Author Topic: World War I in the North Sea-A Steam and Iron Campaign Game AAR  (Read 22543 times)

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Offline Tripoli

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Steam and Iron Campaign Game AAR

The purpose of this AAR is to demonstrate the use of the Steam and Iron North Sea Campaign as a teaching aid to illustrate and explore aspects of World War I at Sea.    I will be playing as Great Britain.  Because I am using this AAR to illustrate various points about WWI at sea, discussion regarding these issues is welcome.

For those who are unfamiliar with it, the Steam and Iron Campaign Expansion is an operational-tactical level WW1 naval combat simulation that covers the entire naval war from 1914 to 1918.  The player can select to play with weekly, bi-weekly or monthly turns.  It includes ships ranging in size to from armed trawlers and submarines to dreadnoughts. The player acts as Jellicoe or Scheer and is responsible for making basing and organizational decisions, training and maintenance scheduling, mission planning and   force allocation and tactical employment  of the fleet.   See http://www.navalwarfare.net/steam&iron.html for more details.

Tactics and Strategy

Tactical Principles

   While tactics must serve strategy, there are certain key tactical principles that are universal, and should be incorporated in any naval operation.  Before establishing the Royal Navy’s strategy for the game, a brief review a couple of key concepts is in order.
 Captain Wayne Hughes described the cornerstone of naval tactics as “Attack effectively first.”  (1)   Successful naval battle is, at its core, an offensive endeavor. While there are examples of defender winning a land battle, in tactical naval warfare the successful attack achieves victory.  As part of its effort to achieve this first effective attack, a naval force should have firepower superiority.  At the turn of the century, strategists had established that in naval combat, relatively minor superiority in delivered firepower was decisive.   Between 1905 and 1916, Admiral Bradley Fiske and Frederick W. Lanchester independently showed that assuming no difference between the offensive and defensive character of units on either side, numerical superiority in delivered firepower was equivalent to the square of the number of units firing. (2)  All things being equal, a Force A that is twice as large as Force B, would have four times (4X) the firepower superiority.   (3)

According to this “N squared” law, in any tactical situation, even minor differences in firepower superiority, whether created by superior training, weapon range gun tubes or ship units, will relatively quickly result in victory with lower friendly loss.  The effect of this is that a commander will seek to maximize these factors in an engagement to both maximize the chances of success and minimize the losses to his own force.  As will be seen in the discussion on strategy below, this “N squared” law will have an important effect on the operational strategy used by the Royal Navy historically, and replicated by myself in the game.

A second principle that is important in establishing the game strategy is Nelson’s dictum that “A Ship’s a Fool to Fight a Fort.” (4) When he uttered it, Nelson was likely thinking of a typical entrenched or fortified artillery position.  In the early 20th century, the “brick and mortar” type fort was supplemented with minefields and torpedo-armed coastal defense craft.  Despite the technological advances, Nelson’s observation remained valid, as a single blow can sink or render combat ineffective a ship, while usually multiple hits are required to silence a fortified position, which can usually quickly be repaired.

Endnotes
1) Wayne P. Hughes, Fleet Tactics and Coastal Combat (Annapolis, Md: Naval Institute Press, 2000), 40.
 2) Ibid.
 3) For a good discussion of the various mathematical models and their effect, see Joseph Czarnecki, "N-Squared Law," NavWeaps, last modified October 17, 2000, http://www.navweaps.com/index_tech/tech-076.htm
4) Hughes, 36
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Offline bayonetbrant

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Re: World War I in the North Sea-A Steam and Iron Campaign Game AAR
« Reply #1 on: May 08, 2016, 05:56:31 AM »
welcome!
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Offline Tripoli

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Re: World War I in the North Sea-A Steam and Iron Campaign Game AAR
« Reply #2 on: May 08, 2016, 07:05:37 AM »
Objectives and Strategy

Strategically, the Royal Navy (RN) has three objectives: 1) Keeping open the sea lines of communication (SLOC) between Great Britain  and the world; 2) Maintaining the SLOCs between Great Britain and its army in France; and  3) Blockading Germany.   Effectively, these objectives required only the maintenance of the status quo. 

