Shattering of a proud fleet and the near sinking of the Fury
Sinku's fleet had been at sea for weeks in search of the Japanese fleet that had nearly sunk Admiral Halsey's fleet and drawn Sinku's fleet out to help by orders from the top despite not being fully recovered from engagements the year before. The small fleet of ten ships had taken a southerly course around New Guinea to make a stop in Port Moresby to refuel. Little did Sinku know that his target was also hunting him. The Japanese had redeployed a fleet consisting of twenty ships centered around the carrier Ryujo and one of the Super Yamato battleships. Air threat would be nominal since Ryujo wasn't much bigger than the Hermes but there would be enough to cause serious issues if they got through to the small fleet.
Sinku was now back in his normal tanuki form and was sitting on top of the fire control platform structure that was high up on the main mast above the bridge enjoying the warm wind that was blowing from directly in front of the Fury. His crew was at their normal stations for this time of day and the midday sun was peaking through the intermittent clouds slowly floating by high above. Sinku heard the drone of plane engines and looked behind him to see the previous air patrol returning from their search patten and were lining up to make their landing on the nearly pristine flight deck. Sinku was actually surprised that he could see the details of the individual planks of Mahogany wood and took in it's dark beauty as the first scout bomber touched down on deck catching the middle wire and coasting to a stop a few feet behind the centerline elevator and it's wings folded upwards as it rolled forward onto the elevator, shortly being lowered below deck and moved quickly to it's place to allow the elevator to return to the flight deck and receive the next plane of the three. The whole process of recovering the planes took about five to seven minutes and Sinku smiled at the efficiency of his crew in carrying out their duties. He turned away to face the front of the ship again right as two Hellcats were launched at the same time from the catapults on either side of the funnel. This feature allowed the small amount of planes the Fury carrier to be launched quickly. In combat they had kept up with the big fleet carriers with full sized flight decks and actually all of their planes off the deck and into the air before the same amount could launch from the big carriers. Fury had the record for fastest launch/ recovery/ and relaunch time for any carrier of equal size. Granted the Fury only had the compliment of an escort carrier due to being a hybrid ship, but it was a point of pride for the raider fleet that they could hang with the full timers and still beat them. Sinku's gun crews were top notch as well thanks to the training his sister had put them through. With the new modification to the main guns making them closer to self loading, they could crank out three sometimes four rounds a minute, a blistering speed for guns of their size that normally were doing good to get half as many shells fired in that time. Sinku took a look around at the rest of the small fleet he had with him. Houston and Perth were steaming on the port side of Fury and looking the best they had looked since they were saved from the battle of Java sea not too far north of their current location a few years back. They had been left as is design wise and while old, they held their own and gave the newer ships a run for their money in efficiency. To the starboard steamed the Hermes and the rebuilt battle-cruiser Atlantia, Hermes was another rescued ship from when the japs had run down a british fleet in the indian sea.She was captained by Crystael these days and had turned into a fine carrier with a nearly spotless record in flight opps thanks to her captains diligence. Atlantia was a funny story about how she had come to be the ship she was today. She had begun life as a heavy cruiser and was one of the original ships gifted to Sinku after Pearl Harbor as part of a fleet to get out and keep the japs busy after the start of the war. Time and time again she and her crew had proved their worth and after a particualrly nasty engagement had been rebuilt into a battlecruiser. Her guns were as strong as the Fury's had been at first before being replaced with the larger guns she now carried and her length increased to the same as the Fury. If she was a heavier vessel she would be a full battleship but her light armor prevented her from reaching this classification. however some would call her a pocket battleship but it really didn't matter at this point. During the battle with the yamato ships that had led to the capture of the Musashi Atlantia had temporarily gone toe to toe with one of the regular battleships and won through superior gunnery and then took on the Yamato with Fury to draw fire off of sinku;'s ship without orders to do so, This had probably saved Fury but Atlantia was nearly lost as a result. She was fully repaired now and seemed to have a pride in the way she cut through the waves.
