USS Pasadena- Celebes Sea, North West of Aust TF

The Pasadena’s TACEYE DRONE’s radar activating and her own powerful surface and air search radar suddenly radiating was like a nuclear explosion on a dark night, any vessels with military warning gear for over 200 miles now knew of the submarines presence and the airborne radar. The reaction of those now in the know, varied according to whose side they were on and to a certain extent what their mission was at present. For the two Chinese Military formation one of aircraft from the PLAAF now closing on the Australian vessel who was conducting its Freedom of Navigation Exercise and the surface attack group of fast attack craft, the game had changed. Their presence was known and time was working against them.

As soon as the radars from both the drone and the Pasadena’s own unit got radar returned and the signals were received back  and processed, the action taking seconds, heads shot up and persons started moving in the CIC. The low flying Backfire bombers were easy for the Pasadena’s air search radar and the drones multimode radar to detect, the surface flotilla was till yet to far away for any of the surface or airborne sensors to detect. Rapidly the composition of the low level attack aircraft was compiled, speed, heading and probable load out were all bundled into a short link 16 transmission to the Australian surface ships, within minutes they had  received back a terse response, thanking them and requesting that the data feed be maintained as long as possible.

The XO grabbed the message form from the communications specialist and handed it to the captain and spoke. “ well it didn’t take the Australian long to respond” he said with a smile, the XO knew full well just how anxious the Aussies would be but also what was coming their way.

“ I’ll agree with That Xo” the Captain said,” Lets drop back our speed to 6 knots and secure all communications and radar’s except the two drones, what’s the battery life on the ROTS unit looking like at the moment” he enquired. The ROTS units were not large and although they had state of the art dry cell composite lithium light/zinc plated batteries, the hover duration was still not long enough for most commanders. All the operators knew that the Mk 3 units were due to commence operational trial and for daytime operations with their own built in PV cells their hover time was measure in hours. The current mark 2 hovering a2 miles east of the Pasadena still had 20 minutes of battery life, its maximum hover duration was 90 minutes, three times greater than anything commercially available at present.

Whilst the activity ramped up in the Pasadena’s CIC, the drones overhead continued to feed data both to the Pasadena and the Australian warships, HMAS Perth and Melbourne. Seeing that all was as it should be and the Pasadena was operating at its normal 100% efficiency, the Captain wandered over to the plot table and expanded out the current tactical map.

The XO was watching the CIC and at the same time keeping a small tab on the submarines Commander, noticed his plot table map change. Deciding that his Captain was deep in thought about an aspect of the operation the  XO wandered over as well, stoping and waiting for his commander to acknowledge his presence, the XO didn’t have to wait long. Looking up the Captain spoke.

“Those PLAN attack boats certainly need support and I do not believe for one minute they are this far from home without it,” he said, his voice matter of fact. Pointing his index finger to the northern side of the island of Pulau Singhe . This island was north of Sulawesi some 150 miles in a small chain that bordered the eastern edge of the Celebes sea. Sitting atop a volcanic ridge the island were rich thick jungle paradises, but with little in the way of commercial ventures, Pulau being the largest in the small chain stretching up 300 miles to the Island on Mindanao of the Philippines.

Tracing a line towards the island the Captain outlined his new plan.

“XO, I plan on drafting a new op change message to PACFLT once we have the details worked out. I want you to plot me a course that will take us slightly north of Pulau some 50 miles, before turning to port somewhere north as we cross the ridge. One we drop over the sea ridge into deep water again our tail should be working once more and we should, I’m hoping be able to detect in the second or third convergence zone any surface vessels the PLAN have stationed on that side of the island”.

The XO nodded his understanding, clearly already plotting his movements as his eyes flitted back and forth across the map. Seeing that the XO was up to speed and clearly understood the Captains intentions he pushed on.

“ Once we make our turn to port and the tail comes on line, we should be on a heading of 136, south easterly, the sea states pretty good, just slight swells , not that at 800 feet we will know. I’m hoping we find a good sound channel down deep, with no bad weather lately the sonar conditions should be optimal. I want our run for the ridge to be at 20 knots sprint drift, work up a schedule  and just in case we happen upon any PLAN subs out here” his finger tracing the section of the map approaching the ridge,”, and that’s a possibility so let’s have Mk 50 ADCAPS in the 2, 4, 5 and 6, I want two, block 7 Harpoons on line as well”

The Captain stood upright, stretching slightly to work some kinks out or whatever it was, as he groaned loudly in the process, eliciting a few smiles from those in earshot, he slapped his hand back down on the plot table.