In this, Britain is greatly helped by her geographical position. The Royal Navy has a near decisive control over the entrances and exits to the North Sea.  “The British Isles form a 700-mile long barrier lying off the coast of Western Europe…England enjoyed an excellent geographical position from which to attack many trade routes and to conduct naval actions against its main adversaries at sea. (1)    (Image 1). Using a distant blockade of the Channel, Skagerrak and the Shetland Island-Norwegian gap, Britain can close off Germany to the Atlantic trade routes while protecting her own SLOCs.  As Wolfgang Wegener noted, from the start of World War I, England was ‘saturated’ with command of the sea.    Not having to conquer a strategic position to exercise sea control, the Royal Navy could engage in the strategic defense, seeking battle only when forced by German action that threatened this strategic position. (2) 

In contrast, the German navy, limited to its fortified ports at Emden and Wilhelmshaven must take the initiative and sortie to contest this British control.  Protected by its fortified ports near the Heligoland Bight the German fleet has the operational-level initiative and can determine the when and where to fight the Royal Navy.  However, the German Fleet must take the initiative and sail outside these fortifications to contest British control of the North Sea.  Without offensive action by the High Seas Fleet, the British will retain mastery of the sea by default.  While the small size of a North Sea means that Germany could carry out surprise strikes against enemy targets on the sea and in the coastal area with a high probability of success,   such raids would not affect British control of the sea.


Endnotes
 1) Vego, Milan N., and Andrew Humphrys. Naval Strategy and Operations in Narrow Seas;  17-19, 26. Frank Cass, 2003.
2) Wegener, Wolfgang. The Naval Strategy of the World War, 14-15. Annapolis, Md: Naval Institute Press, 1989.
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Offline Tripoli

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Re: World War I in the North Sea-A Steam and Iron Campaign Game AAR
« Reply #3 on: May 08, 2016, 11:04:20 AM »
Strategy

Given Britain’s three objectives outlined above, and having established that it only needed to remain on the strategic defensive to accomplish these missions, the question becomes should the Royal Navy remain on the defensive?  If, hypothetically, it were possible to destroy the German navy, then it might be possible to conduct landings along Germany’s Baltic coast, and either flank the German efforts on both the eastern and western fronts, or alternatively forcing Germany to divert manpower from these fronts and thereby allow the allies to counterattack.  Additionally, the destruction of the German Fleet potentially would open up the SLOCs to Russia, as well as tighten the blockade against Germany by closing its access to Sweden.  Landings in the Baltic were in fact proposed by Admiral Fisher during war planning in 1905-06.  (1)  This type of offensive action was in keeping with British naval tradition, and was an important reason for the German belief that the Royal Navy would attack the German Fleet in the Heligoland Bight.

Unfortunately, for the allies, such alternative strategies are not available, at least at the beginning of the war.  This is because relative to the Royal Navy, the High Seas Fleet was sufficiently powerful in August 1914 to prevent the RN from accomplishing its main task of securing Britain’s SLOCs, while engaging in offensive actions in the Baltic.  As seen it the table (taken from the campaign game) below, although the RN is superior to the German fleet in most categories of ships, the numbers were insufficient to maintain superiority in two separate theaters.  The completion of the Kiel canal in 1914 allowed Germany to safely and quickly move its fleet between the North Sea to the Baltic, effectively giving the High Seas Fleet “interior lines,” as well as the strategic initiative of being able to determine when and where to strike a Royal Navy divided between the North Sea and the Baltic.   Because of “N Squared” law discussed above, any hypothetical British effort in the Baltic could have easily been opposed and destroyed by the German Fleet, who would then been freed to repeat the performance against the remaining RN forces in the North Sea.  Such a string of events would have fatally compromised Britain’s control of the seas.

Endnotes

1) Friedman, Norman. Fighting the Great War at Sea: Strategy, Tactics and Technology, 30. 2014
« Last Edit: May 08, 2016, 11:07:32 AM by Tripoli »
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Offline Tripoli

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Re: World War I in the North Sea-A Steam and Iron Campaign Game AAR
« Reply #4 on: May 08, 2016, 11:43:59 AM »
Force Ratios

   As described in the posting above, despite having a preponderance of forces, the Royal Navy has insufficient force to engage in offensive action in the Baltic.  In fact, the British forces are barely capable of ensuring control over the North Sea.  On 4 August 1914, the Royal Navy has a +7, or 1.5:1 advantage in Battleships. (see table above).  However, losses, maintenance and training requirements will likely reduce this advantage further as the war progresses.   In contrast, the German navy has the operational initiative, giving it the advantage of being able to determine when to leave its ports and seek battle.  It can choose the time of any sortie to maximize the balance of forces in its favor.

