Thursday 28 April 2011

Chinese Plans Go Awry in the Centre

An unfortunate and unforeseen set of circumstances involving the conscripted civilian ships delayed the Chinese central force of two rather elderly frigates deploying into an effective firing position which left them in the full ECW and sonar glare of the two (now alerted) patrolling Taiwanese centrally placed destroyers. Consequently the Chinese failed to get off any parting shots before seeing the incoming missiles bearing down on them. Taiwanese new technology blasted the these venerable Chinese ladies to pieces. Elsewhere missiles were inbound in great quantity.

The layered defence systems of the more Westernised ships performed admirably, but alas the Western Taiwanese destroyer force was simply overwhelmed by numbers and were lost with all hands. Their Chinese "immediate" opponents were left crippled though, one in a state of sinking the other in a very damaged state. As already mentioned the Taiwanese central patrol dispatched their Chinese opponents for no loss. At the Eastern end (see above) the US DDG reduced six vampires to four, close defence took another two, chaff another one but that still left one to get through meaning ... an anxious 'wargaming' dice roll for the American player (see below):

Don't roll a one (and he did), not good, a magazine explosion and the USS Long Island Tea was torn apart. The traumatised American player had to sit down and grope for his drink. Meanwhile those two parting Harpoons shots were causing the Chinese destroyers to very rattled, somehow they just kept coming closer and closer, sniffing them out. Their point defence weapons missed and a huge explosion sent one destroyer to the bottom, only the handy and voluminous use of chaff saved the other, just.

After all that what was left afloat? In a matter of real-time seconds two powerful fleets had just disappeared.

Monday 25 April 2011

Multiple threats face the American patrol too

In the command centre of the American DDG (USS Long Island Tea) threat assessment was calmly under way. All hell was breaking loose but nothing thankfully seemed to be coming directly their way. The Chinese air threat was directed as the Western Taiwanese destroyers and the ECM painted a disturbing background noise that stopped effective communications with the supporting carrier task force. They knew help would be on the way given the initiative of their air assets, nothing could take them out, at worst they would be only temporarily blinded. The task was to survive until it appeared. Suddenly a junior operator yelled: "It's the tanker, it's done it again, no wait they are Chinese warships. Vampire! Vampire! Six confirmed incoming."

The ambushers: relatively modern Chinese missile destroyers. 

Automatic systems detected and responded with anti-missile and anti-ship missiles, remarkable given the fantastically short response times. A fact not missed on the Chinese commander, despite conducting a brilliant ambush, the DDG had fired two Harpoons on what must be only partial locks at best, something way beyond his ships capabilities. The calmness of the US command centre however was broken when a second call of "Vampire, Vampire" confirmed an additional six ground to sea (old but improved Silkworms) launched from mainland China. The tale was next to be in the telling and the aerodynamics of flight between complex systems. Today was certainly business.

"Blackpool Illumunations" in the Taiwanese Straight

In the hiatus of the ECM jamming, the thunderous aftershock of a re-entrant space vehicle and a general air of disbelief at the start of sudden hostilities the electronic warfare consoles of the three Taiwanese (and allied) patrols lit up with all manner of "hostile" symbols (aka The "Blackpool Lights"). The extreme western force of two ageing Taiwanese destroyers suddenly picked up a fleet of high altitude Chinese "Bears" at long range.

From watching a possible threat to identifying a definite hostile was merely a matter of seconds as the call of "Vampire, Vampire" shook all within earshot. The Cat-and-Mouse game had become a shooting match. "Eighteen Vampires identified," confirmed a second operator. The Chinese Bears had opened fire at extreme range and turned for home quickly, hoping numbers would do the trick. Anti-missile defensive weapon systems automatically engaged the blips, just as a naval threat materialised from the shadows of a previously harmless looking merchant vessel. For the second time that day the shrill call of "Vampire, Vampire" echoed about the control room as closer, faster, more deadly missiles sped towards the Taiwanese destroyers, now fully illuminated in 'active' enemy sonar. Automatically the Taiwanese destroyers responded with their own anti-ship missiles, taking a parting shot at their aggressors, a tribute to the effective, though ageing technology they possessed.

