Overview of Operations

I'm not saying we shouldn't do this, I'm just pointing out that if we do there will be some questions asked, maybe some tough questions.

Contents of a letter from CEGA to MF

Like what kind of questions and what kind of impact do you think they might have on the Martian Federation?

Reply from MF to CEGA

Oh I don't know but quite probably something like "Wasn't there a city here yesterday?" Not to mention the ballots when the election comes around again.

Reply from CEGA to MF

Shit, d'ya think anyone will notice? Humans have fairly short memory spans you know. Besides, those cities habitually vote for the Free Republican Ideas. We wont lose more than 2 to 3 percent of our turn out.

Reply from MF to CEGA

I think the people living in the cities in question might notice.

Final reply from CEGA to MF

There was much mystery surrounding the first days of the Terra/Jovian war that would never be unveiled. However some things are known. For example, the deployment of 134 Bricriu corvettes of the CEGA strike fleet (StrumVerken) were under weigh. 118 of them were already under weigh to the primary commerce routes to and from the Jovian population centers. 58 were already deployed into four battle groups. Most of the 'vettes, as they were known, had gone under weigh from space stations on the extreme orbital range of Mars, the rest from bases around Earth as well as Luna, Earth's moon. It was the largest deployment of war ships ever at one time. At issue was control of the shipping lanes of the entire Jovian Confederation. Earth and the Martian puppet government, the Martian Federation, held the Jovian Confederation as their mortal enemies, and had thus far not been able to topple the Jovian government through clandestine means and sought to use direct force as a last result. Opposing them would be the fleets of the Jovian Confederation, the smaller fleets of Saturn and its colony on Titan and some small but often effective pirate raiding from the asteroid belt. As such, most of the 'vettes were ordered to form patrol lines across the expected routes of warship guarded convoys. Those would likely be on a course from the Venusian colonies to the central station around Europa. Others would patrol along the less used Lagrange point stations as well as the Jovian owned asteroid mines.

The CEGA 'vettes were armed with their newest missile, the FaustShrike 7. Generalissimo Salvatore Diego, Commander in chief of the CEGA Armed Forces (Kriegsmarine) gave the initial strike orders which stood for the duration of the war; Angreifen! Ran! Versunken! Which roughly translated means Attack, Advance, and Sink (a naval term carried over from the traditions of the wet Navies of old Earth). Their mission was to devastate the Jovian commerce capabilities, which would cripple the Jovian governments ability to supply food, fuel, ore and refined materials to its war machine. The secondary mission was to destroy the Jovian war making capability through the direct destruction of its war ships and weapons. That would make it possible for CEGA attacks on Martian colonies, unbeknownst to the Martian Federation, who believed that they were merely getting some support in the means of armed ships and troops to repress the dangerously popular Free Martian movement. By the end of April 2220, the Jovian defensive war of their commerce lanes was considered more important than its initial war to remain free from the Central Earth Government Administration. In places as remote as Titan and even all the way as distant as Mercury, the talk was about how long, if at all, could the Jovians hold out.

Just as in the days of the wet Navies, the Jovians and the Terrans were in a war of tonnage. (Tonnageschlacht) It was a war designed to destroy more shipping than the Jovians could compensate for, driving the steak into their hearts one tap at a time. Death by a thousand cuts. Diego and his staff had figured back in 2217, that in order to cripple the Jovians enough to bring them to their knees, they would need to destroy a monthly average of 7,000,000 Gross Register Tons (GRT for short). Ironically, the Jovians had conceded that as little as 6,000,000 GRT would be enough sustained loss to do the job. However, the CEGA 'vettes were having trouble getting that figure. One year earlier, in the first half of the year, operating from mobile bases near the Venusian side of the lanes, the best the CEGA 'vettes had recorded was 125 ships for 584,788 GRT of which only 10 were convoyed. And in the following months, 131 ships for 616,904 GRT were destroyed, of which only 12 were in convoyed fleets. The most ever destroyed, which was also the record, was in December 2219 with 743,321 GRT. The numbers, however had fallen off during the following three months.

