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|Battle of the Bering Strait|
|Allied Nations||Soviet Union||Empire of the Rising Sun|
|• Admiral Kathrin Dreher||• Admiral Adrik Mikhailov||• Shogun Naomi Shirada †|
The Battle of the Bering Strait was the single most important naval engagement of World War III, and also the largest naval engagement in history. It came about directly as a result of a stalemate that had endured in the Pacific since the Empire had entered the war and made Pacific control an important issue.
Any attempt by any one side to extend strategic control over areas of the Pacific through establishing a patrolling naval presence ended in frustration for all involved; the spread of Allied and Imperial ports, the long-ranging Soviet wolfpacks, and detailed intelligence from spies and satellite tracking led to every attempted mission or patrol being intercepted by a force large enough to destroy it, so patrols were gradually getting larger and larger until entire fleets were being operated as single units, huge battlegroups moving as one to make attempting to interfere with manoeuvres too costly for any one side.
The Japanese fleets ran massive escorts back and forth up the Russian coast and across to America; and the Allies and Russians manoeuvred around them, probing for weak points and preventing them from expanding their influence. Short of a few brief engagements and small skirmishes, neither side was willing (or indeed, fully able) to engage the other in full scale combat because the scale meant the loser would be completely run out of the Pacific.
By the lead up to the battle, everyone knew it was just a matter of time before two or more of these united fleets found cause to engage each other directly.
This cause ended up being the loss of a Japanese Kūrie automated transport plane in the southern portion of the Bering Strait. The Japanese had taken to using light planes to fly vital information, VIPs and specialised equipment between their advanced camps in Alaska and their foothold in Cape Dezhnev, as it was more difficult to intercept such transports and the low volume meant drawing less attention (and possible losses) to their vanguard invasion force in transit.
The plane in question contained a database with detailed information on Imperial technology that could radically change the course of the war. The cargo was now floating in its hardened crash packaging in the middle of the ocean and bleating a distress signal that sent the Imperial military into a panic.
They had to retrieve, or at least destroy, the tiny package, and that meant sending a ship, which in turn meant sending a fleet to ensure nobody could get in their way. In their haste to get one of their fleets moving, information was leaked, sending the Allies and Soviets scrambling to try and beat them to the punch and prompting everyone to mobilise the largest fleet they possibly could.
At this point all three sides were acutely aware that there was no avoiding a full-scale confrontation. The prize was worth the loss of any number of ships, so all three sides staggered their advance to the database's last known location in order to ensure they could bring the maximum amount of force to bear. The result was the head on collision of three fresh fleets over a small patch of ocean.
Proportionally, the Allies committed the smallest force to the fight, though it still matched their opponents in terms of numbers due to the sheer scale of the Allied navy. The force was based around four carriers (a fifth of the entire Allied carrier fleet) and six battlecruisers, with whatever escort ships available thrown in.
Hoping to engage and destroy the enemy fleets from outside their effective range with aircraft, the Allied fleet relied heavily on its Assault Destroyers to close in on the database under air cover. The Allies had little ability to choose which ships they were sending to the battle; they had to make do with whatever could arrive at the same time as the carrier group.
Admiral Kathrin Dreher, considered the leading expert on large scale fleet warfare in Allied service, was quickly transferred from her main base at Wake Island to command the battle. The infamously neurotic admiral advised Allied High Command that the upcoming battle would be, to quote, "a massive, uncontrollable cluster-frick" and thus planned to keep her forces back, relying on her massive advantage in air power to destroy whatever was left over after the Soviets and Empire clashed at close range before picking up the data cache by helicopter.
The Empire based its force around eight Shogun-class Battleships under the direct command of Grand Admiral Naomi Shirada, with two of the three automatic aircraft carriers in the Imperial Navy tagging along. This impressive showing of capital ships was not matched by escorts, however; the majority of the lighter ships were left with the defensive fleets, leaving just twenty-one cruisers with the force. Uniquely, the Empire also brought one of their "mobile docks" to the battle, which carried almost three hundred small craft and mini-subs to the battle.
The Empire was supremely confident in victory due to the individual superiority of their ships. The mobile dock would allow their light vessels to quickly reach and recover the data cache while their heavy ships would bombard any that came near; after the cache had been retrieved, the mobile dock would start for home while the cruisers mopped up any survivors. As they could use their light boats, there was no need to break formation of the larger ships, so Shogun Shirada planned to use the cache to force enemy forces out of position and destroy them with focused bombardment.
The Soviets, unlike the Allies and Empire, had nothing to lose by throwing the full force of their Pacific naval reserves into the fight. They had long lost control of their Pacific coastline, with their fleet huddling in the port of Pevek, venturing out only with their submarine forces. Soviet High Command saw the battle as a way of breaking the back of the Imperial fleet and enabling them to take back their coast, so every ship thought capable of sailing to the Strait was sent out, the entire active Pacific fleet plus mothballed ships.
Though the Soviets were under no illusions that their fleet could stand up the Allied and Imperial forces in a direct fight, they had several secret weapons at their disposal. The first was two Novorossiysk-class "Battle Carriers", unusual ships that combined features of battleships and large-scale aircraft carriers, powered by massive Tesla reactors.
While powerful in and of themselves, they each carried a surprise of their own; the Moscow had been modified with moorings for Kirov airships while the Novorossiysk itself had its flight deck converted into a launch pad for a Semyorka ICBM carrying a special Tesla-based EMP weapon.
Counting on their vacuum-tube based electronics to protect them from the weapon's effects, the Soviets planned to knock out the electronics of their enemies so that their disorganized and uncoordinated fleets could be crushed at close range. Ironically, the use of the weapon was inspired by reports that the databases' crash packaging was hardened against electromagnetic pulse.
Adrik Mikhailov, the Soviet admiral, was untested in battle but had been considered a rising star in fleet battle theory before the submariner corps had exerted their political will towards suppressing him and having him "promoted" to the dead end position as commander of the crippled Pacific fleet. He had made sure the Pacific fleet was well drilled and well trained, and that his captains would carry the fight without him if necessary. Once the enemy communications had been knocked out, he planned to simply steam straight in, smash through whatever got in his way, and generally occupy the other fleets while one of his submarines made the pickup.
Clash of the TitansEdit