“Sink the Boomers!” is one of the introductory scenarios from Victory Games’ second release in the Fleet series games, 2nd Fleet. While the first release, 6th Fleet, focused on naval warfare in the Mediterranean, this time around the action takes place in the North Atlantic near the GIUK (Greenland, Iceland, UK) gap where, presumably, NATO would duke it out with the Soviets in any Cold-War-Turned-Hot conflict that brewed up in Central Europe.
In “Sink The Boomers”, the unthinkable has happened at some point in the 1980s and the Warsaw Pact is pouring tanks and men across the border into West Germany. Reagan has threatened a limited nuclear strike on the Russians and to show them he’s serious, has ordered the destruction of Soviet ballistic nuclear submarines (“boomers”) operating in the Barents Sea. Unfortunately, the Americans have only two SN attack submarines on hand, the La Jolla (LAJLA) and the Newport News (NPNWS) for this task. The Soviets have three boomers, the Ukraina (UKRNA), Donskaya (DNSKY), and the Karelskaya (KRLSK) that they intend to send towards the ice packed sea areas around the Spitsbergen archipelago.
Being under the ice pack will make these subs virtually undetectable to NATO so it is essential that the two American subs stop them before they reach the ice. To complicate matters further for NATO, the Soviets have three attack submarines, the Anatoly Blagonravov (ABLGN), Pyotr Pospelov (PPSLV), and Magnitogorskiy (MGNIT) on station in the Barents Sea to provide cover for their ballistic subs as they make a run for it.
Both sides have limited air assets. NATO gets a squadron of Norweigan P3 Orions based at Andoya in Norway while the Russians get T-95 recon aircraft at Kilpyavr and I38s at Pechenga.
The game length for this scenario is 9 turns (3 days).
At setup, we have the following situation. The Newport News is sitting south east of Edgoya, a Norweigan island that forms part of the Spitsbergen Archipelago. The La Jolla is to the southwest of the Newport News.
The Americans have set their subs further back to avoid a first turn rush from Soviet attack subs and to give them lots of room to manoeuvre and hit at the oncoming Boomers.
Strategic air assets are deployed by both sides. The Soviet T-95s and I38s find both American submarines while the Norweigan P3s fail to locate any of the Soviet submarines. Not a good start for NATO.
NATO activates its submarines first. Since the subs are already strategically detected by the Russians, it makes no sense to move slowly. They run at full speed, giving them an extra movement point. The La Jolla up north and the Newport News south, trying to bracket the approaching Soviet subs. Hopefully, they can come in behind the screening Soviet attack boats.
The Soviets send one attack sub each to attack the Americans. The ABLGN fires at Newport News and misses while the PPSLV attempts ASW attacks against La Jolla and also miss.
|Newport News to the south and La Jolla to the north. Soviet boomers rushing through the middle, west towards the ice pack.|
On turn 2, the Soviet attack subs pour it on, attempting attacks on both the Newport News and the La Jolla, all failing to score a hit. The Newport News and La Jolla decide to chase after the SSBNs rushing through the middle and by the next turn, manage to catch up to them. The La Jolla manages a hit on the DNSKY and damage the sub badly. The Newport News doesn’t have the same luck and misses on an attack run attempting to finish it off.
The Russian attack subs race to catch up with the American subs and the boomers wriggle out of their predicament with the Newport News and La Jolla, heading steadily for the ice pack. To catch up with their brothers in arms, the DNSKY must run at full speed. It is strategically detected by the end of the day.
|The damaged DNSKY flees west with the other boomers while the American subs sit on either side of the pack.|
NATO sends up its Orions again fail to detect one of the boomers while the Soviet I38s pinpoint the La Jolla. The T-95D is put on tactical coordination missions to assist the Soviet attack subs in their attempts to kill off the American submarines.
On the first turn, the La Jolla races west to catch up with the Soviet boomers while the Newport News fails to kill off the damaged DNSKY.
The Soviet boomers are getting close to the ice pack and the accompanying attack submarines are thirsting for revenge on behalf of the damaged DNSKY.
They soon get their vengeance. The PPSLV damages the Newport News and then the ABLGN follows up with another successful attack, sinking it. The Americans are down to one submarine.
|The lone American sub (La Jolla) chases down the Soviet boomers as they make their way west.|
Near the end of the second day, the LAJLA is desperately attempting an attack on the UKRNA. Sinking this sub would be a big plus for NATO as it is worth more victory points than the other two boomers. The attack damages the UKRNA so the Americans are not out of the game yet. Sinking one of the Russian boomers would be a big help for them. On the other hand, the Soviets get some major victory points if their subs manage to reach the ice pack, even if they are damaged.
|End of Day 2 – The La Jolla sits in front of the boomers as they are achingly close to reaching the ice pack.|
Strategic air allocation for both sides is all about tactical coordination today. Each side is looking to score some damage on this last day of the scenario.
The PPSLV attack submarine attempts an attack on the La Jolla and damages it with the help of tactical coordination with the T-95s and I38s. All the Russians need to do now is finish off this last American submarine and they can sail their way to a major victory. The ABLGN follows up PPSLV’s attack on the La Jolla but misses.
|The PPSLV damages the LAJLA and heads south before the ALBGN follows up with an attempted coup de grace and misses.|
On NATO’s turn, the La Jolla activates. Going for the UKRNA is risky. It is harder to damage but it is also worth more victory points than the DNSKY. The commander of the damaged La Jolla decides to play it safe and try for an attack run on the DNSKY with a bonus for using tactical coordination with the P3 Orions. The NATO player rolls a 9 (a 10 with tac coord) and scores a major hit on the DNSKY, destroying it. If NATO can activate first in turn 8, there’s a chance it might also be able to destroy the UKRNA.
|The damaged La Jolla after sinking the DNSKY.|
Luck falls to the other side, however, and the Russian boomers run at full speed and hide under the security of the ice pack. The remaining Russian attack subs chase after the La Jolla but it escapes to the south undetected. The scenario ends.
Soviet player victory point total:
KRLSK reaches ice pack: 4 points
UKRNA reaches ice pack: 5 points
US SN sunk (Newport News): 1 point
Total: 10 victory points
Result: Marginal Soviet victory
Conclusion: This was an extremely tense scenario. Near the end, it had the air of a Tom Clancy thriller with the Americans desperately trying to score a success – any success – against the Soviets. The Americans tried their best to throw the Soviet attack boats off guard by trying to take indirect approaches to the Soviet boomers. Splitting up the Newport News and the La Jolla made it harder to score successes against the Soviets but it may have ended up ensuring the survival of at least one American submarine. One thing I’ve learned with subs is that if they’re strategically detected by air at the start of the day, you might as well use their full speed capabilities. This allows you to really make effective hit and run attacks on your targets.
For the Soviets, attacking 688-class American submarines with inferior Russian subs means that you’ll probably need either some good luck or some good tactical coordination. If you’re in a position where enemy submarines will be locally detected due to their close proximity to your ships at the start of the day, you would be well served to place your recon planes on tactical coordination missions rather than searching for enemies.