Friday 15 April 2011

Red Dragon in Space

The Carrier Task Force commander was keeping one eye on the developing situation in the Taiwanese Strait the other on the main mission objective of providing telemetry information on the latest Chinese space launch. It was part of the low orbit satellite programme that was threatening to undercut the Western commercial monopoly of space. Washington was certainly peeved at missing the boat and thinking this was beyond the Chinese capability.

The vast array of spook ships looked ungainly to his military mind. "Looks like this one is in trouble" a civilian interjected into the running conversation, "Its telemetry is way off for a successful deployment, too vertical, the Chinese have really 'boobed' on this one." Chuckles broke out. "They'll have to abort it or risk it coming down on one of their major cities."

"How soon will you know?" asked the Commander. Nothing. "I said how soon will you know? Aren't you listening to me?" His voice had grown sterner. God how he hated civilians. The civilian started talking out loud, to no one in particular. "That telemetry is controlled, it's not bad or errant. You know I think it's being guided. But why? It's as if it's tactical, no that's impossible." Sirens wailed as a massive EM pulse and jamming attack had commenced. Bedlam abated within minutes as the sophisticated  ECW equipment automatically found known countermeasures to neutralise the attack.

"What was that tickle for they couldn't hurt us?" asked a bemused commander. "Time" replied the civilian, "We've stopped everything but a surface signal, probably from that Han that's been stalking us, it's not attacking us it's broadcasting our position." The commander was drawing his own conclusions, as the sky above the task force started glowing a fiery red, his last comment was "Oh my Hades!"

The defensive weapon systems did not even have time to engage.

Thursday 14 April 2011

Shady places to hide in the Sea

The USN destroyer commander was busily reviewing the dispositions of the Taiwanese fleet, his Allies. Two pairs of frigates/destroyers were now patrolling the length of the straight. They were pinging away with active sonar and their helicopters were circling  dropping sonar buoys in a text-book ASW pattern. Things had gotten rather hot under the collar in the last half hour. There were sufficient indications for three possible/plausible (but as yet "unknown" Chinese?) underwater contacts. Suddenly his ASW ruminations were brought to an abrupt close. "Captain, 'Sparks' indicates there's a supertanker in trouble!" From a frantic rush of adrenaline to an embarrassed pause, then a pink faced Signals operator looking rather apologetic. "Sorry sir, I could have sworn she darn well split in two."

The senior Signals officer looked on, sternly, passing a knowing look to the commander. Out of earshot he explained "It was just radar reflection. Just a rookie mistake from a Junior Op, at least we don't have to contend with a supertanker spilling it's load in the middle of our ASW game". They both smiled wryly and returned to their separate duties ...

Aboard the bridge of the lead Chinese destroyer the consternation eased. The pair of destroyers were now back in the lee of the massive supertanker. What strange fluid dynamic effect that had caused the trailing destroyer to yaw so violently out of formation would more than likely remain forever a mystery. Occurrences such as that were common in the folklore of the sea. More importantly the mission was not compromised, the element of surprise remained intact. The Chinese Marine Company aboard the supertanker were making their last minute preparations as the Chief Weapons Officer reported all weapon systems operational ...

Modern Naval: Innocuous shipping report off the coast of Taiwan

A busy Saturday morning in late 2011. The usual commercial mercantile shipping traffic in the diplomatically contested waters off the coast of Taiwan is supplemented by a Chinese Air/Sea rescue operation in search of a local fisherman. Two Chinese merchant ships operating in close formation seem to be generously assisting with the search. 

Nothing amiss here, repeat, there is nothing, absolutely nothing amiss here.The request for help from the Taiwanese naval fisheries vessels is turned down as the Chinese widen their search patterns and increase radio traffic as to be expected in a operation of this nature.