Strategic Concept
   This force ratio, combined with the British imperative to maintain control of the North Sea limited Jellicoe in the real world from aggressively exploiting British control of the sea.   In the game, I am similarly limited.  The requirement to maintain a superiority of battleships to maintain sea control, combined with the knowledge that the German Fleet will (or at least should) only sail when it believes it has a positive preponderance of force means that the Grand Fleet will usually sail as an entire unit.  Also, like Jellicoe, I will adopt a distant blockade, refusing to risk capital ships near German bases.  Additionally, losses, especially in capital ships, must be avoided unless greater loss can be inflicted on the German Fleet.  To quote Admiral Nimitz’s orders to Admiral Spruance prior to the battle of Midway:

“In carrying out the task assigned … you will be governed by the principle of calculated risk, which you shall interpret to mean the avoidance of exposure of your force to attack by superior enemy forces without good prospect of inflicting, as a result of such exposure, greater damage to the enemy.”
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Offline Tripoli

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Re: World War I in the North Sea-A Steam and Iron Campaign Game AAR
« Reply #5 on: May 08, 2016, 12:03:44 PM »
4-18 August 1914

SITUATION

Strategic Overview
Historically, the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) was transported to France between 9-22 August 1914.  For the purpose of this game, I am assuming that this transportation will occur in the next two week  (19 August) turn. 

Political

At the start of the game, I am offered the option of seizing the BB Agincourt, which was being built under contract for the Ottoman Empire.  Although it will cost 85,000 VP, having more Battleships is necessary to improve the force ratio.

Force Comparison

   As describe in my earlier posting, on 4 August 1914, the Royal Navy has a +7, or 1.5:1 advantage in Battleships (see table below).  Because of training and maintenance requirements, this is the minimum lead I need.  The German navy has a strategic advantage of being able to determine when to leave its ports and seek battle, while the Royal Navy must always be ready to fight.

Objectives

In the next two-week period, the British Expeditionary Force will need to be transported to France.  As part of the covering operation,  the Royal Navy will begin a minefield off of the port of Emden this turn.  The Royal Navy of  1914 generally disapproved of the use of mines, believing them to be ungentlemanly.  I on the other hand, will employ them as liberally as I can.

 Elements in the Admiralty also argue for an aggressive show of force off Heligoland Bight, to sink enemy shipping in the area.  However, such an operation so close to the main German base would require the main fleet in support.  This is not only contrary to my strategy, it is also impossible in game terms as I have insufficient operations points for such an endeavor.  In lieu of this operation, I send the Battlecruiser Fleet into the exit of the Skagerrak, as a demonstration.  The battlecruisers have sufficient speed to avoid any action with heavy German fleet units, so having them do this operation is a low risk/low payoff operation.  I also send a DD Flotilla to patrol of Scotland for German submarines. See attached image

A force of five (5)  submarines is set off of Heligoland Bight to provide warning of German Fleet movements and to hopefully sink or damage major fleet units. See attached image

Maintenance

None

Training

I order four CLs to training.  While the old B’s and the BCs also need training, I will need these vessels to screen the BEF’s transport to France next turn.  Accordingly, I can spare only these four light cruisers.  After the transport of the BEF, more units will detached for training.

Intelligence

There is no information about the movements or intentions of the German fleet.

Operations

The weather starts off in a dead calm with mist-good weather for leaving port and sailing past any German submarines.  The 1st and 2nd Battlecruiser squadrons depart their base and set course 073/16 knots to their patrol area off of Jutland coast.  The ETA is in 18 hours,  just after midnight.  Similarly, the HMS APOLLO  and HMS INTREPID depart Harwich enroute to their mining area, with a planned arrival time of 0001.

Battlelog 
04 0550   Intelligence report 1 CA North  of the Bight
04 0644    Submarine E1 reports 1 CL and 3 DDs 25nm West of the mine laying area, heading SW.
04 0645    Submarine E1 reports hitting a CL with a torpedo W of Helgoland
04 0645   Submarine E1 reports a CA West  of Helgoland, heading West
04 1300   Intelligence reports 1 BB, 4 CL heading SSE off Emden.  Based on that course, they are returning to port.
05 1700   Intelligence reports 4 CL and 1 DD heading West from Helgoland Bight
05 1743   E1 reports 2 CLs heading South .  There appears to be heavy German patrols in the Helgoland Bight area.
05 0501   HMS APOLLO completes the minefield.  Almost simultaneously, HMS INTREPID sights a larger vessel approximately 2000 yards away.  Both ships disengage and head west.
05 1131   HMS NEW ZEALAND spots a submarine enroute to port.  No torpedoes sighted.
06 0001    All units in port

After Action Notes and Analysis:
 
Losses:
•   Royal Navy
o   SS E1
o   SS E2

•   Germany
o   CL ARCONA

Submarines  E1 and  E7 failed to return to port, and are presumed to be sunk.   Radio traffic confirms on German CL ARCONA was sunk by E1.  The heavy loss  (40% of the patrol force) of submarines, combined with the reports of heavy patrolling in the Bight strongly indicate that it will be unsustainable to operate submarines so close to the main German bases.  The strong patrols in the Bight also confirms my strategy of avoiding the area with major fleet units.
« Last Edit: May 08, 2016, 12:06:38 PM by Tripoli »
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Offline mirth

