The Battle of Hell’s Gate: After Action Report

After-Action Reports: Battle of Hell’s Gate, 21-23 October 2157 - Commanding Officer, Task Force 25

From: Commanding Officer, Task Force 25.
To: Commander-in-Chief, UE Fifth Fleet.
Via: Commander, Task Force 16.
Subject: Report of Action — 21-23 October 2157.

Reference: UESN Regulations, Art. 472 and Art. 478.

  1. Enclosures are forwarded herewith. Where discrepancies exist between Tannhäuser and Krechet reports, the Tannhäuser report should be taken as the more accurate.
    1. CO Krechet (CCM-1) of 16 November 2157, with enclosures thereto.
    2. CO Tannhäuser (CHM-55) of 17 November 2157, with enclosures thereto.
    3. CO Excelsior (CH-39) of 23 November 2157, with enclosures thereto.
    4. XO Klinge (APA-4) of 28 November 2157, less enclosure.
    5. Sensor records Yamamoto (CC-21) of 22 October 2157, less enclosure.
  2. On 20 October, Task Force 25 consisted of 3 CHM, 1 CH, 2 CCM, 3 CC, 2 APA.
    • UES Tannhäuser CHM-55 Tannhäuser-class
    • UES Vicksburg CHM-57 Tannhäuser-class
    • UES Marathon CHM-60 Tannhäuser-class
    • UES Krechet CCM-1 Krechet-class
    • UES Bowen CCM-2 Krechet-class
    • UES Excelsior CH-39 Pioneer-class
    • UES Johannesburg CC-55 Amarillo-class
    • UES Agata CC-56 Amarillo-class
    • UES Yamamoto CC-21 Alexander-class
    • UES Klinge AP-4 Lamar-class
    • UES Mount Beauty AP-5 Lamar -class
  3. The tally of Romulan ships encountered is as follows:
    • 27 CABBAGE-class heavy cruisers
    • 2 VINEGAR-class fighter carriers (see section 10c)
    • 4 TONSIL-class fuelers
    • 3 SYRUP-class troop carriers
    • 12 ELBOW-class escort cruisers
  4. The following is a general outline of the operations of Task Force 25 during the three days, 21-23 October, during which attacks against Romulan forces took place off Deneva. All times given are Earth Standard.
  5. Friday, 21 October.
    1. We received our final sensor contact report via message probe from Krechet at 1640. Task Force 12 was last reported at 0.65 LY distant from point RZ. Task Force 25 headed toward contact at Warp 2.85. We speculated that the enemy would continue on course for Deneva (heading 142 mark 5) until sensor contact. We felt that we had to hit them before they could re-form into attack formation, both to use the element of surprise and to ensure our own safety.
    2. When we got within 80 AU of point RZ, about 1945, we dropped out of warp and formed up into attack groups. The formations were as follows: (1) Tannhäuser, Vicksburg, Marathon, and Bowen, (2) Excelsior, Johannesburg, Agata, and Yamamoto. (3) Klinge, and Mount Beauty, which were held back for the initial attack. Formation time was approximately 20 minutes.
    3. At 2010 the Tannhäuser attack group jumped to Warp 3.1 on a direct intercept course with the Romulan fleet. By this time the enemy were aware of our presence — they had dropped out of warp and seemed to be attempting to re-form into attack formation. The Tannhäuser group fired a full salvo of missiles and immediately broke formation in evasive maneuvers. Responding fire was limited and easily handled by area-defense missiles. Three ELBOW-class escorts and one CABBAGE-class cruiser were destroyed immediately, and it is believed four other ships took moderate damage. The attack group escaped with no losses, on heading 98 mark 25.
    4. Based on reports from the Tannhäuser, which indicated the enemy was seriously disorganized, I decided to press the attack and launch the Excelsior group in a second wave, with the Tannhäuser group following for a second pass, leaving only Klinge and Mount Beauty in reserve. At 2045 the Excelsior attack group jumped to Warp 2.55. At the same time, the Tannhäuser group reversed course and commenced a simultaneous attack along a parabolic vector. Owing to their superior speed, the Tannhäuser group attacked at about the same time as the Excelsior group, despite their longer attack vector. This had the secondary but welcome effect of splitting the Romulan’s response fire.
    5. As the Excelsior group broke off after making its attack, a squadron of 6 ELBOWs pursued, scoring several proximity hits and causing moderate damage to Yamamoto. Marathon and Bowen moved in and destroyed 3 ELBOWs and drove off the rest.
    6. At this point in the action a group of 4 CABBAGEs cruisers broke off and pressed the attack against our somewhat divided forces while the remaining ships escaped at warp. At the same time, Krechet arrived in the vicinity (returning from its surveillance mission trailing the Romulan fleet) and made a courageous solo attack run against the 4 attacking CABBAGEs, disrupting their advance and diverting their attention long enough for Excelsior, Johannesburg, and Agata to enter close attack range. As the 4 enemy CABBAGEs turned to engage Excelsior and Johannesburg, Krechet and Agata scored direct hits on all 4 CABBAGEs.
    7. Bowen, Yamamoto, and Mount Beauty were detailed to follow the last known course of the Romulan fleet and initiate a search pattern for the survivors. Given the group’s initial lack of success, I believe that the Romulans deployed some type of sensor countermeasures which hampered detection of their vessels beyond approximately 30 AU.