Ahead steaming side by side were two of the four destroyers Sinku had brought along for anit submarine protection and for their torpedoes. These particular two were Draco and Leo. They were also original to Sinku's fleet in this war and had distinguished themselves time and again as well by bravely charging into the fray like the animals they were named after. Often times their captains ran in against much heavier foes than they could handle but the ships seemed to be blessed and always came out nearly unscathed. The ships and their two sister that steamed behind the fury had started out as fletcher class destroyers but now had been modified to have turrets with two barrels instead of just one giving them ten guns to fire instead of five. they were also heavier than before to help deal with the added recoil. a bit slower than they used to be but they made up for it in firepower, handling, and gutsy crews. The new class was called the Orion class and consisted of Draco, Leo, Scorpio, and Pisces. Their captains were rowdy but Sinku liked that about them and gave them liberties to let them run their ships to their content and his kindness was not wasted. Those four ships fought like ships much heavier and their gun crews could fire the guns at paint blistering paces that almost was like they were automatic firing guns constantly being loaded by a magazine and not by people. During the last battle they were in, a total of 400 rounds were cranked out of the Pisces's guns in three minutes time. Sinku marveled at the ability of such small ships to inflict so much damage in so short of a time.
Directly behind Fury sailed another prize ship. The Tirpitz was one of three ships that Sinku and his friends had stolen right out from under the Germans nose while they were in Europe thanks to being run out of the pacific for a brief time by the Japanese. The other two vessels, The Graf Zeppelin and the Admiral Hipper were back at San Cristobal by now. The Tirpitz was the sister ship to the Bismark which had been sunk early in the war. Tirpitz was an odd addition since her guns had not been upgraded to larger caliber. Altlantia had guns almost as big but Tirpitz was far heavier and could take hits like they were nothing from all but the larger caliber weapons. She now sported a paint job like the rest of the fleet Sinku was assembling for the return trip to his own dimension and had mostly been worth the effort of stealing her. The addition of another carrier was the real prize though out of that trip when they stole the Zeppelin.
Suddenly Sinku's ears perked up to an odd sound in the air. It started as a low whistle but grew louder rapidly" All hands to battlestations! We're under attack!" Sinku yelled down to the crew in the fire control platform so the word could be passed around the fleet as a single round of an obviously large caliber gun splashed into the ocean behind the small fleet. Sinku could actually see the shell as it passed though the water cutting a trench in the waves before falling out of sight below the surface. Sinku climbed down from his perch and rapidly headed to the bridge. " Send the scouts directly astern! The enemy is back there somewhere and that was a big a** shell so lets assume it's one of those ships that we're hunting!" Just then the drone of a plane high above was heard and a lone japanese plane was seen overhead. " They've found us boys. Lets hope we can buy the rest some time to get out of here. Signal Hermes and all but two destroyers and the Tirpitz to haul a** and make for Port Morsby with all possible speed. We'll hold them off and see how many we can take with us! Launch all planes as soon as the report comes in on enemy positions!" Sinku yelled as he ran onto the bridge. The order was sent but quickly the radio crackled with all the captains refusing the order to leave and Hermes's flight deck began to come alive as planes were raised to the flight deck and readied for launch." No way sir. We're not leaving you behind to fend off one of those monsters. And you need the extra planes to deal with any enemy air." Was all Sinku heard from Crystael before he reluctantly agreed." Very well but stay back as far as you can to stay out of gun range."
The scout planes roared off the catapults and flew off in the direction that the shot had come from and the Fury's bombers began to be brought on deck for launching along with the torpedo planes to ensure all planes reached the target at roughly the same time. Just then another low moan was heard and two more shells slammed into the sea beside the Scorpio and the ship disappeared behind the curtain of water kicked up by the enormous shells, for a second it seemed that the ship had been swamped and sunk but it was soon seen surging out of the wall of water shaking it off like a dog shaking itself dry. Sinku shook his head in amazement that it had survived but counted his blessings that it hadn't been sunk yet. They would need the torpedoes on that ship if they were to even have a shot at lasting to get away. Sinku knew they should just run for it and try to get within allied air cover but for some reason he felt that they had to at least take out a few ships. " Boys we're gonna hit them as hard as we can with and all out airstrike and then close to gun range do what we can with a full spread of torpedoes and a few full broadsides and then we need to get out of here. We can't take this kind of fire by ourselves and we can't loose these ships we have here. Make sure the destroyer captains understand that we don't need any heroes today. Only fire torpedoes and then switch to anti air duties since we will be spread pretty thin on air cover."
" Yes sir" Shortly the message was relayed around the ship and was acknowledged with a few grumbles from the captains of the Leo and Draco but that only made Sinku smile since it showed that morale at least seemed to be high despite the odds.
