A battle between a Centrality-Umerian coaltion and Zebesian pirates over an space outpost in Hawk's Nest. The Coalition sucessfully captured the pirate base, despite losing three ships and others suffering damage.
|Battle of Hawk's Nest
|Location||Hawk's Nest System|
|Result||Coalition victory *Hawk's Nest Station captured|
Order of Battle
Task Group 23
- CNS Loyalist (Theseus-class cruiser)
- CNS Carpenter, CNS Hector (Schwartz-class destroyers)
- CNS Borderer, CNS ??? (Outpost-class light carriers)
- CNS Cricket, CNS Springbok, CNS Terrier, CNS ??? (Blitz-class "frigvettes")
- CNS Cicada, x3 other Locust-class escort carriers
TG 23 Carrier Space Group
- 400 Hawk space superiority fighters
- 80 Fireball multirole gunships
TG 23 Attached Ground Elements
- Reinforced Marine brigade, ~5000 strong.
Technocracy of Umeria
Second Task Force (Independent)
- USS Directrix (Conductor-class light cruiser flagship)
- USS Artemisia (Empress-class light cruiser)
- USS Farbanti, USS Istanbul (FF-6900 series frigates)
- USS Cairo, USS San Dorado (FF-6800 series frigates)
- USS Catalina, USS Guernsey, USS Jersey, USS Nantucket (AGP-3600 series cutter tenders)
- USS Bornholm, USS Oogaboogalusyaa (AGP-3500 series cutter tenders)
TFI 2 Carrier Space Group
- 48 Corsair-J picket/recon cutters
- 36 Corsair-N fleet melee cutters
- 12 Corsair-F customs cutters
- 12 Corsair-C pursuit cutters
- 12 Buccaneer-T assault cutters
Ground Contingent (based off cutters Nantucket, Jersey, and Bornholm)
- Gamma Battalion, 12th Strike Heavy Infantry Regiment
(figures rough, subject to refinement at a future time)
- x12 "Urtraghan Type A" light plasma destroyers
- x6 "Urtraghan Type C" stealth frigates
- ~650 sublight fighters, various types, incl. ~100 Gron torpedocraft and ~100 Airaii mercenary fighters
The Battle of Hawk's Nest began as an attempt by Rear Admiral Sothurn Fibors, then commanding the Centralist detachment of the Coalition fleet, to score a quick victory against the Zebesian pirates. Political pressure from the Centralist government may have played a role in this; many experienced Centrum-watchers suspect this to be the case.
Preliminary recon and signals intercepts identified a significant pirate force based in a star system a few light years into the H-12 shoals, known as "Hawk's Nest" after the major space habitat located in one of the system's Trojan points. Fibors detached Task Force 23, a Centrality formation rated at 390 points on the Stefan-Wylkins scale, to destroy or disperse the pirates and capture the station; the offensive was scheduled for June 7. Fibors requested support for the operation from the Umerian contingent (Rear Admiral Ananya Hazarika commanding). By doing a quick turnaround on drive refurbishment and maintenance, the Umerians managed to prepare their entire squadron (~360 points S-W) for action, thus approximately doubling the planned strength of the offensive. This proved critical in what was to come.
By mutual agreement between the commanding officers, Liggs was placed in overall command of the Coalition squadrons. The joint force entered the system at 0845 hours Coalition Fleet Standard Time (CFST) on the seventh and began launching small craft almost immediately, as they made a gentle approach towards the station with the hope of drawing out the pirates into a long-range beam duel.
Under cover of the station and its fixed defenses, the pirates (under the Gron warlord Keldrog) were able to remain undetected until opening fire at 0857 hours, though the attack was not unexpected and did not catch the Coalition unprepared. The opening minutes of the beam exchange proved relatively indecisive; while the Coalition had the upper hand in energy weapons, they had difficulty localizing their targets and were unable to bring this advantage to bear fully.
At 0911 hours, the Coalition recon shell detected the approach of a squadron of stealth ships- part of Keldrog's reserves. Upon discovering that they were detected, the stealthers opened fire, catching the Coalition main body in a crossfire from the cruiser-weight axial plasma guns of Keldrog's main body ahead and the detached stealth force to dorsal starboard. The flag officers agreed on a joint Centralist-Umerian gunship attack to clear the flank; this attack took some minutes to form up due to coordination problems between the Umerian cutter wings and their Centralist counterparts.
