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Old 09-24-2009, 09:09 AM
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Default Two fleets to be shattered

Here is why I have been compyling ships over the past weeks (a rather boring activity):

I needed them to write something on what could have happened in the North Atlantic during the first years of the Twilight War. Canon simply mention naval activities there very briefly and I wanted to come up with something that could work.

Therefore, here is the result of it. Some elements might not be perfect but it sounds good or so I think. Any way this little work is only indicative and will certainly not suit everyone.

So far, only one battle is covered and I might come up with the second battle any time soon. I have several ideas but everything is not yet in place.

Enjoy the reading.
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Old 09-24-2009, 09:13 AM
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Default Battle of the Norwegian and North Seas:

As the Twilight War builds up, NATO constantly monitors naval activities outside of Kronstadt, Murmansk and Polyarny. Everything remains quiet until November 4th of the year 2000 and the two nuclear submarines kept on patrol have not even been threatened.

However, on November 3rd, these two ships, the SSN-615 “Gato” and the SSN-700 “Dallas”, are reported missing. Two days later, a communication, reporting the loss of Gato and structural damages on the Dallas’ hull, is received from Dallas which barely escaped after playing a cat and mouse game with Soviet submarine chasers for more than 24 hours.

On November 4th, the satellites show the putting under steam of the Northern Fleet and on the next day, most of the fleet has left the harbor, sailing to the North Cape under bad weather conditions. On the same day, further analysis of the pictures taken reveals that most submarines stationed at Polyarny are also leaving their docking facilities. At this, time NATO naval command is already on full alert and several Task Forces are rushed to the Norwegian Sea. While the Soviet Northern Fleet is impressive, NATO forces sent in pursuit are even more so: three US Task Forces (2 aircraft-carriers each with accompanying ships), the NATO Response Force from the UK (an additional carrier), the French Atlantic Fleet (3 more carriers joined by the cruiser “Colbert”) and the Deutsche Marine Atlantic Fleet. In addition, five Norwegian frigates and a German Flotilla are sent as an advanced force with the mission to probe Soviets Forces. In the meantime, the Royal Netherlands Navy and the Canadian Maritime Force Atlantic are moved to the Thames river in order to provide escorts to the slower assault ships that are due to bring troop reinforcements in Norway.

As a result, NATO is sending more than 100 surface ships and about 50 attack and conventional submarines to the Northern Atlantic in order to meet the threat of about 50 Soviet surface ships and more than 100 submarines of all types. However, the entire fleet is not yet engaged and, as 50 more combat ships provide support for a large invasion force to be send to Norway with much needed reinforcements and supplies, work is pushed in every naval yards to get the remaining ships ready in the shortest time.

The first action takes place on November 7th, when the small scouting force led by the Norwegian engage a Russian flotilla composed of a cruiser and several destroyers. The engagement is short but brutal and the Norwegian loses a frigate while another one is so damaged that it is forced to withdraw to Bergen. That second frigate is so badly damaged that after entering the harbor it sinks and still lies there today. The Soviet cruiser has been lightly damaged while one of the destroyers leaves the area for Murmansk. This date is now considered to mark the true beginning of the battle and fighting will last until November 26th when the surviving Soviet vessels finally withdraw to their northern ports.

During the week following that first action, both fleets seem to be looking for each other and very little fighting takes place. No major vessels are sunk outside of a few submarines, some destroyers and a handful of frigates. As the week is marked by an awful weather, the few engagements taking place between the opposing forces are no more than limited skirmishes. However, favored by the bad weather on the North Atlantic, several submarines (SSBN, SSGN and SSN alike) as well as a few surface ships get through the NATO fleets and their escape will put a heavy weight on future war developments.

Toward the end of the first week, two major events take place, slightly accelerating and alterating the course of events. While the soviets are threatening Narvik on November 12th, landing forces as far down as Bodo, the first NATO reinforcements reach that famous port. As in 1940, the French Foreign Legion is leading the counter attack but, unlike the past, reinforcements keep coming and the balance is quickly tipped. In addition, on the following day, several NATO ships, originally dispatched as escorts to the troop carriers, intercept the Soviet invasion force as it is returning from its third landing. Again, the engagement is short but the result is one that needs no comments: A Dutch frigate is heavily damaged and withdraws to Portsmouth but Soviets losses are important: they have lost a frigate, 3 corvettes and two-third of their landing force, including one of the Ivan Rogov LPD. This action put an end to any further soviet landing in the region and, 2 month later, the last isolated troops surrender. A single attempt at some evacuation is attempted on December 17th but meets with only partial success and results in the loss of a dozen hovercrafts to air strikes.

