Sixth Fleet – ASW in the Med.

The USS Baltimore (SSN-704) underway.

This is a brief report of Scenario 1 from Victory Games’ 1986 classic, Sixth Fleet designed by Joltin’ Joe Balkoski.

This is a simple short scenario with clear objectives: sink the other guy’s subs before the end of Turn 9.

The background is pretty basic. The USSR wants control of the Med so it can have a free hand at destroying NATO merchant shipping bound for Israel. A couple of US submarines need to stop this from happening.

Setup is as follows:

SS Byngi (Kilo-class) and SN Drabov (Victor III) set up in the Western Mediterranean. Both subs are decent with ASW values of 6. Both are pretty quiet and hard to detect. The US gets a Sturgeon-class boat, USS Drum (SSN-677), just east of Gibraltar. It’s not as sturdy as a Los Angeles-class submarine, but still packs a punch with its ASW value of 9.

SN Sumy (Victor III) and SN Nezhin (Alfa-class) are placed in the Tyrrhenian Sea, ready to strike the USS Baltimore! The Nezhin is the true threat here with an ASW value equal to the Los Angeles class submarine and a tough hull value of 7. What’s most amazing here is its speed.

The Alfas could run at an estimated 42 knots and this is reflected by their counter speed of 5. They are among the fastest naval units in the game. As a side note, they could dive down to around 2000 feet or more, which was far deeper than any NATO sub could travel.

To say that the West was concerned about these subs is an understatement. The capabilities of the Alfas dominated NATO naval weapons development well into the 1980s. Most notably, this lead to several new torpedo programs, including the American ADCAP Mark 48 torpedo and the British “Spearfish.”

SturgeonLos AngelesKiloVictorAlfa
Speed (kts)
2525+203242
Displace.
(tons)
4,2705,7143,9507,2503,680
Test Depth
(m/ft)
396/1300450/1470240/780320/1050750/2460
Complement10911052~10031

All that worry was for naught. Only 7 Alfas were built. They were noisy, unreliable, and insanely expensive to boot. All seven boats were decommissioned and slated for the scrapheap by the mid-90s. Great article about them here.

The Soviets have a T16 recon flight sitting in Annaba, Algeria. I had no idea that Moscow and Algiers were buddies. A little digging revealed that the Russians provided 11 billion dollars worth of military equipment to the country during the Cold War. That explains it!

The Soviets outnumber the Americans but the US player has more air power. There are four P3 Orions available. A good mix of recon and tactical coordination should be enough to even the odds.

Turn 1:

Strategic Air:

The Russians try to detect the USS Baltimore and fail miserably with a roll of 6. The US has no luck detecting the Byngi or the Sumi. The noisy Alfa, though is detected quite easily. A Detected marker is placed on the Nehzin.

The Drum moves east three hexes while the Baltimore moves west in hopes of joining up with it and wreaking havoc on the Soviet sub fleet. Byngi and Drabov move west to cut off the Drum while Sumy and Nehzin pursue the Baltimore.

Turn 2:

The Baltimore moves 4 hexes straight west while the Drum moves one hex toward the Byngi.

Sumy and Nehzn catch up to Baltimore and Drabov closes in on Drum. Drum and Byngi are detected. Baltimore and Sumy detect each other. A fight is brewing.

Turn 3:

Baltimore vs. Sumy:(w/ Tac Coord): 3 + 1: 4

Sumy is damaged!

Drum vs. Byngi: 4

The Byngi is damaged!

Drabov moves north and attacks Drum. We roll a 5. No effect!

Nehzn chases after Baltimore and damages it. The run of luck for the US ends.

Turn 4:

Strategic Air Phase:

A big ol’ stack of planes.

Both sides commit everything to Tac Coordination in the Western Med.

US gets initiative and send the Drum up to deal with the Nehzin. We add three Tac Coordination planes in to seal the deal. Rolling a 5 for a modified 8, we deal 5 damage to the Russian sub, which is enough to flip it over. The damaged Baltimore attacks the Drabov but fails to inflict damage.

The Drabov moves one hex east and attacks the Drum, hoping to damage it with the help of Tactical Coordination. The result is a modified 3. Not a chance.

The Soviets go and the Nehzin deals a hit against the Drum. Both US subs are now damaged.

Turn 5:

Both US subs attempt to deal damage against the Drabov. Both fail.

The Soviet Drabov manages to sink the USS Drum! The Americans are down to a single damaged sub. Things don’t look good. The Baltimore is trapped on all sides by the Soviets.

Turn 6:

Every Soviet sub takes its turn hammering away on the elusive Baltimore. Can it survive?! A string of bad rolls results in no damage! The Americans try to strike back but are stymied. The Baltimore races west in an attempt to outrun the Russians.

Turn 7:

Strategic Air:

Russians on reconnaisance and American planes on Tactical Coordination.

Here we go! The Soviets fail to detect the fleeing Baltimore! The US sub goes toward Gibraltar. The Soviets give chase!

Turn 8:

The Soviets are hot on the heels of the Baltimore!

