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Old 05-03-2021, 09:51 AM
lordroel lordroel is offline
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Default Blocking the Suez, Twilight style

So we all heard several weeks ago the story about the container ship that block the Suez Canal for a while, now i was wondering, what if this happen during the war would A a blocking using one ore 2 ships be effective ore B dropping one ore two small nukes on the canal and last, who would benefit the most of a blocked Suez Canal, the Americans ore the soviets.
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Old 05-03-2021, 11:50 AM
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Presumably the Soviets would prefer it shut, as their Navy would have limited capability to access it anyway and it's of far more utility in supporting the west.

Of course that assumes a lot about the political picture. Are Egypt and other ME nations very Soviet-friendly at the time, or have they turned their eyes West? How are they going to feel about its destruction?

Regardless, having now seen how long a simple mistake can close it for, I think it's safe to assume that in a global war the continued survival of the Suez could be measured in days at most, and it doesn't take a nuke. Eventually it won't even be remotely feasible to reopen it at all.
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Old 05-03-2021, 12:35 PM
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Presumably the Soviets would prefer it shut, as their Navy would have limited capability to access it anyway and it's of far more utility in supporting the west.

Of course that assumes a lot about the political picture. Are Egypt and other ME nations very Soviet-friendly at the time, or have they turned their eyes West? How are they going to feel about its destruction?
Even if Egypt is Soviet friendly, if Egypt refuse to close the Suez Canal for America and their allies, i see the Soviets closing it for them, the hard way (blocking ore nuking) ore maybe a softer way by mining the canal if that is possible.
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Old 05-03-2021, 12:41 PM
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Nuking it seems unnecessary; all you need to do is sink a ship in it. That can be a ship that's already there or one moved there, perhaps loaded with charges, for that purpose. The St. Nazaire raid comes to mind.
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Old 05-03-2021, 12:50 PM
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It’s in the East Africa Kenya Sourcebook - V2.2 canon - Soviet nuclear strike on Dec 6 1997 on the refineries at Suez block the southern end of the Canal with the wrecks of multiple ships and tankers
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Old 05-03-2021, 12:52 PM
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It’s in the East Africa Kenya Sourcebook - V2.2 canon - Soviet nuclear strike on Dec 6 1997 on the refineries at Suez block the southern end of the Canal with the wrecks of multiple ships and tankers
Thanks Olefin, so the Suez is out of action and will be for a long time i assume.
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Old 05-03-2021, 12:56 PM
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Thanks Olefin, so the Suez is out of action and will be for a long time i assume.
The French cleared the wrecks by the late summer of 2000 as part of their effort to get oil from the Middle East - but yes it was blocked for all of 1998 and 1999 and a good part of 2000
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Old 05-03-2021, 01:48 PM
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So v2.2 is covered, I guess. What about v1? I don't recall any mention whatsoever of the Suez canal in the v1 history. I don't know the RDF sourcebook well at all. Is it mentioned there, perchance?

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Old 05-03-2021, 02:46 PM
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There is nothing in the RDF Sourcebook about the Suez Canal nor is there anything in the core rule book of V1.

In all likely hood it wasn't thought of by the designers at the time. The same sort of question could be asked of the Panama Canal. Without heavy equipment to dig out anything. It wouldn't be hard to close the Suez and keep it close for a while. There are no locks to the system, like there are with other canals like the Saint Lawrence or Panama, it is strictly level to the Med and the Red Sea. So a ship sunk in the canal or blocking the entrance or exit to Bitter Lake, would close the canal till that could be dug out. Do it and have enough terror attacks against the salvage crews and you have a major situation on your hands.

Historically, the canal was closed in 1967 that was a precursor to the Six Day War and the entrance at Port Said and Port Tewfik in the city of the Suez where mined as well as selected points along the canal in 1973. It took the US, RN, and USSR a full year from 1974 till 1975 to clear the canal for safe transit.

Want to have a potential game situation, look up the Yellow Fleet. A set of 15 ships that were stuck in the canal from 1967 till 1975 from a number of nations awaiting their chance to get out and go home.
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Old 05-03-2021, 05:21 PM
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The French cleared the wrecks by the late summer of 2000 as part of their effort to get oil from the Middle East - but yes it was blocked for all of 1998 and 1999 and a good part of 2000

That seems like an exceptionally ambitious timeline. Even disregarding the idea that there's an active war on the entire time.
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Old 05-03-2021, 06:39 PM
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The French cleared the wrecks by the late summer of 2000 as part of their effort to get oil from the Middle East - but yes it was blocked for all of 1998 and 1999 and a good part of 2000
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That seems like an exceptionally ambitious timeline. Even disregarding the idea that there's an active war on the entire time.
That is very ambitious timeline.