On the very day that sees the neutralization of the Soviet North Atlantic invasion force, an attack is conducted on the German harbor of Rostock. This sudden and successful attack is conducted by the elite Spetnaz team: “Vympel Group”. The 280 men strong “Vympel Group”, specialized in base infiltration and sabotage, is brought on target by two Orlyonoks. As two other Ekranoplans of the “Lun-class”, launch a hit and fade missile attack on the harbor, the Spetnaz team slips trough the base defenses and set up numerous destruction charges. A brief fighting occurs, nevertheless, as they retreat to the Orlyonoks but it’s already too late and the demolition charges start to explode. When everything is over ”Vympel Group” has lost only 11 men while the Deutsche Marine counts more than 500 casualties, 22 surface ships and 8 submarines destroyed (with several more damaged) as well as valuable harbor installations.

On November 13th, as NATO high command is focusing on the situation in the Norwegian Sea and on what has happened at Rostock, the Soviet Baltic Fleet shows up near Denmark. NATO high command should have noticed this earlier but something went wrong in the chain of command and this move has gone unnoticed. Nevertheless, the Deutsche Marine is ready and four Hamburg-class destroyers, supported by a flotilla of small missile boats leave Kiel to meat the Soviets. Quickly, it becomes obvious, that Kiel is not on the Soviet plan. Most of the Baltic Fleet steam up toward Norway and the North Sea as accompanying corvettes and missile boats change course to meet the German vessels. The German destroyers can only draw on their guns and, despite fighting bravely they are all destroyed: two are sunk, another one is left burning and the last one is so damaged that it runs aground. The small boats, however, are doing much better and losses among Warsaw Pact ships are important. Whatever, the main formation of the Baltic Fleet escapes unchallenged until it hits the Skagerrak.

Upon leaving the Jutland, the Warsaw Pact Fleet is met by a flotilla of fast attack boats from Germany and Norway. The ensuing fight seems unequal as NATO is outnumbered and outmatched but, this time, the Baltic Fleet doesn’t escape intact. The German attack boats score a number of hit while the Norwegian Sjkold-class corvettes* perform very well. At last, surviving NATO ships have to fall back and the Baltic Fleet pursues to the North Sea but it has suffered some significant losses. A Soviet destroyer and a Polish frigate are sunk, a Krivak-class frigate is damaged and sent back toward her homeport, the venerable destroyer “Zorkiy”, suffering from engine fatigue, is sent back as well but the most important loss is that of the cruiser “Admiral Zoluya”. The ship has suffered severe damages and she is again harassed on her way back to St. Petersburg. Damages are so important that she will never be repaired, being instead sunk in Kronshtadt and serving as an anti-air battery to the military port. Its torpedo launching tubes and its missiles are taken out and integrated in the expending St. Petersburg coastal defense network while an additional anti-air missile system and several anti-air guns are added to the hull. Nowadays, the ship is still there.
As the Baltic Fleet joins the battle, the weather gets better and both fleets engage in several major exchanges. On November 17th two major battle groups start to hammer each other in a fight that will last until November 20th. The Soviet aircraft carriers “Kiev”, “Tblisi”, “Ulyanovsk” and about 25 accompanying ships are spotted East of Iceland. They are met by two US Task Forces including the aircraft carriers “America”, “Dwight D. Eisenhower”, “George Washington” and “Harry S. Truman”. The Soviets fight bravely, damaging and sinking many US ships, but the US crews are better trained to this kind of engagements and the US Navy, receiving support from several German and British vessels, finally comes up on top. The “Tblisi” is sunk on the first day, swarmed by the Ike’s naval group and hit by missiles from at least two approaching destroyers. The Soviet aircraft carrier goes down in less than five hours but most of the crew is saved and shipped back to Murmansk.