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Re: World War I in the North Sea-A Steam and Iron Campaign Game AAR
« Reply #6 on: May 08, 2016, 05:40:04 PM »
Excellent series of posts, Tripoli! Looking forward to reading more of this AAR.
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Offline Sir Slash

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Re: World War I in the North Sea-A Steam and Iron Campaign Game AAR
« Reply #7 on: May 08, 2016, 09:20:56 PM »
I never had time to play this campaign out myself so I'm all in. The lack of Operational Points really limits the number of ships you can deploy for any one two-week operation.
"Take a look at that". Sgt. Wilkerson-- CMBN. His last words after spotting a German tank on the other side of a hedgerow.

Offline Tripoli

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Re: World War I in the North Sea-A Steam and Iron Campaign Game AAR
« Reply #8 on: May 09, 2016, 05:00:15 AM »
Thanks for the compliments.  Sir Slash notes that the use of operations points does limit the number of ship you can deploy, which is ahistorical.  However, it probably makes for a better game.  One note about the below:  I am posting this turn in several sections over the next day or so, as it is taking me awhile to write it up.

18 August-2 September 1914

Strategic Overview

Historically, during this period the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) was transported to France.   From 9-22 August 1914, 92,000 British troops were shipped across the channel to France. (1)
 
Objectives

Historically, during this period the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) was transported to France.  To reflect this in the game I am having the battle fleet deploy in a screening position off Dogger Banks.  From here, the Fleet should be able to intercept any German sortie before it reaches the channel or interferes with traffic heading towards France from the east coast.   Unlike a blocking position east of Dover, this position also minimizes the chance of contact with light German craft, which is a concern given the light screening forces the Battlefleet is forced to deploy with.   With only 365 operation points, the Royal Navy is limited to activating only two squadrons of battleships, (the 1st and 2nd) as well as one squadron of scout cruisers and one flotilla of DD as escorts.  To provide some early warning, 7 submarines are stationed outside the Bight.  I’ve stationed them further outside to limit losses due to the German patrols.  There is  gap in the coverage along the Dutch coast.  However,  I believe this is too constricted of a gap for a major battle fleet transit to take place without warning.  A submarine is deployed here for early warning purposes.  To further interfere with any threat moving west down the Dutch coast, a second minefield will be laid north of the field planted earlier in August.  Additionally, one flotilla of destroyers will patrol off Harwich to provide some ASW protection for the battlefleet and transports and fend off German light forces.

Available Forces

See attached graphic

Although the RN has a 1.5:1 superiority in BBs in theater,  the lack of Operation points means it can deploy only 15 BBs.  This will give the RN equality if the full German battlefleet deploys, which is a risky proposition, but one that must be taken.  Because of this, the Battleship Surface Action Group (BBSAG) will remain west of the Broad Fourteens,  screening the BEF crossing until 25 August.  Any German operation that is not directed at the crossing will be ignored, if possible.
Because of the constrained waters, I elect to leave the battlecruiser force behind, as scouting will not be as crucial a task as staying power in the constrained waters near the channel. 

Intelligence

The German navy receives the BC DERFFLINGER as well as 1 CL and 2 DDs.  1 CL is reported in repairs for 2 weeks.
There is no information concerning planned German Fleet movements.  There are several enemy/German courses of action (ECOA).  I evaluate the ECOA in descending probability as follows:

1)   Most Probable ECOA-No sortie of the German High Seas Fleet
2)   Harass the BEF’s crossing with light forces,  with possible BB/BC in support
3)   Fleet Sortie to the North Sea without a channel attack
4)   Channel Raid with only  elements of the Fleet (BCs or fast BB)
5)   Most Dangerous ECOA-High Seas Fleet Sortie towards the channel

The lack of intelligence is weak evidence there will be no sortie.  Historically, this is what happened.  The Kaiser had decreed that the German fleet would not be risked in offensive action. (2)   Believing the war would be short,  the German government wanted to use the fleet as leverage in post-war negotiations. (3)  Additionally, there was little concern about the relatively small British army, which it was believed would be quickly swept away by the advancing  German army in France. (4)
 
A fleet sortie towards the channel would be a high risk endeavor for the Germans, as it places the German fleet, and its short ranged escort craft both far away from their bases and close to British bases.  Further, the constrained geography as the fleet approached the channel makes it ideal for submarine and light forces attacks and mining.  Most critically, this constrained geography in the Channel and its approaches potentially places any German ships in grave danger by British forces deploying to their east, and cutting off  any retreat back to Germany.  For these reasons, I do not expect any action. 

Maintenance

One DD is due for refit.

Training

A CA and the CL ARETHUSA are detached for training.