Historical context. Nassar sank a bunch of ships at both ends of the Canal in 1956. It took a multi-national force from November of '56 till late April '57 to create the minimal clear channel. Nassar then blockade the canal in 67; that combined with sea mines and anti-tamper devices on junk materials dumped in the canal; all of which blocked the canal from 1967 until 1975. That was 8 years the canal was closed and it took three nations doing mine sweeping, harbor clearance, and UXO removal. . I can't see the canal being cleared after a nuclear strike in anything less than a year by only one nation in the midst of a global war. Sorry, but it probably wouldn't have been cleared until late into the 2000s if at all by any concentrated effort.
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Old 05-03-2021, 08:22 PM
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That is very ambitious timeline.

Historical context. Nassar sank a bunch of ships at both ends of the Canal in 1956. It took a multi-national force from November of '56 till late April '57 to create the minimal clear channel. Nassar then blockade the canal in 67; that combined with sea mines and anti-tamper devices on junk materials dumped in the canal; all of which blocked the canal from 1967 until 1975. That was 8 years the canal was closed and it took three nations doing mine sweeping, harbor clearance, and UXO removal. . I can't see the canal being cleared after a nuclear strike in anything less than a year by only one nation in the midst of a global war. Sorry, but it probably wouldn't have been cleared until late into the 2000s if at all by any concentrated effort.
In this case they werent doing minesweeping, harbor clearance or unexploded ordinance - they were clearing wrecks out of the channel. This wasnt a channel blocked with mines, etc. it was blocked by the ships and debris from the strike on the refinery. So the Canal wasnt blocked on purpose with a determined effort to keep it from being cleared for as long as possible. The French needed the southern entrance to the canal cleared - and it took them a while to do it. They arrived in the Middle East in mid-1998 and the Canal wasnt re-opened to traffic till the late summer of 2000. Basicaly they brute force cleared a path thru the wrecks to get the entrance open to the southern end of the channel.

And the Panama Canal we know was open at least as late as the Virginia Task Force in Satellite Down being reassigned to the East Coast - that is where they were headed when they ran into the Soviet force of destroyers. Per Satellite Down

On 3 March 1999, the USS Virginia received orders to takethe remains of the task force and return to the Atlantic with alldue speed. Task Force 115 cut south along the coast, hopingto make it safely through the Panama Canal system as a short-cut to the Atlantic. It was a voyage that the task force was notdestined to make it.

Thus the Panama Canal was still open and still functional in March 1999 - long after the nuclear phase of the war was over.
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Old 05-04-2021, 04:11 AM
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So v2.2 is covered, I guess. What about v1? I don't recall any mention whatsoever of the Suez canal in the v1 history. I don't know the RDF sourcebook well at all. Is it mentioned there, perchance?

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I checked Med Cruise thinking it might have warranted a mention but nothing there either (to be fair the module doesn't go that far east).
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Old 05-04-2021, 08:23 AM
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Thus the Panama Canal was still open and still functional in March 1999 - long after the nuclear phase of the war was over.
You think the Soviets launched a Spetsnaz raid ore nuked it.
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Old 05-04-2021, 09:07 AM
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Oh I bet the Soviets did attacks on the canal but it wasnt nuked - at least not at the time of Satellite Down - i.e. they wouldnt have sent the Virginia to go thru the Canal if it was nuked and out of commission
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Old 05-04-2021, 09:51 AM
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Oh I bet the Soviets did attacks on the canal but it wasnt nuked - at least not at the time of Satellite Down - i.e. they wouldnt have sent the Virginia to go thru the Canal if it was nuked and out of commission
If thy did attack they failed ore did not do much damage, how much does it need to blow one of the gates up and also would there still be some US military presences at the Canal at the time of Virginia passing true.
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Old 05-04-2021, 05:57 PM
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I don't want to put a wet blanket on this but I don't buy that the Soviets would nuke the Suez Canal. They relied on the Indian Ocean too much to send supplies to Vladivostok and other points in the Far East. To put some perspective on this, in 1958 they were the 12th largest user of the Suez. When the canal closed in 1967 they were the 7th largest user. When the canal reopened in 1977/8 they were the 5th largest user. By 1979 they were the 4th largest. 90% of the Soviet cargo going thru the Suez was for national trade, thats right national trade not international. Between 1972 and 1975 only 10% of Soviet container traffic from western terminals to eastern terminals went via the Trans Siberian land bridge. Also in the 1980s the three ports getting the most expansion in the Ussr were Vladivostok, Petropavlosk, and Nakhoda. Sorry I dont buy the Soviets cutting off a vital transportation link for themselves. They had just as much to lose by the Suez being out of commission as we do.

