“It’s those damned xeno torpedoes. They’re giving the Tau an edge over our ships. We’ve got to find a countermeasure that will allow us to close with the xenos before they cripple our forces.”—Captain Marcus Speakeman, senior intelligence officer, Fleet Corvus
+ + Tactical Briefing M-13-Beta-281-SGU + +
+ Entry 694 – Text Continues +
+Recording / / Metascrivener 2nd Class Sy Rhe Aurilius +
+ Fleet Corvus, Gadea Hennard commanding +
+ Security Level Ceti-2 +
++ Report Begins ++
On 3 901 740.M41, Patrol 05-A, consisting of two cruisers, a frigate, and three destroyers, was attacked by a slightly larger Tau force approximately 30 million kilometers from the agri-world of Dar Sai.
This has been the first hostile exchange with the xenos in more than eight months, since Tau forces broke the Imperial naval blockade over Dar Sai earlier in the year. There has been an unspoken agreement that both opponents would assume a defensive posture as they rebuilt and repaired their forces.
It appears that this tacit armistice is over.
At 11:03, two xeno cruisers (Protector-class and Hero-class), accompanied by five frigate- and destroyer-sized escorts, appeared from behind a stellar gas cloud and approached the port flank of Patrol 05-A. The enemy appeared to focus their trajectory at the cruiser and frigate bringing up the rear of the patrol.
Although emergency orders were given promptly by the patrol’s commanding officer, communications were disrupted by electromagnetic discharges emanating from the gas cloud. Each ship was forced to respond to the Tau attack with no clear indication of what the commanding officer intended.
The smaller ships turned to starboard and moved away from the Tau; the two cruisers, closer to the gas cloud, maintained their course with the intent of using the cloud to obscure enemy targeting arrays.
These maneuvers appear to have been successful, as the Tau fire was scattered and ineffective.
[If the Tau had launched torpedoes, they certainly would have destroyed the isolated frigate, Lord Dominus, in the rear of the column. But analysts suggest the Tau commander did not want to empty his torpedo tubes until the Imperial response was clearer. It was safer to simply chase down and destroy the frigate as it had no support.—Speakeman]
Rather than follow the cruisers, the Tau force chose to hunt down the frigate, Lord Dominus, whose emergency maneuvers had isolated it from the rest of the patrol.
Knowing it was unable to outrun the Tau’s high-velocity torpedoes, the frigate chose a desperate tactic. Conducting a tight turn, the Firestorm-class vessel turned at the enemy and attempted to race past the xeno ships before they could get an accurate target solution.
Alas, although the most likely maneuver to meet with success, it failed in this instance. The Tau managed to decelerate sufficiently to bring some weapons batteries to bear, and Lord Dominus was destroyed at 12:38.
Over the next two hours, both naval forces maneuvered for advantage. The Imperial patrol’s three Cobra-class destroyers managed to rejoin the two cruisers as they moved behind the stellar gas cloud and then swung around to reengage the xenos.
The Tau also conducted a wide turn from a safe distance and began to accelerate toward the Imperial ships.
The patrol commander, Senior Captain Idylss Argon, aboard the Tyrant-class cruiser,Indomitable, is to be commended for his maneuvering. As the Tau were completing their turn toward his command, Argon gave the order All Ahead Full! and caught the Tau escort ships before they had completely redeployed in support of the enemy cruisers.
This vulnerability was exploited when Argon ordered all ships to fire upon the enemy escorts. Imperial fire was less than stellar, however, as targeting arrays also were effected by the electromagnetic discharges of the nearby gas cloud.
Still, Imperial fire had some impact. By 15:33, two xeno escorts [Classification: Orca-class gunships] were destroyed. The Tau returned fire with surprising accuracy, destroying two Cobra-class destroyers.
At 15:37, calamity struck . The two Tau cruisers targeted the Fortitude with a volley of torpedoes. One of these torpedoes penetrated the hull near the primary plasma generator, causing a series of explosions that crippled the ship.
Shutting down all systems, the Fortitude attempted to “go dark” and disappear off Tau sensors and break off from the battle. Meanwhile, the Indomitable, sought to distract the Tau by turning in front of the xenos and covering its sister ship’s escape.
Alas, both efforts failed. Still-burning plasma illuminated the Fortitude, and the Indomitable was unable to maneuver quickly enough to protect the crippled cruiser. Captain Argon could do little but watch with anguish as the Tau moved on the Fortitude for the kill.
The Tau attack was more successful than they perhaps wanted. Xeno weapons fire tore down the Imperial ship’s shields, and a volley of torpedoes did the rest. A massive explosion of plasma erupted, lighting up the surrounding space like a sun.
Several Tau ships had moved too close to their pray. One Tau escort was consumed by the expanding ball of plasma, and a Tau cruiser suffered significant damage.
At this point, only the Indomitable and an Imperial destroyer remain in the fight, and the two Tau cruisers are undamaged. Reluctantly, the surviving Imperial ships break away to report the xeno victory.
The Tau do not pursue.
+ Post-Battle Analysis +
+ Captain Marcus Speakeman +
This defeat identities several deficiencies in Imperial naval operations that must be addressed before Fleet Corvus again engages the Tau in a battle with significant strategic consequences:
• Despite the protests of Mechanicus personnel, it cannot be denied that Tau torpedo technology is superior to that of the Imperium. The Tau can launch more torpedoes that many of our ships, and these heretical AI-operated drones can adjust their trajectory during flight.
I recommend that ship commanders consider sending mass waves of torpedoes and bombers to intercept Tau torpedo fire. Commanders also must be prepared to reload quickly and launch a second wave, preferably at close range to maximize their torpedoes’ effect.
• Although blamed on electromagnetic discharges from a gas cloud, the mediocre success of Imperial fire in this fight suggests that gunnery practice should be increased across the fleet. Additional expenditure of munitions should be authorized for this purpose.
• Although Captain Argon is responsible for this defeat, I do not recommend an official reprimand. The captain’s actions were reasonable, and bad luck may have played a role in the Tau victory.
Postcript, added by Commodore Henard:
All recommendations accepted. But tell Argon: Never again let the xenos kick your ass . . . or else.
The Corvus Cluster is a Warhammer 40K blog documenting our gaming adventures in the fantastical sci-fi universe of Games Workshop.
Categories: Naval Battles