Replacements/Detachments

CL ARETHUSA joins the fleet
The BB ERIN is requisitioned from the shipyard, where it was being built for the Ottoman Empire.

Operations

The Royal Navy will deploy the 1st and 2nd Battleship squadrons  and a light escort and scouting force to an area on the western edge of Dogger Banks.  (see attached image) Although I would like to deploy more, I am limited by the game, which only allows me to spend a limited number of operations points this turn.  No Battlecruisers will be part of the force, as I believe given the game-limited size of my deployable forces this turn, the heavier offensive and defensive capabilities of the Battleships will be of more use in screening the crossing in the geographically constrained approaches to the Channel.   The patrol box was determined by a desire to have some sea room to maneuver  in as well as respond to a possible German sortie to the North Sea, while simultaneously minimizing the danger of submarine or light forces attacks on the SAG. This is especially important as I am forced to deploy with a limited escort: only one flotilla of destroyers, less than half of what I would like to have.  This position also allows any German move towards the Channel to be cut off from returning to base.
 
The light forces near the Channel and Harwich are detailed to patrol the eastern approaches to the Channel to counter any German light forces.  A patrol line of submarines is stationed outside the Bight, as well as one submarine off the Dutch coast to provide early warning of any German fleet unit movement outside the Bight.


Endnotes
1) Massie, Robert K., and Robert K. Massie. Castles of Steel: Britain, Germany, and the Winning of the Great War at Sea, 79. New York: Random House, 2003.
2) Tarrant, V. E. Jutland: The German Perspective, 21. London: Cassell, 2001
3) Ibid
4) Ibid
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Offline JasonPratt

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Re: World War I in the North Sea-A Steam and Iron Campaign Game AAR
« Reply #9 on: May 09, 2016, 06:29:48 AM »
Subscribing to this hard!  O0
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Offline Sir Slash

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Re: World War I in the North Sea-A Steam and Iron Campaign Game AAR
« Reply #10 on: May 09, 2016, 07:49:52 AM »
You're making me HOT to play this game again.
"Take a look at that". Sgt. Wilkerson-- CMBN. His last words after spotting a German tank on the other side of a hedgerow.

Offline Tripoli

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Re: World War I in the North Sea-A Steam and Iron Campaign Game AAR
« Reply #11 on: May 12, 2016, 04:41:01 AM »
18 August-turn (Continued)

Battlelog  and spotting reports

18 1255   Submarine E2 reports 1 CA and 4 CL 45 nm NNW Helgoland, heading south
18 1314   Submarine D4 reports 6 DD 30nm NNW Helgoland, heading south
18 1348   Submarine E2 reports 2 DD 30 nm NNW Helgoland, heading SSE
19 0438   Submarine E2 reports 1 CA, 3DD 30nm N of Helgoland, heading south
19 0500   At approximately 0500, a mist forms over the OPAREA, reducing visibility.
19 0930   The mist continues, reducing sighting range.  Due to this reduction of sighting range, it is possible that the submarine scouting line will miss any German sortie.  Accordingly, the BB SAG is directed to  operate further south, in the vicinity of Norfolk Banks.  The more constrained geography in this area will increase the chance of an interception in the event of a sortie to raid the channel.
19 1058   CL ACTIVE  spots a unknown vessel at position 5407N00306E, range 5.49 nm., bearing SW from the BB SAG.  Weather: Mist, wind: Moderate breeze, SSW.  The RN fleet is in four columns, with the flagship HMS KING GEORGE V in the port column, heading 189 degrees.  Speed in increased to 21 knots.
19 1058   CL ACTIVE  spots 2 more unknown ships, apparently in formation.  Vessels are traveling north.  See attached image
19 1103   CL ACTIVE  ID’s one vessel as a CL and opens fire
19 11:03     BB Orion opens fire at a BB.  Range: 3.7 nm
19 11:04     BB Conqueror, Monarch, Ajax, King George V open fire
19 11:04     Unidentified capital ship opens fire at BB Conqueror

Notes:    This action is simultaneously what I feared and hoped for.  It appears I’ve run into only a small unit of the High Seas Fleet, so there is an opportunity to defeat it in detail.  Further, my initial contact places me in an advantageous position, slightly to the northeast of the German fleet.  This raises the possibility of cutting them off from their home bases.  I also have the wind gauge, with the SSW wind blowing the smoke away from my gunnery directors.   However, because of the reduced visibility, the initial ranges are short: only 10,000 yards are so.  Because of this, I will not be able to use the superior range of the British guns to stand off and pummel the German fleet.  Instead, the RN will have to duke it out well within the range of the very lethal German guns.  Worse, the close ranges means my Battleships will likely come under torpedo attack.   Even worse, the weather will likely require me to close even closer with the German force, as it appears to have at least one Battlecruiser.  This means that the Germans likely have a 3-5 knot speed superiority over the British.  Unless the German ships are quickly damaged and slowed, any worsening of visibility potentially will give the Germans the opportunity to escape.  By closing the range, the British force can more quickly reduce the German ships while mitigating against the possibility of worsening visibility.  However, the excellent German gunnery assures that there will be a butcher’s bill associated with closing to essentially point-blank range with the German fleet.

