Operation LAUNDERS

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Initial Contact and Engagement

With her faulty propulsion K-559 suffered a reduced maximum speed and was generating a loud noise. In order to compensate Captain Andropov, in what has been described by a member of the Russian Navy as a textbook action, slowed down his submarine to fifteen (15) knots in hopes of reducing noise and began heading for the entry into a Russian Submarine Channels known as ‘The Pillars of Lenin’ by NATO forces. These channel entrances are noted on all maps and efforts have been made to identify the routes taken by Russian submarines. These channels came to existence during the need for secrecy in the Cold War.

In the early hours of 10 June 2022 HMS Venturer had established an elliptical searching pattern some twenty nautical miles from the entrance to the channel. Using the two rock formations that denote the pillars as a guide the submarine maintained an alert status. Captain Holt had been relieved of duty at 2000hrs on 9 June and had gone to his quarters, leaving his Executive Officer Commander Jane Brindley in command of the Venturer. Holt believed that Andropov would make a dash for one of the Channels in hopes of avoiding another dangerous altercation.

At 0121hrs SONAR operator Sub-Lieutenant Tahib Hejaz reported hearing the sound of a loud grinding noise of metal against metal. At 1122hrs he confirmed that the sound, when tested against the Svalbard recording, matched a reduced sound of K-559’s damaged propulsion system. Commander Brindley immediately ordered Battle Stations and ordered that Captain Holt be awakened. The submarine was rigged for silent running as Captain Holt took command at 01224hrs. All four of the Venturer’s torpedo bays had been loaded with Mark 56 ADCAP torpedoes containing live conventional warheads. The submarine halted its patrol and slipped behind the Northern pillar that announced the entry point for the Channel in wait.

At 0133hrs Venturer had positioned itself next to the pillar with a bearing direct on K-559. The enemy submarine itself had not shown any sign of noticing the Venturer and as such did not hesitate in the dash toward the entrance. Captain Holt waited for the submarine to come within the range of two thousand yards before ordering the first torpedo fire. The electronically guided Mk. 56 was released from the idling submarine and sped towards the unsuspecting K-559 at a resounding speed of fifty-four (54) knots.

Alerted to the presence of the Venturer by the firing of the Mk. 56 K-559 immediately began a turn to the port side, speeding up and attempting to climb above the surface of the weak thermal layer in hopes of confusing the torpedo. At 0134hrs the torpedo became confused by a ‘knuckle’ caused by the steering of the rudder of K-559 which then deployed a noisemaker to further confuse the submarine. The newly guided torpedo however was not tethered to the submarine as its predecessor the Mk. 48 was and so was able to be compensated. However the torpedo failed to relocate and self destructed.

K-559 then returned fire in the general direction of where the Mk. 56 had been fired from. Captain Holt, planning for such an eventuality, ordered the Venturer to slowly reverse behind the pillar, hoping to use the natural landscape of the seabed to avoid detection. At the same time K-559 began to use it’s active SONAR system, sending loud ear-piercing pings into the water. Knowing time was limited, Venturer was making way when the enemy torpedo activated, detecting the Venturer and moved in to the kill. A brace was ordered throughout the ship as the countdown began for impact.

By a stroke of luck the Venturer had just gone behind the pillar, causing the torpedo to strike a jutting piece of natural rock, detonating some twenty (20) yards away from the hull of the Venturer. The Venturer took on a sudden spin caused by the explosion, coupled with several electrical short outs and a list to the starboard side. As the submarine corrected itself Captain Holt ordered all engines stop. Damage control reported that no significant damage had been taken by the submarine, and that repairs to the electrical systems which had shorted would take a matter of seconds.

SO Jones then reported hearing the sound of grinding metal over the collapsing rock. Realising that Andropov was using the distraction of the explosion and its after effect to sneak into the Channel, Captain Holt ordered a speed of five (5) knots to put them directly over the entrance. As the K-599 sped underneath, Captain Holt ordered that the second torpedo be fired. The torpedo was activated upon release and sped down into the Channel. Without room to manoeuvre, K-559 was trapped in the Channel without any form of escape except to rise out, which would have meant certain destruction at the hands of the Venturer.

However, Captain Andropov was able to prevent his submarine taking a direct hit by blasting a cushion of air in the way of the Mk. 56. This action, meant to weigh down the submarine, forced the torpedo off course and impact the side of the cavern. As rocks skidded on K-559’s hull, another torpedo was released from the submarine against Venturer. Captain Holt ordered emergency maneuveres, deploying a decoy torpedo to act as the submarine whilst the real Venturer steered in the opposite direction. Confused, the Russian torpedo impacted with the fake torpedo and exploded.

Using the explosion to his advantage, Captain Holt ordered a fake emergency surface, deliberately hoping to lure K-559 into a false sense of security that it had damaged it’s attacking foe. The ruse appeared to of worked as K-559 continued to speed down the Channel. As the Venturer gathered itself, SO Jones reported hearing the sound of rushing water coming from K-559. Evidence from the recording suggests that the submarine had taken damage from the second torpedo. Armed with this knowledge, Captain Holt ordered a course to be made for the exit of the Channel at Venturer’s top speed.

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