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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 #30 on: June 03, 2016, 07:47:46 AM »
Battlelog  and spotting reports 29-31 October 1914

291300   Intelligence reports 2 CAs near Helgoland heading west.
300142   HMS SPITFIRE, as part of a flotilla of British destroyers patrolling off the east coast of Britiansights a ship 50nm ENE of Grimsby. WX Overcast, Lt Breeze from SW, sighting rage 3500 yards.  Between 0142 and 0330, a running gunbattle ensues between the HMS SPITFIRE, joined by HMS MIDGE, SWIFT and SHARK and what appears to be a screening force of light German ships as well as possibly one CA.  There are no reports of any capital ships. Note: The engagement above is done under AI control.  Aside from some fragmentary reports, there is littel information provided concerning this engagement.  At the time of the contact, the  Grand Fleet is on the opposite side of the North Sea, supporting the minelaying operation off of Horn’s Reef.  As planned, this places it in a position to cut off any German returning from an operation against the east coast of England or Channel.  The Grand Fleet turns to a SW course to cut off the German forces.  The 260 mile distance between its position and these forces means that contact is expected at approximately 301200, which will give plenty of daylight for the engagement.  I’m hoping to have an engagement at least 10,000 yards to avoid German torpedoes.   To avoid ships losing contact in the  rain and poor visibility, I set the fleet speed to 15 knots, which will still give ample time for the engagement during the day.  Although no capital ships are reported, I expect there to be some as part of this force.
300427   Minelaying commences
300447     Minelaying completed

300714   MS WEIGELIA reports 1 CL, 2 DD 20 nm ENE of  Scarborough, heading NW.
300745    MS WEIGELIA reports 1 DD 20 nm ENE of  Scarborough, heading ENE. Note: The German fleet appears to be sailing NNW up the coast.  I had expected them to simply shell Grimsby at daylight and head back to base.  This delay means that contact between the Germans and the High Seas fleet may be delayed to dusk.  Although this delay in the engagement is troubling, it has a bright lining in that the Grand Fleet has also been badly scattered in the night, so this will give it time to rejoin the lost units. See attached image
301021   Whitby makes a series of reports indicating at least reports 3 BB, 1 BC,2 CL, 2 DD heading in a northwesterly direction. WX: Light rain, visibility is 7,000 yards.   Note: This is the first indication that capital ships may be part of the raiding force.  Surprisingly, they are still off the east coast.  I fully expected the German force to conduct a short bombardment at sunrise, then retire to avoid contact with British Forces.   Unfortunately, their delay in leaving also will delay the expected interception time.  Assuming the German fleet heads east now, it will be at least 1530 before there is any contact.  Twilight is shortly thereafter, at 1616.  This reduced visibility increases the risk of a nighttime torpedo attack as well as the chance that the Grand Fleet will miss the German force entirely.
301147   WX clears; Overcast, WSW Gentle Breeze, 14,000yds visibility
30 11:47   The Heugh battery near Hartlepool engages an unknown ship.
30 11:55     Unknown ship fires HMS River.  Note:   In the next hour, light forces stationed at Hartlepool (under  AI control)  engage the German screening forces.  Note: The German force has sailed well north of where I expected them to be.  This makes me suspicious the German operation is intended to lure elements of the British fleet into a trap.  The German force  is currently located approximately 238 nm from Scapa Flow, but only 95 nm from the Firth of Forth.  This indicates the Germans may be intended to draw the British Battlecruisers based in  in Edinburgh into a battle.


30 15:18    Note: The action between the Hartlepool screening forces continue (under AI control)  Near dusk the  CL HMS FORWARD, which is part of the Hartlepool force,  is hit by a torpedo.  At this point, the action has been going on for 3.5 hours, yet no heavy German units have been spotted, despite the forces closing to within torpedo range.  I don’t want to have a nighttime  engagement with torpedo-armed vessels.  Neither can I allow the German forces to escape.  To avoid these consequences, the Grand Fleet establishes a blocking position approximately 60 miles east of Hartelpool.  From this position the British screen is likely to make contact with any German  forces withdrawing from Hartlepool towards Helgoland.  It also delays any action until closer to sunrise. 
31 0100   Note: The lack of contact between the Grand Fleet and any German units, combined with periodic reports of bombardment of the Hartlepool coastal defenses prod me into making a cautious approach towards Hartlepool.  My intent is to arrive at daybreak to the east of any German forces to prevent their escape.
31 03:56     DD Hydra sights an unknown ship approximately 17 nm NE of Hartlepool. 
31 03:57     DD Hydra identifies unknown ship as DD
31 04:02     DD fires 2 3in guns at DD Hydra! Target straddled!  1 hits
31 04:02     DD Hydra fires 1 4in guns at DD! Target straddled!  1 hits
31 04:03     BB Monarch sights an unknown ship
31 04:07     BB Centurion opens fire at CL Magdeburg-class!
31 04:07     BB Monarch opens fire at CL Magdeburg-class!
31 04:08     BB Monarch is avoiding torpedoes! Note: It appears the Grand Fleet has made contact with the German fleet’s screening forces, unfortunately at a closer range than I would have liked.  I’m not convinced that there are any German capital ships present.  Since the spotting report by Whitby eighteen hours ago, there have been no reports of capital ships.  Additionally, the slow rate of damage received by the coastal defenses appears to be more consistent with a bombardment by light or medium caliber guns. 
31 04:08     BB Centurion identifies CA as Kolberg-class
31 04:08     BB Monarch fires 8 13in guns at CL Kolberg-class! Note: The Grand Fleet  battleline quickly engages the German light forces.  In a night action over the next 3.5 hours, the German light forces are blocked from escaping to the east by the Grand Fleet, and annihilated.  A total of  five German CLs and fifteen DDs are lost.  Only a single German destroyer managed to escape.  At times, the engagement was at extremely close range, as demonstrated by the fact that two of the German destroyers are sunk  after being rammed by British battleships.   No German capital ships were encountered.   There are no British losses, although three battleships (HMS MONARCH, ORION and ST. VINCENT) are hit by torpedoes.  Several British destroyers are also badly damaged, but they are able to make the nearby port of Hartlepool.  Survivors from the German force report that the German force was from Emden, and not Wilhelmshaven.
« Last Edit: June 03, 2016, 07:54:11 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 #31 on: June 03, 2016, 01:45:30 PM »
Aftermath and Analysis
   In game terms, this victory will go a long way towards establishing British naval supremacy over the German fleet.  Slightly over 25% of the total German destroyer force was sunk, as well as 62% of the German light cruisers.  These losses would cripple the High Seas Fleet scouting forces, and significantly reduce much of their torpedo capability.  Simultaneously, the British have largely blinded the German navy while significantly reducing the torpedo threat against the British battle line.