“ Well XO, what have we missed…I should say, have I missed so far and you have not yet pulled me up on” the Captain asked, the humour level present in his voice clearly understandable buy the XO.

The XO had his face screwed up in   puzzlement meets deep thinking expression, as he relaxed his features he spoke,

“Sir, the only thing I would suggest is that we have a think about asset coordination if we have to strike that PLAN RAS group. It might be worthwhile to have PACFLT see what assets are on Guam, we might be able to stage a coordinated strike against the RAS if required and we do not as yet know what we are up against. As for the approach, it looks solid, we can angle east a bit more out into deeper water if the sonar conditions are not good enough and that also lets us approach from depth, but picking out any PLAN SSN or SSK in the shallows will be bitch, the background noise from the reefs and island in close will mask them” he said.

The Captain looked at the XO, “ Good call X, maybe if we have to go in we could have any air assets from Guam beat the bushes, any surface attack if required on anchored units, will flush them out to sea and at the same time any subs will have to surge forward too……that’s a perfect opportunity, Ill draft a message to PACFLT requesting support and what we think”. The Captain Satisfied spun and headed out of CIC  “ XO has the Con” he called before disappearing through the black curtain into the communications department.

SKM_C654e16070513330

( Celebes Sea disposition diagram)

Woomera Rock Range: 200 kilometres North of Adelaide South Australia

US / Australian Joint Quantum computing research facility.

 “ Hot, fucking hot, stinking hot, boiling hot and hot enough that camels, Arabs and the unwashed fucking ferals don’t want to be here and don’t give a fuck what we do do here……………………. And!   …. and and I might also bloody add too far and  TOP FUCKING SECRET! To have a regular air service in or out. Christ!, what made  me take this bloody job Bob…remind me please”. With his outburst over, sitting in his sweat stained white coat, Dr Simon Bedak slumped back into the deck chair nestled in the lee of the portable hut. It was currently 42 degree C in shade he was sitting in  and the sun had not yet reached its apogee, the flat dry oven heat hinting at worse yet still to come.

Sitting opposite him in stony silence was his American counterpart Dr Jenny Medway Phd. Jenny could clearly see that Simon was struggling with the heat,

“hell” she thought, “we all do, so stop fucking whingeing like a pom and cowboy the fuck up” but she would never tell her boss that to his face, instead Jenny opted for her more usual conciliatory tone and actions. Standing up in her canvas shorts and work wear like top, not a lot unlike what that former Australian crock hunter Steven Irwin used to wear, Jen strode over to the Professor, stopping a pace short of him she leaned forward, her top button of the shirt was already undone and gravity simply did the rest.

“presto” she thought, it took a half a second for the Professor to look up and less than half that again for him to register that he was looking at her tits and his dick side of his brain to engage thus completely forgetting about what had caused the funk, Jen guessed. Or tried not to, what the next two or three second thoughts were as she straightened up , spinning she strode back towards the main building, its camouflaged wall blending completely with the rather barren landscape about the range.

Stopping at the security door, Jen looked back towards the professor,

“ Come on professor, I want to run back through our Q bits data log and verify the last test run, if those numbers are right, when we scale up next month over in the lab, we might just be fucking famous” the last statement landed, Jen could see, the professor like most men in his field was proud, and they had been working on the Quantum Computer system out here in the purpose build facility with DARPA specialists and themselves for over 6 months now.

Selected Professors from the University of New South Wales, MIT and selected other universities around the country had lent their best and brightest in the field of Quantum mechanics and computing, Australian was leading the field and the United States new it. As soon as it had become evident the Australian Defence Force in cohort with selected academic affiliates were close to a breakthrough the United States had decided that they needed to be part of the program, it came as a significant shock to the representatives of DARPA, MIT and the US government, that the Australian’s were at least 5 years ahead in quantum research and on the cusp of a significant breakthrough, the Military and civil benefits of which were almost unimaginable.

The professor wave a hand,

“yes I know, I know, but the sooner the ports complex and the pool are back in service the sooner this Professor will be significantly happier, it’s bad enough being out here with little break time and under constant observation, one might think the big bad Russians or Chinese are about to steal away our secrete….some 300 fucking miles from the coat line of northern Australia, what a crock of shit that is” he exploded, kicking the sand gain and storming towards the door where Jenny was standing patiently.