" Enemy spotted sir. Hull down directly ahead of you. Distance 24 miles. Numbering 15 vessels including one enormous battleship. My God I've never seen anything so big!"
" Good enough boys. Get back here and refuel and re arm."
" Launch everything we have. Fully armed with best ordinance possible. We have to at least take out that carrier. Let us aim for the monster. After the carrier, target at will but don't attack alone got it!" Shortly planes began to roar into the air from both carriers and make a line for their targets. Fury's bow guns slowly trained their barrels up to be ready to fire as soon as the range was short enough. " Here we go."
" Sir we have the range and bearings on the biggest battleship in the group. Permission to fire?"
" Go for it boys. We gotta try and get a few licks in before this gets really ugly."
A few seconds later both bow guns roared and the Fury shuddered as four shell screamed out of the barrels and flew towards the horizon where the enemy fleet lay somewhere out of sight. At the same time enemy planes appeared overhead and the planes left behind to provide air cover pounced on the enemy and the fleets anti air guns began to fill the air with flack to try and shoot down the planes before they had a chance to attack.
At this point Scorpio and Hermes split off to stay out of range and provide decent protection for the Hermes from air attack while the rest of the ships continued to close the distance with the enemy fleet. Fury and the Super Yamato were the only ones shooting still due to the range still being over twenty miles. It would be quite some time before any other ships would be in range. The spotter plane from Sinku's fleet had reported a single hit on the Big battleship but minor damage. one good hit had been landed on one of the cruisers in the enemy fleet but it was still keeping up with the fleet and was very much still a possible factor at this point. The good news was that despite the heavy flak in the air, Sinku's planes had scored several hits on the smaller vessels sinking two and leaving two more dead in the water.
At this point Sinku wished he had the Heimara here to use as well. The Heimara was to be Sinku's new flagship after the Lantia back in their timeline but she wasn't complete and was as far as he knew still safely hidden in the drydock under the mountain at the southern end of Khaos Island. Named after his mother,her 10 inch rail guns would cut through the Japanese armor like butter but Sinku couldn't let his mind wander away from the task at hand since one mistake and the whole fight could be lost. another salvo roared out and a few seconds later, the radio sprang to life with excitement. " Holy s**t sir! We hit 'em. Looks like a hit to the base of the bridge and then one amidships!"
The whole bridge crew of the Fury let out a cheer and Sinku smiled. " We have them now. Make adjustments from there and fire as she bears!"
Sinku swung the Fury to Starboard to allow the stern gun to engage the enemy as well to increase chances of hitting. The incoming shell fire began to pick up as the enemy fleet came into view and the air around Fury shook as the rest of his fleet opened fire sending a rain of shells back in response.
The enemy fleet was rocked by numerous hits but none serious and then retaliated with every gun available. Sinku watched in horror as the sides of the nearly dozen ships still intact blossomed with fire and smoke from the guns firing and then the dozens of shells arced towards his ships and made numerous heavy hits. Then he heard the low moan of the 20" shells coming in. He knew they were aimed for Fury and dropped to the floor. " Incoming! Hit the deck!" He yelled at the top of his lungs and the bridge crew hit the deck as well but then the hits came and the whole ship shuddered from the impact of four shells. Sinku dragged himself to his feet and went to the starboard bridge wing to inspect the damage. The superstructure was a jumbled mess of torn steel and what looked like it had been bodies.
" Helm come about ! We have to get out of here. Signal all planes to land on Hermes. All ships retreat! We can't stay here!" Just as soon as the order went out another salvo came raining in and One of the Destroyers disappeared in a curtain of water. The small ship staggered out of the water thrown up by the explosion but was torn to hell The Tirpitz took several hard hits and the Atlantia looked like a cheese grater as the fleet turned to try and run. Fury's stern and Front bow guns roared in response and some visible hits were made but Sinku knew that unless a miracle happened, his fleet was doomed. Suddenly, a massive explosion rocked the air as Ryujo blew up after a fire had reached the av gas storage and ignited it.
" Holy s**t. Boys while they are distracted pour it on 'em with everything we have operational!"