In the first twenty days of March 2220, Diego's 'vettes had once again begun striking in force. They were successful in sinking seventy two ships, sixty of them in fourteen Jovian Navy protected convoys. Twenty two of the losses came during the period of 16-20 March, during an attack waves code named Robber Baron (Raubgraf) in which eight 'vettes worked together, Go-Getter (Sturmer) which had eighteen 'vettes, and Pusher (Dranger) with eleven 'vettes, with a handful of independently operating task forces herding convoy traffic into the tightly contested kill boxes. The targets were identified as SC.122, HX.229, and HX.229A which combined to number around 125 ships in very orderly columns. The merchant ships were protected the entire way by the Jovian 3rd Vanguard Task Force which consisted of nine Hachiman class Destroyers, three Thunderbolt class Destroyers, four Javelin class Missile Cruisers, nine Bricriu class Corvettes, two Tengu class Escort Carriers, and at times up to fifty one Lancer class fighters of the Jovian and Saturn fighter wings. The CEGA news reporters commented on the attacks as being the greatest and most stunning victories ever in the history of Naval warfare. CEGA admitted to one loss, CVC-384. They claimed to have destroyed Jovian tonnage to the amount of 443,951 GRT. And had the losses continued at the rate they started the month at, which they never did, they might have gotten as high as 688,124 GRT, and they certainly would have exceeded the Jovian guerre de course. That limit was 105 ships for a total of 590,234 GRT. However, the important point to remember is, neither number would have maintained the minimum GRT which was required to keep pace with the Jovians ability to replace losses and to keep supplied flowing to their population. The number was now pushed to a lofty 1.3 million GRT.

The impact though, of the losses sustained, forced the Jovians to switch tactics from a purely defensive war to an offensive war against those commerce raiders specifically. A memo from President Itangre to the acting Commander of Jovian Naval Operation Admiral Koudriopoulos reflected this epiphany in its wording "It appears possible, that we cannot consider the convoy of merchant ships as an effective tool against the CEGA raiders. The Terrans never came so near to disrupting communication between the Confederation and the inner planets as they did in the early days of March 2219. I don't believe any of us can look upon the losses we sustained and not feel a sense of horror and aberration over the number of ships and men that were taken from us."

There was no need, however, for the over-reaction by Jovian authorities, as the Jovian Armor Works were producing so many new hulls for merchant ships that they were already delivering more hulls than the Jovians could find crews for. Besides, 90 of the convoys were getting through to friendly ports with their cargo unharmed. In fact, even the hardest hit convoys, SC.122 and HX.229 were able to boast 82 of their cargo delivered.

Even the CEGA Strike Force commanders were forced to concede that the important numbers were by far and wide in the Jovians favor. Oddly enough however, their realistic assessment, which proved to be correct, was not shared by the Jovian forces, who saw only that the Terrans had the largest number of commerce raiders aweigh than they had ever set aweigh in the history of the war, the CEGA 'vette replacements were exceeding their losses, that 84 of their losses were in heavily protected convoys, and that from an average 39 of ships sunk in convoys in the second half of 2219, the number had risen to a startling 75 by the first quarter of 2220. The Commander of Jovian Convoy Operations, Admiral Blankenship expressed his anxiety in a memo to Commander of Jovian Naval Operation Admiral Koudriopoulos so; "Where would the Admiralty turn if the convoy system has lost its effectiveness? No one seems to know, but I have felt, though I hesitate to admit it, that defeat seems to stare us in the face. Will these raiders finally succeed in cutting our trade routes and isolate us with no allies and no resources?"

The only recorded reply was the submittal of a briefing to Admiral Blankenship that the exchange rate of loss was around 45,000 GRT to the loss of one of the CEGA 'vettes, at the beginning of the war, was now dropping to 28,000 GRT per 'vette. Also that 270 more merchant ships were under weigh to date than at the start of the war, and had made perchase at foreign ports safely during the last months of 2219. Also more 'vettes were destroyed (19) during that same period, than had been any month prior. Finally, the new ships being delivered exceeded the losses by an estimated 300,000 GRT. The disconnect between the commerce fleet and the Admiralty was never fully understood. However, the workings of the Jovian Admiralty are not the focus of this history research.