As the professors approached she unlatched the fly wire screen covered in black files which didn’t seem to mind the outback heat one iota.

Catching the door as he strode up beside jenny, she watched as his eyes stole a small sideways glance at her chest, ‘ Jesus “ she thought, and then it hit her. The prof must have been thinking about her, stealing the odd glance and she had not noticed. ‘M’wake up girl he’s a male, you should know better” she thought, chastising herself for the naivety.

Opening the door, the professor turned towards Jenny, “My apologies my dear, I o not like to complain but it can be trying” he said, Jenny noticed that his gaze again shifted, but not to her chest, he was now looking puzzled and over her shoulder.

Jenny turned around, putting her hand up in a salute like manner to shade her eyes from the harsh glare of the sun she ‘squinted’ like most Australian seemed to do out and then was taken aback.

“Professor” she said, “is that some aircraft approaching out there that I can see” as she pointed to the group of specs now far of in the distance. The Professor continued to scan the horizon, Jenny noticed that he seemed a little tense, but could not figure out why, still squinting, jenny thought she could make out another group of dots. “Professor” she called, before a small white trail left the second group of dots and blossomed on the first group. Just as she watched the funny white trail and cloud appear, the research facilities Sirens went off and Jenny watched as the bulky off cabins placed around the Facility suddenly dropped their side like somebody had pulled out the pins holding them up, as the sides dropped away, the remaining roof section neatly folded upwards and then back on itself creating a small awning, protecting the gear underneath. It took a couple of second, but as the first visible unit not 200 meters away started rotating Jenny suddenly realised what they were.

“ Oh Fuck me, Professor” she screamed, the professor coming back out of the Air conditioned door to look across at what Jenny was looking, clearly annoyed the sirens, his look changed from disapproval to concern instantly…”SAM’s” he called,  realising that the specs on the horizon were getting larger and the white lines were missile smoke trails, he grabbed Jenny by the Arm, “inside now, we need to get to the secure area an get our data” he cried. As he shoved Jenny passed and relocked the secure door, he could hear ground vehicle engines above the warning Siren and men yelling, soldiers he thought…yes, our soldiers.

 

PART 7: Celebes Sea Continued-HMAS Perth . HMAS Melbourne

27.6.2016

HMAS Perth 2

The Captain put the Radio receiver back in its Cradle and turned toward his XO,  “ XO lets have revolutions for 15 knots and as soon as the Melbourne’s radars come up on line, have CIC shut down all radars and then bring us to a bearing of 223, after we pass after of the Melbourne I want 35 knots and all stations manned for surface action” he said, before turning towards the Stairs down to CIC,

“ Aye Sir” Called the XO, turning to scan the horizon with the big eye binoculars, before looking back at the Captain heading for the exit, “ Captain leaving the Bridge, XO has the helm”  he Called, before resuming his search of the horizon. The Xo now satisfied that the horizon was clear and there was no imminent threat to the ship that he could at least see, turn towards the officer of the watch.

“Watch Officer, you have them helm, I’m heading to CIC with the Captain, don’t run over anything” he said with a sly smile before pulling back the blackout curtain and descending down into the ship.

Opening up the CIC master hatch, the XO stepped in, only to immediately be greeted by the Captain, “ XO, meet me at the plot, I have a couple of idea we need to discuss” he said before wandering over to one of the EW drone operators.  Finished talking with the drone operator about is status, the captain strode back over to the main plot table, leaning over to the plot controls he expanded the view to take in only the Celebes sea and surrounding islands, finished with that, he produced a china graph pen and started to mark up the plot table.

XO, we are going to lay a trap for our inbounds, given the closure rate we don’t exactly have a lot of time, but we figure that the separation between the two ships could be about 5 kilometres with us out in front running silent and the Melbourne steam slightly away from the inbounds fully radiating” he said as he showed the respective plot lines on the illuminated plotting table. Drawing two lines diverging and the other coming into the Melbourne, the Perth would be in an early shoot position on the two aircraft, her Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles more than capable of dealing with the two inbound Bogies if they proved to be hostile.

Considering the plot a little more before speaking, the Captain looked up, “OX, lets get a status on the Standard Echos can we and I want a time to airborne on both choppers, they need to be loaded for surface warfare, standard fit out please, I’m heading for the Bridge”. And with that the Captain pulled aside the curtain and exited the CIC, leaving the XO to relay the orders to the respective departments. Heading over to the Air warfare console, the XO called of the chief of the boat, “ Chief, Captain wants the echo’s checked out for status, can you have one of your team find out, run a diagnostic and get back to me asap, not sure why he wants to look at the ECHO’s, but I expect we will find out soon enough.