The USS Long Island Tea (a guided missile destroyer DDG, above) is discretely observing radar blips and maintaining radio communications with Taiwanese naval patrols. The USS Long Island Tea confirms communication channels to the USN Task Force "CVN Able 7" (see below) operating two hundred miles away are fully functional. Standard heightened peacetime CAP and A/S patrols are in place.

Not much of a post really, must do some wargaming sometime soon. Oh yes just in, a Taiwanese naval frigate reports a "far" acoustic and sonar passive contact, possibly a whale, in international waters, close to but not in Taiwanese waters. Though where these waters officially start is a mute point of current international maritime law and diplomacy. If it was anything other than a whale it might provoke an international incident.

Saturday 2 April 2011

The Battle of the Java Sea: Last Dice and Darkness

"Japanese light cruiser closing, sir! Guns says she's at extreme range now, but we've got the shot lined up when you want to take it sir." The captain paused only briefly to take stock of the situation before replying, "Tell Guns to wait. We've not got anything left to waste. When we shoot we have to hit, no point making the bugger look more important than she is!" "Aye, aye Captain."

Minutes passed with the Japanese light cruiser edging closer. The posturing seemed seemed to last an eternity.

"Guns reports, Japanese cruiser opening fire sir. Guns says she's well within our effective range now sir, permission requested to open fire sir?" A barely audible sigh, then the captain of the HMAS Perth replied, "Permission granted," then adding to those within earshot "She's a persistent little Sheila that one, doesn't get the hint, but she needs to know we're not interested in her. Earlier in the dance I'd have given her my full attention, but right now I'm just after her pretty little sisters over he horizon." There was a grim chuckle from around the bridge and a few wry smiles but no real laughter.

The encounter was brief, a resounding crash amidships and damage control reported "X" turret was out of commission (another half armament box damage, leaving the Perth at exactly half strength), however no hull or engine damage meant that HMAS Perth could charge on. Collectively the bridge knew the last real moment of crisis was over and the tension slackened. 'Guns' then again earned his months pay. The first full salvo from HMAS Perth straddled the IJNS Naka and wrought considerable damage to her hull. From that point on she was in no position to give serious chase to the much faster HMAS Perth. With one last fling of the dice the IJNA Naka rolled a last straddle on the HMAS Perth, but it resolved to no actual damage inflicted, in return HMAS Perth was content to  "Check Fire" simply to conserve her precious ammunition for better things. As HMAS Perth moved out of her range, and with darkness fast falling the best the IJNS Naka (bottom right below) could do was interpose herself between the last American WWI destroyer (top left below) also trying  to reach the 'over the horizon convoy' (see below).

The last act of the Battle of the Java Sea were the two dull explosions only faintly heard on the bridge of HMAS Perth. One "coup de grace" for HMS Exeter (despite 'damage control' having regained 2cm of "creep speed") being despatched with a close range Long Lance torpedo and the other for the Dutch Java, at likewise short range but from a combination of gun and torpedo. Guessing the cause of these ominous explosions the Perth's captain visibly shook with rage. "That makes us the Wolf now gentleman, rest assured we have a long and bloody night ahead of us gentlemen" being his final comment to his officers.

So finally end'eth The Battle of the Java Sea:


ABDA [Minor] Strategic Victory as there is the (Opportunity) for ABDA via HMAS Perth to attack the convoy ABDA has exceed her historical counterparts and has the opportunity to attack the invasion convoy. This will dislocated the Japanese invasion schedule by weeks rather than days, plus there is a lot of very badly damaged Japanese ships that will be heading back to The Sea of Japan for repairs, making them unavailable for use elsewhere.

IJN: Although a "Major Tactical" victory by essentially sinking ABDA (even HMAS Perth is unlikely to survive through the next morning), it is a very short-lived success considering the major mission objectives were to protect the convoy from harm.

This may well lend itself to a solo naval game, I'll have to put my thinking hat on. The Japanese invasion of Java will likely be delayed by a week as the Japanese forces regroup and take stock of the situation.

Thank you for you patience in reading about it all, I hope you found it as enjoyable as I did in the tale telling