While theoretically I could decline action and preserve the British Battleships, the bad weather would allow the German squadron to escape either back to Germany or worse, to raid the Channel.    Realistically, no British admiral of the day would have declined an action under these conditions.  In 1914, a British Admiral was nearly court-martialed for failing to engage the vastly superior German Battle cuiser Goeben , despite the fact that had he engaged, it would have almost certainly resulted in the loss of several British cruisers and a thousand sailors.


19 1105   Formation turns to course 200 degrees to maintain contact with the German force while blocking their route east back to their base. 
191106   Two Capital ships are identified.  Enemy fleet appears to be turning to the NW, likely to escape.  Fleet is ordered to turn to 220  to shorten the range.
19 11:07     BB Ajax identifies CL as Karlsruhe-class
191107   Between 1107 and 1124 the fleet loses contact with the enemy’s heavy units, but remains in contact with several cruisers and destroyers. Several hits are registered on both the CL KARLSRUHE and CL Magdeburg, as well as a destroyer.

191114   2/2 Battle Squadron (HMS ORION, MONARCH, CONQUEROR,THUNDERER) is detached and head wests to block the suspected German attempt to escape to the north.  This course should place the German Battlecruisers south of this detachment, and west of the main British body.   If successful, this should close the door on any German escape. 
191122   German destroyers are seen to turn away from the main body.  Fleet turns to course 270 to avoid possible torpedoes.  While a turn away from the torpedoes would  be the best course, it would risk allowing the German BCs to escape.  Because of this, I order a turn towards the torpedoes.  Although this increases the closure rate, it also minimizes the target angle, potentially allowing the British units to comb the torpedo wakes while maintaining contact with the German units.
19 1124   At 1124, contact is reestablished with the three  German  heavy units.  The KGV and Ajax open fire.
19 11:27     BB King George V is avoiding torpedoes. 
19 11:29     The first hit on the German BC is observed.  Several other hits shortly follow. See attached image
191136   Range to the German Battlecruisers is approximately 3.6 nm
19 11:39     BB King George V’s engine room is hit by a torpedo fired by Seydlitz
19 11:39     Between 11:39-49, ten hits are scored on the  Moltke-class BC.
19 11:50     BB Superb is hit by a torpedo fired by V188. 
19 11:50     BB Superb has been detached because of heavy flooding.
19 1203   The Mist lifts. Range: 1.57 nm from Orion to BC. 3.53nm from KGV to BC.  5.57 nm from Vanguard to BC. See attached image
19 12:18     The SMS Motlke is finally destroyed when a broadside from HMS Marlborough causes a magazine explosion. See attached image
19 12:22     BB King George V is hit by a torpedo fired by Seydlitz
19 12:22     There is no longer any effective reply by the German BCs to the British onslaught.  Over the next  63 minutes, the von der Tann and Seydlitz absorb numerous heavy caliber gun hits and six torpedo hits from the massed and unanswered British guns.
12 1230   DD V188 sinks.
19 12:34     DD Martin  picks up survivors from DD V188
19 13:25    SMS Seydlitz sinks
19 13:25     Between 1335-1329, the von der Tann receives a final  13 heavy caliber hits from the British fleet.  It finally sinks at 1331
19 1331   SMS von der Tann sinks
 
Losses

German: 3 BC, 1 DD sunk   British: 5 BB damaged 
SMS Seydlitz   HMS King George V (Heavy Damage)   
SMS Moltke   HMS Superb    (Medium Damage)
SMS von der Tann   HMS Monarch, Orion, Ajax, Audacious (Light Damage)
SMS V188

Aftermath 

   Although no British ships are sunk, the HMS King George V and Superb are badly damaged.  Although able to make 12 knots, the KGV is in danger of foundering.  The fleet is directed to return to The Humber, fortuitously arriving just as a gale, that likely would have sunk the heavily damaged KGV begins.

Analysis:

This was an extremely fortuitous battle for the RN.  Had the German fleet been spotted only 8 miles or so further east of the British position when spotted, it would have been impossible to prevent a German withdrawal to the east.  Had the sighting ranges been longer, the four knot speed advantage of the German battlecruisers  would similarly have allowed them to withdraw to the east. Conversely, had the sighting ranges been shorter, the action very well may not have happened at all, or would have allowed a German escape to the north west.