The Xo watched the chief spin on his heels and disappear down the hallway towards the techs that maintained the ships weapons, WSO or weapons systems operators where sharp and given no reports had been received both the chief and the XOI were confident that all would good.

All was working like clockwork in the CIC the Captain could see, just as the chief of the boat entered back in from his trip and wandered up to the XO, the Air Operations Officer piped up from his console, “Captain, Flight ops can be airborne in 5 minutes from your say so Sir, they are prepping the birds now” the young ensign called.

Gently rubbing the stubble slightly forming on his chin, the Captain spoke, “ Let’s get them Airborne then, tell Air ops I want both birds heading in the opposite direction to us, they are to maintain an altitude of 300ft and no farther back than 10 kilometres until further orders. Clear?” he asked,

 

‘Aye Sir’ was the ensigns reply before the Captain listed to him repeat the message with about the same amount of emphasis, satisfied it was now moving according to plan he spoke with the Xo again, “ Let’s go topside for the fly over of these things shall  we Xo?”  Herdie Said, Nodding to his Captain, the XO followed him out of CIC he ladder onto the Bridge. The Xo had just straightened up when the overhead speaker came to life, “Bridge, CIC we have additional Surface Search radars at 263 and Air search, designate both Systems as……………….. AN/BPS-16 that’s a USN Los Angeles class system , we also have Coms Flash traffic from that bearing code RED” Called the speaker.

Whilst the Royal Australian Navy and the United States Navy did not tell each other where their warships would be at any given moment, the two countries had already long ago established a system for sharing of communication codes, And the reason was for just such an event as was now transpiring, urgent communications between two different groups of warships that had been performing different tasks, one not knowing the other was present.

It Took the Captain and Xo less than 10 seconds to exit the Wing on the bridge and be back down in the CIC, both having scaped legs on the one step ladder descent into the ships bowels. Shouting “ coming through” as they barged into the CIC  so as to make sure nobody got cleaned up on their way in, Both the Captain and XO stopped at the plot table as the Com’s officers delivered the Flash message hot of the printer. The Captain opened the message from the young ensign.

 

********************************************************************

FLASH OPS TRAFFIC

To:                          CALL SIGN BADGER: DDG  RAN Melb

From:                    CALL SIGN MORAY: SSN 752 Pasadena

Date: 26/11/2021-   Time: 1648 Zulu

MESSAGE:                           Priority RED- Code AMBER

CMDR RAN SAG

Inbound Bandits Tu22M, regiment Strength + have  confirmed Visual.

************

Expect SSM attack or similar flight profile, white shots on wings

Establishing Link 16 via TACEYE/ROTS soonest to your location

Will conduct ASW Sweep

************

Surface group – Gun boats detected 100 miles Nth Est you location. Attack profile SSM 8 birds per unit, intercept speed 40+knots

Screw count for 9 vessels, recommend course alt

Suspect PLAN/PRC RAS Group in vicinity Nth East of Palau Singihe, 300nm SSE of Davo Island.

************

Hunker down/ stay cool, will feed targeting data on air threat as long as possible.

CMDR Pasadena Out.

Message End:——————————————————–

 

Naval Commanders are taught from the very beginning that they set the tone on the ship; it’s like all Command situations, where if you show signs of losing control it will pervade your command to the lowest level. A calm, clear and concise leader is required for Military situations where lives are at stake, the Commander of the Melbourne Captain Russell Herd was no different, if anything, he had eaten the book having read it twice some would say.

Handing the Flash message to the XO the Captain grabbed the 1MC intercom for the Ship wide broadcast system.

“All hands, this is the Captain Speaking. We will remain at Action Stations for the time being and I am about to launch both Helos” he said, whilst doing that he point to the XO and mouthed the word ‘get the helo’s up”, to which the XO nodded.

Satisfied the Captain continued. “ We have inbound a Regimental size Backfire attack force , we had detected two units, but we have received a flash message from the USS Pasadena who is some 120 miles west of us, Seems they overflew her, so we  are about to establish a link 16 hook up and should have telemetry and targeting data . The backfires have war shots under the wings” he said, letting that message hang for some second in silence”, he continued. “And we also have a warning that there is a small surface action flotilla of approximately 9 high speed craft some 100 plus miles to our North East and closing.

