Wednesday, August 9, 2017

COMMAND: Northern Inferno Scenario 12: Hunter or Hunted

With the continuing war heading towards a stalemate, peace talks are now underway in Geneva.

Meanwhile the Red Banner Fleet has deployed its flagship, the STOVL carrier Kiev, with heavy escort into the Norwegian Sea.

Soviet forces have now fallen back to within 40nm of the border in Norway, after suffering continuous strikes by NATO carrier battle groups.

The NATO carriers themselves have also pulled back to Jan Mayen island, to lick their wounds after murderous strikes by Soviet bombers using nuclear-tipped AS-4 missiles. With the Kiev on the prowl, the only units available to tackle her are a small force of UK and US nuclear submarines which now stand in their path.

The Silent Service is now tasked to silence the pride of the Northern Fleet.

Orders for Cmdr NATO Forces
Remaining NATO surface forces have withdrawn to the safety of Jan Mayen Island after continuous strikes against them by SNA Badger and Backfire bombers.

With the Kiev group's position only 12 hours old in the vicinity of southern Spitsbergen, the only units in her path, HMS Courageous, USS Narwhal and USS Tinosa have been ordered to intercept and sink the Kiev battle group.

Enemy Forces
Surface : Kiev CVHG, Kynda CG, Kresta II CG, Kanin DDG, Krivak I FFG, Poti Mod FFL, Petya II FFL.

Air : Ka-25 Hormone,Yak-38 Forger.
Subsurface : Possible SSN escorts with Kiev group.

Friendly Forces
HMS Courageous SSN
USS Narwhal SSN
USS Tinosa SSN
Sondrestrom Air Base : 343rd Recon Sqn (RC-135W Rivet Joint)

1. Proceed to the last known reported position of the Kiev group; locate, classify and sink the Kiev and her escorts. The Kiev is the primary target.

2. Use of Nuclear ASW/ASuW weapons is authorised.

1. All SSNs are to close to the last known position of the Kiev group and form a trip-wire line, then locate and engage.
2. Kiev group last known course 235; speed 15 knots.
3. Use RC-135W Rivet Joint to locate and classify Soviet units.

Command and EMCON
EMCON: Alpha-limited emissions.

October 8, 1975 0500Z 
Compared to the last scenario, this one is relatively straightforward. All I have to do is find the Kiev Battle group and sink the Kiev. Straightforward does not mean easy, however.
Initial positions
From northwest to southeast my submarines are USS Narwhal, HMS Courageous, and USS Tinosa. Almost immediately Narwhal detects a contact to the north. I set all three subarmines to 5kts, creeping towards where I can hopefully detect the Kiev. I may end up needing to increase speed, but at least at the beginning, caution is warranted. My RC-135W Rivet Joint will be listening for any emissions from the Kiev group.
USS Narwhal
Narwhal's contact quickly resolves into Biologics, so at least I don't have to worry about engaging a Soviet SSN so quickly.

053229Z Far sooner than I anticipated, my Rivet Joint detects surface contacts south of Spitzbergen.
One of the contacts is quickly identified as a Krivak I frigate.  It's possible that these ships are just pickets, so the Kiev group could be much farther off.
Kiev-class Aircraft Carrier
053629Z The contacts are localized and two more are found. One of them is a MPK Poti Mod, a fast patrol-craft.
More contacts
Another contact is made, and another MPK Poti Mod is identified. Now I have three MPK Poti Mods and one Krivak I, and Narwhal is headed right in the middle of them.  I then detect a DDG.

//DFOR 003 UPDATE 001//
//DFOR 003/POSN/77 52N 030 24E/235T/15 KTS/080500Z//

I mark the updated position on my map. It looks like the Soviet Fleet is coming right for me.
Position updated
As my Rivet Joint gets closer, it picks up more contacts. Several are identified as SKR Petya II corvettes.

