Mike's scenarios seem to have a common but elusive quality - like that I always think "AH!" and after a second I get creamed. While "In Harm's Way" was an ugly experience, "Blue and Gold" was a short ugly experience, so I'll narrate this one.
My three submarines, one Seawolf and two Los Angeles, start at the borders of the Sulu Sea. Their objective: a sub tender and an Ohio of the "Gold" team. Heavy ASW is expected, but I play with auto datalink on and Mike even gives me a clue "Center of the Sulu Sea!"
"This is too easy", I grumble, expecting more challenge from a DB2000 scenario (actually the game was still loading, but you know how it is). I then proceed to creep at 5kts at periscope depth with all my boats, so to get a better picture of the neighborhood via passive sensors. And, lo and behold, in a few minutes I detect a number of fishing vessels and the tracking radar of an American ASW helo.
This peaceful state of things is shattered a few minutes into the exercise, when a sub skipper of the Gold Team under the influence fires a torpedo for no reason at all. I'm not joking: the Seawolf and one Los Angeles picked up the transient at, I believe, 500 miles or so. After action analysis also showed that it was entirely possible that the Gold sub was off Tasmania or something. Anyway, the Seawolf panics, and she sprints north at 40kts, in a stunning example of "group thinking" ("individually we know that the Gold action was inane, but as a crew we think that if the other skipper did it there must be a reason, even if we do not understand what it is") - and so the quietest submarine in the US fleet gives away her position just like that.
The other Los Angeles chooses a more prudent course of actions, and when the torpedo stops running she approaches the launch point at 5Kts, trying to detect the launching boat. Meanwhile, the LA up north had detected only fishing vessels, so her skipper decides to do a blind sprint at 25kts toward the center of the Sulu Sea. This sprint turns out to be truly blind, in spirit and fact, and the LA is hit and sunk by nobody-will-ever-know-what (it could have been a whale) one hour into the engagement.
In Italy we say "a shared problem is half joy". This wise countryside proverb becomes reality not five minutes later, when the Seawolf slows down at 5kts and returns at periscope depth to reacquire her bearings. The first (and last) recorded image on her onboard camera is a very cinematic close-up of an ASW helo, and the Seawolf buys the watery grave maybe three seconds later. The crew of the first LA to go down feels a little better.
So, I'm left with a single LA, still closing on the area where the extemporary torpedo came from. She closes, and closes, and closes, and all the way she detects a big nothing in the sub-sea department. Since this is my last submarine, and I need it for hunting the sub tender and possibly the Ohio, I decide that the enemy skipper cleared the datum, going away from the launch point. So, I push the boat at 15kts, and plot a new route towards the center of the "warmest body of water in the Pacific". At this point the enemy skipper, who was still there and waiting exactly for this, fired a second torpedo at me from the pointblankest distance I ever seen in H3. I raised my hand to plot a new course and speed, and that was it, my sub becoming a star-shaped explosion on the display, my hand still in the air.
I'm not sure if Gold Team is partying - the common agreement could be that we tried to cheat them by using "dumb" targets, and they could be still out there looking for us. I mean, NOBODY loses a Seawolf like that.
Lessons learned: "next time do not simply say 'I can pick a FCR radar and classify the contact via the database'! H3 is really cool!, but try to understand the implications of ASW helos flying around".
Bright side: I didn't spoil anything in the scenario, since I never remotely understood what hit me or what was going around my boats, so I can play it again! More to follow.
by Jonathan Boyd
That was hilarious. I avoided the scenario because I thought it wouldn't be that interesting, but Reckall's unfortunate experience prompted me to give it a go. As it turns out, things were creepy (in various ways) and at points ugly, but ultimately victorious for Blue team. Just about.
Started by bringing all subs to periscope depth for a quick look around, to decide whether to sprint or creep into the target area. Multiple acoustic detections were made to the E of Colombia and Louisiana, in the 20-50 nm range.
Columbia, in the N, was ordered to cruise deep for about 30 nm at 20 knots, Louisiana N and Seawolf NE, all boats avoiding what were likely to be fishing vessels. In the process, increasing numbers of acoustic contacts were made.