Turn 9:

The Soviets take a parting shot at the Baltimore before it leaves Gibraltar. The Nezhin nearly damages it with a roll of 5. Had I put the Soviet T16 on Tac coordination, this would have meant the death of the US sub. The Drabov takes a shot and misses too. The Baltimore sneaks off a parting shot at the Drabov, damaging it and then races out of the Mediterranean.

Result: Since neither side was able to sink all of the other side’s subs, this is a draw. Interesting to see how this scenario can turn on a dime from straight up combat to desperate retreat. Back in the Kremlin, Admiral Gorshkov bangs his fist on a desk. Over at the White House, Secretary of the Navy John Lehman has some explaining to do.

Reagan: “Stand a little further away from me, John. And for God’s sake, fix your tie!”

Sixth Fleet – Operation Minotaur

Casus Belli is an old French wargaming magazine that was a pleasant mixture of articles and scenarios on many different games. In 1988, they published a scenario based on the idea of a war between France and Libya. It was called “Operation Minotaur”.

I like this scenario because it fills a gap in the scenarios from the original Sixth Fleet core rules. With so many different nationalities included in the game’s counter mix, it was practically begging for a scenario that didn’t feature the US Navy. Although I love Sixth Fleet dearly, it was so totally focused on Cold War matchups that it felt like it was missing out on potential scenarios that featured local conflicts between powers in the region. This scenario helps to tilt back the balance a bit.

In “Operation Minotaur”, we have a similar setup to what was featured in the “Libyan-American War” scenario but instead of the Americans this time, it is the French who are angry at Libya (3 guesses as to why). The name of the operation seems pretty clever as Libyan-backed terrorism is seen as the minotaur that kills innocent young men and women while the French are set up as Theseus, who will finally slay the monster. Maybe I’m reading too much into it though.

In any case, the Libyans must have done something real bad to anger the French because they have just dispatched a carrier (the R99 Foch) and its task force along with several submarines. The French objective is to bomb targets in Benghazi and Darnah. The more hits they can get on these two targets, the more VPs they score. Hitting Tripoli, for some reason, is worth zero VP. I have a feeling this was done for balance issues but maybe the scenario notes help explain the logic behind this.

Foch-ing Cool: The Clemenceau Class Foch (R99)

Although the Foch is an impressive piece of military equipment, it isn’t rated quite the same as the Nimitz in this game. Indeed, while the Nimitz had a whopping 9 hit capacity, the Foch only has 5. Whereas the Nimitz carried a wide assortment of planes to do its business, the Foch has two squadrons of Super Étendards, an Alizé (an AEW version) and a squadron of F-8 interceptors. Still, this seems like more than enough to get the job done.

Les Super Duper Étendards in mid-flight

The Super Étendards fly at low altitude and high speed, so each time they get within range of Libyan CAP missions, the Libyan player must roll a “1” on a six-sided die to intercept. Another interesting special rule is that the Libyans might get advance intelligence of a French attack. Each time the French try to hit a base hex, the Libyan player rolls a six-sided die. On a “1” result, his CAP strength and base anti-air strength are increased. Another special rule states that the French get a +1 bonus to attack Libyan subs as they are noisy. The odds are very much stacked against the Libyans but it seems like the scenario designers were trying to go for some realism with these options.

The setup for the Libyans has a Mig-23 and an Su-20 each in Tripoli and Benghazi. There are two Libyan subs (Fateh and Albdr) starting off near the coast. Two PCS boats are in Tripoli and two are in Benghazi with a final one sitting in Darnah.

The game is 9 turns long. The Libyans score VPs by damaging or destroying the French forces. If they can damage the Foch, they score 20 VPs and if they destroy it, they get 100 VPs! The game goes to the side that can score the most VPs by the end.

I was warned that this scenario was a fairly one-sided affair for the French so I decided to try and see if I could finish the scenario without any French losses. On the other hand, I decided to play the Libyans as aggresively as possible. They will try to use their submarines to detect the French task force arriving in the area and then send a swarm of PCS ships to attack the French all at the same time. It is a big gamble but if it pays off, we might be able to sink the Foch!

Turn 1

Strat Air Allocation:

The French want to find at least one of those Libyan subs before they can detect or do any damage to their task force. They assign one Atlantique recon plane based in Nimes to scour the waters near Libya. The other Atlantique is assigned to Tactical Coordination in The Tyrrhenian Sea .

In the CAP phase, the Libyans put up a Mig-23 and Su-20 in Benghazi. They keep the MiG-23 and Su-20 off CAP in Tripoli. Hopefully, the subs can detect the incoming French and the Libyans can scramble their air force from Tripoli to hit their fleet as it comes south.

The French put the F-8 interceptors up on CAP with the Alizé over the Foch. There is only one F-8 squadron but having an AEW unit really helps to make interceptions more effective.

Both sides jostle for position this turn. The Libyans send their subs up on a course to intercept the French carrier task force when it passes west of Sicily. The French send their task force south and the two frigates are used to screen. The Libyans also send the Asawr and PCS1 north to 0722. With a 5 movement rating, they will be able to swoop in and attack once the Libyan subs detect the French surface forces.