The biggest surprise to the US Navy comes as the sun rises on the horizon on the second day. Several soviet subs (including a Yankee and three Deltas) hunting in packs quickly approaches the Harry Truman fighting group. As aircrafts and helicopters are sent to deal with the approaching subs, the radar officer on the bridge signals that several Soviet squadrons are also approaching on two new vectors with more aircrafts flying at a higher altitude. As the escort fighters are sent to meet the incoming squadrons the anti-sub force is attacked by a number of Yak-141 “Freestyle” that have escaped detection and most US birds are destroyed. Several submarines have been destroyed as well but many are still approaching; a few minutes later they fire dozens of torpedoes and missiles in hanger at the US battle group. Three of the accompanying ships are sunk as a result of the initial attack and, in the following confusion, the incoming squadrons fire many more missiles. These aircrafts had been intercepted of course but the covering force, composed of Flankers sent by the Ulyanovsk, does a real good job in taking the US fighter at bay. As a result, most Soviet aircrafts get through while these few that are shot down fell victim to the Tomcats as the Hornets proved somewhat outmatched by the Flankers.

At last, the “Harry S. Truman” has been hit badly by no less than 7 torpedoes and at least 16 missiles resulting in numerous casualties. Two of these missiles penetrated in the under deck and fire is everywhere on the giant carrier. Plague with bad luck the “Harry Truman” experiences several security systems malfunction that allow the fires to spread faster. Fourteen hours later, the ship is burning from stern to bow but the crew is still fighting as the captain orders her out of the area to Reykjavik. On November 21st at 2:12 all fires seem under control but one has not been located, is still running and, due to more security malfunctions, finally reaches the aircraft fuel tanks. The ship is shaken by a massive explosion and as the exhausted crew tries to fight that new fire, the captain orders to abandon ship: the Harry S. Truman goes down at about 6:00 that day. When, the first survivors reach Reykjavik, three hours later, they learn that the Ulyanovsk and the Kiev have been destroyed a couple hours earlier.

On November 22nd, off the Norwegian island of Smola, another major engagement involves the surviving Soviet carriers, the last US Task Force and the French Atlantic Fleet. Relying on a similar strategy, the Soviets use a combination of surface ships, submarines and aircrafts to swarm the NATO fleet. However, in the light of what happens off Iceland, NATO has already been able to design better tactics and the initial attack is not that successful. Losses are somewhat more severe for the Soviets, at least among their submarines and aircrafts, but they meet with success on several occasions. The most impressive of these successes is the sudden apparition of brand new Lada-class conventional submarines in the middle of the NATO fleets. All these ships are destroyed but they score a fair number of hits before it is done, damaging part of the J.F.K’s propelling system. As a result, the J.F.K leaves the line for Trondheim but as she is about to enter the Fjord, the J.F.K. is again hit by several missiles shot by three Bears naval bombers. Unable to maneuver properly, the big ship is put ahsore to the South of Afjord and she has been rusting there ever since. For their parts, the Soviets lose the “Admiral Gorshkov” and the “Admiral Nakhimov” but the aircraft carrier “Kuznetsov” and the battle cruiser “Pyotr Velikiy” escape to the North with what appear to be extensive damages. As these two ships withdraw, aircrafts from the Kuznetsov spot the French aircraft carrier “Clemenceau” and attack her. Hit several time on this occasion and two hours later by five torpedoes from a wandering submarine, the aging carrier brakes in two before sinking to the bottom of the Norwegian Sea.

The last three days of the battle will see mostly skirmishes and petty engagements as the weather gets worse again and as most Soviet surviving ships stream north to Murmansk. Nevertheless, it is during this time that the last NATO aircraft carrier is lost on November 25th toward noon. As the HMS Illustrious and his group are conducting a routine patrol they are caught by the battle cruiser “Admiral Ushakov” leading a small group of destroyers covering the retreat of the Soviet Northern Fleet. The Ushakov is spotted as she is getting in range and the accompanying British destroyers immediately face her while the HMS Illustrious tries to escape to the south. However, within a matter of minutes, the Ushakov fires several missiles at long range, damaging the Illustrious’ bow and destroying her ramp, forcing her to reduce speed and seriously limiting her launching capability. A few more minutes later the Ushakov launches more missiles to the Illustrious while the destroyers take care of the approaching ships. The Illustrious is hit again and a breach is open on her side. Water quickly gets in and she sinks 45 minutes later. From her combat group, only two ships survive while the Soviets escape with only minor damages. However, before nightfall, the Ushakov comes under air attack from the Ike’s flying group and sinks as she closes on the North Cape.