Time in a bubble

May 2220

I will accept no excuse from the Strike Force Raiders for not taking every opportunity to inflict losses on Jovian commerce. I demand obedience to the directives which we have drilled into those crews since before the commencement of hostilities. They must remember to get to their positions ahead of the Jovian convoys as fast as possible, launch their attacks as soon as they can, and exploit any opportunities as soon as possible to the extremes possible.

Generalissimo Salvatore Diego, Commander in chief of the CEGA Armed Forces

Those damned CEGA ships are to be called Raiders, not 'vettes. The term 'vette or Corvette shall be reserved for the honorable Jovian ships of the class, and not for those swine, those vermin that hunt the helpless merchants. They shall be known for what they are, while the brave, honorable, and courageous ships and crews of the Jovian Navy shall be the heroes in their Corvettes.

Commander of Jovian Naval Operation Admiral Koudriopoulos

CVC-515 was on her third operational patrol since the long range Type IXC 'vette emerged from Luna dry docks. She had been commissioned only as recently as 21 February 2219. The crew had spent the last six months performing work up and tactical exercises. Now, with her Commanders pennant above her "conning tower", which was more just a few levels of computers and tactical operations rooms, she made her maiden war patrol under Captain Henke. She had already netted 52,807 GRT, which was a respectable number for a single combat patrol. That number was also respected because it was achieved in the outer theater, near the Lagrange points, not in the heart of shipping lanes. Only a few other 'vettes could boast better tonnage, and only one Jovian Corvette could claim that much Terran tonnage.

The CVC-515's second cruise on 7 November 2219 through 6 January 2220 in the lanes leading to Jovian Asteroid mines, resulted in only two Jovian ships destroyed, but one was a Jovian troop/supply transport, the JCS Courage (10,850 GRT) and a passenger liner the JCS Lovely Angel (18,713 GRT). The personnel losses were 279 dead from the 847 ships personnel from the Courage, and 655 of the 656 passengers and crew from the passenger liner. By 30 April, 2220, the 515's third patrol, which had begun on 21 Feb. 2220, was already one of the longest of the war, but it was definitely growing longer. However, this cruise, like the second cruise was becoming a bust, with a scrawny two merchant ships destroyed for a total of 10,657 GRT to show for its lengthy 69 day cruise. They booked as having a meager daily tonnage rating of a mere 154 GRT.

The first of her kills happened on March 4th while the CVC-515 was in the same sector as the L-9 point. The solar winds were mild, the background radiation was mild at this time and this helped with their electronic sensor systems. Henke sighted a large freighter proceeding independently at .15c on a course of 050'. He advanced on the top layer of a radiation band toward the target. What happened next is described in Henke's war journal.

Double fan missile launch (Facher) from missile tubes 2 and 4. Missile speed .14c, range (to target) 1,200 Km. (Targets) bows on right, bearing 80 degrees, (missile deflection 5 degrees, running times 37 and 38 seconds. Two hits amidships and forward but the freighter did not drop its defense screens or heave to. Coup de grace (Fangschuss) from stern missile tube 6, deflection 9 degrees (missile warhead fuel expansion with magnetically charged fuse) with a Pi 2, missile running time 36 seconds. Hit toward the stern, in the engine room. A powerful explosion erupts. The freighter slowly begin to implode from the evacuation of atmosphere, the hull begin to deform in a tragic inferno, the crew are vaporized in the effected compartments. The damage is limited to only a few compartments, the ships radio operator continues to transmit SOS. Another coup de grace, this time from Tube 1, deflection 10 degrees with a Pi 2. Running time 25 seconds. Hit forward, grand explosion occurs. Ship detonates as expected after about ten minutes. It's the Jovian Star at 8,300 GRT, which was under weigh from Europian Shipping Lines with butter, cheese, lard and meat. The Second Officer was retrieved from and escape pod and taken prisoner. The Captain and First Officer probably "went down with the ship.