The basis for the Royal Navy’s historical fear of German torpedoes  is demonstrated in this scenario.  In the scenario, HMS King George V was nearly sunk by two torpedo hits. She was saved only by immediately diverting to the Humber, where she required six weeks in drydock.  The HMS Superb took a single torpedo hit,  which limited her speed to 13 knots, and put her out of action for 3 weeks.

The use of the 2/2 Battle squadron (HMS ORION, MONARCH, CONQUEROR,THUNDERER) to cut off the German retreat to the north was probably ahistorical.  Such a maneuver would have required close coordination and discussions of the fleet commander’s intentions before the battle.  In Nelson’s day, his “Band of Brothers” would likely have understood such the intent of such a maneuver and have been able to carry it out.  However, as argued by Andrew Gordon,  by 1914 such maneuvers were not practiced as part of  Grand Fleet doctrine, which instead emphasized on massed maneuver of the Grand Fleet.  While safe, and virtually assuring the Grand Fleet would survive any clash with the High Seas Fleet, such a massed fleet maneuver would have been incapable of cutting off and destroying the German Battlecruisers in detail. (1, 2)

   Overall, the British gunnery was average.  The highest scoring battleship was HMS Ajax, hitting 4.91% of the time, followed by HMS Audacious, which hit 4.78% of the time.   Together, the ships of the 1st and 2nd Battle Squadrons averaged only a  2.03% hit percentage with their large caliber shells.  Given that the range was very short, rarely over 7,000 yards distance, and that the German ships were barely underway for the last hour of the engagement, this hit percentage of hits was low.   The historical British hit percentage at Jutland was slightly higher, at 2.71%. (3) 

   This battle potentially opens up some opportunities for the Royal Navy.  With the loss of the entire German Battlecruiser force, any light cruiser scouts will be unsupported, and potentially vulnerable to British Battlecruisers.  This, in turn, leads open the possibility of engaging in an anti-cruiser strategy, to partially blind the High Seas Fleet, and make it more vulnerable to being out maneuvered and destroyed in detail in the event of a fleet action.

Endnotes:
  1) Gordon, G. A. H. The Rules of the Game Jutland and British Naval Command, Annapolis, Md: Naval Institute Press, 2000.
  2) Friedman, Norman. Fighting the Great War at Sea: Strategy, Tactics and Technology, 359. 2014.
  3) Campbell, N. J. M. Jutland: An Analysis of the Fighting, 355. New York, N.Y.: Lyons Press, 1998
« Last Edit: May 12, 2016, 05:05:09 AM by Tripoli »
“Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?” -Abraham Lincoln

Offline Sir Slash

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Re: World War I in the North Sea-A Steam and Iron Campaign Game AAR
« Reply #12 on: May 12, 2016, 09:48:19 AM »
BRAVO Admiral.  O0
"Take a look at that". Sgt. Wilkerson-- CMBN. His last words after spotting a German tank on the other side of a hedgerow.

Offline panzerde

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Re: World War I in the North Sea-A Steam and Iron Campaign Game AAR
« Reply #13 on: May 12, 2016, 04:20:02 PM »
Great AAR! Definitely want to keep track of this one. I've been itching to fire this game back up.

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Offline Tripoli

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Re: World War I in the North Sea-A Steam and Iron Campaign Game AAR
« Reply #14 on: May 13, 2016, 07:56:19 AM »
01-14 September 1914

Strategic Overview

   Historically, the Kaiser was very risk-adverse to losing capital ships.  After the Battle of Helgoland Bight in August 1914, he ordered that the German fleet’s capital ships not be endangered, ordering his battleship not to fight outside the Bight. (1)  Based on this historical analogy, had the German fleet lost three of its Battlecruisers at this point in the war, the Kaiser would likely have prevented the German navy from ever again leaving the Bight.   The likely result of such a decision would have been a strategic stalemate in the North Sea.  In such an event, the Grand Fleet, unable to bring the High Seas Fleet to battle, would have likely  have remained static, guarding the North Sea for a fleet engagement that would never come.  Another possible result of such a battle would be it could more quickly have resulted in unrestricted submarine and mine warfare, being adopted as the German navy looked for relevance in a war where it had neutered its battlefleet.

In terms of this game, the loss of the battlecruisers significantly affects a German capability.  In addition to leaving its scouts unsupported, the loss of the Battlecruisers makes it more difficult for the German Fleet to raid the English coast or channel without being intercepted by the Grand Fleet.  To further foreclose this possibility, or to take advantage of such a sortie, I start to consider the utility of stationing the Grand Fleet further south to Rosyth, where it could quickly intercept and cut off such a sortie by the High Seas fleet.