 Historically, it is unlikely the Germans would have actually engaged in a raid planned and executed as this operation was.  Although the Germans did conduct ‘tip and run’ raids the British east coast several times, they did so with Battlecruisers.  The purpose of such raids was to help “shape the battlespace” for a future fleet clash by leading the British into dispersing the Grand Fleet down the English coast to counter such raids. (1)  By dispersing the Grand Fleet, the Germans hoped to make elements of the British fleet susceptible to piecemeal interception and destruction by the High Seas Fleet.  Had the German Fleet used only light forces, as occurred in this scenario, it is unlikely they would have created the impetus for the Royal Navy to disperse its capital ships.  Such raids by German light forces could be adequately countered by British light forces and mining, mitigating the need to disperse battleships.  Further, the raid in this scenario differed from the historical “tip and run” raids in that the historical raids did not need to patrol off the coast, such as happened in this scenario.  Rather, the historical German concept was that their forces would reveal their presence by shelling the coast, and then retire, while leading the responding British ships over minefields and through submarine patrol lines. (2)  The German battlecruisers and their escorts would be able to outrun or outfight any British ships that managed to intercept.  As German Admiral Ingenhol later stated “It appeared that the risk [in such a raid] was not as [great as] it seemed. If the battle cruisers suddenly appeared on the spot at daybreak, remained there for an hour or an hour and a half, and then retreated at high speed, it would be a very unfortunate coincidence indeed if, just at this time of the year, when the days were so short, superior enemy forces were met before dark." (3)  In contrast, in the game scenario, the patrolling off the east coast by the German light forces allowed them to be cut off by the British.  Further, the lack of battlecruiser support meant that they had no chance to outfight any British force that intercepted them, and were destroyed. 

  This scenario also raises an historical “what if” situation.  Had such an engagement occurred during World War I, it might well have been a mixed blessing for the British.  This is because it may have led the German navy to change its codes.  Historically, by December 1914, British naval intelligence had several German codebooks: a copy of the HVB code seized in August by the Australians; a copy of North Sea charts and the VB code, dredged from the bottom of the North Seas after it was jettisoned by a sinking German destroyer; and most critically, the SKM code, seized by the Russians from an German light cruiser that had run aground.  (4)    Despite suspecting that codebooks might have fallen into allied hands, the Germans failed to take decisive measures to ensure the security of their communications. (5) In the scenario, most of the twenty German ships sank in water that was approximately 200 feet (60 meters) deep.  By 1914, divers had reached depths of 274 feet (83 meters). (6)   This loss of so many vessels in such shallow water, along with the capture of their crews could have convinced the German navy that its codebooks may have been captured, and resulted in their changing of the naval codes.

Endnotes
(1)Tarrant, V. E. Jutland: The German Perspective, 30, 55. London: Cassell, 2001.
(2)Friedman, Norman. Fighting the Great War at Sea: Strategy, Tactics and Technology, 144-45. 2014.
(3)Massie, Robert K., and Robert K. Massie. Castles of Steel: Britain, Germany, and the Winning of the Great War at Sea, 313. New York: Random House, 2003
(4)Ibid., 315-17
(5)Ibid., 317-18
(6)Marx, R. F. (1990). The history of underwater exploration (p. 70). New York, NY: Dover Publications.
« Last Edit: June 03, 2016, 01:59:32 PM by Tripoli »
“Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?” -Abraham Lincoln

Offline mirth

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Re: World War I in the North Sea-A Steam and Iron Campaign Game AAR
« Reply #32 on: June 03, 2016, 01:50:09 PM »
Great stuff!
"45 minutes of pooping Tribbles being juggled by a drunken Horta would be better than Season 1 of TNG." - SirAndrewD

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Offline spieler6

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Re: World War I in the North Sea-A Steam and Iron Campaign Game AAR
« Reply #33 on: June 04, 2016, 06:27:17 PM »
Great stuff!


 Yes indeed. Tripoli's AAR got me to finally register here.

Offline Tripoli

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Re: World War I in the North Sea-A Steam and Iron Campaign Game AAR
« Reply #34 on: June 05, 2016, 05:17:19 PM »
Thank you for the complements!

12-26 November1914

Strategic Overview

The strategic situation is unchanged from last turn.  At the Operational level, the Royal Navy is temporarily hamstrung by the necessity to take major elements of the fleet offline for repair and training.  For instance, the battlecruiser fleet is effectively non-operational for the next month.   Although HMS TIGER arrives as a reinforcement, the untrained status of her crew effectively removes her from front-line service.  Further, HMS QUEEN MARY ran aground entering port last turn, necessitating a month in drydock.

  Similarly, there is a shortage of escorts.  Although relatively few destroyers were damaged in the engagement, a late October gale damaged over twenty destroyers.  Because of the need to still conduct ASW operations, and the need to repair these destroyers, the number of escorts available to screen the Grand Fleet is minimal.  This lack of escorts and the absence of the battlecruisers means that for the next two weeks, the High Seas Fleet will have numerical superiority over the Royal Navy.  Because of this, Royal Navy operations will be limited during this period to light operations, training, refit and repair.  I’m hoping that the onset of winter weather in the North Sea will dissuade the Germans from exploiting their temporary superiority by attacking British coastal  or channel traffic.

Concept of Operations

   I plan on only engaging in minor mine laying operations off of Jutland. Only the Fourth Battle Squadron will be on standby to react to German operations, and then only if a very favorable opportunity presents itself.  All other units will conduct training or maintenance operations.   A light screen of submarines is set near Horn’s Reef to provide early warning of  a German deployment from that axis.  Similarly, a short patrol line of submarines is placed off the Dutch coast to provide warning of  German movement towards the Channel.  A screen of destroyers is placed at the entrance to the Channel to respond to German light forces that try to raid the channel, while a similar force is placed between Scapa and Cromarty to respond to mining or submarine operations in the area.  See attached OPLAN.
 
Objectives

   In priority order, the objectives for this turn are as follows:
1.   Prevent damage/loss of  British Capital ships
2.   Protect the British east coast and Channel from  any raiding German units.
3.    Conduct mining off the Horn’s Reef while avoiding losses of any cruisers.

Intelligence

 There is no indication of a German operation this turn.  Only eight German dreadnoughts are reported available, and two German battleships are reported to be in repair.  This is close to the 11 BBs I estimate make up the High Seas Fleet.   Because of training and maintenance being conducted by the British fleet, if the High Seas Fleet deploys, it will have a numerical superiority, by at least 2 and possibly 3 battleships.  The German navy also reportedly receives four new destroyers.  Because of the significant number of British destroyers in maintenance, this gives the Germans an advantage in light forces.  I evaluate the ECOA for this two week period in descending probability as follows:

1.   Most Probable ECOA - Deployment of  light forces to conduct small scale patrols into North Sea.  Probable minelaying operations in conjunction with the deployment. 
2.   Mining by light forces off of British East coast/Channel
3.   Patrol in North Sea or off Danish coast by a single Battleship squadron, possibly in conjunction with mining off East coast of England.
4.   Most Dangerous ECOA - Deployment of  the  Battleships and unknown number of pre-dreadnaughts to North Sea or English Channel with Battlecruiser support.  Probable minelaying operations off the English coast in support of the deployment. 