The Jovian Star, which carried general cargo as well as food, was an older starship of Jovian Registry. Fifty of her seventy four crew were killed, died later from injuries, or were not picked up from escape pods in time. The destruction took place at the X/Y/Z coordinates of 42'32"X, 37'20"Y, 33'47"Z. On 21 March, and 1 April, CVC-515 rendezvoused with two returning 'vettes, CVC-106 (Kptlt. Hermann Rasch) and CVC-67 (Kptlt. Gunther Muller-Stockheim) to take on fuel, provisions, and spare parts. Henke's second success on this patrol came thirty six days after the first on 9 April during a night shift, while prowling along the L-6 Lagrange point. This victim, the Saturn Registered Ring Queen was a small freighter, only moving a mere 2,357 GRT, slightly overestimated by Heinke.

Advanced on a freighter of 3,500 GRT. Double fan launch from stern tubes 5 and 6. Targets speed is .085C. Missile deflection set to 3 and 4 degrees. Targets bow is on a right bearing 80 degrees. Range is 800 Km. Missile running times 60 and 61 seconds. Hits fore and aft. Ship implodes initially, then as the escaping atmosphere ignites, the hull explodes in a fiery detonation very quickly.

20 of the ships thirty seven crew and passengers died in the decompression at coordinates 14'57"X, 17'15"Y, 108'22"Z.

The wages of war were not only bottoms and cargoes, a reminder, as if one were needed by a disassociated humanity. The fragile tissue of mankind is not equal to the violent and deadly weapons of war. These casualties were not all placed upon the uniformed men and women of the Naval services of the Jovian and Earth fleets, but also by the men and women of the Terran Trade Authority and the Jovian Shipping Alliance.

A summary of wartime losses in the Jovian Shipping Alliance makes the point. About 185,000 merchant marines served aboard freighters, tankers, and transports, out of which, 32,952, or roughly 17 lost their lives. This was a far higher casualty rate than the 9.3 suffered by the Jovian Naval personnel, 9 by the Jovian Aerospace Corps. And the 6 of the Jovian Infantry units. To the merchant seamen must be added Jovian losses in their Naval forces as well as Infantry losses that occurred while being transported under merchant banner. Also lost were Jovian troops under section 17, the counter-piracy units who died in actions involving disguised merchant ships with Jovian anti-starship missile and gun batteries hidden inside their cargo holds.

Henke's 'vette was a type IXC Blitzenboot, an improved version of the two earlier Corvette models, the IXB and the IXA, which had been built around 2200 and 2210 to meet and exceed the requirements devised from the skirmishes of the late 1990's similar to the CVC-81. The IX series had originally been designed to be command and control ships in which tactical group "pack" leaders could direct operations beyond effective radio range. This idea was abandon as the CEGA commanders felt a lack of loyalty in their fleet commanders. Instead the IX series were selected to perform mine laying duties as well as to patrol the more volatile radiation belts. In this last mission, the IXB and IXC 'vettes excelled and were able to perform raids inside the Lunar orbit taking out CEGA dry docks and destroying many uncompleted hulls before they could even take their shake down cruises.