End of Turn 1

Turn 2

The French started off the turn by activating their subs. They moved them on an intercept course with the Libyan subs, which were themselves on their way to set up a picket near Sicily.  The decision was whether or not to have the Rubis attack the Albdr but that would have left the French sub detected and in the midst of hostile waters alone.

The Libyans activated their subs and kept them moving. The Fateh moved to 0923 while the Albdr arrived in hex 1024.

The Libyans could do nothing with their air so they passed in the second action phase. The French activated surface ships and moved Task Force 1 to 1224, hugging the west Sicilian coastline and trying to stay out of Albdr’s limited detection zone.

The French activated their air but there was no point to hitting Tripoli and Benghazi was just out of range. The Libyans decided to go for broke and activated their surface patrol boats in Darnah and Benghazi. PCS4 &5 stacked together and arrived in 1929 while PCS1 was in 0631 by the end of the turn. If only the French were foolish enough to hurry into the Central Mediterranean and be detected, the Libyan surface fleet could swarm them.

End of Turn 2

Turn 3

The French are frustrated at their inability to get their carriers moving south into striking range of Benghazi. It is time to hit the Libyan subs. All three French subs attack the Albdr but only the Daphné manages to damage it. The Libyans activate their own subs and attempt revenge by attacking the Daphné in return but fail to score any hits.

The French hope to detect the Libyan surface fleet in 0722 and attack next turn so they move into position in 1122 and stack together. Let’s see if we can draw off the Libyans or destroy them.

The turn ends with the Libyans moving PCS3 from Darnah closer to the Task Force. It arrives in 0728 so now the Libyan boats are all within closing distance of the Foch and her escorts.  Although the real fighting has not yet begun, the tension is thick.

Sub battles just south of the French task force near Sicily. Turn 3.

Turn 4

Everything explodes in turn 4. In the strategic air allocation phase, the Libyans send their Su-20 in Tripoli up on a recon mission to find the French carrier task force and the two French frigates stacked together in 1122. Meanwhile, the French send up their Atlantique planes on recon missions in The Tyrrhenian Sea  and Central Mediterranean to detect the Libyan surface forces.

The Libyans can’t penetrate the submarine screen around the French task force but they can definitely hurt the French elsewhere. PCS1 and Asawr move to 1022, adjacent to the French frigates, and launch their SSMs. They sink the Moulin and damage the Drogou. The Libyans gain 6 VP.

Well, so much for my plan to keep the French from getting through this ordeal without any casualties. Time for revenge.

The French activate their air units and start to erase the Libyan surface fleet. One Étendard destroys the Asawr and PCS1 in 1022 while the other takes out PCS4 & 5 in 0929. The French have 19 VP.

In the second action phase, the French get their submarines going and the Rubis sinks PCS3 in 0728 for 4 VP. The Agost sends Albdr to the bottom of the sea for 3 more VP.

As an encore, the French task force damages the Fateh and moves to 1027. From next turn, it will be able to launch air attacks against Benghazi.

In return, the Libyans decide to finish the job of taking out the French frigates. They send their MiG-23s from Tripoli out to bomb the Drogou and score a hit, sinking it.

Wow. What a turn. Everyone got hurt but the Libyans came out worse for wear. France has 26 VPs and the Libyans have 10. Libya is going to need some serious luck to try and recover from the near entire loss of their fleet.

End of Turn 4: The Libyan fleet is nearly destroyed.

Turn 5

And so it begins. The French start off the turn by sending off both squadrons of Super Étendards into Benghazi. The Libyans fail to intercept with their CAP and the French score 6 hits on the Libyan city. The French gain 10 VP.

The Libyan sub Fateh tries in vain to hit the Daphé and then moves east. It’s all for nothing though because the Agost intercepts and sinks it shortly thereafter. The turn ends with the French moving their carrier task force east so the air units can hit Darnah.

Figuring that the CAP over Benghazi is largely useless, the MiG-23 and Su-20 are brought in for a landing during the CAP landing phase. Maybe they can score a lucky hit on the French task force next turn.

Super Étendards lash out at Benghazi for the first strikes.

Turn 6

The Libyans get their MiGs and Su-20s up in the air at the start of the turn and try for a hit on the Foch. However, the French F8s manage an intercept and score a hit on the incoming raid (taken on the Su-20s). The Libyan air units return to base.

French air units bomb Darnah successfully and score another 10 VP. Things look pretty bleak for the Libyans.

The Libyans mount a desperate air raid from Benghazi against the French carrier task force

Turn 7

The Libyans decide to shift back to CAP intercepts so no one is sent out on strategic air missions. The French are unrivalled at sea right now so the Atlantique recon pilots sit in Nimes and twiddle their thumbs.

France sends out one group of Étendards to hit Benghazi while the other hits Darnah. Libyan CAP cannot intercept them and the French collect another 12 VP this turn.

Turn 8

The French hit Benghazi and Darnah again. They now have 74 VP.

Turn 9

On the final turn, the French hit a minor snag when Libyan intelligence gets advance warning of their raid on Benghazi. Although CAP fails to intercept, the AAA value of the base hex is doubled. It still fails to score any hits on the French planes and they score 3 hits on the city. Darnah is hit again too.

