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|In service until||April 2817|
The Histria Azure was a Carrack-class transport in service with the Free Worlds League Military during and possibly before the First Succession War as the FWLS Histria Azure. In April 2813 the Histria Azure was involved in the invasion of Bella I by the Free Worlds League, a campaign that owed as much to deception as it did military strength and combat.
Bella I was a relatively unimportant system in and of itself, but was considered significant as part of an overall strategy for reclaiming the worlds of the Bolan Thumb, and under the command of Colonel Wendon McGaines two regiments of the Regulan Hussars - the Sixth and Eighth - were tasked to seize the world, escorted by the Histria Azure. As a military transport rather than a combat vessel, the presence of the Histria Azure was a reflection in the steady decline of the League WarShip fleet in terms of numbers, as well as the heavy commitment of combat ships such as destroyers and cruisers to battles and campaigns in the Federation of Skye and the Capellan Confederation.
Aware that Bella I was guarded by the Twelfth and Fourteenth Lyran Regulars and would quickly detect the arrival of his task force, Colonel McGaines instructed the Histria Azure and his transport ships to issue twice as much communications chatter and stage twice as many readiness drills than the norm, all using standard communications channels and slightly outdated encryption, in an effort to dupe the LCAF defenders into believing they faced a large invasion force.
McGaine's gambit was successful; with the Histria Azure and other ships generating a lot of detectable comms traffic, the Lyran Regulars became convinced that they were facing not just his two regiments of Regulan Hussars, but also the Fifth and Sixth Free Worlds Guards, escorted by a large WarShip capable of transporting an entire BattleMech brigade. The Regulars began to evacuate Bella I, an evacuation that was hastened by McGaine's efforts to create the impression of heavy pursuit and harassment whilst leaving lines of retreat open on the ground, and it was only as the Lyran DropShips were en route to their JumpShips that the deception was revealed - by which point it was too late for the Regulars to halt the invasion, as it was the actual arrival of the two regiments of Free Worlds Guards that gave the game away.
In 2815 the Lyran Commonwealth received intelligence indicating that the garrison on Bella I was in flux, due to the Hussars beginning a precipitous return to their home bases in response to political issues within the League. In response, the Twelth and Fourteenth Lyran Regulars were dispatched to recapture Bella I, this time under the command of Colonel Raymond Hempsted, former commander of the famed Stealths mercenary unit and, following the demotion of Colonel Petru Hamlin following the debacle in 2813, the officer responsible for spending two years drilling the two regiments of Lyran Regulars in maneuver tactics and misdirection as well as commanding them on raids across the Lyran border.
Hampstead struck at Bella I in March 2816, recapturing the world in just three weeks. The FWLM response came a year later; in April 2817 an invasion force struck Bella I, while similar invasions were launched at Dixie and Ilion. The FWLM intent was to obliterate the defending forces on Bella I, and the three 'Mech regiments deployed to conquer the planet were escorted by the Histria Azure and a second Carrack, the FWLS Pretoria Castle, a converted fighter carrier transporting a complete wing of aerospace fighters.
Colonel Hempsted was absent from Bella I at the time, having been summoned to Tharkad, but the defending forces were under the command of his second, Marcus Steiner - son of the Archon. In addition to the two experienced regiments of Regulars, the garrison had been reinforced with tactical nuclear ordnance transported by the Essex-class destroyer LCS Edelweiss, which was still on station in the Bella system; Colonel Steiner had placed most of the nuclear ordnance amongst the aerospace squadrons in place in the orbital stations above Bella I.
The invasion began with a naval battle between the Pretoria Castle, the Histria Azure and the Edelweiss. The Pretoria Castle took the lead amongst the League ships, with the Pretoria Castle's fighters forming a screen ahead of the attack force. The Edelweiss responded by ignoring the fighters and pressing the attack directly on the Pretoria Castle as soon as it was in range, while the orbital stations launched fighters followed close behind. Within two minutes of the engagement beginning the Edelweiss had destroyed the Pretoria Castle, as the transport's light armor was no match for the barrages from the Edelweiss. The Captain of the Histria Azure, Monica Talasi, knew that the Histria Azure was no match for the Edelweiss, and decided to inflict as much damage as she could on the Lyran WarShip - by ramming it, while ordering the crew to abandon ship.
The Edelweiss attacked the Histria Azure, shredding her armor and veering away from the badly-damaged ship, but the doomed ship managed to hold together well enough for Talasi to adjust the Histria Azure's course before dying; the wreck of the Histria Azure came close enough to the Edelweiss to rip open the starboard hull of the destroyer from stem to stern, igniting several magazines in the process. The resulting explosion destroyed both ships, with the only survivors of the engagement being the crew who made it to the eight lifeboats from the Histria Azure that survived the blast.
The League eventually drove Marcus Steiner and his defending forces off Bella I by December 2817, after months of grueling combat between the highly skilled regiments.
- First Succession War, p. 75, "McGaines' Gambit"
- First Succession War, p. 75-76, "Humiliation Avenged"
- First Succession War, p. 76, "Once More, With Feeling"