"We think that the freedom of navigation in that region (Indian Ocean) is of vital importance not only to the United States, and we even think that it is not of that importance to the United States, whose coast is on the opposite side of the globe - as it is for the Asian and African countries as well as for the Soviet Union.
-Leonid Zamyatin, Chairman of the International Information Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union May 1981 interview with Bratislava Pravda

We have taken the line of . . . tackling the problems of raw material, fuel and energy, food and transport. The U.S.S.R. has strongly advocated a reduction of arms in the Indian Ocean over the last ten years and has championed the 'zone of peace' proposal of ASEAN
- Leonid Brezhnev General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union 1977 60th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution speech.


Anyways got my 10 cents in.
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Old 05-04-2021, 06:09 PM
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Who would benefit the most of a blocked Suez Canal, the Americans ore the soviets.
I would have to say the Soviets. A lot of the USSR's international trade took place within the East Bloc (a captive audience, if you will). It had internal lines of communication to Eastern Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, so maritime trade was less important to the USSR than it was to the capitalistic, increasingly globalized western economy. The USSR also had a weaker navy, which wouldn't have been able to secure the Mediterranean and/or Indian Ocean shipping lanes and protect its international shipping anyway. It would surely want to deny access to those same shipping lanes to its enemies.

The US, on the other hand, would rely heavily on the Suez Canal for logistical support of the RDF in Iran. It would be in the Soviet's strategic interest to cut off that support as quickly and completely as possible. Rendering the Suez impassible would go a long way to accomplishing that.

I can't see the Soviets allowing the Suez canal to remain operational for any length of time, for a host of strategic reasons. How could they close it? Perhaps they started with conventional means by sinking a large merchant vessel- a la the Ever Given- in the channel and then mining the entrances at either end (likely using submarines to do so). A Spetznaz team or two with limpet mines and ATGWs could also wreak havoc on ships trying to transit the canal. Perhaps the Soviets held off on nuking the canal, in the hopes that they would be a position to capture it some day. Failing that, I can see the Soviets deploying strategic nuclear weapons to render it impassable. I'm not sure how one would do that with nuclear weapons, but I imagine a large yield ground strike (or several) offset a bit from the channel could conceivably displace a large among of earth, depositing it in the channel, thereby effectively obstructing it. It would also mean crews tasked with clearing the channel would have to deal with radioactivity. There's probably a better way to do it, but that's all this armchair strategist could come up with.

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Old 05-04-2021, 06:47 PM
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In this case they werent doing minesweeping, harbor clearance or unexploded ordinance - they were clearing wrecks out of the channel. This wasnt a channel blocked with mines, etc. it was blocked by the ships and debris from the strike on the refinery. So the Canal wasnt blocked on purpose with a determined effort to keep it from being cleared for as long as possible. The French needed the southern entrance to the canal cleared - and it took them a while to do it. They arrived in the Middle East in mid-1998 and the Canal wasnt re-opened to traffic till the late summer of 2000. Basicaly they brute force cleared a path thru the wrecks to get the entrance open to the southern end of the channel.

And the Panama Canal we know was open at least as late as the Virginia Task Force in Satellite Down being reassigned to the East Coast - that is where they were headed when they ran into the Soviet force of destroyers. Per Satellite Down

On 3 March 1999, the USS Virginia received orders to takethe remains of the task force and return to the Atlantic with alldue speed. Task Force 115 cut south along the coast, hopingto make it safely through the Panama Canal system as a short-cut to the Atlantic. It was a voyage that the task force was notdestined to make it.

Thus the Panama Canal was still open and still functional in March 1999 - long after the nuclear phase of the war was over.