The remaining guns of the fleet with sufficient range to reach the enemy boomed sending shells screaming towards the enemy and more hits were made on the enemy and seemingly took out some of the guns due to the lack of returning fire. The raider fleet took this opportunity to run at fastest sped possible back home. The fury herself then shook as an incoming shell smashed into turret 2 and then a massive explosion ripped through the ship as the turret blew up taking a large chunk of the surrounding deck and part of the hull with it. The bridge crew along with Sinku were knocked off their feet by the blast wave and somehow weren't killed by the enormous shock wave.
" Sir we've lost power to the fire control system the guns have no power!"
" Switch to local control for turret three. All available crew to damage control or to helping operate the gun!" When Sinku regained his footing, he saw the gaping hole in the deck and noticed water was coming it." Seal off all available compartments around that hole to keep the water out of the rest of the ship now! Get those fires out!" Turret one was jammed in the last position it fired from but wasn't firing. Most likely because Sinku suspected the gun crew was dead or knocked out. Turret 3 slowly trained into position and fired a shot in retaliation. Another fireball rose into the sky as a hit from Fury started a fire on one of the remaining battleships. Mercifully the shelling dropped out even more but the Super Yamato was still a threat with the two bow guns that were still aimed at them in pursuit and those four barrels would be more than enough to sink Sinku's fleet just by themselves if they couldn't put some distance between them. Four more shells rained in and one nearly hit Fury again but it seemed like the Japanese had given up the chase to deal with their own ships and survivors and began to turn away but as a full broadside presented itself from the massive enemy ship eight shells rained in and made hits again on Fury, Tirpitz, and Atlantia. All three ships shuddered from the hits but thankfully no explosions resulted but the damage was severe. Damage control teams rushed to seal off the damaged areas as best they could but the fleet would be lucky to make port moresby with the damage they had taken.
" Signal allied command. Tell them we may need assistance making it to Port Moresby. Also enemy fleet still afloat although it is doubtful that Ryujo will be a threat after this point. Unknown damage on Super Yamato. Sunk five ships. Mostly smaller vessels. Own fleet is in tatters. Heavy damage to all ships save for Hermes and Scorpio although they received light damage from enemy air attacks but are afloat and are acting as standby towing ships. End report until we make port."
Five days later
Port Moresby
Sinku's fleet finally made the allied harbor. Fury, Tirpitz, and Atlantia were all low in the water due to counter flooding to prevent the ships from rolling over. Water lapped over the edges of the massive hole in Fury's bow where turret two had once been. Atlantia had so much water in her that there was almost free wave action and this was threatening to break her hull apart in some places. Tirpitz had three guns out of action and her fourth turret was half destroyed and barely functioning. Leo and Draco were beat to hell with several holes in their hulls and their decks shredded but their guns were operational even with several holes in the turret armor. The captains had stayed back as ordered and had been lucky to avoid most of the heavy shells. Pisces on the other hand had been near Fury and had large gaping holes torn in her deck and hull plus all of her main guns being out of action. The bridge was battered to a barely recognizable pile of steel from where part of turret two of Fury had slammed into it when the gun blew up. She was being steered from the aft deck house wheel and was very low in the water. Houston and Perth were shot up pretty bad but the old ships were still fully operational due to luck and excellent damage control. They weren't full fighting strength but they had fared the best of the ships that had been in active combat. They also had landed numerous hits on the enemy battleships along with sinking two cruisers bringing the actual kill number to seven but the old ships had been heavily attacked by enemy air and most of their anti air crews were dead. The total lives lost around Sinku's fleet was staggering for what had been accomplished. About half of the fleets air arm had been shot down with only a handful of survivors. Fury's flight deck was shredded beyond use behind the deck elevator and that had been blasted away as well leaving the ship knocked out as a carrier for now. That could wait until the hull was repaired and the second bow turret replaced. Fury would be out of action for months Sinku would have to decide which ship to transfer his flag to as flagship of the fleet once they got back home. They would stay in Port Moresby until the hull damage was repaired around his fleet so they could make it home without taking on any more water. That alone would take a few weeks but Sinku had other worries to deal with during that time. Admiral Nimitz himself had flown in to receive Sinku's report on the whole affair. Sinku was worried that this would be a tipping point for his fleet due to the resources that would be needed to get the fleet back up to full functionality. His main worry was that the fleet would be split up and distributed around the pacific to fill gaps in other allied fleets.