When the Battle finally heat down on November 26th, there is no doubt that NATO is victorious as the Russians have lost 70% of the surface vessels engaged (sunk or damaged). In addition, Moscow has lost almost 50% of the submarines normally based at Polyarny but, despite these impressive figures, this is in no way a decisive victory and NATO is left with many subject to be concerned about. First of all, it is reported that at least 15 Soviet surface ships (including a cruiser and two destroyers) have gone through to the high seas and they will soon prove to be a serious threat to NATO shipping in the Atlantic, a threat that will mobilize valuable naval forces for several months. Second, many submarines remain unaccounted for (anywhere between 25 and 40), including 7 of the 8 Typhoons and all the brand new Boreys. At last, NATO has lost four aircraft carriers (John F. Kennedy, Harry S. Truman, HMS Illustrious and Clemenceau), about fifty of her surface ships are put out of commission (sunk or damaged), and a dozen of its attack submarines have been lost. There is nothing to be happy about these losses and the remaining Soviet ships at Murmansk and Polyarny remain a threat not to be neglected.


* Skjold-class corvettes are commissioned only in the second half of the 1990’s but a few Royal Navy units dispatched from these attached to “Fleet Flagship” (Home Fleet in my OOB) should do the trick.
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Old 09-24-2009, 10:34 AM
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By this November the Germans should be in full swing for the war with Pact forces (I'm guessing in Poland since you mentioned Rostok so it must be after unification). Anyways, I'm not too sure its probable that they'd have over "22 surface ships and 8 submarines" sitting in the port. Just a thought.

Its interesting to see you have France as participating too.
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Old 09-24-2009, 01:01 PM
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By this November the Germans should be in full swing for the war with Pact forces (I'm guessing in Poland since you mentioned Rostok so it must be after unification). Anyways, I'm not too sure its probable that they'd have over "22 surface ships and 8 submarines" sitting in the port. Just a thought.

Its interesting to see you have France as participating too.
Actually that's what they had until about 2005, at least for the ships with exception of the Hiddensee which was delivered to the US, being the only ship of this class on museum display.

At rostock were stationned the 2 and 7. Schnellbootgeschwader (10 Type 143 and 10 type 143A). An other units is also currently stationed at this base. As many ship that were still around in 1995 have since been taken out of commission I could take some initiative. Actually, the subs are at Kiel as they always were. but with the war coming it is plausible that the Deutsche Marine dispatches Minesweepers and submarines to other bases. They currently have 10 submarines left (1 unit) but if the sub were not put out of commission they would have at least 30: 6 Type 205, 18 type 206A and 6 Type 212 (at least). That counts for 3 units. Actually, I still consider that they have built only 6 Type 212 but, in fact, they could have built much more of them. You can also add about 16 Type 148 schnellboot that were put out of commission between 1995 and 2002.

A a result, I consider that a full unit of sub is stationed there and they are a primary target. The same apply to Minesweeper except that they are no primery target.

Take a look at the naval OOB I put under Navies in T2K, it is pretty accurate in term of ships available (multiple sources with changes in policies taken into account). Of course, ship locations serve my purpose and it is less accurate but it is still based on real facts. One can even argue that the Deutsche Marine would have kept all the east german ships.

For France, I have several reasons to have it party to the war (for a time only). First France, despite leaving the integrated command of NATO always complied to its obligations to the treaty (we refused to follow on Iraq as that was a war of aggression and no NATO members was obligated to answer Bush's call. However, we are in Afghanistan as every other NATO members as US was effectively attacked by Afghanistan through al quayda). France could, of course have refused the call for help issued by Germany on the same base but the closest ally to France for at least 40 years is Germany. We would not let them be crushed. No way! I disagreed with the author's view on France since I bought the game for the first time in 1991. That should also explain why it didn't sell in France at the time.

By the way what I say on Iraq is not a matter of opinion but only a fact recognized by every official authorities today (including US administration, Bush and Obama alike). Therefore refrain from any political argumentation, it's irrelevant here.
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Old 09-24-2009, 07:53 PM
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I meant - why would they have their ships sitting as targets in port? Germany would more than likely sortied there fleet months before and kept them in more secure ports I would think. So many ships sitting in port like that would have been under constant air attack for weeks otherwise.