Seems that this might well be a Chinese Naval group as well and I’ll wager that our presence has mightily pissed off the Chinese. I don’t expect anything more than to be buzzed and harassed, but we all need to be sharp, if it turns to custard we will defend ourselves and beat the snott out of them, good luck!” the Captain hung up the microphone and strolled over to the plot table with the XO sitting on the other side, looking at the two groups and the data streaming in beside them on the plotter. The XO looked up at the Captain before speaking, “ Sir, I’m not linking the situation we are in, but once the Link 16 data arrives I will be a lot happier. Those backfires can shoot a bunch of missiles at us and between us and the Melbourne we can knock’em all down, problem is, if the surface action group decided they want a piece of our hide and get shots away before we do..then we will most likely be out of SAM’s to shoot at’em….that fkn worries me” the XO let out.

You are right XO, it’s going to get a bit hairy if it goes South, so I want worst case right now, we need to coordinate this with the Melbourne, she’s got the Best SAM fit out and I have an idea we need to figure out fast, here’s what I have in mind” , the Captain proceeded to explain to the chief how the puzzle would come together, both ships and aircraft.

Walking away from the plot the Captain Called out. “ XO, lets bring the ship hard to port, I want us to close to within a thousand yards of the Melbourne and a couple of ship lengths of her starboard quarter, Com’s get the Melbourne’s Commander on the horn, I need to speak with him fast.”

Peoples Liberation Navy: PLAN Flotilla Celebes Sea

The flotilla of vessels was not a large one, but manifestly dangerous, certainly enough to sail into harm’s way thought Pi. Pi Xenophon, Commander of the Dragon attack craft flotilla, NATO code Name Houbei Fats attack boats, Pi’s small group on 9 surface attack boats were racing across the central Pacific Ocean at 46 knots each, spay flinging up room their bows with each crashing boom as the front of the attack craft slammed into the slight swell. To the flotillas left or starboard side sat the island of HALAOU, its lush green tropical mid equator forest clearly visibly in the afternoon sunlight, even from this distance PI could see the various sea birds and the likes gently fluttering about the white sandy beaches. Another thump, this one slightly more serious and from a slightly different direction brought Pi back to the present, “ what was that “ he growled at the helmsman he was standing beside, having to shout to be heard over the twin screaming marine diesel engines.

“ Sir,” the young marine shouted Back, his eye not deviating from the horizon ahead, “Jade 1 crossed over to our port side and we ran through their chop” he explained. “ Fine, let’s get a call into them by lamp, I don’t want to break radio Silence yet, I want the flotilla to extend with  echelon right, we should get satellite data shortly giving us a bearing on the Australian ships, those Aussie pigs shall see just how stealthy we really are , they’ll pay for challenging the might of the Peoples Liberation Navy”

The young marine in front of his Commander, continued, gaze fixed, he had seen Pi in these mood before, the last time had resulted in them having a running gun battle with the filthy Imperialist loving pigs of the Taiwanese Navy, that had cost them two boats and 60 men, for a single Taiwanese bandit craft being sunk, Rumour had it the high command had almost had Pi arrested and shot, had it not been for his extension military connections.

Pi continued looking about, scanning his attack group for any signs that craft were not committing or might be having problems keeping up, his was the most recently overhauled unit and as such produced more horsepower than the others. That had been evident when they had  a drag race at sea a month before, the Golden dragon topping out at 46 and half knots, 4 knots better than the next fasted attack boat.

Continuing his scan around his gaze finally settled on the sleek grey canisters at the rear of his boat, 8 of them all neatly stacked together, each canister housing a surface to surface missile, the latest of the type in the Chinese arsenal. Ship killers, or if needs be the warheads could be reprogrammed to attack land targets as well. But not today, today they were going to sink the Australian Navy Vessels and would claim that it was bandits, sea pirates or a mishap on one of the Australian vessels.

Pi put his Binoculars down and placed them in the cabins holder right beside the helms man. “ I’m going down below, keep a lookout up here XO”, he said, then turning, wobbling slightly as he adjusted his feet and motion to that of the boat and went down into the attack centre.

The attack centre crew all seen him push in past the blackout curtain, he could see their collective faces, “so young he thought to himself, it was not that long ago you were their age my friend he thought. Continuing in, he stopped at the rear of the seat for the Electronic Warfare Officer, in actual rank an ensign in the PLAN Navy, looking at the EW screen he spoke.

