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Battle of Pemberton Cape

Belligerents

Empire of Kevin, Niveck Imperium

Commanders Imperial Kevin Navy

Richard Baldwin , David F. Hodston, vice admiral Leonidas †

Commanders Niveck Navy of Conquest

Gunter Mathers

Flagships

Baldwin: IKN Fearless, Hodston: IKN Repulse, Leonidas: IKN Thebes, Mathers: NIV Righteous

Strength: IKN

3 Fearless class, 4 Intrepid class, 4 Majestic class, 4 Sparta class, 3 Pegasus class, and 2 Valiant class battleships. 4 Indefatigable class, 4. Lion class, and 4 Renown class battlecruisers.

Strength: NNC

22 battleships, 10 battlecruisers.

Outcome

Niveck victory, change of IKN leadership.

Casualties

IKN: 14 battleships, 3 battlecruisers, 20,000 men estimated. NNC: 5 battleships, 4 battlecruisers, 7,000 men estimated.

Conflict

Third Niveck War

“We lost thousands of men and over a dozen ships, it was one of the darkest hours in the Empire's history.”
— An IKN historian on the battle

The Battle of Pemberton Cape was one of the IKN's greatest naval defeats until the Prometheus War, and cost thousands of lives and a dozen capital ships.

Prelude

In the opening months of the Third Niveck War, only a few minor skirmishes occurred between the two fleets. This was partially a result of poor intelligence on enemy fleet movements, and an overly cautious Fleet Admiral Baldwin. This all changed when reports came in of a Niveck plan to invade the Pemberton Islands, a prosperous colony in a chain discovered by the explorer Henry Pemberton. Baldwin, seeing that a successful repulsion of a Niveck force would greatly help his career, it might even get him a seat on the Oligarchical Council, and mobilized the IKN Grand Fleet.

Niveck intelligence had broken some of the imperial codes by now, and with knowledge of the fleet, set a trap for the Grand Fleet. The trap would involve luring the battleships of the Grand Fleet away from the battlecruisers, while leading the battlecruisers on a wild chase away from the fleet. They moved their fleet to an area off Pemberton Cape, a name soon to be etched into history. Baldwin, as they expected, followed like a bull chasing a matador, right into their trap.

Battle

Opening Egagement

The battle began when Hodston's battlecruisers encountered the Niveck battlecruiser screen. Hodston gave chase, and it looked like the Niveck had succeeded in drawing off the battlecruisers from the battle. The Niveck steered a course west, with Hodston following, this would become the Run to the West.

Run to the West

As the two fleets ran west away from the larger fleets, the fire from each fleet began to take its toll on the other. Almost immediately the Repulse scored a direct hit on the magazine of a Niveck ship, blowing it in half as one of Hodston's battlecruisers also exploded. About this time the Indefatigable class battlecruiser Blaskofy stumbled upon the waiting main fleet, and relayed this information to Baldwin and Hodston. As information on the formation came in, Hodston suspected a trap and tried to inform Baldwin. Baldwin however blew off his advice, prompting Hodston to order an about face by his battlecruises. This maneuver, specifically a battle turn where all ships turned at once, confounded the Niveck battlecruisers, which turned in succession to chase. This ended the Run to the West. Vice admiral Leonidas also saw that it was a trap and also tried to warn Baldwin, however Baldwin rejected his suggestions as a challenge to his authority.

Trap Sprung

As Hodston's battlecruisers turned about to join the main fleet, Baldwin's battleships engaged the Niveck battleship force. Immediately the IKN forces began to suffer, with Mathers crossing Baldwin's T in the opening shots. Leonidas ordered a retreat of his forces, but was overridden by Baldwin. Baldwin then orders his ships to head south, trying to get out of the deadly fire from the Niveck. Mathers' newer faster battleships outflank him though, and Baldwin begins to lose battleships to the withering fire.

Hodston meanwhile continues to race east, sinking another Niveck battlecruiser along the way. As more reports come in, he is horrified by what he hears, Baldwin has been caught dead center in the Niveck trap, and the entire fleet could be lost.