055149Z Contact! My Rivet Joint picks up two airborne bogeys--probably Yak-38 Forgers from the Kiev. Hopefully they haven't picked up my Rivet Joint.
Lots and lots of contacts
The airborne contacts are classified as Yak-38 Forger As, as I suspected. I adjust the course of my Rivet Joint to get a better bearing on them.
Yak-38 Forger
060000Z The Forgers are definitely coming after my Rivet Joint, so I start maneuvering away. I know the Forgers do not have long legs, but I should keep my distance. Once I get out of the radar range of the Soviet DDG, I lose contact with the Forgers, who I hope have decided to RTB.

As things stand, I have identified four groups of ships. To the north is BPK Kanin DDG and a SKR Krivak I.  Just south of them are three MPK Poti Mods. Southeast of them are another BPK Kanin and SKR Krivak I, and southeast of them are three SKR Petya IIs. I suspect that this is just a screening force.
Four surface groups, but no Kiev...yet.
For the next two hours, my Rivet Joint circles the surface groups, attempting to keep its distance, but there's no sign of the Kiev. I do detect more Yaks in the air. Again I keep my distance, and the Yaks, although they pursue me, eventually give up. An hour after that, more Yaks.  I am beginning to suspect that the Kiev is in fact here, but keeping emissions silent, hoping to slip by.
RC-135 Rivet Joint
100000Z I decide to send my submarines above the layer to see if they can detect anything.  They are all moving at 5kts, so hopefully they will be able to detect something.
The submarines go shallow and listen.
114200Z Narwhal hears explosions--its being depth charged! I immediately cut throttle to 5kts (I temporarily set it to ten), and go deep from where I was, which was just under the layer.  I head south to evade.  Several minutes later, two more depth charges are dropped.  In all the depth charges are close, missing only by hundreds of feet (239 and 332ft).  At -640ft, I go to 15kts, hoping to get out of the area.  And then I detect a bogey overhead, using its high frequency sonar.  I go to full speed and turn east to evade. More depth charges are dropped, and I turn southwest.
Narwhal is under attack
USS Narwhal is the most silent submarine in the US fleet, so I am confused as to how she was detected. But nevertheless, she has been, and so I have no choice but to run.

I don't run long.
USS Narwhal, pride of the US fleet, is sunk.
The third barrage of depth charges sinks the Narwhal, and 107 crewmen go down with her. From detection to her sinking took less than five minutes.

120809Z The next time I detect a Yak it is northwest of the rest of the Soviet ships, so I suspect that the Kiev is trying to slip by. I send Courageous and Tinosa headed in that direction, hoping that I'm not going on a wild goose chase. With Narwhal sunk there by a helo, it furthers my suspicion that there's something important over there.
Another Yak-38 Forger is detected
My Rivet Joint has to run for its life, all the way north of Spitzbergen, but eventually outdistances the Forgers.

132149Z My second Rivet Joint arrives on station, and I detect two more Yaks. I'm hoping that with two Rivet joints in the area, I can pinpoint their origin better, and lock down where the Kiev is.
Come on, Rivet Joints, triangulate it...
The location of the Yaks is narrowed down, and I place a reference point and send my two subs right for it. Narwhal would have been in great position to attack...provided that is in fact where the Kiev is. I worry that the Courageous and the Tinosa won't be able to catch up.
HMS Courageous
I search for hours, and every so often I lure Yaks to take off  and go after my Rivet Joints, which then evade, but it gives me updates on the position of the Kiev. Finally, it appears that the Kiev is so far ahead, I am forced to send the Courageous deep and to flank speed (thankfully deep enough so it doesn't cavitate) in an attempt to catch up. Tinosa is caught in shallower water so I can't risk it going fast, and thus lags far behind.

031941Z Courageous must be getting close...and it could be the end. It detects a high frequency sonar. I immediately slow down and change course, hoping to lose the contact. I suspect, however, that since I have been detected, Courageous is probably doomed.
Courageous is detected.
I lose contact with the helo, and I hope I have evaded it.  I ascend to just above the layer to listen. I decide to risk going up to periscope depth. I scan the horizon...and nothing.