Available Forces

   716 Operational points are available.  The Order of Battle for this turn is below:

 
Replacements/Detachments
•   Reinforcements/Additions
o   BC HMS TIGER
o   AV HMS VINDEX
o   DD HMS GOSHAWK

•   Detachments
o   None

Maintenance and Repairs
•   Units entering Repair/Maintenance
o   Numerous units (7 BB, 2 BC, 2 B, 3 CA, 6 CL, 29 DD) are in maintenance.
 
•   Units returning from Maintenance

o   1 AV, 5 DDs

Training

1, 2 and 3 Battle Squadrons are ordered to training.  4th Battle Squadron will be used as a reserve to respond  in the event of a German operation.



     NSTR
 
Operations

See attached image for OPLAN. 
« Last Edit: June 05, 2016, 05:18:59 PM 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 #35 on: June 14, 2016, 06:20:38 AM »
Battlelog  and spotting reports

120500 Nov   WX: Partly Cloudy, Fresh Breeze WNW
120643   Submarine E3 1 CA, 1 CL, 3 DD invic 5457N00750E (28nm off of Sylt island) heading WSW
121400   Intell reports 1 CA invic 5346N00407E (approx. 40 nm NNW of Texel Island.)
130415   Minelaying completed
140726   Submarine E4 reports 3 CA, 3 DD in posit 5455N00734E (25 nm off of Sylt island) heading S.

Aftermath and Analysis

As expected, (an hoped for) there was no contact between the British and German fleets this turn, giving the Royal Navy the opportunity to repair and refit.  The reports of a heavy cruiser and escorts operating off Sylt Island create the possibility of conducting an operation in the area to snare them.
Despite stationing the submarine patrol line further out, submarine E-4 is lost due to mining, indicating the German minefields lay further north from Helgoland.  Future submarine patrol lines will have to lay north of the Dutch border.   On the positive side of the ledger, U-16 is mined off of Sheerness.  There is only minor operational damage this turn, with a destroyer and a pre-dreadnought being damaged due to running aground. 
The report of a U-16’s sinking off of Sheerness, combined with the intel report of a heavy cruiser off of Texel raise the possibility that the German fleet is probing towards the Channel, possibly with an eye towards raiding the shipping there.
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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 #36 on: June 19, 2016, 07:13:49 AM »
27 November-10 December 1914

Strategic Overview

The strategic situation is unchanged from last turn.  At the operational level, the Royal Navy remains temporarily hamstrung by the necessity to take major elements of the fleet offline for repair and training.  Five battleships, two battlecruisers and twenty-two destroyers remain under repair, significantly affecting the British operational capabilities.  In particular, the loss of the Battlecruisers and destroyers has a pronounced impact on operations.    Like last turn, Royal Navy operations will be largely limited during this period to light operations, training, refit and repair.
 
Concept of Operations

   This turn, the British will attempt to shape the Battlespace for future engagements.  The plan for this turn will be almost identical to the plan last turn in terms of major fleet deployments.  The chief difference is that this turn I will incorporate a sweep by two squadrons of heavy cruisers and their escorts partway through the Skagerrak and then down the Jutland coast in conjuction with the mining off Jutland.   The goal of this sweep is primarily to support the mine force, and possibly catch the heavy cruiser that was reported operating off Sylt Island last turn.  More importantly, I am hoping that if I can establish a pattern of such cruiser sweeps, the German forces would eventually deploy heavy units in an effort to ambush the cruisers.  In response, the Grand Fleet could ambush the ambushers, and hopefully win a decisive naval battle.  Because the German fleet has the operational-level initiative and can determine the when and where to fight the Royal Navy, this strategy of “dangling” tempting targets such as this heavy cruiser force may encourage  the High Seas Fleet to take the bait, and allow a decisive engagement. 

  There is a degree of risk to this operation.  This turn, the heavy cruisers will be operating without battlecruiser support, so they are vulnerable to interception by the remaining German battlecruiser.  While there is a danger, it can be mitigated to some degree by including a strong scouting force of light cruisers with the heavy cruisers.   

The Fourth Battle Squadron will be on standby to react to a High Seas Fleet deployment into the North Sea.  As was the case last turn, the squadron would only engaged if a very favorable opportunity presents itself.  All other units will conduct training or maintenance operations.   

A light screen of submarines is set near Horn’s Reef to provide early warning of  a German deployment.  Similarly, a short patrol line of submarines is placed off the Dutch coast to provide warning of German movement towards the Channel.  A screen of destroyers is placed at the entrance to the Channel to respond to German light forces that try to raid the channel, while a similar force is placed between Scapa and Cromarty to respond to mining or submarine operations in the area.  See attached OPLAN.
 
Objectives

   In priority order, the objectives for this turn are as follows:
1.   Prevent damage/loss of  British Capital ships
2.   Sweep along the Skagerrak /Jutland coast, destroy any German medium or light forces or merchants encountered and conduct mining operations off Jutland while avoiding superior forces.
3.   Protect the British east coast and Channel from any raiding German units.

Intelligence

 There is no indication of a German operation this turn.  Two separate intelligence reports indicate the German fleet has either six or nine submarines available for operations.    The OOB tally I have indicates a maximum of 3 SS and 5 SSCs.  Likely, the OOB tally sheet is undercounting the submarines, a situation that is probably the result of not having inadequate information on German reinforcements.  To support operations in the real world, there is typically a 3:1 ratio of units to deployable assets.  Based on this ratio, the Germans have a minimum of 18 submarines.  As far as is known, there have been no losses among the five initial  coastal submarines in the OOB so this indicates that the German OOB has at least 13 patrol submarines in inventory.  I evaluate the ECOA for this two week period in descending probability as follows:

1.   Most Probable ECOA- Deployment of German light forces to conduct small-scale patrols into North Sea.  Probable minelaying operations in conjunction with the deployment. 
2.   Deployment of the remaining German Battlecruiser to sweep off of Jutland
3.   Mining by German light forces off of British East coast/Channel
4.   German patrol in North Sea or off Danish coast by a single Battleship squadron, possibly in conjunction with mining off East coast of England.
5.   Most Dangerous ECOA - Deployment of  the  High Seas Fleet and unknown number of pre-dreadnaughts to North Sea or English Channel with Battlecruiser support.  Probable minelaying operations off the English coast in support of the deployment. 


Available Forces

   902 Operational points are available.  The Order of Battle for this turn is attached.

Replacements/Detachments

•   Reinforcements/Additions
o   CA HMS HAMPSHIRE
o   DD HMS MANLY

•   Detachments

o   None

Maintenance and Repairs

•   Units entering Repair/Maintenance
o   Numerous units (5 BB, 2 BC, 3 B, 4 CA, 6 CL, 22 DD) are in maintenance.
 
•   Units returning from Maintenance
o   8 DDs
o   BB HMS MARLBOROUGH

Training

•   BB HMS BENBOW
•   BC HMS TIGER
•   1 CL
•   2 DD

Administrative
     NSTR

Operations

See attached image for OPLAN. 

“Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?” -Abraham Lincoln

Offline Tripoli

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Re: World War I in the North Sea-A Steam and Iron Campaign Game AAR
« Reply #37 on: June 26, 2016, 05:43:05 AM »
Battlelog  and spotting reports

260500 Nov   WX: Cloudy, Light Breeze NW
270806 Nov    HMS APOLLO and INTREPID   commence laying mines
270826  Nov   HMS APOLLO and INTREPID   finish laying mines
271313 Nov     DD Viking strikes a mine 5nm NE of Ramsgate and is sunk
271955 Nov    DD Laforey sights an unknown ship in vic 5400N00348E (Oyster Ground)
271957 Nov     Unidentified ship fires 8 12in guns at DD Laforey! 1 hits
271958 Nov     Unidentified ship fires 8 8in guns at DD Laforey! Target straddled!
271959 Nov    DD Laforey identifies unknown ship as BC
272008 Nov    DD Laforey identifies unknown ship as CL NOTE: HMS LAFOREY is one of the escort vessels for the minelaying force returning from laying mines off Jutland.  Made up of two obsolete CLs and a small force of destroyers, this force is completely unable of engaging any German battlecruiser.  Covered by the night, I have it  withdraw.  Despite the heavy damage, HMS LAFOREY manages to escape and makes port.
281055 Nov    CL Bellona has spotted a submarine
30Nov   AMC HMS Andres strikes a mine and is sunk invic 5840N00200W (SE Scapa Flow)

Aftermath and Analysis

The brief engagement off of Oyster Grounds between HMS Laforey and the German Battlecruiser, combined with the intelligence from last turn of a heavy cruiser operating off of Texel indicate that that the German fleet is probing towards the Channel, possibly with an eye towards raiding the shipping there.  This gives an opportunity to lay a trap and cut off the German squadron in the area.

The loss of the third AMC off of Scapa Flow shows that the German Fleet is conducting mining of Grand Fleet bases with a likely eye towards damaging British Battleships.  Thus far, I have been lucky that none have been hit.  Similarly, the loss of the HMS VIKING off of Ramsgate indicates that the Germans have a capability of laying mines by submarine.  The loss map shows that all of the AMCs have been lost in the same area SE of Scapa.   I will avoid this area with capital ships, but increase the patrolling by DDs to catch the ship or submarine that is laying the mines.

There were no British submarine losses this turn, validating the tactic of stationing the submarine patrol line further north from Helgoland.  However, there were also no reports of German activity from the patrol line, indicating that while safe,  such a patrol line may provide little intelligence of German movements.
“Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?” -Abraham Lincoln

Offline Tripoli

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Re: World War I in the North Sea-A Steam and Iron Campaign Game AAR
« Reply #38 on: July 03, 2016, 07:22:58 AM »
11-22 December 1914

Strategic Overview

The strategic situation is unchanged from last turn.  At the operational level, the Grand Fleet has largely repaired the damaged ships from earlier actions and now has a significant superiority in operational battleships over the German fleet. However,  the  shortage of destroyers remains serious.   

Intelligence

Intelligence reports that Germany is planning an operation this turn.  There are no details as to the nature of the operation.  I evaluate the ECOA for this two week period in descending probability as follows:

1.   Most Probable ECOA/ Most Dangerous ECOA - Deployment of multiple Battle squadrons of the High Seas Fleet and unknown number of pre-dreadnaughts to North Sea or English Channel with Battlecruiser support.  Probable minelaying and/or submarine operations off the English coast in support of the deployment. 
2.   Deployment of the remaining German Battlecruiser and/or one Battle Squadron to sweep in the North Sea
3.   Deployment of German light forces to conduct small-scale patrols into North Sea.  Probable minelaying operations in conjunction with the deployment. 
4.   Mining by German light forces off of British East coast/Channel
   
Available Forces

998 Operational points are available.  The Order of Battle for this turn attached as an image:

Objectives

   In priority order, the objectives for this turn are as follows:

1.   Prevent damage/loss of British capital ships unless disproportionate loss can be inflicted on German capital ships.
2.   Engage and destroy any German capital ships that deploy outside the Helgoland area.
3.   Protect the British east coast and Channel from any raiding German units.
4.   Conduct minelaying operations off of Holland

Concept of Operations

   Intelligence reports that the Germans are planning an operation.  However, there are no details provided about the operation.  Nevertheless, the fact that the German High Seas Fleet may sail gives an opportunity to surprise and cut them off.  Because of the reduced visibility from the short daylight hours and winter weather, any interception will be both be difficult and will likely occur at shorter ranges.
 
Because of the German sortie through Oyster Grounds last turn, I am assuming that the German Fleet will again revisit the area, whether for a patrol or enroute to a bombardment or mining operation off the English coast.  This hypothesis is admittedly based on very weak evidence, but it is my best guess based on the limited information I have.

To meet this possible deployment of the High Seas Fleet, I will deploy the entire Grand Fleet, less the pre-dreadnoughts of the 3rd Battle Squadron.  This force will give the Royal Navy up to a decisive 1.9:1 advantage in battleships in a fleet encounter.  The Grand Fleet will deploy an area ENE of Dogger Banks, approximately 200nm east of Grimsby.  This position will allow the fleet to cut off any German forces that move west along the Dutch coast to attack the English Channel or east coast.  Likewise, this force may be able to cut off any German sweep that sails north along the Jutland peninsula.  A minelaying operation off the Frisian Islands will reinforce the existing fields there and damage any returning German units.

Because of the short days, scouting will be critical in rapidly locating and bringing the German Fleet to battle.  Because of this, the two operational Battlecruisers will support the Grand Fleet to provide both scouting services and to counter the remaining German battlecruiser should it make an appearance.  Similarly, all available light cruisers will sail with the Grand Fleet for scouting purposes.   All the available coastal and patrol subs will also deploy, in three patrol lines to provide warning of any German movement off Jutland, the Frisian Islands, and NW of Helgoland.  Finally, two of the seaplane carriers (AV) will provide reconnaissance.  Although I expect the December weather to limit the utility of the seaplanes, they still may be useful.   Because of the possibility of a night engagement, two squadrons of heavy cruisers will accompany the Grand Fleet to help fend off German destroyer attacks.

Such a large deployment will require the use of most of the available destroyers to screen, leaving relatively few for ASW and patrol duties.  A small flotilla of Destroyers is tasked to patrol SW of Scapa, near the earlier losses of the auxiliary cruisers.  (see attached plot of sinking positions).  Hopefully, they will catch the minelayer responsible for these losses.

Replacements/Detachments

Reinforcements/Additions

o   BB HMS EMPEROR OF INDIA
o   DD HMS MATCHLESS

Detachments

o   None

Maintenance and Repairs

Units entering Repair/Maintenance
o   14 DD
o   3 BB
o   1 BC
 
Units returning from Maintenance
o   BB HMS KING GEORGE V
o   BC QUEEN MARY
o   CA ANTRIM
o   6 DDs

Training

•   BB HMS EMPEROR OF INDIA
•   DD HMS MATCHLESS

Administrative

     HMS IRON DUKE and HMS MARLBOROUGH re-assigned to 2/4 BS, to make it an all-IRON DUKE-class squadron.  By matching up ships with identical capabilities into the same squadron, I will maximize the combat effectiveness of the squadrons. 
     The 2nd Battle squadron and escorts rebase from Cromarty to Scapa Flow.  (see attached image for a war-time view of Cromarty). (1) The shortage of escorts and the German mining activity off the northern British ports leads me to conclude that it is better to put all of my battleship eggs in a single basket, which I can better protect with my limited destroyer assets.  In my opinion, the remoteness of Scapa from German bases makes it a safer base.  Although this remoteness also makes it difficult for forces based in Scapa to intercept German raiding forces, it also makes it difficult for them to be surprised by superior forces and cut off.   