Because of their large displacement (1,120 tons empty) which gave them a bulbous flank, unusual sensor array along the top of the bridge super structure, and stubby fat missile tube launchers along the sides at the corners, the IX series seemed a natural candidate for the nickname "Solar Cow". The IXC boasted 76.8 meters length (about 21 feet longer than a 20th century jumbo jet) and 6.8 meters of beam. They were 4.7 meters tall (super structure and drive systems not included). Their reaction mass tanks held 208 tons of propellant, allowing the sleek 'vettes to stay on station, with minimal course alteration, except for attack runs for three months at a time (at a nominal speed of .12c) before requiring fuel, food, water, and air replacement. The IXB which preceded the IXC was somewhat smaller, and was also produced in smaller numbers. They held a smaller reaction mass load by 43 tons. Which gave them a range of less than two months. They were, however, able to produce bursts of speed up to .183C. (Authors note: All battle in space takes place at sublight speeds). Attempts were made to capture gasses from the many gas clouds that fill the spaces around the Lagrange points, but the equipment needed to filter, prepare, and deliver the captured gasses took up more space, and brought more mass than the captured gasses could compensate for, and the idea was filed under impossible by all sides of the war. Weight, or mass, was the primary issue for the 'vettes designers. The need for speed was the primary concern, and mass directly effected the ability of the mass drive engines ability to deliver the thrust required for successful attack runs, or escape flight. FTL issues were a non-starter, as the space that combat took place, was filled with far too many micro-meteorites and other debris that any ship trying to exceed a "glass ceiling of .3C would inflict more impact damage from the space junk, than the defense screens could deflect. As such, the ships would simply destroy themselves, as if flying into a wall of lead. FTL drives were strictly the domain of shipping lanes, which were swept clear by the Mercurial Shipping Guild. However, during times of war, the Mercurians were loath to perform this function as both adversaries were known to mine the known shipping lanes, which endangered everybody, but logically did prevent invasion fleets from simply jumping into enemy space and unloading their invasion forces before any sort of reaction force could be mounted. So all shipping had to be done in the "no mans lands" which were the debris and radiation belts around the Lagrange points.

"Sailing" those uncharted and often debris littered fields placed great stress on the small crews of the 'vettes. The crews were typically only four officers and forty four seamen. The substantially longer cruises of the new 'vettes places greater demands on the ships crews and so they were sometimes authorized an extra officer or two and an additional five to ten seamen. However, those additional crewmen were rairly requested, even when authorized, as the massive food, water, and missile loads made life onboard a IXC class 'vette almost worse than the Jovian POW camps. The largest complaint voiced by the crews of the IXC 'vettes was the cramped living spaces, which often were less than four square feet of sleeping for three men to share. Even "hot bunking" was difficult and many seamen resorted to sleeping in the missile tubes.

The IXC 'vettes definitely had the advantage of longer range than the Jovian Corvettes as well as the CEGA IXB 'vettes, but that did not necessarily translate into more tonnage "sunk", as the IXB series actually accounted for more tonnage per ship than the IXC. In fact IXB 'vettes ranked third through sixth in over all gross tonnage destroyed. This fact shines in the face of the more glorious IXC series, as the IXB patrolled closer to the trade routes, and as such encountered more convoys protected by Jovian war ships as well as fighter and bomber class aerospace craft. As a result, the most effective 'vette wasn't even part of the IX series, but was the more humble VII series.

Speculation about how the command of CEGA (Diego) viewed the VII class is open to speculation, but evidence supports that he viewed the VII class as a masterful design and ordered the commissioning of 709 VII hulls (as opposed to 159 IXAs, IXBs, and IXCs) of which only 665 were built. The VII series was arguably the best combat platform (of Corvette class) produced by the CEGA Navy. Specifically the VIIC class, which is, to this date, the standard that we all picture when we imagine the 'vette menace. We are familiar with their fast maneuvers, able to put 4,200 Km distance between their reported position and their new position before Jovian missiles could even be spun up for firing. This same design was the inspiration for the later XXI series 'vette. The records later recovered from CEGA 'vette commanders showed proof that the loss rates were far higher for the IX class 'vettes than the VII class. In fact the IX class suffered twice the losses that the VII class did. Indications show that Diego was never fully sold on the design and operational requirements of the IX 'vettes, still he did have every reason to be glad he had those IX class 'vettes during the January-July offensive in late 2219, as the long range 'vettes accounted for two thirds of the kills during that time.