After a long time of detecting absolutely nothing on sonar, I decide to stir the pot and have my Rivet Joint light off its radar. It's only useful for ground mapping, but maybe it's enough to lure more Yaks into the air.
It works, and soon I detect Yaks in the air to the southeast. The Kiev group must have changed course to the south somewhat. My Rivet Joint goes to full military power to evade, while Courageous and Tinosa alter course.

051026Z Torpedo in the water! Courageous detects a torpedo, and initiates a radical turn and change of depth to evade. I do not have high hopes about this...
Torpedo in the water!
Amazingly, the torpedo misses. I immediately cut speed and change course again, hoping to disappear in the water.

It doesn't work. A depth charge explodes nearby, and then another torpedo is detected.  I go to flank speed and dive.
Courageous sinks
That doesn't work either. The depth charge sinks Courageous. And with her went my best hopes of even finding the Kiev.

This was a frustrating scenario. Clearly what happened was that the Kiev group steamed right towards the Narwhal, detected her, sank her, and kept right on going. As soon as Narwhal was sunk, so were my chances of winning the scenario. The flash message sent early in the scenario gave me a warning that the Kiev was heading my way (you could draw a straight line through the initial position, to the updated position, and it would lead you directly on top of Narwhal.  But with the loads of contacts I had made further south, I assumed that all those Soviet vessels were a screen to Kiev, when in truth they were nothing but a distraction. While I was focused on identifying those ships, the Kiev slipped by to the north, very close to Spitzbergen. In the end, my best method of detecting Kiev turned out to be the fire control radars of Kiev's Yak-38 Forgers.  I would send in my Rivet Joint as a lure, the Soviets would take the bait and launch Forgers to intercept it, and that would update me on Kiev's position. My Rivet Joint would flee, and when the Forgers broke off pursuit, I'd send the Rivet Joint back in.

I was hoping to have a miraculous comeback and have Courageous sink the Kiev, but it was not to be. Like the Narwhal, it was sunk far from Kiev, not getting the slightest indication that the Kiev group was anywhere nearby, and was destroyed quickly. So much for NATO submarines being "quiet."

I replayed the scenario five times with the foreknowledge of what was going to happen. Each time I rigged Narwhal for ultraquiet and just sat in ambush, waiting and listening (sometimes above the layer, sometimes below). Four times in a row Narwhal, despite being moving at 5 kts or less, was sunk without detecting anything at all. Itjust sat there, the most silent submarine in the US inventory...and then "Torpedo in the water!" and within seconds she was dead.

On my fifth attempt at the scenario, incredibly I actually detected some Soviet ships. I stayed quiet as the Soviets were at the edge of range of Narwhal's torpedoes. I knew that if I fired a torpedo too early the Soviet ships would flee and the torpedo would run out of fuel.  So I waited for them to get a ilttle closer.  And then...torpedo in the water! Narwhal was being attacked again.  I snapshotted a torpedo at the largest Soviet contact and then went full evasion. The evasion didn't help, and Narwhal was hit and sunk...again. But my torpedo ran on...and at the extreme end of its range, hit its target, which by pure luck was the Kiev. The hit caused flooding, and eventually Kiev sank...and I won the scenario.

Obviously driving a real nuclear submarine takes skill, but in this scenario it sure didn't feel like it. I had looked forward to the scenario playing out somewhat differently:  My submarines would creep along until I detected the Kiev group (with some help from the Rivet Joint), skillfully maneuver to lie in wait, approach in stealth, the tension building, positively identify the Kiev, and then execute a torpedo attack and run in the hopes of evading their retaliation. Instead I really felt like I was just playing it over and over again, sitting at the keyboard doing nothing but waiting around, hoping that this time I would get lucky.

SIDE: Soviet Union

8x Ka-25BSh Hormone A

555x RGB-1 [NATO BM-1, Search, Passive Omni]
12x PLAB-250 Depth Charge
2x AT-1M [NATO E45-75A]
1x Depth Charge [Aerial, 80kT Nuclear]


1x SSN 671 Narwhal
1x HMS Courageous


SIDE: Biological



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