The French total VP for the game is 82 while the Libyans have scored 10.

The Minotaur is dead. A look at the map at the end of the game.

Wow. I’m not sure the Libyans ever really had a chance. The ineffectiveness of the CAP, although probably realistic, might be causing some balance issues with his particular scenario. That being said, I did really enjoy the first part of the game where I was hoping for the French task force to make a misstep and get swarmed by the Libyan surface fleet. Task force 1 was bottled up near Sicily for nearly half the game, which is kind of impressive for the Libyans to pull off on its own.

Thinking back on it, I probably would have sent the Su-20 out on recon during the first turn Strat Air Allocation phase in order to detect the French carrier group. I could have then waited until the French got close enough to the Libyan coast to try and hit them all at once. The MiG-23 in Tripoli should have gone up on intercept to keep the French Atlantique planes from detecting any submarines. I think the Libyans can manage to do better than I did if they spread out their surface fleet as much as possible. Keep the French submarines chasing them while they close in and fire missiles every so often at the task force escorts. I would like to try this again with more “guerilla” style tactics employed by the Libyans. Here, I was trying to use swarm tactics but that doesn’t really work if you aren’t playing as the Soviets. In any case, I really enjoyed this scenario and I am sure that a crafty player can figure out how to get a hit off on the Foch somehow!

I want to say a big thank you to the good Docteur for kindly translating the scenario rules and sending them to me. Merci à vous!

Sixth Fleet – Libyan – American War

Scenario 7 from Victory Games’ Sixth Fleet is about a hypothetical war that brews up between Libya and the United States. After Gaddafi orders one of his subs to sink an American LSD filled with Marines headed to Beirut, Reagan orders airstrikes on Libya as punishment. This task falls to the US Sixth Fleet, specifically the USS Nimitz with its full complement of aircraft and carrier task force ships. Two American subs, the USS Drum and the Omaha (Sturgeon-class and Los Angeles-class respectively), are along for the ride.

April 1986: The Gipper is PO’d.

The US player gains 1 VP after hitting the bases in all three Libyan cities (Tripoli, Benghazi, and Darnah). Once they are all hit once, he must hit them all again to get 2 VP apiece for each city and he gets 3 VP for each city after hitting each them all three times.  To win, the US player needs 9 VP.

If everything goes just right, he should be able to pull off a win in 5 or 6 turns. An American victory seems to be a matter of just parking the Nimitz a bit north off the coast and launching aircraft all day. But, as always, things are a little more complicated than that.  The US player gets no VPs for destroying Libyan units but the Libyans can reduce the US VP tally by sinking American ships.

The USS Nimitz. Incredible.

The Libyans have a small but slightly potent force waiting for the Americans. Three ageing Libyan subs are lurking in the waters of the Central Mediterranean. They also have 5 PCS with decent SSM attack ratings. Tripoli is home to a MiG-23 squadron and two Su-20 squadrons. Benghazi has a MiG squadron and an Su-20. Individually, these units are not much of a match for the Americans, but used together they can certainly hamper the US player’s efforts by exploiting a few weak links.

Start of the scenario

I used to play this scenario and get consistent US wins. It was pretty boring until my gameplay with the Libyans improved a bit. Even then, it is still quite a tough order for the Libyans to garner a victory here and they need luck on their side to pull it off.  I’m sure most experienced Sixth Fleet players would know these tactics but these tips might be helpful for anyone who hasn’t played the game in a while or someone lucky enough to have just discovered this gem of a game after all this time.

Here is what I usually do as the Libyans:

1. Put the MiG-23s on CAP above Tripoli and Benghazi. I usually put one of the Su-20s in Tripoli up along with the MiG-23 just to add a little “oomf” to the CAP.  The remaining Su-20s should sit where they are to provide a reason for the Nimitz to keep its CAP flying. The last thing you want is to have those F-14s join in on the fun because the Libyans will lose quickly. I never try any attacks with the Su-20s because they will certainly get shot down if they approach the Nimitz. They are more of a “fleet in being” than a real strike force.

2.  The Libyan subs should aggressively hunt the US carrier task force right away. You are going to lose them sooner or later (probably sooner) to American ASW efforts. You might as well try to rush them in and get a lucky hit on a frigate or destroyer. Even if you only manage to sink the Ramsy (reduces US VP by one point), that really puts the pressure on the American player to carefully allocate his strike resources.

3. The PCS ships should swarm the US player on the second day. The PCS ships are pretty safe in their base hexes for the first day unless the US goes to the trouble of allocating strategic air missions to detect them (and wasting precious air resources by actually going in and bombing them – the Libyan player could only hope the US might do something so silly). By the second day of game time, the US carrier should be within easy striking distance of the PCS ships. Send them out individually and try to swarm the carrier task force with SSMs (go for the escorts – not the carrier). With any luck, the US player’s ASW rolls and sub rolls will not all hit and he’ll be forced to send out some aircraft to take them out.