“ How are we, what transmissions have we detected from the capitalist pigs  boats” he almost spat the last words out, the contempt clearly evident in his voice.

“Sir I have transmissions from the HMAS Perth flight 2 DDG Sir and I am sure I might have faintly detected an surface search radar from one of their new S75 improved Seahawk ASW/ attack helicopters” said the ensign, clearly up to date on the latest TO & E for the DDG of the Royal Australian Navy.

“ Excellent, Excellent” soothed Pi, happy with the current state, “ do we have a detection threshold on the ship conducting the freedom of Navigation exercise yet or any other transmissions” he said, standing back up straight and looking around the room whilst he waited for his answer.

It was the chief of the boat, who spoke for the assembled group in the CIC. “Captain, PI, we have no other transmissions of a hostile nature, I have data from our flight group of attack bombers that are currently planning on rattling the brains of the Australian ship, they are 10 minutes out, otherwise I have only the Surface and air search radars of the DDG”.

Good thought PI, the diversion would work perfectly, although is attack craft were part stealth and they carried 8 missiles each, the Australian DDG was a tough nut, aside from her 16 short range SAMS, she carried a formidable Close in weapons defence armament, and guns, lots of guns. Pi had been amazed when he had seen the first photos of the RANS new Perth Class DDG, not at all like the American DDGS, she carried 4 sets of turrets, 2 fore and two aft with twin mounts on each, beautiful he though. But that was not the only issue, the ship was heavily armoured and would, it was thought survive numerous hits, so well was she armoured and compartmentalised. The PLAN had discovered that sections had reactive armour, which would completely nullify any SSM they shot at her.

It was decided that to overwhelm her they would need to get in close and that’s where the distraction of the Airstrike package came in, it would draw the Australians attention, long enough for the 9 craft of the attack flotilla to close with 20 miles, just over the horizon, then, with telemetry data from the attack aircraft’s pass they would shoot their missiles at her, giving the ship no more that 3 minutes to live. What was left over would be cleaned up by his flotilla when they closed into gun range.

PART 6: Celebes Sea & USS Pasadena SSN – 752

CELEBES SEA: HMAS PERTH 2

 

HMAS PERTH was fully radiating, her air and surface search radars fully energised, her sister ship the flight 2, Air Warfare Destroyer HMAS Melbourne was not, under full em-con she was not leaking any electronic noise, her crew were all at action stations and the ships systems, whilst not radiating were at full standby mode, able to transition to active at the click of a mouse button.

“Sir” Called out the Air Warfare officer at the ships radar console in CIC,

“ I have  two inbound bogies, bearing 236, speed 600 knots at angels 5,  Range 100 miles”

The Captain, now firmly secured in his CIC command chair stared at the large overhead display, the two new bogies clearly plotted on the superimposed layout of the ocean, surrounding islands and various other targets or vessels out to 250 miles.

The Captain studies the display a little while longer before speaking “ seems everybody else in the neighbourhood knows something we do not, by those surface tracks all the merchant shipping is sprinting away from us……fast” he said, the implications of which were clearly evident on his face.

“XO, let’s get a flash message off to Canberra and tell the Melbourne we recommend that she go active and take the lead, I’m going to launch a TACEYE drone in 2 minutes, lets look sharp people, the Chinese is not happy we are conducting this transit and they will be even less so when they realise there are two ships here”    

  

 

USS PASADENA  SSN -752. 100nm Northwest of HMAS MELBOURNE & PERTH

The USN 688 class attack submarine USN Pasadena was at 35 feet, her main attack mast snaking through the slight chop at a leisurely 20 knots as her ESM gear picked up all sorts of electronic noise, it was however her other sensors that detected the over flight of aircraft.

The XO currently had the conn and was sweeping the horizon visually with the attack periscope when he detected the inbound aircraft

” Bring the ship to action stations, Inform the Captain we have multiple inbound aircraft, crash dive, helm make your depth 300 feet all ahead flank, right full rudder. Weps, I want noise makers in front and rears tubes, and get me a playback of the horizon sweep please. ESM I want any signals we detected analysed and classified fast!”

