Operation LAUNDERS

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The Final Engagement

K-559 had finally arrived at 1852hrs. Immediately Venturer went onto Action Stations. The submarine had been idiling over the entrance, hoping to use the most of its passive SONAR systems. The enemy vessel had not slowed down as anticipated, but it was clear that it was operating even slower than normal, with a reduced speed now at eighteen (18) knots. Some form of damage had occurred to her outer structure, presumed to be her conning tower in simulations conducted regarding the reports. Either way, she was speeding out of the Channel and would not be stopped.

Captain Holt ordered Venturer to fall in behind K-559 and remain above her until the Channel cleared. By maintaining a following distance behind his foe, Captain Holt hoped to track when K-559 would clear ‘Trotsky’ and move into open water, thus exposing all sides to any of his remaining Mk. 56 torpedoes. With only two shots and a reloading time of one-hundred-twenty (120) seconds Holt wanted to keep the engagement quick. Prolonged engagement suited his opponent despite the size difference of the two submarines and the more agile Venturer. If it could be helped, Venturer would only need one shot.

The signal came at last that K-559 was now out of the Channel. The signal however came in the form of an active SONAR burst. Without hesitation Captain Holt ordered the first tube fired. Directing the Mk. 56 down K-559 immediately began a left turn and dived down, attempting to create a ‘knuckle’ whilst firing a decoy. The Mk. 56 passed underneath K-559, regained contact, and made direct contact with the underbelly of the submarine in a loud, audible from within Venturer explosion. A hiss of cheer went throughout Venturer as they awaited the sound of emergency actions taken by the stricken K-559.

What they got instead was the sound of a firing torpedo. In studying the officially released plans available of the Borei-class submarine it is revealed that a similar design to the predecessor Akula-class (NATO codesign Typhoon) in that the Borei-class have their batteries at the bottom of the submarines hull. This meant that the batteries had absorbed the impact of the Mk. 56 against K-559. Simulations have determined that the batteries acted more as a form of armour, though any submarine which suffered that damage would have to rely on less reserve charge.

That however was not the pressing issue for the crew of the Venturer. The loose torpedo was soon followed by a second, third and fourth torpedo. It was clear that K-559 was not going to go down without a fight. Captain Holt ordered immediate evasive action, all the while keeping an eye on K-559 to see if it was struggling to remain at a level depth. Shortly after the initial launch the third torpedo exploded prematurely, a potential result from the impact from Venturer’s first shot. As the decoy was being prepared the first torpedo gained a lock on Venturer and began to speed towards it.

Venturer quickly dived down into the deeper water, pushing past the six-hundred (600) foot mark. At this depth it was able to utilise the pressure outside to travel faster. In a daring move Venturer planned to speed past the other two torpedoes, whose lock on had yet to occur. It is believed the guiding wires had snapped and as a result would only activate upon reaching their targeted position. The first torpedo became distracted by one of Venturer’s noisemaker devices and passed just overhead of the submarine, attempting to lock on to the small target.

Venturer was able to pass the two other torpedoes before they activated, zig-zagging across the Atlantic in search of a target before harmlessly exploding upon contact with the ocean cliff-face. However the first torpedo had regained its lock onto the Venturer which was also zig-zagging, ‘knuckling’ every two seconds as it attempted to divert the shot. Meanwhile the decoy continued to load whilst K-559, deciding not to stick around, sped off at full power to prevent further damage, clearly not wishing to stay and fight against Venturer. Captain Holt ordered the second Mk. 56 fired against K-559 in hopes that it would strike the enemy submarine, even if Venturer was hit.

The decoy was finally loaded just as the final Mk. 56 was launched against K-559. As the Weapons Officer focused on the moving torpedo the Tactical Officer kept reporting on the closing torpedo. Every second the torpedo closed its distance between Venturer and itself. Finally at two-hundred (200) meters Captain Holt ordered the decoy fired in a direct line downward. At the same time he ordered the final knuckle to spin them around in a counter-clockwise movement. By sheer luck the torpedo locked onto the decoy, speeding just metres from the starboard side of the ship.

As the crew began to relax Captain Holt ordered another decoy loaded as well as another Mk. 56. Both would take another two (2) minutes to load each. In the meantime the Mk. 56 sped toward K-559. The torpedo got increasingly closer to K-559’s hull, which had begun to surface. Analysts debate whether it was an attempt to pass through the layer and get the lock off, or to rise to firing depth and release and of the missiles available. But as the submarine passed two-hundred thirty-six (236) feet the torpedo struck the side of K-559.

The resulting explosion has been claimed to be the result of an impact at the location of K-559’s missile section. The initial explosion against the side is believed to of caused a fireflash effect throughout the corridor. The open ventilation shafts would have allowed the fire to race through into the rooms. It is unknown how the rocket fuel came into contact with the flames. However the resulting explosion split K-559 into two pieces. It’s heavy reactor dragged the aft section down, whilst the bow section continued to try and race to the surface. It broke, briefly, then returned downward. None of the crew survived.

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