Another way to look at France is that they did not want German unification. So they the book might not be so far fetched. Some in France (Mitterrand especially) strongly opposed unification... mostly fearing it would hasten the USSR's downfall and instability. He backed down mostly because he didn't feel Gorbachev was reliable to hold the coarse. Kremlin minutes also show that he even considered a military alliance of sorts with the Soviets as a result. Even if the likelihood of that happening is not probable, it does lean in favor of the game's timeline events of France not supporting the Germans. But I guess this is a different topic and not related to navies.
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Old 09-24-2009, 08:01 PM
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I've long been fascinated with the idea of a couple of major fleet actions in the North and Norwegian Seas, as hinted at in v1.0 canon. So, I thank you for the narrative and laud you for your efforts.

A couple of bits of constructive (I hope) criticism, though. You've got Soviet SSBNs attacking a U.S. carrier group. This is doctrinally, tactically, and strategically unfeasible. I highly doubt the Soviets would risk such strategic nuclear assets in an attack for which they are ill suited. They would probably be hiding out close to their pens, surrounded by SSN pickets or creeping around beneath the polar ice cap. Much better an Oscar and/or Charlie class SSGN and maybe a couple of Alphas or Akulas instead.

Any battles in the Baltic, and a major breakout attempt even moreso, would involve a lot of ground-based anti-ship airstrikes. IIRC, the Germans have a group of Tornado IDSs dedicated to maritime strike missions and the Soviets would probably be sending out SU-34, SU-24, and/or MiG-27s to do the same as well. Then there would be the dogfights between covering groups. The Baltic would soon resemble a lake of fire.

I do like your idea of a badly damaged AA cruiser being intentionally grounded and incorporated into a shore defense network. Cool idea, IMHO.

Have you thought about getting a naval warfare sim like Harpoon, creating a scenario involving the ships and settings you've described, and playing it out? That would be awesome (but a lot of work).
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Old 09-24-2009, 10:40 PM
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I meant - why would they have their ships sitting as targets in port? Germany would more than likely sortied there fleet months before and kept them in more secure ports I would think. So many ships sitting in port like that would have been under constant air attack for weeks otherwise.
That's a good point I overlooked. However, they have a good reason to keep ships there as they represent a more direct threat to Warsaw Pact shipping. However, you are right that the number of destroyed ships should be cut at least in half. The other being in patrol and probably destroyed at another time.

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Another way to look at France is that they did not want German unification. So they the book might not be so far fetched. Some in France (Mitterrand especially) strongly opposed unification... mostly fearing it would hasten the USSR's downfall and instability. He backed down mostly because he didn't feel Gorbachev was reliable to hold the coarse. Kremlin minutes also show that he even considered a military alliance of sorts with the Soviets as a result. Even if the likelihood of that happening is not probable, it does lean in favor of the game's timeline events of France not supporting the Germans. But I guess this is a different topic and not related to navies.
Still disagree with you. First because France, or at least the French, didn't fear the unification process and were truly happy about the fall of the wall. And public opinion is something you have to take into account in this country. Second, whatever the timeline, Mitterrand is dead meat and burried. Anyway, by 1995, he is not our president anymore and he is replaced by Chirac who put Franco-German collaboration above all else. Last and most important if I don't get France involved, I would simply have to take that game away and throw it to the trash. Sorry, but I never felt like playing a US soldier lost in Germany and I wouldn't have a chance to ge"t anyone around to play. Nothing against US soldiers but I simply wouldn't be realistic as I stand up for the Marseillaise (eventually the Brabançonne) not for the US anthem. As a result, my character while I was in US was a Belgian guy going by the name Joan van Horn speaking French, Flemmish and English. He was a former member of the red devils and a Belgian mercenary lost in the united states and looking for a way to get back to old Europe.
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Old 09-24-2009, 10:58 PM
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Although obviously written for your own background, it's a damn fine peice of writing with a lot of good hard thought gone into it.
In your timeline when were nukes first used? I imagine not for a while after this engagement...
Once nukes were an option, I can't see any reason why they wouldn't be used against enemy shipping, especially the larger capital ships such as carriers and cruisers (not sure if there are any battleships left). This gives SSBNs a much greater military importance than if they'd been left to attack land targets.
A nuke used at sea might be seen by the general population of the world as more acceptable than one attacking the land - I would think less fallout (perhaps just the perception of less), no immediate damage against cities, etc. Basically, although they're certain to screw up the ecosystem no end, politically they'd be more palatable.
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Old 09-24-2009, 11:23 PM
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Anyway, by 1995, he is not our president anymore and he is replaced by Chirac
Nevermind then. I thought he was still in at that time and didn't check.