Slaughter

The Niveck by now have a partial crescent shaped battle line as they concentrate their fire on the helpless IKN battleships. Baldwin watches as Leonidas's flagship, the IKN Thebes, blows up, and comes to the horrifying realization that Hodston and Leonidas were right. He suffers a mental breakdown, and becomes unable to command the fleet. As the battleships fight haplessly on without guidance, the Niveck pick them off one by one, till ten battleships are sunk either in tremendous explosions or simply slipping beneath the waves.

Hodston's battlecruisers are now nearly to the battle, and Hodston orders his rearmost two ships to make a feint north. This pulls off the Niveck battlecruisers in almost exactly the way the Niveck intended to distract hodston. Hodston formulates a plan to rescue the battleships, though it will involve disobeying Baldwin's orders to accomplish. Hodston then orders his flag captain Bradford Arents to signal his plan to the other cruisers, commenting: That fool is leading the whole damn fleet into a trap! Arents, signal all battlecruisers these instructions, I have a feeling we'll need to rescue our dear admiral Baldwin soon.

Charge of the Battlecruisers

Hodston then ordered his battlecruisers to charge the Niveck fleet, while taking command from the incapable Baldwin. The remaining battleships were ordered to retreat by Hodston, while the battlecruisers laid down a smoke screen. The ferocity of Hodston's attack took Mathers by surprise, he had been told that the battlecruisers were to the south, not attacking the main fleet. After the battlecruisers had completed their screen, they charged through at high speed, firing a swarm of torpedoes at the Niveck force before making a battle turn back into the smoke. The battlecruisers took heavy casualties, with two more battlecruisers sunk and the flagship damaged during this time. But the Niveck fleet turns away from the onslaught of torpedoes, buying Hodston valuable time.

The remaining battleships made their retreat to the south at this time, while the Niveck battlecruisers turn south after they are told of their mistake. By now Baldwin has fallen completely into insanity, and try's to order his fleet back at Mathers' fleet, but is relived of command by the ships' surgeon. With Leonidas dead and Baldwin insane, Hodston is now the sole IKN flag officer present.

Retreat

While the Niveck fleet turns away, the IKN fleet disappears behind the smoke from the battlecruisers and cordite, the battlecruisers guarding the rear of the fleet against Niveck pursuit. As they run, dusk soon turns to night, however the Niveck battlecruisers catch up to the remains of the fleet. A renewed battle between the two fleets of battlecruisers ensues, and the night is lit up like daylight when two more Niveck ships explode from well placed hits.

Around this time, a pack of Pelican class submarines began to harass the Niveck battlecruisers. This combined with the bombardment from Hodston's ships was too much for the Niveck, and they turned away from the retreating fleet. When the remains of the IKN Grand Fleet finally pulled into Neviston harbor, the Empire was shocked. No fleet had ever been so devastated in IKN history, and it was not long before a scapegoat was found.

Aftermath

With the IKN out of the way the Niveck Imperium began their invasion of the Pemberton Islands, a long grueling campaign that was finally repulsed when a major convoy of troops was torpedoed by a pack of Pelicans. The crushing defeat put the IKN on the defensive, and the remaining ships would fight a holding action until new battleships were launched.

Baldwin was subjected to a court martial upon his return, and found guilty of gross negligence, incompetence, and dereliction of duty. As a result he was placed in high security military prison for life, where he remains to this day. Hodston however, was hailed as a hero. He received nearly all credit for saving the fleet, and was promoted to Fleet Admiral within a month of the battle. Hodston would rush the production of the newer classes of battleships, which proved decisive at Diego Straight and later battles.

The Niveck considers the battle a success, but were also disappointed that they could not eliminate the entire Grand Fleet. Nonetheless Mathers was celebrated as a conquering hero, though he would later be killed at Diego Straights.

Geography

Trivia

  • Pemberton Cape takes many influences from real world battles. These include Jutland, Tsushima, and Denmark Straight among others.
  • Some of the names involved include references to the AOS wiki, most notably Pemberton.