At about 13:15, Louisiana started running E and five minutes later detected an incoming torpedo. After evading, she dropped to creep and went very deep. Seawolf, less than 30 nm away, dropped to creep and rose to periscope depth to check for ships and/or helos. 175 nm further to the NE, Columbia continued her run. Seawolf detected a Decca radar at 15-20 nm, alternating on and off. Playing it safe, she dived and started creeping away E at 5 knots. At 13:40, the contact was confirmed as a fishing vessel as it cruised closer to the creeping Seawolf. Feeling slighter more confident, the captain raised steam to 10 knots.
At 14:00, Columbia rose once again to periscope depth to check out the area she'd run into and adjusted course due S, just 22 nm from the boundary of the central area. After a minute of failing to detect any radar signals, she once again went deep at 20 knots. The cruise was rudely interrupted by the sound of an incoming torpedo, 13 nm out at 14:29. A sub contact popped up at 33 nm. Firing a torp down the bearing, Colombia raced out of the area, SW, at flank speed. At 14:45, torpedo contact was lost. At 15:15, Columbia slowed and started creeping S again.
An uneventful 2 hours passed, before Louisiana came under attack from an undetected vessel. At 16:50, a torpedo track appeared 4 nm to the SE. As usual, a snap shot was fired down the bearing and Louisiana ran. As the torpedo closed, Columbia in the N crossed a reference point into the central region of the sea. At 16:57, Louisiana's luck ran out and the torpedo struck, taking her to the bottom. Concerned by the explosion, Seawolf dropped to 5 knots and crept in towards a reference point just 1 hour away.
AT 19:00, the surviving subs, now both just inside the central area, rose to periscope depth and altered course to SE to begin sweeping the area. After 2 minutes, both boats returned to intermediate depth, having spotted nothing but fishing vessels.
At 20:20, Seawolf altered course E to investigate 4 tightly grouped vessels (which later turned out to be fishing vessels), about 30 nm away. At 21:35, Seawolf identified a contact as a Spruance running N at 20 knots, 11 nm away. Not wanting to give away her presence, Seawolf continued on course at 5 knots. A few minutes later, the contact reduced to 0 nm, but was still not firm Attempting to firm up the contact, Seawolf rose to shallow depth, with no improvement, before diving to intermediate again At 21:57, the contact jumped to 15 nm distant, traveling at 5 knots. Taking a risk, the captain moved to periscope depth and confirmed the position as 13 nm to the N. Lobbing a torpedo down the bearing, Seawolf dived very deep and continued creeping. Eventually, the torpedo contact faded without an explosion.
A periscope sweep by Seawolf at 00:00, 2nd of January only managed to spot a fishing boat, so course was altered NE. AT 00:36, the contact firmed up 20 nm to the NE, heading S at 5 knots. At 01:00, Seawolf changed course due N to investigate shipping. At 02:00, both surviving subs headed to periscope depth to check out the area. Once again, the Spruance appeared 20 nm to the N, heading S at 5 knots., just ahead of a group of 4 vessels. Becoming suspicious, the Seawolf captain increased speed to 10 knots and moved N, diving deep.
At 03:05, Seawolf moved to periscope depth and began creeping, to attempt to locate the targets again. The Spruance was spotted 7 nm to the N, heading N at 20 knots. Once again, Seawolf dove to intermediate depth and began creeping in.
At 03:59, Columbia ID'ed a vessel estimated at 27 nm to the S as a T-AO 204 Rappahannock and immediately changed course S. A minute later, both subs moved to periscope depth to check out their targets. A few seconds later, Seawolf located the Spruance 6 nm to the N, moving SE at 5 knots. Although just inside torpedo range, Seawolf decided to creep a little closer, to guarantee the kill. Failing to get a visual track on its target, Columbia dropped to intermediate depth and resumed its southerly course, creeping in on the sound of the tender's screws.
At 04:30, Seawolf raised her periscope in anticipation of a close sighting of the enemy. Sighting her less than 1 nm away, she snapped off two ADCAPs and dove for safety. Within a minute, a torpedo had hit, sending the Spruance to the bottom, without so much as a snap return shot, allowing Seawolf to resume creeping and start hunting the Ohio, heading SE toward the center of the sea.