Historically, Scapa Flow was viewed as being better suited for a Grand Fleet base due to its position near the Scotland-Norway gap.  Additionally it was believed that the distance between it and  German bases made it impossible for the German Fleet to launch a surprise torpedo attack using destroyers.  This was a major concern of Admiral Jellicoe in 1914 (initially, submarines were thought to have too short of a range to reach Scapa from Germany).    (2, 3).  Historically,  the August 1914 sinking of U-15 between Scapa and the Shetland Islands demonstrated that German submarines could operate in these waters.  Similarly, the game sinking of U-29 ESE of Scapa shows the computer is operating subs near the Cromarty and Scapa bases. 

Operations

The Grand Fleet will transit from Scapa to the modified location (MODLOC), where it will rendezvous with the seaplane carries (AV) and mine forces and patrol until the German movements are determined.  Once the German Fleet is located, the Grand Fleet will position itself to cut off the German fleet and engage.  In the event of no contact, the Grand Fleet and supporting units will proceed to the Dutch coast, lay a minefield, and proceed back to base.  See attached image for OPLAN.
 
END NOTES

1) HMS Natal | Cromarty Firth before world war 1. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.hmsnatal.co.uk/index.asp?pageid=362646
2) Massie, Robert K., and Robert K. Massie. Castles of Steel: Britain, Germany, and the Winning of the Great War at Sea, 152-53. New York: Random House, 2003.
3) Jellicoe, J. R. (1919). The Grand Fleet: 1914-1916. Its Creation, Development and Work. With 9 Plates and 13 Plans and Diagrams [Google Play] (p. 29).
“Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?” -Abraham Lincoln

Offline Tripoli

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Re: World War I in the North Sea-A Steam and Iron Campaign Game AAR
« Reply #39 on: July 04, 2016, 08:24:32 AM »
Battlelog  and spotting reports

100600 Dec   WX: Overcast, Light Breeze SE
10 11:57     CL Birmingham sights an unknown ship at 5533N00411E
10 12:02     CL Southampton identifies unknown ship as CL (See attached image).  NOTE:  Given the distance from Helgoland, this contact is likely to be a scout for the main German body.  Unfortunately, the Grand Fleet is approximately 20 miles to the north, while the Battlecruiser squadron is west of the likely German main body.  This gives the German squadron(s) an escape route to the SE back to Helgoland.  I will try to lure (or alternatively force) the German units to the north.
10 12:10     CL Southampton identifies CL as Graudenz-class CL
10 12:14     BC Tiger opens fire at CL Graudenz-class
10 12:16     CL Southampton sights an unknown ship
10 12:17     CL Southampton identifies unknown ship as BC
10 12:17     CL Southampton identifies unknown ship as CA. NOTE: It looks like the two Battlecruiser squadrons have met again.  It is unknown whether this German squadron is operating independently, or as the scouting force for the High Seas Fleet.
10 12:17     BC opens fire at CL Southampton
10 12:19     BC Queen Mary opens fire at BC. NOTE: The German squadron refuses to be lured to the north, and has turned away.  My strategy is to now do a high speed run to the SE and attempt to drive the Germans north.  I will try to damage the Germans with long-range gunnery to slow them down.
101227   Note: Two destroyers have detached from the German squadron and may be attempting a torpedo attack.   They are currently at approximately 12000 yards range, so it will be awhile before they get into position.  Unfortunately, my destroyers have fallen behind and are not in a position to help fend off the attack.

10 12:27     BC Queen Mary identifies CA as Blücher-class
10 12:27     BC Tiger opens fire at CA Blücher-class
10 12:36     BC Queen Mary identifies DD as V180-class. 
10 12:36     CL Southampton identifies DD as G7-class
10 12:36     CA Blücher-class opens fire at BC Queen Mary
10 12:37     CL Southampton opens fire at DD V180-class
10 12:41     BC Queen Mary Turret hit T *
10 12:45     BC Queen Mary is avoiding torpedoes.
10 12:45     BC Queen Mary is hit by a torpedo Note: the British battlecruisers have outrun their escorts, depriving them of an adequate screen.  I had hoped that the frequent course changes, combined with fire from the secondary guns would have prevented an effective torpedo attack.  Unfortunately, I was wrong.
10 12:49     BC Queen Mary has been detached because of heavy flooding. Note: the detachment of the QUEEN MARY cuts my firepower by more than half, as HMS TIGER has a relatively untrained crew.  Nevertheless,  it will continue to attempt to drive the German squadron north.  Because of TIGER’s poor shooting and the danger of plunging shell fire igniting a magazine,  it will try to close and quickly damage the DERFFLINGER enough to slow it down.