4. Bide your time. If you have managed to keep the US player off-balance by continually harassing him and forcing him to assign air assets to either shoot down or your CAP fighters or sink your PCS ships, he might end up in a situation where he pulls a Tomcat off CAP and uses it for air strikes. If that happens, by all means send in your Su-20s and see what happens. Before all of that happens though, try to keep as much of your navy and air force intact. It is worth far more as a potential threat than wasted on big gambles at terrible odds.

As the American player in this scenario, I always try to do the following:

1. Use the P3s to detect the Libyan subs right away. Keep the S3 Viking as an offensive ASW tool. Those Libyan subs are pretty fragile and you will probably score a hit at some point with it. Aggressively take out the Libyan subs as fast as you can with your submarines. Although they don’t look like much, just one lucky torpedo shot at your carrier task force can make the 9 VP objective so much harder to reach.

2. Launch a cruise missile on turn 1 vs Tripoli and hope for the best. If it causes 5 damage to the base hex (page 23), one of the Libyan air units will be damaged. Reducing Libyan offensive air capability helps to potentially free up your Tomcats from CAP to go out and help on the air strike missions.

3. Never divert your air to any purpose other than bombing Libyan base hexes. Use your SSMs and subs to take out the Libyan PCS boats. This scenario is a real exercise in “economy of force” so you may need to divide up your air packages smartly. Instead of sending out big raids on a single mission each turn, try experimenting by putting 2 F-18s(1 strike, 1 escort) with an EA-6 Prowler to shoot down the Libyan CAP over Benghazi, which would pave the way for an unescorted A-6 strike on Darnah in the same turn.

Late game – turn 6 in first game. US player is unable to get enough hits on the Libyan cities for a victory.

I just went through a couple of plays of this and managed in both games to sink the USS Ramsy. My PCS boats had varied success, sinking another DD in one of the plays and getting nothing at all in the other. In both cases, the US player split up his air offensive packages to deal with the threats. This led to US losses in both games (6 VP in the first game and 8 VP in the other).

Sixth Fleet: Scenario 9: Day 4 – Strategic Cycle

Well, both sides are counting on this morning’s political events to see whether the war will progress or come to an end.  The US has managed to catch up to the Soviets in terms of sinking enemy units but the Russians have a big lead from their recent landings in Beirut, which is prime real estate for victory in this scenario.

If the conflict continues, the US gets reinforcements in the form of the USS Kennedy and a large task force to accompany it.  On the other hand, if the conflict ends, the Soviets can sit back and count their VPs, much to the dismay of the Americans.

Let’s get down to business:

Political Events Phase:

Roll:  5 (+3)  = 8

An armistice is declared by the warring nations and the Soviets and Americans decide to put down their weapons for the time-being.  It’s game over and time to add up the VPs.

The Soviets get 21 VPs for Sea Denial, plus another 40 for Beirut and other 38 for previous Sea Denial on previous days.  For sinking units, they get a whopping 87 points.  186 points total.

The Americans get 30 VPs for the Cyprus landing plus another 70 points total for the  enemy units sunk.  100 points total.

Result:  Substantial Victory – Soviet Union

Analysis:

Although I had played a fair bit of the Introductory and Intermediate scenarios from Sixth Fleet, this was my very first time playing an Advanced scenario with all the bells and whistles (including Logistics).  It was time intensive to track almost every single unit in the game but thanks to Vassal, it was no problem to just take a break and come back to it later.  So first of all, Vassal, for all its warts, is an amazing tool that lets you play these larger games at your own pace and when you have time rather than taking up valuable table space for prolonged periods.

Secondly, I’m sure it’s quite obvious by now that I don’t know very much about modern naval tactics.  Having the American task forces spread out over the Mediterranean left them wide open to submarine and air attack and it would have been much better to keep everyone together.  This might have meant keeping the US carrier task force hanging back for a day or two while the other task forces caught up, but I believe it would have been worth it in the end by saving a lot of ships.  I think I did a fair job of playing the Soviets by using the air units in the Crimea to hit out at vulnerable US shipping.  Also, keeping the main units of the Soviet amphibious force in Latakia was smart because a) Syrian CAP prevented them from being bombed by American carrier units and b) units in port hexes cannot be attacked by torpedoes.

Finally, the random elements of the game are amazing and provide incredible replayability.  The inclusion of allies and neutrality as well as weather really affected the progress of the game.  The possibility of creating enemies by sending air units over neutral territory or a sudden violent storm cropping up and sweeping away all your careful planning provide for a tense atmosphere and can be frustrating or a huge relief depending on their overall effect on play.  It’s nice to see how simply these rules are handled in the game and how the rules for all of these different random events are written smoothly and neatly.  I found it very easy to use these elements in my campaign and I will definitely use them again in future Sixth Fleet games.

Sixth Fleet: Scenario 9 – Day 3: Night Cycle

Day 3 of the conflict represented an apex of force for both sides.  Soviet subs and bombers inflicted major losses on the American surface fleet while the US and its allies sunk several Soviet subs in retaliation.  With negotiations progressing, this may be the last segment of the conflict so let’s not waste any further time and get started:

Soviet initiative:

Soviet air segment:

Soviet air strikes hit at a US task force near Tunisia, damaging the USS Mahan.  A Libyan raid launched from Tripoli at the same target ends in disaster as all escort MiGs are shot down and the Su-20 bombers fail to hit any ships.

