Thanks for joining in on this epic game of Sixth Fleet, scenario 9: Crisis in the Middle East.
The game seems to be coming to a close as negotiations between the Americans and the Soviets progress at the United Nations. Hostilities will likely cease in a day or two at this rate but lots of exciting things have been happening so let’s recap with a bit of strategic analysis:
1.) The Americans have rushed a carrier task force to the Eastern Med while the rest of the US Navy has sent in ships piecemeal. Luckily, for the US, it has lots of friends there to help stave off Soviet attacks. The Egyptians and the Israelis have sent out their destroyers and subs to fight off Soviet subs in the area. Israeli CAP has largely kept away the Soviet Air Force attempts to send bombers after the carrier group. As a result, the US has successfully landed forces at both Famagusta in Cyprus and in Beirut as well.
2.) The Soviets have managed to cut off the American reinforcement task forces through the use of sheer numbers and sea power. While the Soviets and Americans contend with each other in the Eastern Med with 1 task force apiece, the Russians have also committed a task force to the Central Mediterranean to cut off the US carrier task force from retreat and stop fresh ships from arriving from the west.
3.) Stormy weather on Day 2 prevented a lot of the fighting in major areas of strategic importance (in this case, the Eastern Med) and shifting the focus of the conflict to the west. The Americans have been slowly cleaning up Soviet submarines in the Atlantic and Western Med. However, one US task force near Sicily has been relentlessly pursued and harassed by Soviet submarines.
4.) This morning, with clear weather all around the Mediterranean and all major surface and subsurface groups in the area detected, some major fighting is expected in the area.
CAP Phase: The Israelis put up F-16s over Yafo. The US plan is to swing the carrier task force south as soon as possible to give them additional air cover under the Israelis.
The Syrians place MiG-21s and Su-20s on CAP over Latakia to protect the nearby Soviet task force. It’s not much but it’s better than nothing since the USS Nimitz will assuredly be sending out attack planes against them this morning.
US Surface Activation:
As planned, the US carrier task force moves from north of Cyprus close to Beirut. This puts them close enough to the Soviet fleet to launch an SSM attack. Despite some heavy anti-missile defense fire and jamming attempts, several missiles get through, damaging the Soviet FF Ladny.
The Egyptians follow it up with a missile attack from their destroyers and patrol craft. Stabbing right for the heart of the Soviet task force, the CG Slava, the missiles fall achingly short.
USSR Submarine Activation:
The Soviets close it up with the submarines and start hitting at the US task forces. Over near Beirut, the Soviet submarine Sumy fires a full spread of torpedoes at the US carrier task force, damaging the cruiser USS California while the Ivdel damages a Turkish submarine off its southern coast.
Over to the west, near Sicily, a Libyan submarine and a Soviet submarine attack two frigates in another US task force. The Libyans damage the Alwyn while the Soviets sink the Doyle.
In the western Med, near Spain, the Svesa sinks the USS Drum, the tough old submarine that did quite a job sinking Soviet submarines on the first two days of the war.
US Air Activation:
The USS Nimitz goes for the throat, launching A-7s, A-6s and an EA-6 Prowler against the nearby Soviet task force. The A-7s act as escorts. The Syrian MiGs and Su-20s intercept the strike package and shoot down some escorting A-7s, forcing the American raid back to the carrier. I knew I should have taken an F-14 off of CAP and put it on escort duty. This is a pretty major failure for the US.
F-104s take off from Izmir and bomb a Soviet task force in the Black Sea, damaging a tanker.
USSR Air Activation:
T-16 attack squadrons along with an EW plane take off from the Crimea and go out for an attack on the US carrier task force. The F-14s do a great job and shoot down several of the bombers, sending the raid back to base. It seems like no one can get through anyone’s air cover today.
The Libyans send a strike package at the other US task force near Italy, sinking a combat supplies ship, the Lyra.
US Submarine Activation:
With the Soviet task force in the east in a base hex, they cannot be attacked by torpedo combat. This puts the US in a bit of a bind. They have indeed locked up the Soviet fleet but it doesn’t really need to go anywhere at this point, anyway since they’ve taken Beirut.
The USS Boston fires a Tomahawk cruise missile at Saki air base in the Crimea and takes out some of the ammunition and fuel supplies. The Soviet bombers are unscathed.
USSR Surface Activation
The Soviet task force near Beirut fires SSMs at the US carrier task force, attempting to destroy the USS California. No hits are scored.
The Black Sea Fleet near Istanbul severely damages a Turkish submarine.
The AM Cycle closes.
Wow! What a turn. The Soviets have benefited from some clever strategies. Keeping their ships bottled up in port has left them immune from torpedo attacks and keeping them under Syrian air cover has prevented US strike packages from getting through too. The Soviets have also scored some major hits against American ships in the west thanks to the Libyans.
On the other hand, the Americans are doing okay with fending off the Soviet air and submarine attacks so far. It’s rather miraculous that the US carrier task force is still intact despite suffering from so many attacks from everywhere at once. I think victory will likely depend on how long this game continues. US reinforcements are slow to come online but when they do, they really field some major hardware. Also, if the Americans can just get one more task force to help out in the east, they might be able to shift from offense to defense. Right now, they’re just barely clinging on.