Huh. Seems like a major strategic oversight to me.
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Old 05-04-2021, 07:01 PM
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there were lots of strategic mistakes in the timeline - i.e. things like not nuking York PA or Hagerstown MD - i.e. the Bradley, M109, M88, M8 Buford production line+Caterpillar+Harley in York and the A-10 production line and Mack Trucks engine plant in Hagerstown MD - in V1 they might have restarted the A-10 line and that engine plant would definitely be of huge use to the military

and the Soviets hit both refineries at the southern exit/entrance of the Canal with 250kt air bursts and did a real job on the shipping in the area - thus they didnt need to hit the Canal itself - they plugged the exit/entrance
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Old 05-04-2021, 08:25 PM
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there were lots of strategic mistakes in the timeline - i.e. things like not nuking York PA or Hagerstown MD - i.e. the Bradley, M109, M88, M8 Buford production line+Caterpillar+Harley in York and the A-10 production line and Mack Trucks engine plant in Hagerstown MD - in V1 they might have restarted the A-10 line and that engine plant would definitely be of huge use to the military
Those are relatively minor strategic mistakes compared to failing to close the Suez canal. Failing to strike a few factories might result in the US producing a few hundred more AFVs and combat aircraft- if the production lines can continue to operate when deprived of power and parts, that is. And even then, the US still has to get that stuff to the fronts (easier said than done) before it can hurt the USSR. Failing to effectively close the Suez canal would continue to allow the US to resupply the RDF with reinforcements, ammunition, etc. Closing the Suez isolates the RDF, increasing the odds that the Soviets can destroy it.

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and the Soviets hit both refineries at the southern exit/entrance of the Canal with 250kt air bursts and did a real job on the shipping in the area - thus they didnt need to hit the Canal itself - they plugged the exit/entrance
That's v2.2 "canon", correct? You mentioned that earlier, I believe. I'm looking at alternatives for v1.

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Old 05-04-2021, 10:26 PM
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Yes the strikes on the Suez refineries are canon per Marc Miller for V2.2 since they are part of the Africa timeline that has them in it.
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Old 05-05-2021, 02:39 AM
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It would suit the Soviets far more than the west to block it during the war, but wold they go all out and nuke it? Not immediately I don't think.
I always imagined a 2-tier blockage from the Warpact side. If the Middle East states are still more friendly to the Soviets than the Americans then they would still be trying to keep same onside. The chance to get tens of thousands of allied troops behind the RDF alone would be worth avoiding too much infrastructure damage. If they assume they will win the war, or at least not lose, the Soviets will want the canal back in service asap. Either way, setting off nukes would be a bad move. However, if the war starts to go badly for the Soviets, or the west wins the ME states over, then the gloves come off and it goes to the second tier and in a fit of pique the canal gets obliterated.
Blocking it via sabotage, strategic strikes etc would be easier than clearing it when there is a global war ongoing.
As an aside, in my TL I relocated most of the RDF and allied forces. It was as they said when the RDF was formed, 'too much to lose, too little to win'. I felt that to deploy those forces, probably well out on a limb, was too risky and they would be better used in Europe or Korea. Keeping them supplied would have been far too much effort given the state of the rest of the world, especially if any of the states around there were actively pro-Soviet. With a war still ongoing in China, and in Europe, I'm not sure the Soviets would have been able to commit enough troops to bull through Iran anyway, again not without a lot of active support from Iraq and others.
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Old 05-05-2021, 05:48 AM
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As a Cold Waters player, I love choke points where I can position my little submarine and wait for an enemy surface fleet to pass through. Suez is the ultimate choke point and major forces might just avoid it all together if enough of their ships are torpedoed en route to the canal or after leaving it. Longer routes outside of normal shipping channels would be safer and preferred once unrestricted submarine warfare is authorized.
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Old 05-05-2021, 10:14 AM
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Those are relatively minor strategic mistakes compared to failing to close the Suez canal. Failing to strike a few factories might result in the US producing a few hundred more AFVs and combat aircraft- if the production lines can continue to operate when deprived of power and parts, that is. And even then, the US still has to get that stuff to the fronts (easier said than done) before it can hurt the USSR.
+1. Also, I've always thought that Twilight 2000 is supposed to be reminiscent of the Dark Ages not the Stone Age, which is where it would have probably landed up if every town in the USA that had some sort of connection to military production got nuked. That starts to move into the territory of Mutually Assured Destruction and takes the game World in a different direction.

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That's v2.2 "canon", correct? You mentioned that earlier, I believe. I'm looking at alternatives for v1.
I agree that in V1 the Suez Canal would be a tempting target for the Soviets. Nukes would likely be the easiest way to do it but if you wanted to look at alternatives maybe Spetznaz boarded ships in transit and planted conventional explosives that scuttled multiple vessels in the Canal, thus blocking it? I don’t really know how feasible that would be - I mean, I presume scuttling a number of vessels in transit is feasible but that supposes that the Spetznaz team(s) manage to get in country with all of their kit and then successfully get aboard multiple vessels (I’m presuming there would be some sort of shoreside security…). I mean, I work in marine logistics but this isn’t really the sort of thing that we talk about…

Slightly more low tech option…GRU recruit Islamic groups (probably using some sort of false flag approach) to fire RPG’s at vessels in transit from shore.