10 12:54     UNSIGHTED fires 4 12in guns at BC Tiger Target straddled  0 hits
10 12:59     BC fires 6 8in guns at BC Tiger Target straddled  1 hits
10 12:59     BC Tiger Engine room hit B
10 13:04     BC Tiger fires 2 6in guns at DD G7-class 1 hits
10 13:04     DD G7-class Hit
10 13:13     BC opens fire at CA Shannon. Note: the lead scouts of the Grand Fleet are within gunnery range.
10 13:38     BC Tiger is avoiding torpedoes
10 13:45     BC Tiger fires 6 6in guns at DD V180-class 1 hits
10 13:46     BC fires 4 12in guns at BC Tiger Target straddled  1 hits
10 13:46     BC Tiger Turret hit T
10 13:57     BC Tiger Bearings overheating on high revolutions
10 14:05     CA Blücher-class fires 6 8in guns at BC Tiger 1 hits
10 14:05     BC Tiger Hull hit BE
10 14:07     CL Blanche fires 2 4in guns at DD V180-class 1 hits
10 14:07     DD V180-class Hit
10 14:09     CA Blücher-class fires 6 8in guns at BC Tiger 1 hits
10 14:09     BC Tiger Fore/aft hull hit *
10 14:12     BC Tiger fires 4 13in guns at BC Derfflinger-class 1 hits
10 14:12     BC Derfflinger-class Hit
10 14:17           CA Blücher-class fires 6 8in guns at BC Tiger Target straddled  1 hits
10 14:17     BC Tiger Fore/aft hull hit *
10 14:18     CL Blanche fires 5 4in guns at DD V180-class Target straddled  1 hits
10 14:18     DD V180-class Hit
10 14:19     CA Blücher-class fires 8 8in guns at BC Tiger 1 hits
10 14:19     BC Tiger Superstructure hit BE
10 14:22     BC Derfflinger-class fires 8 12in guns at BC Tiger Target straddled  1 hits
10 14:22     BC Tiger Superstructure passthrough hit *
10 14:23     CL Blanche fires 5 4in guns at DD V180-class Target straddled  1 hits
10 14:23     DD V180-class Hit
10 14:28     CA Blücher-class fires 4 8in guns at BC Tiger 1 hits
10 14:28     BC Tiger Hull hit BE *
10 14:40     BC Derfflinger-class fires 4 12in guns at BC Tiger Target straddled  1 hits
10 14:40     BC Tiger Superstructure hit DE * Fire started
10 14:40     The German destroyer DD V191 sinks. 
10 14:41     DD Rifleman is picking up survivors from DD V191
10 14:43     CA Blücher-class fires 2 8in guns at BC Tiger 1 hits
10 14:43     BC Tiger Hull hit DE *
10 14:43     BC Tiger Fire spreads
10 14:44     BC Tiger Hull hit B *
10 14:44     BC Derfflinger-class fires 2 6in guns at BC Tiger Target straddled  1 hits
10 14:44     BC Tiger Turret hit T. Note: My tactic of closing the range to quickly damage and slow the DERFFLINGER is not working out so well.  The TIGER is getting beat up pretty good, without causing any noticeable damage in return.
10 14:47     CA Blücher-class fires 4 8in guns at BC Tiger Target straddled  1 hits
10 14:47     BC Tiger Hull hit B.
10 14:49     BC Tiger Fire spreads
10 14:57     BC Tiger fires 2 13in guns at BC Derfflinger-class Target straddled  1 hits
10 14:57     BC Derfflinger-class Hit
10 14:58     BC Tiger Fire spreads
10 15:01     BC Derfflinger-class fires 4 12in guns at BC Tiger Target straddled  1 hits
10 15:01     BC Tiger Secondary battery hit *
10 15:08     BC fires 4 8in guns at BC Tiger Target straddled  1 hits
10 15:08     BC Tiger Engine room hit D.  NOTE: At this point, the TIGER disengages. The engine room hit slows it to 22 knots, which is too slow to catch the German squadron.  Moreover, three of its four turrets are out of action, giving the German squadron a decisive fire superiority.  Finally, the TIGER has a raging fire, and needs to slow down and disengage to put it out.  At this point, the risks of losing one of my few Battlecruisers outweighs the remote chance of being able to destroy the DERFFLINGER.
10 15:17     BC Tiger fires 2 13in guns at BC 1 hits
10 15:17     BC Hit
10 15:35     BB Bellerophon Bearings overheating on high revolutions.  NOTE: although the lead scouting elements of the Grand Fleet are engaged, the Battleline is still over the horizon from the DERFFLINGER, and is unable to close the distance.
10 15:36     BC fires 4 12in guns at BC Tiger 1 hits
10 15:36     BC Tiger Turret hit T
10 15:38     BC Tiger Fore/aft hull hit *
10 15:41     BC Tiger Fire spreads
10 15:42     BC Tiger Fire spreads
10 15:59     BC Tiger Fire spreads
10 16:48     BC Tiger Fire spreads
10 16:49     BC Tiger Fire reduced by damage control
10 16:55     BC Tiger Fire reduced by damage control
10 16:57     BC Tiger Fire spreads
10 17:07     BC Tiger Fire spreads
10 17:10     BC Tiger Fire reduced by damage control
10 17:43     BC Tiger Fire extinguished
10 21:05     CL Latona and Thetis are laying mines
10 21:23     Minelaying completed
10 21:33     DD Acasta has attacked a submarine off the Dutch coast invic 5350N00522E
11 07:40     BB Neptune has spotted a submarine invic 5540N00640E
11 08:32     CA Shannon is avoiding torpedoes invic 5540N00640E



Aftermath and Analysis

   Both HMS TIGER and QUEEN MARY return safely to port.  Returning to Scapa, both HMS CONQUEROR and HMS MARTIN  hit mines.  The CONQUEROR requires five weeks of repair, while the MARTIN is lost.
 
The result of the engagement with the Derfflinger  was a disappointment.  Unfortunately, the initial contact with the German units gave them a ready line of retreat to the SE, and they did not take the bait of my attempt to lure them further to the NW.  The torpedoing of the QUEEN MARY early in the engagement left only the TIGER available to attempt to drive the German squadron north towards the Grand Fleet.  However, TIGER’s poorly trained crew was unable to sufficiently damage the DERFFLINGER to slow it down, and insufficiently fast to cut off the German squadron’s retreat.  As historically occurred in the Dogger Banks battle, the inclusion of the 25-knot SMS BLUCHER in the German squadron could have been fatal, as it gave the British battlecruisers a 2 knot speed advantage over the German squadron.  (1) This could have allowed the British battlecruisers to catch up and destroy the German squadron.  However, unlike Dogger Bank, the early torpedoing and subsequent detachment of QUEEN MARY  left the British squadron with insufficient firepower to successfully engage the Germans.  Additionally, unlike the historical Dogger Banks battle, in this engagement, the German squadron was close to the safety provided by the Helgoland minefields.

In terms of lessons learned, the ability of two German destroyers to approach, torpedo and withdraw from two Battlecruisers shows the vulnerability of these ships.  The supporting destroyers and cruisers should have been able to screen the battlecruisers, but they had difficulty in keeping up, and so were ineffective.  In retrospect, given the lack of support from the escorting units, I should have attempted to take the destroyers under fire from the QUEEN MARY, while having the TIGER engage the DERFFLINGER. 

The two minings off Scapa Flow show that the destroyer patrol last turn was ineffective.  Because of this, in addition to increased patrols, there may need to be some defensive fields laid off Scapa to attrition the German minelayers.  The submarine sightings off of the Dutch coast and Helgoland indicate that the Germans have set up defensive submarine patrols near the approaches to Emden and Helgoland.

There were no British submarine losses this turn, validating the tactic of stationing the submarine patrol line further north from Helgoland.  However, there were also no reports of German activity from the patrol line, indicating that while safe,  such a patrol line may provide little intelligence of German movements.

END NOTES

(1) Battle of Dogger Bank | World War One - The War At Sea. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://navymuseum.co.nz/worldwar1/battles-operations/battle-of-dogger-bank/
« Last Edit: July 04, 2016, 08:27:28 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 #40 on: July 16, 2016, 12:55:14 PM »
24 December 1914

Strategic Overview


The strategic situation is unchanged from last turn.  At the operational level, the Grand Fleet continues to have a significant superiority in operational battleships over the German fleet. However, the damage to the Battlecruiser Fleet has rendered it combat ineffective for the next two months, leaving the British fleet without heavy scouts.  Fortunately, the single German battlecruiser is also damaged.   Strategically, this likely limits the options for major German operations to either relying on light forces and/or submarines, as deployment of the High Seas Fleet without battlecruisers would be a high-risk operation.  The Royal Navy’s shortage of destroyers remains serious, but a number of damaged units will be returning to duty at the end of the year.