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Sorry, but I never felt like playing a US soldier lost in Germany and I wouldn't have a chance to ge"t anyone around to play. Nothing against US soldiers but I simply wouldn't be realistic as I stand up for the Marseillaise (eventually the Brabançonne) not for the US anthem.
That's fair, but remember part of the magic of the game is not playing your own nationality or ahh... "culture".
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Old 09-24-2009, 11:55 PM
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Although obviously written for your own background, it's a damn fine peice of writing with a lot of good hard thought gone into it.
Of course as I stated already but thanks I appreciate. It might help in regular timelines, however, or so I hope as it's starting point remain the few statements found in Cannon (they hammer each other for three weeks, two fleets shattered, locations...). I always found a pity that the orginal team never bother writing a more detail account on the way to the war.

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In your timeline when were nukes first used? I imagine not for a while after this engagement...
The engagement takes place in 2000 with the second battle in 2001 and the nukes start to fall in 2003 with reaching full scale in early 2004. (good guess)

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Once nukes were an option, I can't see any reason why they wouldn't be used against enemy shipping, especially the larger capital ships such as carriers and cruisers (not sure if there are any battleships left). This gives SSBNs a much greater military importance than if they'd been left to attack land targets.
A nuke used at sea might be seen by the general population of the world as more acceptable than one attacking the land - I would think less fallout (perhaps just the perception of less), no immediate damage against cities, etc. Basically, although they're certain to screw up the ecosystem no end, politically they'd be more palatable.
Both good points and I hesitated fairly long to use nukes at sea earlier. I finally chose not to but that's only a matter of choice. That also explain why the Soviets use a fair part of their SSBN in an attack role (without missiles), something they are not well suited for. Actually, almost all SSBN used like this are destroyed but they do their part nevertheless, keeping the anti-sub forces of NATO over working and allowing for other SSBN to slip through (these onces fully loaded with missiles ). There is no solid ground for this but that's war and you never know what your ennemy will come up with.
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Old 09-25-2009, 12:00 AM
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That's fair, but remember part of the magic of the game is not playing your own nationality or ahh... "culture".
My character was a flemish belgian, definitely not my culture.
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Old 09-25-2009, 05:31 AM
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Default Battle of the Barents Sea:

On April 29th 2001, a report is issued to NATO high command by the CIA. It states that “if the major Soviet units that escaped in November 2000 remain unable to take any offensive action, that won’t last for very long. They are all actually undergoing repair at Murmansk and most ships should be available again by late fall. In addition, if Moscow didn’t lay down any more ships, work continues on the vessels that were already under construction. Most important a sister ship to the sunken Ulyanovsk is now nearing completion and the commission of such a ship could negate the previous victory. Therefore actions should be taken immediately against the Northern Fleet, its bases and the naval yard that was built there to replace the loss of Nikolayev yards to Ukraine.” At this time, NATO is already working on an offensive to take place in northern Norway but this report pushes them to accelerate things.

As a result, two weeks later, it has been decided two things. All available NATO naval forces to the Atlantic are to conduct an attack on Murmansk and Polyarny, taking advantage of the current weakness of the Soviet fleet there. Everyone agrees to this with the French Naval Attaché being the only one to express some doubts about the plan. The US and British officers reassure him that this is carefully studied and, moreover, it won’t come without a land action. This is the second part of the plan and the land action is to succeed to ensure ultimate victory. As the front there is too narrow to get through, forces are to be sent south to conduct a turning movement through Finnish territory. This time, it is the Belgian representative who objects pointing out Finnish neutrality. The answer comes from a German general who is positive that the Finns won’t react. His government has had continuous contacts with members of the parliament of Finland and they are all positive that their governments will not take any action against NATO.
On the base of the CIA report and reasserted by these late affirmations, NATO northern command decides that the offensive is to start on June 7th in order to take full advantage of the summer season. Land reinforcement are, then, rushed to the front in prevision for the turning movement that should conduct NATO forces through the hills and forest of Lapland into the Kola Peninsula, effectively isolating Soviet troops there. However, these troops’ deployments are carefully monitored by the Finnish military which takes several preventive measures: the air force is put on full alert as soon as June 1st, aircrafts being dispatched to several secondary airfields. The best trained reservists (about 50.000 men) are call back and sent to the north. More are called under arm to provide crews to the artillery units that are now carefully taking position in Lapland.

