Christmas Eve promised to be a glorious day for Khumaak Flying Circus with the launch of Harm's Way, the corporation's first Maelstrom. But just hours before the scheduled launch of the Matari-designed battleship, KHU suffered the worst losses in its history. Below is the after action report on the fateful battle.
While searching for gravimetric sites in the Hotrardik system, I discovered a staging ground for the Angel Cartel located appoximately half-way between the first and second planets. I transferred from the Traffic Copter (a Cheetah) to a Rupture-class cruiser and proceeded to warp into the site. I was immediately attacked, webbed and destroyed before I could align and warp out of the area.
The decision was made to form up a punative expedition made up of my flying the Hurricane-class battlecruiser Good Times and Wandering Rose to provide back-up in the Cyclone-class battlecruiser Windswept Path. The first insertion did not go well as Good Times was primaried by the Angel Cartel fleet and quickly punished the Hurricane, with the ship down to 1/4 armor before making its escape with no losses inflicted upon the Cartel forces. After repairing the damages, a second attempt was made with Windswept Path jumping in ahead to draw the Cartel's fire. While the Cartel focused on the Cyclone, I warped in and destroyed the stasis tower. Then both ships warped out, with Windswept Path down to half-armor.
After repairing the Cyclone, a third insertion was made into the Cartel staging area, with Good Times again being primaried by the Cartel fleet. This time, a Cartel cruiser was destroyed, but at the cost of Good Times.
With the loss of half of the corporation's battlecruiser strength, all thoughts were abandoned of carrying out punitive actions against the Angel Cartel forces in Hotrardik. The priority was to minimize the losses suffered by the corp. The problem then became salvaging as much as possible from the wreck of Good Times as possible. Returning to the site in Traffic Copter proved that attempting to cloak to the wreck was impossible, as there were too many ships located between the warp-in point and the wreck. The decision was then made to attempt to draw the Cartel ships away from the warp-in point and the wreck.
The first two attempts proved that Windswept Path as fitted could not do the job. The ship was too slow and thus too easy to hit. This led to the decision to fit the ship with an afterburner. The afterburner was designed to accomplish two goals: make Windswept Path harder to hit and allow the battlecruiser to travel farther away from the wreck, hopefully drawing the Cartel ships with it.
After the first solo insertion of Windswept Path proved the concept feasible, the decision was made to commence hit-and-run tactics against the Cartel fleet. Sensors indicated that the Cartel forces had no armor repping ships or facilities and the plan was to continue driving toward a location (which just happened to be aligned to a planet) to draw the Cartel towards that point in space. With a tech II shield repper, I was able to regenerate my shields in the time it took to warp away from the assembly site and then return. By keeping the pressure up, I not only accomplished the mission of drawing the Cartel away from the wreck, but succeeded in destroying two more cruisers.
If Windswept Path had been able to tank the damage, the operation would have turned back to the offensive. However, after 6 warp-ins, the Angel fleet, even with its losses, was still too much to handle in a straight up fight. So on the 7th warp-in, I surprised the Cartel commander and flew straight for the wreck of Good Times, salvaging 5 650mm Artillery Cannon II, 1 'Malkuth' Assault Missile Launcher I, 1 Gyrostabilizer II, 1 Large Shield Extender II, 1 Shield Power Relay II, 1 Power Diagnostic System II, 13 Warrior I drones, 4598 Bloodclaw Light Missiles and 8339 rounds of Titanium Sabot M. The success of the salvage operation turned a potential significant financial setback into a wake-up call costing a few million isk lost and hours of wasted time.
What went wrong: This operation was marked with a high degree of overconfidence. The first failure in the operation was the lack of proper scouting of the target. Despite the fact a covert ops ship was present on the scene, the first insertion into the site was conducted by a Rupture, which quickly died. And instead of my sticking around in my pod to gain an accurate assessment of the Angel Cartel forces, I immediately flew off to raise the stakes.
The second failure was not heeding the warning signs once the battlecruisers took the field. Each battlecruiser received significant damage on each of the first two warp-ins and only managed to destroy the stasis tower. That should have been a sign of trouble. If after the first two warp-ins the attack was halted, the loss of the Rupture was something that could be easily absorbed by the corp. Losing a Hurricane hurt, even with getting the salvage.
What went right: The recovery operation succeeded in drawing the Cartel away from the wreck, turning a disaster into a painful reminder to never underestimate an opponent. Using hit-and-run tactics with a high operational tempo along with speed modules to make the ship faster than the opponent, I was able to outmaneuver the Cartel forces.
Lessons learned: Over the past few months, running missions for agents for Minmatar-based corporations has led to a level of not only overconfidence, but slackness as Khumaak Flying Circus was provided with intelligence and did not have to obtain its own in regards to the Angel Cartel. Now that KHU is beginning to conduct combat operations independent of the agents, the corporation's members need to go back to the intelligence-gathering activities that were in place when the corporation was first founded.
Another practice that needs to stop is not putting propulsion modules on the corporation's fighting ships. While frigates and cruisers standardly fit afterburners, the practice was to not fit propulsion mods on battlecruisers. This operation showed the benefit of the afterburners and all combat ships from this point forward will fit either afterburners or microwarp drives.
The Khumaak Flying Circus is a Vherokior corporation. In this operation, we encountered failure when we acted like the Brutor and tried to slug it out with the Cartel. We succeeded when we remembered out roots and used speed and cunning to accomplish the task at hand. Something to remember in our operations going forward.
Chief Operations Officer
Khumaak Flying Circus