Objectives

   I’m still thinking about how to exploit the victory last turn (which for ease of reference, I will call the Battle of Cleaver Bank).  As noted in the above post, this battle potentially opens up some opportunities for the Royal Navy.  With the loss of the virtually all of the German Battlecruiser force, any light cruiser scouts will be unsupported, and potentially vulnerable to British Battlecruisers.  Their loss would blind the High Seas Fleet, and make it more vulnerable to being out-maneuvered and destroyed in the event of a fleet action.  Because of damage as the result of the Battle of Cleaver Bank, many of the Grand Fleet’s battleships are in repair this turn.  That leaves only the obsolete pre-dreadnaughts of the 3rd Battlesquadron, and the Battlecruiser Fleet fully ready for operations this turn. 

   As noted below, Intelligence also reports that the German navy “is planning an operation.”  While there are no details on the size, objectives or timing of the operation, having the Battlecruiser Fleet at sea potentially gives the best chance of opposing a German sortie, while avoiding any superior forces.

   Based these factors,  I decide to try a limited operation to destroy German light forces, thereby shaping the battlefield for a future fleet action.  Given the absence of a German battlecruiser force, by using battlecruisers, the RN has the option of declining action should superior German forces appear.   To maximize the chance of an encounter, a battlecruiser sweep towards the Skaggerak and down the western coast of Jutland to just north of the Bight is planned with the objective of destroying any light forces encountered.   However, the projected intended movement (PIM) of the sweep will place it sufficiently far off the Jutland coast to provide sea room, in case the force encounters a superior German fleet and needs to escape. 

   Historically, had such a sweep occurred after a major British victory, it might have created concerns in the German navy over a Royal Navy operation in the Baltic, as well as confirmed the German pre-1912 thinking about the likely site of a fleet action.   
   
Available Forces

   As shown on the attached spreadsheet, the Grand Fleet has 21 operational battleships.  However, five of these are damaged, and one has just joined the fleet and needs additional training before becoming an effective unit.  Intelligence reports that the High Seas Fleet has 15 operational BBs, effectively giving the German battleline parity with the Royal Navy for the next two weeks.
                  
 
Replacements/Detachments

•   The following units join the fleet
o   BB Erin
o   DD Miranda

Maintenance and Repairs

Units in Repair/Maintenance

HMS Superb- 9 Weeks (Battle Damage)
HMS King George V-12 weeks (Battle Damage)
HMS Monarch-5 weeks (Battle Damage)
HMS Conqueror-2 weeks (Battle Damage)
HMS Orion, HMS Ajax-1 week (Battle Damage)
CL HMS GIBRALTAR is sent to maintenance 

Units returning from/due for  maintenance

A CL and DD finish repairs.
BB HMS VANGUARD and a DD are due for maintenance in 5 weeks.

Training

   The obsolete B’s of the 3rd Battlesquadron are sent to training, as they would only be a hindrance in the event of a fleet engagement.  Likewise, the newly arrived CL HMS ARETHUSA and DD HMS MIRANDA are sent to training, as are five of the old minelaying CLs.  Although the battleship HMS Erin is in desperate need of a stint of training, given the parity with the German fleet, it cannot spared until later this month.  Similarly, the battlecruisers HMS LION and HMS PRINCESS ROYAL and will delay training until the fleet’s damage from the August battle is repaired.

Intelligence

Intelligence reports that the German navy “is planning an operation.”  The report contains no details: no who, what, where, or when of the German operation, limiting its utility for planning.

More interestingly, intelligence reports that the Germans have 15 dreadnaughts and 5 submarines available for operations. Nothing further is known about these additions to the German OOB.  Although the Order of Battle (OOB) is updated with these additions, I am mentally putting an asterisk by these two new BB’s, as I am not sure they have really joined the fleet.  Additionally, I evaluated two German CLs as damaged for this month.  This is likely pessimistic, as the two CLs were reportedly hit multiple times by heavy shells during the Battle of Cleaver Bank.  However, I will include them as being out of action for just one month.

Based on the forces and intelligence, I evaluate the ECOA for this two week period in descending probability as follows:

1.   Most Probable ECOA-No sortie of the German High Seas Fleet during the period.  Possible pre-operational minelaying off East Coast of England
2.   Harass channel/ East coast shipping with light forces
3.   Most Dangerous ECOA-High Seas Fleet Sortie towards the channel or English East coast
 
Endnotes

(1) Massie, Robert K., and Robert K. Massie. Castles of Steel: Britain, Germany, and the Winning of the Great War at Sea, 120. New York: Random House, 2003.
« Last Edit: May 13, 2016, 07:59:39 AM by Tripoli »
“Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?” -Abraham Lincoln