At sea, the NATO fleet is assembled on the Thames River and in Germany, centered on two US Task Forces (four aircraft carriers) and a small battle group organized around the Battleship Wisconsin. The French represent the second most important component of the fleet with two aircraft carriers and the cruiser “Colbert”. Then, the Deutsche Marine, the Koninklijke Marine and the Royal Navy are sending several ships but their involvement will be more limited than during the previous engagement. Sadly, these moves don’t go unnoticed and on June 2nd, a Soviet spy network gets word of what is going on. On the next day, they put their hand on a classified document confirming that an attack will take place soon but with no precise dates. On June 4th the report and the document are both transmitted to the Lubyanka at Moscow and the Kremlins take all necessary actions. The ground troops and the frontal aviation are both reinforced and they get additional supplies while all available ships are sailing out of Murmansk to join several remote locations where they are to wait for the attack. Finally, the Soviet ambassador at Helsinki is received by the government and transmits the new elements in its possession, also demanding if the Finns need any assistance. Helsinki declines the offer for assistance but asks for supplies and Moscow sends a large amount of ammunitions and spare parts. In the meantime, the Finns issue another call for reservists but, this time, they are kept away from the north in order not to alert NATO high command.

On June 7th, as planned, NATO troops cross into Finland while the fleet is closing on the North Cape. Quickly, it becomes obvious that the ground offensive will not cross easily into Finland. After 20 miles in Lapland they are facing an increasingly fierce resistance from Jääkärit (jaeger) and standard units supported by numerous artillery pieces and the NATO advance slows down. The US ambassador at Helsinki asks for an audience with the president. He is finally received on June 8th at about 10:00 only to be notified that he has to leave the country within the next 24 hours or be executed as spy. At 19:00, the US ambassador crosses the border into Sweden while several US citizens left behind are rounded up and thrown in jail (most will be freed after the signing of the armistice, a few days later). In the meantime, Finland addresses the still functioning but badly weakened international institutions, condemning the attack at a depleted UN in New York and accusing US and NATO of war crimes in front of the International Court at The Hague. This, of course, doesn’t change the course of actions. A week later, NATO troops in Lapland are facing a fully mobilized Finnish army and, increasingly outnumbered, they slowly retreat to Norway as the Soviets have launched a counter-attack of their own. On June 20th, an armistice is signed with Finland and fighting stops in Lapland.

As these events are taking place on land, the naval operation is pursued and on June 8th, in the evening, the NATO fleet leaves the North Cape behind and enters the Barents Sea. However, the French admiral refuses to follow on and, justifying his decision by the fact that France is not part of NATO integrated command, he orders his carriers to remain behind while he sends only the cruiser “Colbert” and a division of destroyers as a rear covering force. This decision on the part of the French admiral will be later widely criticized among NATO. Despite, this, the US admiral in charge continues as planned, confident in the report of the CIA and in the ability of NATO ground forces to cross through Finland (He has been informed in the morning that the Finns were resisting in Lapland but assumes that this is only the fact of isolated units and he remains confident that this will stop in no time).