Conference room of Hermes
Sinku and Crystael sat at the table waiting on the Admiral to arrive and were discussing possible plans should the worst happen to the fleet and also future plans for the distribution of plane types around the fleet.
" Attention!" A yeoman called out as Nimitz walked into the room
Sinku and Crystael both stood and saluted
" At ease Admiral, Captain" Nimitz said to both as all three sat down
" I regret that Admiral Halsey could not join us sir but he is still working on getting his fleet back together along with managing my base while I'm here." Sinku said with a sigh.
" I know. He sent his regrets and condolences that he could not have been there to help your fleet out in your last engagement after saving his fleet from those same monsters. Looks like you boys and girls ( nods towards Crystael) took quite a pounding out there. Not bad results considering how out numbered and out gunned you were but nice work on getting out of there and living to fight another day. hopefully we can get you back out there and fighting again cause we need you. The situation out there is grim and we're barely holding the lines where we are at right now. Your fleet will remain intact despite some complaints from the others in Command since they don't know the actual purpose of your fleet. They barely even know of your existence. I'm also going to be increasing your fleet size by giving you some of our old battleships. I know they are old and outdated but so is the Fury. I know your knack for making old ships fighting forces again Walker so I'm going out on a limb here for you. Don't let me down."
" I won't sir. We'll do our best to bring them up to standard ad give them new life. May I ask which ships sir?"
" For now, you will be getting the Nevada, West Virginia, and Californa. Later you should be getting the Tennessee, Indiana, and Washington. Washington is rather new but I figure you have earned her. I hear you captured the Nagato and Ise from the Japs as well and are working on repairing them as well. I have to say, you have quite the fighting force. A bit odd in the combination but as long as it works I don't care what ships they are. Your cruiser complement is also quite vast. how many ships do you have exactly from recovery and piracy operations walker?"
" Total ship count sir? With the ships you are sending me, it brings me up to 37. I could really use a few more carriers right now since Fury is out of action leaving me with only two. Shokaku and Hermes here. I had another one back in San Cristobal a while back named Mercy but she was lost when we were run out of there earlier in the war."
" Hmm Well the Yorktown is still under repair so I can give her to you. I'd give you Enterprise as well from Halsey but you'll have to take that up with him since he only has a few carriers right now as well but we're sending him some more once they are built. Like I said, the war is not exactly going our way right now so we're kinda spread out and that's all I can give you."
" I appreciate the help sir. That will definitely help get my fleet back up to strength until we can get Fury back in the game. I guess I'll transfer my flag over to Yorktown for now once it gets to my base. I recommend building another ship and naming it that name incase this one gets sunk. Or list this one as sunk and then rename since my fleet is secret and it's ships don't exist officially."
" I agree with you there Walker. Those ships are yours o do with as you wish. I'd leave Bill alone about Enterprise for now but you know your orders and you'll do what you must to keep those orders. Now what can you tell me about those Super Yamato's?"
" Well other than the fact that they are monstrous and are really hard to damage. I don't have much to tell. We never really got close enough to get a good look at her. I know those 20" guns hit like freight trains. Our current armor belt barely even slowed 'em down. Best bet against those monsters is massive air attack I think. Fury has the biggest guns in the Navy other than the captured Mushashi but those are the same size but three barrels instead of two. They barely hurt her. We made good solid hits but it wasn't enough. Maybe if both Fury and Mushashi had been there it might have gone our way but you'd need at least two Iowas to even and several other ships to stand a chance if there is more than one of them in a fleet coming against you. Combo air and naval hits would be best option should it come to that though. I recommend finding them in a harbor and sneaking in with a sub or two and try to sink them that way sir to reduce the chance of lives being lost on our side."
Nimitz rubbed his temples to push away a slight headache." Sounds like they are every bit as dangerous as we heard about. And that it will take a massive amount of effort to sink them. I'll take your ideas under advisement for now but our best bet may be to just try to avoid them as best as possible."
Sinku nodded." I agree. Now if I can get things together and we can find their harbor, I can sortie with the subs in the Mushashi and hit them with long range bombardment as distraction/ extra damage support to hit the base and ship to improve the chances of sinking the ship."
" Sounds like a bold plan to me Walker but that's what I like about you is your bold plans so I'll see what I can do about those subs." Nimitz smiled and shook Sinku's hand as he stood up to leave the room." We'll be in touch."