"Vette design at this time of the war was centered around the "FaustShrike" missile. As a result, the 'vettes of CEGA differed greatly from the Corvette designs of the Jovian Navy. The CEGA 'vettes did sport two 210 cm mass driver cannons, however, they carried few rounds for them, considering them more of a coup de grace tool, similar to their 10.3 cm anti-aerospace miniguns, and their 7.9 cm general purpose guns. That's not to say that the supplemental weaponry was of no value, in fact, the CVC-123 had claimed kills using her guns alone. However, the missile was the primary weapon, and the IXC could carry as many as 22 missiles. Normal load for the smaller VII was only 15 to 17 missiles. These missiles were also able to be carried "action ready" in their tubes aboard the IXC's which had six tubes, four bow and two stern. External storage units were proposed, however, the fear of Jovian advances in their Magnetic mine technology quickly quashed any schemes of this type, as the detonation of the FaustShrike was by far more than enough to cripple or destroy the CEGA 'vettes.

The CVC-515 was not equipped with the newest missile available, the TinefulShrike, which used a low yield nuclear warhead for greater destructive potential, as the radiation leak from the warheads was considered far to great on the long cruises, while the short cruises would allow the CEGA crews to return to port for radiation treatment to prevent the dangers of prolonged exposure. The longer cruises meant that all radiation sustained by the IX crews would have the potential of causing permanent damage which obviously did not appeal to either the officers nor the seamen under them. The CEGA engineers did correct the radiation leak problems later by using tritium shielding, however, those warheads were not available during the My 2220 battles. They would only enter service around 2221, far too late to have any practical impact on the shipping battle. Besides, the top speed of the JagenFaust, the tritium cased missiles, was a lowly .10C to .18C, because of the mass that the missiles propulsion system had to drive, could hardly get it up to the evasive speeds of the Jovian merchant fleets. This was realized when the missile made its first appearance in September 2221, when it caught a Jovian Cruiser sitting in a debris field trying to recover escape pods from a Jovian freighter which had gone disabled, through no actions of the CEGA 'vettes. The single missile destroyed the Cruiser class ship the JDF Osirus, with all hands aboard.

The crew rotations, as noted before in discussion of the radiation issue, tended to take time, and often those experienced crews found themselves detached to perform other important duties, such as training other 'vette crews, and as a result, they tended to know most everyone they "sailed" together with in their wolf packs, however, they always were less able to work together with the harmony that Jovian Corvette crews did, who often served their entire terms aboard one ship. CEGA crews rairly served together that way for more than six months at most.

Kptlt Henke managed to keep his crew relatively intact, giving him many "experienced" 22 year olds in his crew when the average age of a CEGA 'vette crewman was still in their teens. He seemed to feel that experience with the same crew would translate into economy of effort, and would produce better results. That seemed to bear out in his record.

Keeping crewman in the 'vette service was tough. CEGA seemed to understand this and the recruiting methods were profoundly different than the rest of the CEGA military. While other services were giving away just a minor enlistment bonus and nothing more, the 'vette service was offering education in the latest technology, an esprit de corps of serving in Diego's favorite service, specially high pay rates, the best food and the longest leave passes of any branch in any military before or since. As a bonus were the great chances to earn promotions, medals (including the Solar Cross) and the chance to one day command a 'vette themselves. This "give the store away" approach did indeed fill the ranks of the 'vette service, however, it did not guarantee the best quality of seamen. Henke avoided that problem, by trading it for another. His crew knew they would face little chance of promotion, as in order to move up, the man above would have to be removed. However, that issue was of little consequences to his crew so long as he kept them sailing from one victorious battle to the next. The morale of the CVC-515 remained high. Even when she finally was crippled and later destroyed on 9 May 2222, by the Jovian magnetic mines laid by the Jovian Destroyer Harpoon, the survivors of the 515 remained motivated and highly belligerent, despite the fact that the war was obviously lost, and that the Jovian Navy as merely mopping up the hot spots, the surviving crew of the 515 was reported to be jovial and patriotic. Even Henke, who at that point was 33 was respected by the Jovians. He was posthumously awarded the Solar Cross.