Finally, the fleet engagement starts on June 9th, at 11:00, as the Wisconsin’s Combat Group closes on the Pescaton peninsula while the aircraft carrier are cruising further away from the coast and rear elements of the fleet patrols off the small Norwegian town of Vardo. The battle starts when the Soviet Naval aviation engages the Wisconsin Battle Group. The carriers immediately send their squadrons in support of the Wisconsin and despite some escorts provided by the frontal aviation, they wreak havoc among Soviet squadrons. On this occasion, the Soviets are losing aircrafts fast despite a small number of successful hits. Then, at 11:45, the NATO Carrier Task Forces come under the attack of several Soviet aircrafts flying out of an unexpected location. They are quickly identified as carriers’ aircrafts and the US admiral realizes that the CIA account has been wrong: the Soviets have managed to make enough repairs on their ships and their major units are no longer sitting in dry docks. They are at sea, coming up fast on the Carriers Task Forces. The carrier’s squadrons are immediately called back but they arrive too late and they are short in ammunition. At last, it will be the intervention of the Rafales and Super Etendards coming (with some delays) from the French carriers that sunk most remaining Soviet ships and allow for the escape of two of the four US aircraft carriers. In fact, as soon as the aircrafts show up, the battlecruiser “Pyotr Velikiy and the Slava-class cruiser “Rossiya” leading a fleet of smaller cruisers, destroyers and frigates engage the US Task Forces, ultimately sinking an aircraft carrier (The admiral in charge is killed on board), damaging a second one (That carrier is sunk by a SSN on her way back to US) and disabling a third one (That last carrier is scuttled by her own crew to prevent Soviet’s capture). Before this is over, surviving US naval pilots find the “Kuznetsov” and sink her. In the end, of the last three major Soviet units in the Atlantic, only the “Rossiya” survives but it is so badly damaged that it will never be repaired.

As this tragedy occurs in the middle of the Barents Sea, the Wisconsin Battle Group finds itself in an equally bad situation. As the naval squadrons withdraw a second wave of Soviet bombers shows up (Beriev Tchaïka and Bears) and starts to target the fleet. In the meantime almost a hundred small coastal missile and torpedo boats appear, sinking the NATO ships one after another. NATO officers are surprised that these small ships perform so well but it seems that the lesson given by the destruction of 12 Iraqi Osa-class patrol craft in 1991 has been learned. Flaws in the radar systems have been obviously corrected and this is another surprise (Since the execution of Adolf Tolkachev in 1986, the CIA flood of information on Soviet radar projects has dried up). At last, the Wisconsin Battle Group fall victim of another element which is more directly related to the failure of the ground offensive through Finland. As NATO ground forces are stuck in Lapland, SS-N-3 systems mounted on trucks and deployed along the coast are still in place firing hundreds of missiles at the fleet. Despite severe losses on the Soviet side, only very few NATO ships escape and the Wisconsin herself goes down but not before she fulfilled her main mission. The venerable battleship has been hit by no less than 34 torpedoes and more than 100 missiles but her crew fights up to the end, continuing toward Murmans while firing their guns for more than 30 hours at Soviet ground positions and, finally, at the dry dock housing the Ulyanovsk’s sister ship (only about 300 sailors will be saved by the Soviet navy). Then, this will result in one of the strangest event of the Twilight War when a truce is asked by the Soviet high command for Poland on January 14th 2002. This is accepted by NATO and 294 sailors from Wisconsin are delivered to NATO authorities.

The final act of the battle occurs when a small Soviet flotilla conducted by the Sverdlov-class cruiser “Murmansk” shows up behind the French rear guard, coming from the North Pole. The “Murmansk” is firing with her twelve guns while the accompanying frigates fire their missile. In a matter of minutes, the Colbert’s stern is destroyed and the cruiser, unable to maneuver, hits a wandering iceberg. With her hull wide open, she starts sinking. Most of her crew dies in the cold waters before the Soviet Icebreaker “Arktika” can get to them, saving no more than 43 sailors. In the meantime, the “Murmansk” keeps firing at the remaining three French vessels and they are all lost. One blows up, another one sinks after burning for several hours and the last one sees her entire superstructures being destroyed. An hour later, the “Murmansk” and her small flotilla reach the Wisconsin’s battle area, definitely tipping the balance in favor of the Soviet Navy.

At last, NATO naval forces for the Atlantic are dramatically reduced, left with only two US aircraft carriers (one in dry dock) and the two “Charles de Gaulle”. In addition, two-third of the fleets engaged has been lost and wouldn’t be replaced before long. However, the situation is even more dramatic for the Soviets which are left with a single vintage destroyer and a Krivak-class frigate in the Baltic Fleet while only eight surface combatants (several damaged) survive in the Northern Fleet. Of course, they still can count on several surviving small patrol craft but this is insufficient and conducting most long range operations in the Atlantic is not an option anymore. The only part of the fleet still able to conduct long range actions is the submarines at Polyarny and, indeed they will conduct as many missions as possible in the following years. If they inflict some damages to NATO surface shipping, they essentially conduct a cat and mouse game with NATO submarines.
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