    8. After the departure of the main Romulan force and the defeat of the diversionary CABBAGEs, long-range sensors detected a single CABBAGE left behind, apparently adrift and powerless. Johannesburg and Klinge were directed to approach for short-range scan and possible boarding. As Klinge approached to 1,500 kilometers (contrary to my orders to hold a distance of 2,000 kilometers), the CABBAGE exploded. At the time, we believed that the vessel had suffered battle damage to its reactor core which caused the breach. However, later experiences with the remainder of the Romulan fleet on 23 October lead me to believe that this ship deliberately self-destructed to prevent us from gaining further intelligence on their ship and to avoid capture.
  6. Saturday, 22 October.
    1. After regrouping after the first three attacks, Task Force 25 held position approximately 15 AU distant from point RZ. A brief sensor contact reported by Bowen at 0430 indicated that the Romulan ships were located approximately 230 AU distant from the bulk of Task Force 25 current location. Upon arriving in the vicinity, Bowen found only a single ELBOW — obviously a decoy. The ELBOW engaged Bowen and was destroyed by return fire. The Bowen and accompanying ships resumed their search pattern, and I further detailed Agata and Johannesburg to begin a similar search pattern.
    2. I meanwhile ordered the remainder of Task Force 25 to fall back along the vector towards Deneva, working under the assumption that the Romulan fleet was attempting to bypass our forces and resume their course. The force assumed a position approximately 800 AU distant from point RZ, hopefully placing us in a better position to intercept the Romulan fleet once they were found. A message probe was dispatched to Task Force 12 informing them of the change of location.
    3. By 1200 the situation which presented itself that afternoon was that no targets had been identified in a search area defined by a 30º cone with the central vector as the last known course of the Romulan fleet. Accordingly we took course heading 232 mark 355 in an attempt to head off the Romulan fleet, operating under the assumption that they had already resumed course towards Deneva.
    4. At approximately 1630 Yamamoto reported detecting a group of warp signatures bearing 143 mark 5 at 180 AU distant from point RZ and 720 AU distant from Task Force 25 — the Romulan fleet had resumed course. The origin of these signatures, however, was from within the region which had been searched by Yamamoto. Presumably they had been employing further countermeasures to prevent detection. I ordered all ships to intercept. Mount Beauty was ordered to join the Excelsior attack group for the remainder of the engagement. Krechet was ordered to join the Tannhäuser attack group for the remainder of the engagement.
    5. The Tannhäuser group immediately assumed intercept course at Warp 3.2. Given the distance, Excelsior (the only fusion-powered vessel not assigned search duty) was not fast enough to keep up with the rest of the group, and they were left behind for this engagement. Excelsior nevertheless maintained its maximum attainable intercept speed of Warp 2.6.
    6. The attack commenced at 1845. As before, the Tannhäuser attack group comprised the first wave, and the fusion-powered vessels (minus Excelsior) formed up for the second wave. Our three CHMs launched concentrated volleys of attack missiles, while Krechet and Bowen swept away return fire with their area-defense missiles.
    7. With the absence of the Excelsior, the Romulans sensed a chance to hit us back by focusing their firepower on the slower, fusion-powered vessels. A formation of six CABBAGEs, under cover fire from the remainder of their fleet, accelerated out of range of the Tannhäuser group’s weapons and advanced along the Johannesburg group’s attack vector. In the ensuing exchange of fire, Yamamoto was destroyed, and Agata took a crippling hit and was forced to withdraw. Special mention should go to the crew of Mount Beauty, which braved heavy fire to cover Agata as they withdrew, before escaping to safety near the Tannhäuser group. During this prolonged engagement, a total of 7 CABBAGEs and 2 VINEGARs were destroyed, as well as 2 or 3 ELBOWs.
    8. By about 2015, I made the decision to effect a strategic withdrawal from the battlefield to assess damages and make repairs, but to maintain sensor contact with the enemy fleet so as not to lose them again. I dispatched a squadron of S/A shuttlecraft with orders to maintain low observability by to remain in sensor contact with the Romulans at all costs. The squadron conducted operations throughout the night, until they were retrieved prior to the pursuit of the Romulan fleet at about 0115.
  7. Sunday, 23 October.
    1. At this time, we knew the Romulans were in trouble but believed they would continue to press their attack. Instead, they began to retreat. At about 0115 we detected their warp signatures, moving away from us on a return course towards Cheron at Warp 2.1. I chose to press the attack in order to wipe out all remaining CABBAGEs, rather than allow them to return to base intact. We dispatched an emergency message torpedo to Task Force 12 to inform them of the Romulans’ actions, and to feed them the new intercept information.
    2. I ordered the task force to follow, but to maintain constant distance. As a result, the fleet was pursuing at a distance of about 25 AU at Warp 2.1. For the AM-powered ships, this had the additional advantage of requiring less fuel than the previous high-speed attack runs that had been conducted previously.
    3. At approximately 0300, Excelsior caught up to the rest of the task force and resumed its position in formation.