I don’t think either of those are particularly good alternatives though. A nuke seems a lot simpler and more likely to achieve success though. I just wonder if scuttling vessels in transit might be an option if the Soviets didn’t want to do permanent / long term damage for whatever reason, ‘only’ close it for six months.

And yeah, the fact that the Panama Canal is still functional seems like an oversight on the part of the author of that module. Of course that also sets a precedent for another option for Suez in V1, namely that it is also still open and navigable.
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Old 05-05-2021, 06:25 PM
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Maybe Spetznaz boarded ships in transit and planted conventional explosives that scuttled multiple vessels in the Canal, thus blocking it? I don’t really know how feasible that would be - I mean, I presume scuttling a number of vessels in transit is feasible but that supposes that the Spetznaz team(s) manage to get in country with all of their kit and then successfully get aboard multiple vessels (I’m presuming there would be some sort of shoreside security…). I mean, I work in marine logistics but this isn’t really the sort of thing that we talk about…
The Sinai is big and barren, with plenty of places to hide. Neither the Egyptians nor the Israelis have never been able to completely eliminate terrorists and smugglers who use the Sinai as a base of operations or transit area. I'm only guessing, but I doubt that security is tight along the entire length of the canal (Britannica states that the canal is 193km/120 miles long).

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Slightly more low tech option…GRU recruit Islamic groups (probably using some sort of false flag approach) to fire RPG’s at vessels in transit from shore.
+1 That's probably the way to start- using proxies. It's simple, low cost/low risk, and deniable. Combine said proxies with a couple of covert Spetnaz teams providing direction and support, and a couple of Soviet diesel subs or SSNs prowling choke points, and one could bottle up the canal for quite some time, without having to completely destroy it.

@Spartan: Cold Water sounds interesting. I'll have to check it out. I remember playing an old DOS version of Silent Service on a friends IBM in high school. Good times.

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I don’t think either of those are particularly good alternatives though. A nuke seems a lot simpler and more likely to achieve success though. I just wonder if scuttling vessels in transit might be an option if the Soviets didn’t want to do permanent / long term damage for whatever reason, ‘only’ close it for six months.
Agreed. I don't think the Soviets nuke it until it becomes clear to them that they won't be able to seize it, or keep it closed through conventional means. When they realize that they won't be able to control the canal any longer, then it would become a strategic imperative to deny it to their enemies (or potential future rivals like France).

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And yeah, the fact that the Panama Canal is still functional seems like an oversight on the part of the author of that module. Of course that also sets a precedent for another option for Suez in V1, namely that it is also still open and navigable.
I wonder if the designers had an adventure module focusing on the Panama Canal in the early planning stages and that's why they didn't nuke it. Obviously, if they did have a Panama Canal project in the offing, it never materialized.

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  #27  
Old 08-09-2021, 06:33 AM
Pop Alexandra Pop Alexandra is offline
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Huh. Seems like a major strategic oversight to me.
Indeed it is/was. Hopefully they learnt their lesson.
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  #28  
Old 08-09-2021, 08:38 AM
lordroel lordroel is offline
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The French cleared the wrecks by the late summer of 2000 as part of their effort to get oil from the Middle East - but yes it was blocked for all of 1998 and 1999 and a good part of 2000
So would the Suez Canal then become now a neutral zone under the protection of the French like what the British did in the past.
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  #29  
Old 08-09-2021, 09:41 AM
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pmulcahy11b pmulcahy11b is offline
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You think the Soviets launched a Spetsnaz raid ore nuked it.
I seem to recall from that module someone did on the internet about Central America (Damn, I thought I downloaded that one -- if anyone has it, let me know), that the Panama Canal is non functional in the T2K2/2.2 timeline due to extensive sabotage and ships stuck in the locks after the sabotage.
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Old 08-09-2021, 08:07 PM
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With respect to the French clearing the blockage of the canal by 2000, because it doesn't have locks or anything the French could have just used a nuclear demolition charge and literally cleared the southern blockage. Such a thing doesn't need to be perfect to work well enough to let tankers transit the canal. Transiting ships just get a NAVTEX warning to button up in the area and some basic decontamination procedures.
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