Intelligence

There is no Intelligence concerning German operations.  Additional intelligence indicates the SMS DERFFLINGER is in repair for 9 weeks because of battle damage.  This lack of information about German operations, and the reduction in the German screening capabilities resulting from damage to the DERFFLINGER, indicates that any German operations will likely be limited to deployments of light forces.  Further, the probable lack of support from heavy units means that German forces are likely to remain close to their bases.  Alternatively, the German 1st scouting squadron, led by the armored cruiser SMS BLUCHER could still conduct patrols, but is presumably, this is too light of a force to raid the English coast.   I evaluate the ECOA for this two week period in descending probability as follows:

1.   Most Probable ECOA- Deployment of German light forces to conduct small-scale patrols into North Sea.  Possibly minelaying operations in conjunction with the deployment.
2.   Patrol or Raid conducted by 1st Scouting squadron led by the SMS Blucher and associated light forces, likely along Dutch or Danish coast. 
3.   Most Dangerous ECOA - Deployment of multiple Battle squadrons of the High Seas Fleet and unknown number of pre-dreadnaughts to North Sea or English Channel.  Possible minelaying and/or submarine operations off the English coast in support of the deployment.
4.   Mining by German light forces off of British East coast/Channel

   
Available Forces

665 Operational points are available.  The Order of Battle for this turn is below:


Objectives

   In priority order, the objectives for this turn are as follows:

1.   Protect the British east coast and Channel from any raiding German units.
2.   Conduct Defensive minelaying operations off of Scapa Flow
3.   Conduct Cruiser Operations off of Jutland
4.   Continue repair and training to increase Royal Navy Efficiency
5.   Engage and destroy any German capital ships that deploy outside the Helgoland area.

Concept of Operations

   The primary goal during this two-week period is to complete repairs to the damaged British units, while laying defensive mines near Scapa Flow to destroy the German minelayers that have been effectively targeting Scapa Flow.  A sweep of the Skaggerak and down the western coast of Jutland by cruisers will aim to catch any merchants or German light forces that might sail too far out of the protection of the Helgoland Bight.
 
   The difficulty in coordinating the movements of the seaplane carriers and the Grand Fleet lead me to believe the carriers need to be based with the Grand Fleet.  Accordingly, they will rebase from Harwich to Scapa this turn.
   
Replacements/Detachments

Reinforcements/Additions
o   CL HMS PENELOPE, GALATEA
o   DD HMS MILNE
o   AMC /Minelayer PRINCESS MARGARET

Detachments
o   None

Maintenance and Repairs

•   Units entering Repair/Maintenance

o   BB HMS BELLEROPHON and HMS DREADNOUGHT
o   CA HMS SHANNON and ACHILLES

•   Units returning from Maintenance
o   B HMS AFRICA and HMS DOMINION
o   3 DDs

Training
•   4th Battle Squadron
•   HMS THUNDERER
•   3rd DD Flotilla
•   AMC /Minelayer HMS PRINCESS MARGARET

Administrative

    The seaplane carriers and 3/3 Destroyer Flotilla re-base from Harwich to Scapa Flow.  The 1st light cruiser squadron is temporarily reassigned from the Battlecruiser Fleet to the Grand Fleet while the Battlecruisers are being repaired.


Operations

   See attached OPLAN.  The 2nd and 3rd Heavy Cruiser Squadrons will deploy from Grimsby and Scapa Flow and conduct a sweep of the Skaggerak and down the western coast of Jutland, while a defensive minefield is laid off Scapa Flow. 
“Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?” -Abraham Lincoln

Offline Commander Cody

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Re: World War I in the North Sea-A Steam and Iron Campaign Game AAR
« Reply #41 on: July 18, 2016, 01:34:40 AM »
Thanks for this very thoughtful AAR. I read "Dreadnought" and "Castles of Steel" fairly recently and am thus quite interested in the era.

Cheers,
CC

Offline Tripoli

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Re: World War I in the North Sea-A Steam and Iron Campaign Game AAR
« Reply #42 on: July 18, 2016, 05:08:24 AM »
Thank you for your kind words.  My goal is to create an AAR that can actually be used to illustrate some of the issues faced by the Royal Navy in WWI.  I've been a little slow in posting, as right now I'm considering how best to portray the battles, as I think that the lack of detail into the actual engagements is one of the shortcomings of this AAR, but is necessary to get an understanding of some of the issues faced by the historical commanders. 

One problem with the game is that it is difficult to create legible ship track to show the movement of ships during an action.  The screen shots I used in some of the earlier engagements don't do a good job of showing how the battle developed.  While the game allows tracks to be made at the end of the game, these are so crowded with various ship/squadron tracks that they are difficult to understand.  I'm thinking about  doing some video captures of the battles, and posting them on Youtube.  I'm also considering how to reflect the problem of signalling.  I believe the game does account for missed or erroneous signals, so that squadrons can do what you do not order.  However, my orders to the fleet are too quickly obeyed.  I may have to start "signals log" where I write a brief intention, but wait 1-2 minutes  before the actual execution.

If anyone has any ideas of how to handle these problems, I would like to hear them.
“Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?” -Abraham Lincoln

Offline Tripoli

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Re: World War I in the North Sea-A Steam and Iron Campaign Game AAR
« Reply #43 on: July 30, 2016, 09:11:00 PM »
Aftermath and Analysis

There was no contact of any type with German forces.  A westerly gale severely restricted visibility during the second day of operations.  Fortunately, there was no damage to any of my scarce destroyers.

A Year end’s Perspective

   I am relatively happy with my game performance in 1914.  A large part of the German battlecruiser fleet, and one squadron of battleships were destroyed.  However, it is noteworthy that these victories have occurred only when two elements are present: the German ships are both cut off from their ports and overwhelmed by vastly superior British forces.  The implication of this is that the British must continue to deploy the entire Grand Fleet along with the Battlecruisers, when seeking to bring the Germans to battle. With their speed and acting as a “fast wing,” the Battlecruisers have a chance of cutting the German retreat, while the battleships provide the necessary firepower to sink the German ships.  Working independently, neither the Grand Fleet nor the Battlecruiser Fleet will be capable of achieving a decisive victory.

However, this strategy is dangerous.  British Battlecruisers are simply not capable of engaging German battleships or even battlecruisers at near 1:1 odds.  The in-game damage suffered by the battlecruiser fleet, including the sinking of the HMS LION and HMS INVINCIBLE as well as the historical losses of the HMS INVICIBLE, HMS INDEFATIGABLBLE and HMS QUEEN MARY at Jutland show that British Battlecruisers are unable to fight other capital ships without suffering serious damage.   Part of this problem is the result of the tactical role of the battlecruiser not being clearly defined in British naval thought.  As Gary Staff recently wrote:

 "Although their specific role was not clearly defined, in general they [battlecruisers] were to conduct reconnaissance in force, be able to sweep aside enemy cruisers and support their own light cruisers, be employed in commerce protection on overseas stations, and finally be able to support the fleet as a fast wing, capable of outflanking the enemy line and pursuing the enemy as it fled. 
The German conceptual model for their battlecruisers was different. Germany knew that it would always have fewer warships than its potential opponent, Britain, and therefore its battlecruisers were designed to be able to join the battleline as “gap fillers” after the fight had commenced."(1)

   While the British may have had a vague concept of the battlecruiser as flanking the enemy line, there appears to have been insufficient attention to what should be the defensive requirements of a ship that was employed to flank a battlefleet.  Such a ship, being exposed to large caliber shellfire, would necessarily need to have the armor and compartmentalization sufficient take damage.  Additionally damage and fire control, as well as material improvements to shells would need to be made for the battlecruisers to act as a fast wing against capital ships.  Historically, these factors do not appear to have been taken into account in either the conceptual design of the British battlecruisers, nor in their tactical doctrine.  Part of this may have been simply insufficient staff work.  Andrew Gordon observed that Admiral Fisher, the leading proponent of the battlecruiser concept, might have failed to “[foster] a free-thinking naval staff which might expose his visionary scheme to the perhaps disenchanting light of analysis.” (2)  Such an analysis may have revealed and corrected some of the design and tactical flaws in the battlecruiser, allowing them to be used as a fast wing in a battlefleet engagement.

