It is amazing how quickly things can go from calm to disaster in such a small window of time.
A few days ago our head of logistics sends out an alert stating that we have a great deal of supplies and equipment needed for infrastructure upgrades for several systems within FA space. He calls for capital ships and sub-capitals to provide protection along with any available freighter pilots to move these supplies in. Realizing that I have a few hours before I am required to be in the YI station for yet another day of meetings with people, I swear some times these people act like they are nothing but mindless robots running an algorithm pretending to be human. Anyways, I have some time and decide that a logistics operation will be perfect it will not take very much time and we will be using a titan to bridge to the target location, pick up the freighters and bridge back. Nothing to it, I was involved in an operation just like about 2 weeks ago. It all went well until myself, truen1ght and two others accidentally bridged into the system when we weren’t supposed to and had to make our way back through the entire length of fountain, but I have already talked about that story.
Anyways, back to last night, the call was for battleships fitted for close range combat, well my maelstrom is configured for long-range combat and I didn’t feel like spending a whole bunch of credits to buy short range weapons, when they are so rarely used. So I decided to give my battleship crew the night off, they deserve it now and than, and got into my Wolf class assault ship. The wolf is fast, maneuverable and heavily armed for a ship of its size, in addition to the weapons, its armor and shields are stronger than normal frigates which allow it to stay in combat and absorb hits which would normally destroy such a small hulled ship. Having decided that I should fit for locking down anyone that might try to jump after our freighters I pulled my warp scrambler II off and fitted a warp disruptor II onto the ship. The scrambler has a much stronger ability to prevent ships from jumping away, but the disruptor has more than twice the range, and for sitting on a gate range is better than strength, or so I think.
We get the call to form up in YI and I launch my ship, sitting outside the station are about a dozen of my fellow alliance mates. Several minutes go by and the order is given to split the fleet into two groups, one to sit at the station and watch the freighters that will be jumping out, and the other to head to one of the jump bridges and watch it. Given my call sign I am assigned to the jump bridge portion, I warp out to the jump bridge and wait with several others. It is very dull at this point….we are waiting and nothing is happening.
The FC is using his titan to bridge people around in the Fountain area to the redevous point in Cloud Ring where the op will bridge out to the target low sec system of Chardalane and the connected high sec system of Adecyne. We were tasked to cover the freighters, which by the end numbered at least 12, while they loaded and came through.
We finally bridge out to Chardalane and the FC asks for someone to volunteer that is in a fast tackle ship, I respond and he tells me to go ahead and jump into the high sec system of Adecyne and to watch the gate. WTF really that is my job to watch the high sec side of the stargate….ah well I guess no action for me today. However, the role of scout needs to be done and I did volunteer for duty not knowing what was going to be asked of me. I move into position and wait in the high sec system watching the gate while the rest of the sub-capital fleet deploys on the other side, in Chardalane. We have some minor people show up and everything is going well, our logistics guys are picking up everything and getting ready to head back out when a stealth-bomber arrives at the gate. I send the warning to the fleet to standby that a hostile ship is about to come through and he does but manages to get away before the fleet could lock him.
A short while later a neutral Rohk (Caldari Battleship) arrives at the gate and simply sits waiting, I start to get a bad feeling about him. I thought about asking for permission to knock him away from the gate but I don’t ask, and that might have proven to be a major mistake on my part.
Our freighters loaded with components begin to undock and start to align out to the stargate in preparation for the jump. They all warp to the stargate and prepare to begin jumping through into Chardalane, the neutral battleship is still sitting right on top of the gate. The FC orders freighters to come through 2 at a time and begin to warp to the titan which is located at a starbase. After maybe 6 of them had jumped through the Rokh pilot also jumps and the fight is on, he takes the opening salvos from the fleet, and while the fleet is focused on him the cloaked stealth-bomber from earlier lights a cyno field and a whole hostile fleet bridges in. Once the Rokh jumps in the FC orders the freighters to hold on the gate and standby. The hope is that the fleet will kill the hostiles and we can get on with the operation.
The enemy fleet includes two carriers and over 40 support ships. While my fellow pilots and their crews fight for their lives just on the other side of the stargate I am forced to remain in Adecyne and watch over the freighters still holding on the gate. I can hear my fellow pilots calling for help, hear the confusion as orders are given and subsequently changed. Two voices are giving orders on the communication channels and while not directly contradictory to each other they are not speaking in clear terms for their respective group, one appeared to be the sub-capital and one the capital component commanders. This confusion along with glory hounding by several members of the fleet, ultimately proved fatal to this operation.
I do not know for sure what happened on the other side of that gate, but I did hear the order to pull back to the titan and prepare to withdraw. A large number of alliance ships were lost in the operation including my friend Truen1ghts, scimitar. Truen1ght has written a nice overview of the operation from his perspective as well. ((See below))
After our freighters all docked up in Adecyne I waited for a few minutes and jumped through to Chardalane to meet the titan and withdraw from the system.
When I jumped my ship through I didn't know for sure what to expect, given the intense combat that had just occurred I was expecting some hostile ships to be in the area waiting and yet their was no sign of any intact ships on the gate. Wreckage everywhere spread around the gate showing how many ships had died in just the previous few minutes. I jump to Truen1ght's location near the titan and prepare to bridge out of the system.
Given the frantic pace to withdraw I was not able to search the wrekage and retrieve any of alliances crew members that had managed to get into their escape pods and flee before their ship was destroyed. Given the reports of how fast the action occurred I doubt if many of their capsuleer commanders even had the chance to sound an evacuation before they were destroyed. I wish I could have stayed to search for survivors but with such a large enemy fleet in the area I couldn't risk my own crews lives to remain in one place for more than a few seconds. I hope that my crew understands why we had to leave the area so quickly....and I hope that the families of those fallen crew members understand why we couldn't stay and search for their loved ones.
I hope that those that managed to survive the battle got into escape pods and were able to either jump through into the safety of Adecyne or managed to dock at one of the main stations in Chardalane. General protocol for capsuleers states that those crew members that survive the destruction of their ship are allowed to return to their families without being summary targeted. Having seen no sign of escape pods on the sensors in the few seconds we were in range, I do not know if the enemy afforded them that traditional right.