US submarine segment:

The USS Boston works together with an Egyptian sub to outsmart and kill the Soviet submarine Hovly.  ASW efforts by the Allied subs have been exceptional so far today.

Soviet submarine segment:

Soviet submarine Svesa hits at the US task force near Tunisia.  So far these American ships have suffered SSM attacks, bombing, constant harassment by submarines and again they take another hit as the US destroyer Mahan sinks near Tunis.

US Surface segment:

The US should have really moved its surface ships last segment to escape the bulk of the Soviet submarines but that’s the way she goes, isn’t it?

The USS Nimitz carrier and her task force go full ahead after the lurking Soviet submarine Nezhin.  Thanks to liberal use of tactical coordination with US, Egyptian, and American air units, they find it and sink it.  The Americans move back up towards Beirut in hopes of a conducting a Marine landing tomorrow morning.

USSR Surface segment:

The Russians decide to eliminate the strongpoint of the US submarine arsenal in the Eastern Mediterranean.  They use tac coordination between the frigates, cruisers, and Soviet air units from the Crimea to find and damage the USS Boston, lurking near Beirut.

The Soviet cruiser Slava launches an SSM attack w/ tac coordination against the Nimitz.  The SSMs barely miss it and the carrier makes it through the attack with only minor damage.

US Air Segment:

The US decides to keep its carrier-launched units from any raids during the night.  The Nimitz will likely pull a group of F-14s off CAP tomorrow morning to escort a strike against the nearby Soviet fleet at Latakia.

Conclusion:

It was a very close one for the Nimitz!  Everything depends on the progress of the conflict tomorrow morning.  For the Soviets, they can almost certainly lock this one up in VPs if the conflict ends while the Americans can finally get some momentum going and land more Marine units to take away the Soviet lead in VPs.

Day 4 Strategic Cycle Next!

Sixth Fleet: Day 3 – PM Cycle

Today has been a big day in the ongoing Sixth Fleet campaign.  Both sides have been trying to get troops on the ground and get in their licks before the conflict comes to a close.

Here’s a short recap of the major events:

1.)  The Soviets are trying to cut the Americans off from reinforcing Beirut in a major Middle East conflict.

2.)  The US has responded by dispatching the USS Nimitz to the Mediterranean while the Soviets have a major task force in the Syrian port of Latakia.  The US has other task forces further west that are on the way while the Black Sea Fleet sailed from the Crimea on Day 2.

3.)  Repeated violations of Turkish airspace by the Soviets have cause the Turks to enter the war on the side of the United States.

4.)  Both sides were unable to land troops on Day 2 due to violent storms.

5.)  The Soviets decimated the Turkish surface fleet.

6.)  On the morning of Day 3, the Soviets and Americans landed troops in Beirut.  The Americans also landed a contingent of Marines on nearby Cyprus.

7.)  Negotiations between both sides are progressing very smoothly at the United Nations.  An end to the conflict is in sight.

DAY 3:  1200 – 1800 hrs

Soviet initiative:

Soviet submarine segment:

The Soviet submarine Sumy fires a spread of torpedoes at the US carrier task force, narrowly missing the USS Deyo, a  destroyer with a highly effective ASW component. The Ivdel sinks a nearby Turkish submarine Titeray.

Near Sicily, another US task force with cargo ships and a group of light escorts, desperately tries to escape a wolfpack of Soviet and Libyan subs.  The damaged sub Byngi manages a lucky hit and sinks the frigate Alwyn.  This reduces the number of ships below the threshold for a task force and now they are much like sitting ducks!

American surface segment:

The US carrier task force launches SSMs at the nearby Soviets in Latakia but fail to hit anything. However, they do manage to heavily damage the Soviet sub Sumy, which had been hounding them since the start of the war.

The dissolved task force near Sicily moves back west and links up with another intact US task force off the coast of Tunisia.  The ships are safe but they are unable to get through the Soviet screen of ships off the Libyan coast and the Central Mediterranean.  The door to the Eastern Mediterranean is locked.

Soviet surface segment:

The Black Sea fleet continues its roll-up of the Turks, sinking the Atilay.

US air segment:

Another infuriating result for the Americans as another carrier raid is launched against the Soviet fleet in Latakia and the Syrians repel it with MiGs and Su-20s, shooting down an A-7 in the process.

USSR air segment:

Soviet backfires fly off from the Crimea towards the Tunisian course where the second US task force licks its wounds.  With no air cover to protect them, the US loses a tanker and suffers damage to the frigate, the Rentz.

The Libyans send Su-20s and MiGs to follow up on a bombing of the vulnerable US task force.  Despite the lack of air cover, they shoot down some of the MiGs.  However, the Rentz is sent to the bottom of the sea.

US submarine segment:

Near the coast of Beirut, Egyptian and Israeli subs work at destroying the Soviet submarine fleet, sinking two of the Russian boats.  The Sumy and the Tyumen are gone.

