips Integrity and Honor to assist, the first to act as a messenger-relay ship for the Invisible Truth and second to conduct search-and-rescue for the crew of the Ursus, rescuing 96 survivors.[8]

Meanwhile the Haruna, after launching the boarding party, moves to reengage the Fire Fang, which continued to battle the Antium and the two Avengers. One of them, the Hainan suffered critical damage and had to be abandoned after being savaged by the Fire Fang's weapons. In response the Haruna, coming up behind the Fire Fang, raked the ship stern to stem which its weapons, disabling the vessel and forcing Star Captain Manfred Snuka to announce the vessel's capitulation.[8]

The last Clan ship operational, the Shining Claw was still engrossed in its duel with the Ranger when the Starlight, its repairs completed, returned to open up on the frigate's starboard side. The enemy ship distracted, the Ranger used this opportunity to run underneath the Clan ship and, at a range of just 40km, unleash its port broadside weapons into her aft quarters, disabling the Fire Fang. Recognizing defeat, Star Colonel Alonso Gilmour signaled his surrender and powered down the ship's weapons, signaling the end of the battle.

Aftermath[edit]

Though it had taken place in an unnamed star system, the fight between the Inner Sphere and Ghost Bear ships quickly took on the name "battle of Trafalgar" thanks to anonymous ComStar personnel comparing it to the famous naval battle which occurred on Terra. All told, Task Force Serpent had suffered minor losses in the fight: seven Aerospace Fighters and one Avenger-class DropShip destroyed; the Haruna, Starlight and Ranger taking field-repairable damage, most of which was to their armor, though the Starlight could not replace it's number two PPC; and the communications array on the Invisible Truth needing repairs. Meanwhile the Clan fleet had taken tremendous damage, with the Winter Wind and Ursus total write-offs. The Fire Fang, though having lost some of its weapons bays, was still repairable except for its damaged jump sail, which thankfully was replaced with the Ursus'. The Shining Claw had taken extensive damage, particularly to its starboard side, and it was not known if the fleet would be able to salvage her. Additionally they had captured twelve intact OmniFighters, two damaged Union-C and a Broadsword DropShip, and a Star of brand-new OmniMechs. In total it would take several days for the Task Force to make its repairs and recharge its jump drives.[9]

Of more pressing matters was the three hundred warriors and crew and over one thousand civilians the Task Force now held as prisoners. Weighing the needs of the task force with his own morality and that of his commanders, Morgan Hasek-Davion agreed to take on those Clanners willing to join them as bondsmen while the rest would be marooned on a habitable world.[9] By the third day repairs had been completed on the Fire Fang and crewed by members of the task force's MI6 teams and Clan crewmen who were deemed loyal enough. It took another nine for all of fleet's starships to recharge their K-F drives and make the jump out. On 30 December those Ghost Bears who had still refused to give their bond-oath were dropped off on a seemingly paradisaical world with the promise that someone would come back for them.[9][10]

References[edit]

  1. Field Manual: Warden Clans, p. 82
  2. 2.0 2.1 Twilight of the Clans, p. 17-19, "Battle of Trafalgar"
  3. 3.0 3.1 The Hunters, ch. 22
  4. The Hunters, ch. 23
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 The Hunters, ch. 24
  6. The Hunters, ch. 25
  7. The Hunters, ch. 26
  8. 8.0 8.1 The Hunters, ch. 27
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 The Hunters, ch. 28
  10. The Hunters, ch. 29

Bibliography[edit]