    4. At approximately 1035, the Romulan fleet suddenly dropped out of warp. Approximately ten minutes later, we detected Task Force 12 as the fleet entered our sensor range. I immediately dispatched a message drone to Commodore Vander Linden aboard the Majestic, informing her of our status and providing instructions for what I believed would be the optimum attack vector given the Romulan stance and previous tactics. However, further coordination proved impossible given the still-large distance between our two commands, and we operated as two separate units throughout the remainder of the engagement.
    5. Using our long-range sensor contacts, I ordered TF 25 to accelerate to Warp 2.9, with the aim of reaching weapons range at about the same time as TF 12 arrived in theater.
    6. The Romulan commander seemed to know that he was cornered and unable to escape, long-range sensors detected the Romulan fleet re-forming into a stationary bastion formation, with all ships packed closely together to make a last-ditch stand against our forces. The remaining Romulans (comprising about 18 CABBAGEs and 15 assorted other types) launched a massive coordinated barrage of attack missiles that forced several ships to break off and destroyed 3 ships outright. Of TF 12’s vessels, Marathon and Krechet took heavy damage and Klinge and Mount Beauty were both destroyed. I believe that Marathon and Krechet were able to escape only because of their superior speed relative to the Romulan missiles.
    7. After the Romulan barrage, I chose to launch an immediate counterattack, ignoring the losses of nearly half the squadron, sensing the opportunity to score a major victory and wipe out a large portion of the Romulan war machine. In this final attack, Excelsior, Tannhäuser, Vicksburg, and Bowen all scored direct hits on multiple Romulan vessels, which, combined with incoming fire from TF 12 eliminated about two-thirds of the remaining enemy fleet in the space of only fifteen minutes.
    8. As TF 25 and TF 12 regrouped for another assault on the enemy, a series of near-simultaneous explosions spread throughout the Romulan fleet. These explosions were not caused by direct fire, nor were they apparently caused by battle damage. The rapid succession of explosions leads me to believe that the surviving ships elected to self-destruct rather than surrender.
    9. Shortly following the self-destruction of the Romulan fleet, sensors detected a small warp signature leaving the blast zone on a course for Cheron at Warp 3.1. This signature matched that of a Romulan message drone. Although our CHMs could have easily intercepted and destroyed the drone, I elected to allow it to escape with news of the defeat; hopefully the news of this encounter will have great effect on Romulan operations in the future.
  8. The new ships equipped with M/AM reactors (Tannhäuser, Vicksburg, Marathon, Krechet, Bowen) performed superbly, the advantages of M/AM vessels are clear. Increased speed, maneuverability, and weapons complement allowed much greater fighting power compared to fusion vessels. More ships of this type are needed immediately.
  9. I believe that the Romulan war machine has suffered a serious setback, but it is possible that this attack was planned as part of a larger offensive — if so, further attacks could occur in Qualor Sector in the middle of December or early January.
  10. The following is a brief summary of the more important points brought out by the action:
    1. CABBAGE-class cruisers have been confirmed to carry at least six lasers of at least 2.67 MW which were used in anti-missile defense.
    2. Sensor countermeasures are confirmed to be in use by Romulan ships in order to avoid long-range detection. (Sensor records enclosed.) Methods of defeating these countermeasures are urgently needed.
    3. Battle records describe a new CABBAGE-type missile/fighter carrier. This design has been designated VINEGAR class.
    4. In duel between CHs or CCs side which is able to strike first blow without being itself hit wins.
    5. Attack missiles with greater explosive yield are needed. With present warheads, missiles must detonate within 150 meters of target to cause appreciable damage; such targeting is difficult at best during high-warp attack runs by M/AM vessels.
    6. CH attack runs on CEs during general fleet action are not profitable because of the difficulty of obtaining hits on such a small and highly maneuverable target. Such attacks should not be made if a larger and more valuable target is available.
    7. Mobile subspace transmitter platforms are urgently needed for faster communication between fleet units. In situations where two seperate task forces are to rendezvous, timely information is essential to coordinate strategy.
    8. Early and accurate information of movements of an enemy force to be attacked is essential for successful fleet operations. This should be obtained, whenever possible, by other than CH or CC vessels, both to retain maximum cruiser striking power and to avoid disclosing the fact that any cruisers are in the area.
    9. When fleet groups are composed of both fusion and M/AM cruisers, ships should be organized according to maximum speed, in order to allow maximum striking power during full-speed attack runs.
    10. Romulan vessels are likely to self-destruct rather than allow capture.

M. OKAZAKI, Commodore, UESN 5th Fleet.

Source: Commander in Chief, Fifth Fleet report, Serial 01849 of 17 November 2157, Earth-Romulan War action reports, Interplanetary Archives and Records Administration, (Com: STFL.LNX 0195-581 302-4126).