At 0920, Keldrog ordered his fighter force, hidden among the debris field around the Trojan point, to launch the third prong of his attack- an ordnance strike against the Coalition's port flank. Observing the Zebesian fighter force massing to port, Commodore Liggs directed his sublight fighter contingent to intercept and disrupt their attack. More or less simultaneously, combined fire from USS Artemisia and CNS Carpenter destroyed one of Keldrog's main body plasma frigates, the first starship kill of the battle.
By 0932, the fighter attack had conspicuously failed; a breakdown in discipline among the loosely-structured mercenary units in Keldrog's employ led them to launch their ordnance from too far out and decelerate for a dogfighting engagement against the Centralist fighters. Coalition missile defenses proved effective in destroying the incoming strike; what could have been an extremely dangerous attack managed only a mission-kill to the Centralist destroyer Hector, moderate damage to the two Umerian cruisers, and only minor damage to other ships.
Shortly thereafter, the Coalition fleet made its own more effective attack against Keldrog's stealth ships. All the stealth destroyers were heavily damaged, and the four capable of doing so began to retreat towards hyperspace, while the two that lacked drive function were quickly destroyed by follow-up salvoes from the Coalition main body. This represented a decisive defeat of two out of three elements of Keldrog's planned attack, and his chances of winning the battle were effectively lost to the gunship attack.
At 0939 hours CFST, roughly forty minutes after the opening shots were fired, Keldrog surrendered to Coalition forces. Under Liggs' orders, he moved his ships out from under cover of the station fixed defenses and towards the Coalition. Then, at 0945 hours, the warlord's flagship, Keldrog's Gutting Blow spontaneously exploded under mysterious circumstances. The pirates interpreted this as Coalition treachery and opened fire, though subsequent examination of Coalition records showed no ship fired a shot at this time.
The ensuing close-range duel between the badly outgunned Gron ships and the surprised Coalition forces resulted in the destruction of the Umerian frigate Istanbul, the Centralist corvette Cricket, and severe damage to other ships, in exchange for the total annihilation of the surviving pirate plasma destroyers.
During the subsequent few hours, the Umerians launched a daring close-range torpedo attack against the gun platforms covering the station, destroying them with a spread of tylium-boosted nuclear torpedoes, then returning to suppress the station defenses. This was followed by a boarding action against the Hawk's Nest station itself, conducted by a reinforced brigade of the Centralist VII Marine Corps, with Gamma Battalion of the Umerians' 12th Strike Heavy Infantry Regiment supporting the operation in a spearhead role.
The boarding action ran into a few difficulties at the hands of the Gron elite ground units- cybernetically enhanced saurians with heavy pulse laser weapons- but by 1307 hours CFST, the disorganized Gron defense forces had mostly surrendered in the face of overwhelming Coalition strength.
The death of Warlord Keldrog and most of his ships put an end to raiding activities on the part of his forces, aside from the four stealth frigates that escaped the battle and fled to Zebes for repairs...
Although the Umerians did not publicize this fact at the time, Hawk's Nest was the first field test of their new tylium-boosted missile variants. The 'greencaps' proved highly successful, and thus Hawk's Nest is accepted as the cause behind the expanded production orders placed by the Bureau of Armaments in mid-June, and the decision to build a major tylium refinery on New Princeton. While it was to be years before tylium-boosted weapons were available in large enough numbers to fully supplant conventional nuclear devices in the Umerian arsenal, the increasing role of 'greencaps' in subsequent Umerian naval actions can be traced largely to their effect on the Zebesian campaign.
This was the first squadron-level engagement between an organized Coalition force and a major pirate fleet base. Hawk's Nest proved to be in some ways a typical engagement, demonstrating many of the features that would recur later in the Coalition's campaign. The pirates (and their Boskonian advisors) were shown to be tough and resourceful opponents, who used the advantage of being on the defensive to make up for inferior technology and tonnage as much as possible.
On the Coalition side, it was shown that the international contingents could cooperate reasonably well, given good faith on both sides, even between nations with tactical doctrine as disparate as Umeria and the Centrality. This remained the case even when (as between Umeria and the Centrality) the two nations had disturbingly close to a shooting war not five months earlier (see the Datton Incident).
On the other hand, there were a few notable difficulties. Coordination between the commanding officers was good, but coordination of hardware was poor, mostly due to software incompatibility and security issues. As a result, the two contingents wound up fighting the battle in parallel, unfamiliar with each other's capabilities and unaware of each other's observations. Arguably this was inevitable, given the lack of long term cooperative relationships between the two fleets.