Nevertheless, until the in-game arrival of a squadron of HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH “fast battleships,” the Grand Fleet lacks battleships that can cut off the German Fleet’s retreat.  Without such a fast squadron, the numerical superiority of the Royal Navy will likely be insufficient in achieving a decisive victory before the High Sea Fleet retreats.  The QUEEN ELIZABETHs will not be operational with sufficient numbers and training until 1916. Until then, if the Grand Fleet is to achieve a decisive victory, it will have to depend on the Battlecruiser Fleet to act as a fast wing, to cut off the German Fleet’s retreat.  Therefore, the training and preservation of the Battlecruiser Fleet, as well as its integration into Grand Fleet operations  is necessary if a decisive victory is to be achieved in 1915.


ENDNOTES


(1) Naval History Blog » Blog Archive » Contrasting Battlecruisers." Naval History Blog. Accessed July 30, 2016. https://www.navalhistory.org/2016/06/10/contrasting-battlecruisers
(2) Gordon, G. A. H. The Rules of the Game Jutland and British Naval Command, Annapolis, Md: Naval Institute Press, 2000, pg. 350   
« Last Edit: July 31, 2016, 01:57:54 PM 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 #44 on: August 07, 2016, 11:01:59 AM »
07 January 1915

Strategic Overview


The strategic situation is unchanged from last turn.  At the operational level, the Grand Fleet continues to have a significant superiority in operational battleships over the German fleet.  In contrast, the effectiveness of the Battlecruiser Fleet is seriously compromised.  Damage as well as the requirement to train has rendered it combat ineffective for the next 1-2 months.  The temporary loss of its support seriously affects the ability of the Grand Fleet to engage the High Seas Fleet in a decisive battle.  This loss of operational capability is further exacerbated by loss of visibility brought on by the short winter days, which make it difficult for the Grand Seas Fleet to find and engage the German Fleet at the long ranges necessary to avoid German torpedo attacks.

 Fortunately, the single German battlecruiser is also damaged.   Strategically, this likely limits the options for major German operations to either relying on light forces and/or submarines, as deployment of the High Seas Fleet without battlecruisers would be a high-risk operation.  The Royal Navy’s shortage of destroyers remains serious, but a number of damaged units are returning to duty in the next month.

Intelligence

There is no Intelligence concerning German operations.  The Germans have 1143 operations points, making a High Seas sortie possible, although there is no indication that such an operation is planned.  Intelligence from two weeks ago indicates the SMS DERFFLINGER will remain in repair for 7 weeks because of battle damage.  Similar to last turn, this lack of information about German operations, and the reduction in the German screening capabilities resulting from damage to the DERFFLINGER, indicates that any German operations will likely be limited to deployments of light forces.  Further, the probable lack of support from heavy units means that German forces are likely to remain close to their bases.  Alternatively, the German 1st scouting squadron, led by the armored cruiser SMS BLUCHER could still patrol.  However, this is presumably too light of a force to raid the English coast.   I evaluate the ECOA to be similar to those of last turn:

1.   Most Probable ECOA- Deployment of German light forces to conduct small-scale patrols into North Sea.  Possibly minelaying operations in conjunction with the deployment.
2.   Mining by German light forces off of British East coast/Channel
3.   Patrol or Raid conducted by 1st Scouting squadron led by the SMS Blucher and associated light forces, likely along Dutch or Danish coast. 
4.   Most Dangerous ECOA - Deployment of multiple Battle squadrons of the High Seas Fleet and unknown number of pre-dreadnaughts to North Sea or English Channel.  Possible minelaying and/or submarine operations off the English coast in support of the deployment.


Available Forces

777 Operational points are available.  The Order of Battle for this turn is attached below:

Objectives

   In priority order, the objectives for this turn are as follows:

1.   Continue repair and training to increase Royal Navy effectiveness
2.   Protect the British east coast and Channel from any raiding German units.
3.   Conduct destroyer operations off the Dutch coast to attrition German light forces.
4.   Conduct Defensive minelaying operations off of Scapa Flow

Concept of Operations

   This turn, I will restrict the Royal Navy to a sweep off the Dutch coast with light forces.  While hopefully destroying some German light forces, this will help the Royal Navy maintain the initiative while simultaneously giving the fleet's capital ships time to repair and retrain, as well as allow the fleet to stockpile some operation points in the event of a High Seas Fleet sortie in later turns.   In addition, the defensive minefield around Scapa Flow will be expanded.  While there is a chance the High Seas Fleet will deploy to raid the English coast, the lack of intelligence concerning such an operation, combined with lack of any operational German battlecruisers makes this a low probability event.  More likely is a deployment of German light forces off the Dutch coast, which the British destroyer flotillas should be able to manage.  To ensure a combat superiority, I will have the most of the Harwich force deploy.  Their speed should be sufficient to allow them to disengage if faced with a superior force.  On the remote chance that the High Seas fleet attempts a sunrise bombardment of the English coast, I will time Harwich Force’s arrival off the Dutch coast for 6 PM, well after sunset.  This should allow the force to intercept any German force enroute to England. Depending on the tactical situation, a nighttime interception will allow for either a torpedo attack on the German force, or a speedy disengagement.

Replacements/Detachments

•   Reinforcements/Additions

o   BC HMS PRINCESS ROYAL
o   BC HMS INDOMITABLE
o   CA HMS DEFENSE, DUKE OF EDINBURGH, BLACK PRINCE, WARRIOR and MINOTAUR
o   DD HMS MORRIS and MURRAY

•   Detachments

o   None
Maintenance and Repairs

•   Units entering Repair/Maintenance
o   BB HMS COLLOSSUS
o   1 CL, 2 DD

•   Units returning from Maintenance
o   BC HMS NEW ZEALAND
o   4 DDs

Training

To improve the combat effectiveness of the Battlecruiser Fleet, all undamaged units are sent to training.

Administrative
    NSTR

Operations

   See attached OPLAN.  The 3rd Flotilla and the 5th Light Cruiser Squadron will deploy from Harwich and conduct a sweep of along the coast near Emden, while a second defensive minefield is laid off Scapa Flow. 
“Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?” -Abraham Lincoln