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Old 03-02-2015, 10:30 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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1740 Hours: Soviet Headquarters, Brownsville


Admiral Gordikov came into the Operations Room. “Comrade General, I have news of the second convoy.”

“Let's have it, Admiral,” Alekseyev said.

“They were forced to scatter, Comrade General. There were eighteen ships-mostly ours, but three or four Cuban ships as well, along with an East German. And their escorts,” Admiral Gordikov reported.

“How many can we expect?” asked General Chibisov.

“Best case, maybe half. Worst case, none at all. Most are keeping radio silence: if they don't transmit..”

“The Americans have a hard time tracking them, but with radar, and probably patrol aircraft, it may not help.” Chibisov finished for Gordikov. He'd heard this before.

“That is correct, General.” Gordikov replied. “I do know that several have been sunk. Including most of the escorts.”

Alekseyev sighed. He knew the Navy was doing all it could, and it wasn't enough. And as Gordikov pointed out on many an occasion, the Soviet Navy, even after all the effort, time, and money poured into it, had never been structured to fight a naval war of the kind it had found itself in. Just as the Americans hadn't expected to fight off a Soviet-led invasion, the Soviet Navy hadn't expected a fight for the sea lanes and supplying the land campaign in North America at the same time. “Very well. Let me know when those ships arrive.”

“Right away, Comrade General,” Gordikov said.

Alekseyev turned to Chibisov. “Even if one or two arrive, that'd give us, what, maybe an extra two or three days?”

“I'll have to double-check the estimate, Comrade General, but I believe so.”

“It's out of our hands, Pavel Pavlovitch. It's up to our comrades in the Navy,” Alekseyev said.


1820 Hours: 20 Miles East of Brazos Santiago Pass, The Gulf of Mexico


Captain Romonov was waiting in his ship's Combat Control Center, and he was expecting an attack at any moment. His Executive Officer was on the Bridge, and though he felt that his place was on the Bridge in combat, he knew that he'd have to fight his ship from here. After turning his radars on, not only had the three ships under his protection been on the screens, but two other ships, on the same course as his, were picked up, slightly north of his position, but were also making a run for the Texas coast. Maybe, just maybe, some of us will get through, Romanov thought. Then his air-search radar operator sang out.

“Hostile aircraft. Bearing 095 relative, medium altitude. Range, thirty kilometers.”

Here we go, Romonov thought. “How many?”

“Just one so far, Comrade Captain. Wait, he's jamming us.”

To the north, an EA-6B Prowler from the carrier John F. Kennedy's Air Wing 3 was approaching the Soviet surface ships. The Prowler's electronic warfare system had picked up the radar from the Boiky,
and the pilot, who was the commander of VAQ-130, considered his options. Then he made his decision.

“How bad is the jamming?” Romonov asked.

“I'll have to trade range for visibility, Comrade Captain.” the operator said. He did so, and by doing so, “burned through” the jamming, and saw....nothing.

“What the...” Romonov said.

“Best I can do, Comrade Captain.” the operator said.

Romonov looked at the screen. It was blank. He turned to his air-defense officer. “Yuri, it looks like you'll have to use your optical backup. Don't let us down.”

The air-defense man nodded. Then a lookout sang out over the intercom. “Explosions bearing 090 relative. Multiple explosions on that bearing.”

As it turned out, two of the carriers had launched aircraft to go after the Soviet ships. The John F. Kennedy contributed four F-14s as strike escort, while a single EA-6B Prowler handled the Electronic Warfare element of the strike. The Oriskany, in her third war, contributed the A-4F Skyhawk and A-7E Corsair strike aircraft, and an RF-8G photo Crusader for the post-strike photography. And the A-7s had just struck the ships to the north, putting their bombs and rockets into a Cuban freighter and a Soviet tanker. The freighter would sink, while the tanker went dead in the water, and began to burn.

“Comrade Captain, they're coming!” Romonov's Exec said over the intercom. He had visual contact with the Skyhawks and Corsairs.

Romonov gave the order: “All air-defense weapons commence fire!” With that, his two forward quad 57-mm guns, the two twin 30-mm guns, and several hastily mounted DshK machine guns began to fire. The twin Neva-M missile launcher began tracking a target, and fired. The two missiles, guided by optical backup, tracked an A-4, missing with the first missile, but scoring with the second. The Skyhawk fireballed and plunged into the water. We might just get through this, Romonov thought.

However, the two freighters were not so fortunate. One pair of Skyhawks, ignoring the machine-gun and 23-mm fire sent up after them from the Soviet Naval Armed Guard from the first ship, sprayed it with Zuni rockets and 20-mm cannon fire. She was hit by several rockets and caught fire. Then another pair of Skyhawks came in, and each dropped four 500-pound bombs. Three of the bombs tore into the freighter, and she broke apart in flames. The second freighter was set upon by four more Skyhawks with bombs, rockets, and cannon fire, and she came to a stop, burning furiously.

“Comrade Captain,” the Exec said, “Both freighters have been hit!”

“How about the landing ship?” Romonov asked.

“Not yet, Comrade Captain...wait. Wait...The Skyhawks are going for her now!”

“Right Full Rudder! Give her as much cover fire as you can!”

The Boiky charged towards the landing ship, trying to shield her charge from the strike aircraft coming in. But it was for naught: An A-7 launched a Walleye guided bomb, and the weapon landed amidships, bringing the ship to a stop. Then the A-4s and more A-7s came in and unleashed their bombs and cannon fire, and she, too, was soon ablaze. Then the Boiky's turn came. A single Corsair came in, and flipped two 500-pound bombs towards the stern. Though the bombs missed, they did cripple her, for the shock wave from the detonations jammed the destroyer's rudder. Then two Skyhawks sprayed the destroyer with Zuni rockets, knocking out the SAM system and the helicopter pad. An A-7 then came in and dropped several bombs, and one of them wrecked the ship's main mast and knocked out the radars. That was followed by several Corsairs, their bombs expended, strafing the destroyer with their 20-mm cannon. Finally, the American planes reformed and headed north.

“Damage Report!” Romonov roared.

“Rudder jammed fifteen degrees to port, Comrade Captain.” the Exec replied. “We also have a fire aft, and the SAM magazine has to be flooded. Also, the mainmast has been wrecked.”

“And that means our radars are down as well. Engines?”

“They're intact, Comrade Captain. And we can try steering with the engines,” the Exec said.

“Get us to the coast. We'll have to run the ship aground. Best speed,” Romonov said.

“Comrade Captain?” the Exec asked.

“I'm responsible for the crew. Better we all make it to shore instead of taking our chances in the water. Are the radio antennae intact?

“They're down, Comrade Captain.”
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