Conclusion:

Well, it was a tough segment for everyone.  The Soviets have suffered some serious losses of submarines while the Americans have taken a hit from their surface ships.  The night phase is next and then we’re off to Day 4.

Day 4 Strategic Cycle here.

Sixth Fleet – Day 3: AM Cycle

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.

Action Segment:

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.

Next up!  PM Cycle.

Sixth Fleet: Day 3 – Strategic Cycle

Day 3 has arrived and all sorts of exciting things are bound to happen.  We’ve had stormy weather on Day 2, which has prevented much of the important stuff from going on.  Both sides get reinforcements as well.  The Soviets get some MiGs and a nice shiny nuclear submarine while the Americans get some airborne troops.

First up though, let’s go through the various phases together:

Political Events Phase:

Roll:  4 (+3) = 7

The Armistice marker is moved up one slot.  Negotiations between both sides are apparently going quite nicely since neither side wants to be glowing in the dark any time soon.  This conflict isn’t going to last much longer at this rate.  Maybe a day or two at most, I suspect.

Time to decide Victory Points:

No victory hexes are occupied by either side.  We’ll calculate the victory points from enemy sinkings at the end of the game but so far, the Soviets have a slight edge on the Americans thanks to using their airpower for destroying much of the Turkish surface fleet.

Sea Denial:

The Soviets gain 20 VPs (for a total of 38 VPs) for Sea Denial.

Random Events:

Weather:   Just what the admirals were hoping for.  Clear weather is forecast across the Mediterranean today.

Command and Control:  Both sides have good C and C today.  No major problems.

Satellite Recon:  Neither side gets any additional satellite intel to play with.

Reinforcement Phase:

Mig-23s are now available at Saki in the Crimea while a Soviet sub, Drabov, is reported in the Atlantic near Gibraltar.  The US and its allies get nothing.

Strategic Air Phase:

Allocation:  The Soviets bulk up on Tactical Coordination in the Eastern Med.  The Israelis have set up interceptors to try and stop them.

Interception/Bounce segment:  Moroccan Mirage fighters bounce the Algerian Su-20s that are on a tactical coordination mission, shooting them down in flames to the sea below.  An Algerian F-27 recon plane is forced to return home.

Israeli F-15s encounter a target-rich environment full of Soviet T-16 recon planes on tac coordination missions in the Eastern Med.  The Israeli aircraft, however, have some lousy luck and end up having to return to base.

Detection Phase:

Radar screens light up in the Eastern Med as the storms pass by and everyone detects everyone else.  This is going to be a huge fight.

Invasion Phase:

Availability:  The USSR gains a commando unit.

US Invasion Segment:

The USS Cayuga lands tanks and US Marines in Famagusta on Cyprus worth 30 VPs for the US.  Boo-yah!  They come ashore with no resistance.

The B-52s over in Rota are put to very good use, dropping in a company of 82nd Airborne over Beirut.  The US gains 30 VPs for taking Beirut.

Soviet Invasion Segment:

The Soviets land Spetsnaz commandos in Beirut along with an amphibious landing of Soviet Naval Infantry to boot.  Russian bullets are now entering American bodies and vice versa.  Somewhere a UN delegate is weeping.  The Soviets gain 40 VPs for taking Beirut away from the US.

The Soviets also start landing marine forces in Istanbul.  They need a large number of troops there in order to gain access to the Turkish strait.

The Russians now have 78 VPs to the American 30 VPs but this thing hasn’t been decided completely yet as we haven’t counted the ship sinkings for either side.

Conclusion:

Both sides racked up the victory points as the land battle for the Mediterranean began in earnest.  Luckily, for the Soviets, they got a group of commandos to add to their invasion of Beirut, which allowed them to take control from the American paratroopers.  The US carrier task force still has one ace up its sleeve with the damaged but functional USS Ponce, which carries a huge contingent of US Marines that could be used to take away Soviet control of Beirut if the US ships can move closer to its shore.

I suspect the rest of Day 3 will be fast tempo and full of some serious action as the conflict looks like it just might end on Day 4.  Both sides are desperate to grab what they need in order to come out of this thing as the winner.

To give you an idea of where the major players stand at this point on the map, I’ve created this visual aid.  It’s a bit hard to see but if you click on it, you’ll get a much larger view that’s easier to read.

AM cycle follow-up is here.

Sixth Fleet: Day 2 – Night Cycle

Day 2 is coming to a close so here’s a quick recap of the day’s major events.

1.)  Stormy weather in the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Eastern Med. have prevented units in those areas from moving around too much or fighting.

2.)  The Turkish surface fleet in the Aegean has been utterly destroyed by Soviet air power.

3.)  The Soviet Black Sea Fleet is on its way towards the Turkish Straits.  A single Turkish sub is all that stands between the Russian ships and the gateway to the Mediterranean.

4.)  The focus of the fighting has shifted towards the Western Mediterranean where the US is holding its own against Soviet subs and the Algerians.

5.)  A US task force near Sicily is surrounded by Soviet and Libyan submarines.  A group of American frigates to the west steams towards the area to help out.

As the sun sets around the region, both sides continue the battle, hoping to place their fleets in good position for amphibious landings tomorrow morning.