At 06:00, both subs once again went to periscope depth, to sight out targets. Failing to spot anything of interest, they dived again, an activity repeated 2 hours later, followed by a slight course change to the SE for both subs, to prevent the courses converging.
At 08:55, as Columbia prepared for another periscope run, a faint sub contact appeared to the SW at surface depth. Swinging round to run along its bearing, in which the contact box for the tender lay, Columbia's crew prepared to launch torpedoes. At 09:30, with the tender's likely position just 3 nm away, Columbia rose to get visual confirmation. As the periscope cleared the water, 3 targets immediately became visible: John S. McClaine (an Arleigh Burke destroyer), the Alaska and the tender. Attempting to eliminate the most immediate threats, Columbia fired off 2 torpedoes at the Alaska and at the destroyer, before diving away at flank speed. Just minutes later, two struck the Alaska, sending her to the bottom, while the John S. McClaine sprinted away. With no return fire yet detected, Columbia swung back round as the rubes reloaded, preparing to finish the job. As she closed to within a mile of the tender's last known position,she rose to periscope depth, only to find the ship running at 20 knots, 3 nm away and the McClaine 6 nm away at 35 knots. With all 4 tubes reloaded, 2 fish sprang forth toward the tender as Columbia dove and raced in at flank speed, to ensure that there would be no escape. Seconds later, an undetected torpedo sent Columbia to the bottom, soon joined by the tender, its death detected Seawolf 35 nm away.
It would seem that creeping with patience is the order of the day for subs here, with some nasty surprises, whose identities remain unknown, lurking for those who try to rush.
by Steve LeBlanc
Team Blue destroyed 1 Ohio SSBN and 1 Perry FFG (Rappahanock). Victory conditions were met however, Columbia, Louisville and Seawolf were all lost to enemy action. That pretty much sums up my experience with Mike Mykytyn's scenario Blue and Gold.
This scenario is playable only from the Team Blue side. Team Gold is deployed in the Zulu Sea. The scenario models US Navy submarine exercise in the Pacific. The objective is to sink an enemy sub-tender and/or an Ohio SSBN engaged in replenishment operations.
As you already I know I managed to sink the Ohio and in the process I lost my three submarines. The scenario starts on 1 Jan 2001 at 1200Z. The weather is mild in the Zulu Sea area. Sunshine with scattered clouds. The submarines were ordered to proceed deep into the Zulu sea. Enemy patrols are known to be in the area. Seawolf was attacked about 4 hours into the scenario. She encountered both a Spruance and an unidentified submarine. However, she was able to evade both attacks and lose the attacking vessels. Louisville was attacked about 5 hours into the scenario. Probably from an air launched torpedo. She was sunk and Seawolf and Columbia proceeded into the Zulu Sea.
The submarines appear to be vulnerable in the early stages of the scenario. A day later (I think) Columbia made contact with a submarine and a surface vessel operating in close proximity to one another. Columbia was able to determine the locations enough to outline an area and call in Seawolf. Just as Seawolf entered the area, Columbia was attacked without warning and sunk. This left Seawolf to engage Team Gold forces. By this time the Ohio had been identified and was in close company with Rappahanock, a Perry class FFG. Ohio was on the surface which meant the oiler must be nearby, Seawolf closed to less than one nautical mile of both Ohio and Rappahanock and plugged 2 torpedoes into both of them. They both sunk. Victory was at handů yes--well maybe not. Feeling slightly overconfident, Seawolf proceeded to periscope depth to look around for the oiler. I couldn't help imagine the boats captain looking through the periscope and saying "oh shit" just before the first torpedo slammed into the hull. Seawolf went down. While the rules say I won, I suspect the exercise hot wash would say something different.
This an excellent ASW scenario. I don't consider my experience with it a victory but I'll get there. Patience is the key. Unlike air combat which happens very fast, ASW can take days of tracking and identifying contacts. Mike gives us 5 days to seek out and destroy are quarry. I recommend you lay low and use all the time available. That will be my strategy for my next attempt.
It is interesting to play scenarios which put same country forces against each other. It evens the odds and puts the ability of player to the test. I highly recommend this scenario. It will stay on my hard drive.