US Submarine Segment:

The USS Caval sidles up near the Soviet sub Svesa and takes a shot but misses.

USSR submarine segment:

The Svesa executes a cruise missile attack on Rota AFB.  It hits the airbase and does some light damage to ordnance and fuel but the aircraft are largely untouched.

US air segment:

The P3 Orions take off from Rota and hunt down the Svesa.  Despite good efforts, they are unable to sink it.

The B-52s lay waste to Algiers again.

Mirage fighters from Morocco bomb the Algierians again too.

USSR air segment:

 Again, the Soviet air power in the Crimea is bottled up and has no worthy targets at the moment.  It sits still.

US surface segment:

Two US task forces in the western part of the Med inch closer to each other in an attempt at mutual protection.

USSR surface segment:

The Black Sea fleet, along with amphibious landing ships, drops anchor near the coast of Istanbul, preparing for a landing tomorrow morning.

Logistics Headaches:

The US task force near Sicily has nearly run out of fuel and is unable to replenish due to the severe storms.


The Libyans have a large group of patrol craft that have overextended their range attempting to hunt for the US task force near Sicily.  They have run out of fuel and are floating home.

The Egyptians have a task force of patrol craft and DDs in the Eastern Med. that are now out of fuel.

The Israeli subs in the same area are fine in terms of fuel but have only three torpedoes left between them.

Day 2 is over!  Day 3 should be very interesting.  If the storms pass, we’ll be getting some airborne and amphibious landing as the victory points pile up.

Sixth Fleet: Day 2 – PM Cycle

It’s the afternoon of the second day and the storms raging in parts of the Mediterranean continue unabated.

Here’s a brief recap of significant events that have happened so far:

1.)  Ceasefire negotiations have begun between the US and Soviet Union.  Progress seems to be good and both sides are trying to avert all-out war.  In the meantime, the fleets continue to skirmish.  The Soviets have gained 18 VPs from Sea Denial.

2.)  The Russian air force has launched bomber attacks from the Crimea, utterly destroying the Turkish surface fleet.  Another bombing operation has succeeded in sinking the Yugoslav frigate Split.

3.)  Israeli and American subs have cornered the Soviet fleet in the Syrian port of Tartus.  Soviet subs have likewise used the storm to work their way undetected towards the nearby American carrier task force.

4.)  The Moroccans and the Algerians have taken turns punishing each other with little gain for either side.

5.)  The large and menacing Soviet Black Sea Fleet approaches the Turkish straits.

Day 2 PM…

US Air Segment:

The US activates the P3s sitting in Rota and they try for an attack the Soviet sub Perm sitting near Cartagena.  No luck.

Morrocan attack planes bomb Algiers, inflicting some damage on the airbase.  An American B-52 task force utterly decimates the airbase with a follow-up strike, taking out half the Algerian air force and doing considerable damage to their fuel and ordnance as well.

I feel I should be using the B-52s to hit at the Black Sea Fleet but with the weather and lack of escort fighters available, they’re stuck in the kiddy pool swatting at flies.

The US and its allies have done a good job of mopping up the Western Med. of enemies but there are still a couple of Soviet subs operating in the area.

USSR submarine segment:

The Soviets refuse to give up the Western Med without a fight.  The Svesa finds the USS Drum off the southern coast of Spain, damaging it severely.

Several other Soviet subs and a Libyan sub work their way towards the luckless US surface task force near Sicily.  The US surface ships are being surrounded.

A couple more Soviet subs in the Eastern Med. make their way towards the US carrier task force, which is blind and vulnerable, sitting in the stormy seas off Cyprus.

US Surface segment:

The US carrier task force, faced with little choice, moves off the coast of Cyprus and away from tomorrow’s designated amphibious landing zone in Famagusta.  This move, however, gets them temporarily out of range of the encroaching Soviet subs.

US Task Force 1, led by the frigates Stark and Thach, head east from the Western Med in hopes of reaching Sicily and helping the other beleaguered US task force sitting there.

USSR air segment:

 The Soviet bombers up in the Black Sea are bottled up thanks to storms down south.  The only option would be to fly through neutral countries to get at some minor Yugoslav units.  Since it’s not worth bringing in yet another ally for the Americans, the Soviets cool it and leave the bombers on the tarmac for now.

The Libyans are also grounded due to storms and the Algerians are still licking their wounds from the earlier B-52 strike.

US submarine segment:

The damaged USS Drum has no chance of fighting of the Svesa so it heads east and picks a fight with the damaged Soviet sub Perm, sinking it.  So far, the USS Drum has racked up several kills, proudly living up to her WWII namesake.

public domain image
The USS Drum SSN-677.

The Turkish sub Atilay sits near the Turkish straits, silently waiting for the Black Sea fleet to arrive.  It remains undetected and does not move.

USSR surface segment:

The Black Sea fleet is very close to the Turkish straits yet remains undetected thanks to some clever maneuvering by the Russians.  Just to give you an idea of how large the fleet is, it consists of three separate task forces and about 24 ships.

The Soviets also have a carrier task force in the Central Med. which heads east towards Crete, in hopes of securing a landing at Iraklion.