The XO had no sooner exited the Captain’s chair when the Captain burst through the blackout curtains into CIC, “ Ok Burt “ He called to his XO as he stepped up into the chair  ” what’s do we got happening now”

Standing on the angle the XO looked at the Captain and turned back toward the overhead monitor, now coming alive with his previous sweep of the horizon. The Captain and Xo were staring intently at the monitors playback, clearly showing the current sea state, slowly as the XO had panned the combat periscope around the aircraft came into view “ There “ called the captain, “ Stop and enlarge that frame” he called to nobody in particular. Behind them the tech that was replaying the vision manipulated the controls as slowly the aircraft, now clearly identifiable as 6 units came closer into view.

10 bucks, 10 bucks we have backfire that the chinks bought inbound” Called the Captain.

 

Looking across from his position the chief showed and rather incredulous look..”Ill not wager against you Sir, they are definitely Backfires and Given the Australian surface groups last position, they are heading straight for them, that’s a piss pot full of hurt heading their way if it turns nasty and given the altitude” the XO peered in closer to the screen.

“ Ill say at 50 feet they won’t know they are on them until it’s too late in my opinion” said the XO.

“you might be right “ the Captain called,

“ lets make the playing field level hey,…….. bring us up to periscope depth XO, make it fast I want a flash message to the RAN surface group asap warning of their inbound bandit count, “ the bogies on the RAN screens were now being classified as bandits, hostile targets with a probable nasty intent thought the captain.

Everybody in the control centre braced as the Pasadena’s helmsmen brought her rapidly up towards the ocean’s surface, the crash dive order having now been rescinded. The Pasadena was only making 12 knots now with the sudden change in her direction and the sonar teams acoustics were working at almost full capacity, certainly good enough to detect several engines and propellers starting up at once.

”Con Sonar, I have multiple screw sounds, range is distant, but certainly 20K meters, second convergence zone Sir, making revolution for ……… 30 plus knots,  Fast boats Captain, probable attack boats or we have an ocean boat race that we were not aware of” called the sonar man. The whole boat including the CIC team were now glued to their microphones and speakers, awaiting the next call from the sonar team “, Bearing changing now, coming around to 366, that’s a straight bearing for the RAN surface group Sir, I have turns for 35 knots and still increasing, I make the boat count at 9 units Sir, they must have been close inshore to the island and reefs Captain, anchored up without motors running.

The Captain look perplexed, certainly not overly worried, “ OX thoughts, I’m willing to take bets those boats are not starting an ocean race, that makes them more than likely Chinese PLAN units and fast attack craft, likely to have surface to surface missiles, ideas on type?” He enquired.

The XO was  reviewing data on one of the nearby terminals, flicking through another set of screen he and closing the page before he turned to the Captain.

“ Sir my estimation is that they would be the previous  generation of missile attack craft , probably the 220X (Houbei) design. It’s a trimaran hull that can achieve maximum wave piercing performance at high speeds, up to 40 knots Sir. Stealthy design and has two missile-houses, that can possibly be fitted with various ordnance. Eight missiles of the YJ83 anti-ship missiles type are believed to be carried, as well as a single AK630 CIWS for self-defense. Last count was 18 hulls, they have both the endurance and sea keeping abilities to get this far, but not without tanker support Sir, we have a Chinese RAS group out here that we are not yet aware of Sir and that could mean heavier units as well” the Xo added for good measure, having just arrived at the conclusion himself.

The Captain was deep in thought the XO could see, “Christ Burt thought to himself, 72 missiles potentially the small attack craft fleet could launch at the two Australian warships, although both were well equipped and the missiles were very capable, some were surely to leak through” he thought and then he froze.

“oh Shit” Burt blurted and in the process stopped everybody on the sub who was within ear shot, looking back over his shoulder towards the XO the Captain Spoke, “Well Burt, you wanna share the epiphany you just had with the rest of us” the Captain enquired lightly, with eye brows raised.

The XO took a visible deep breath, “ Captain, the Hobart Class Air Warfare Destroyers have a 48 cell VLS system, of which, 4 cells are normally used for the ESSM system , or Evolved Sea Sparrow SAMs, and they are quad packed, 4 bird per cell he explained, looking at the Captain and then around the compartment to various nods.

So if she has a full load out, she has 16 ESSM’s plus the left over Standard SAMS, which would be 44, so she has a total of 60 SAM’s, the Modified Perth Fight 2 DDG has an 8 Cell ESSM systems which is another 32 SAMS, giving them a total SMA count of 92 war shots for a possible 72 inbounds. And I am assuming they are fully loaded out”. Having though he was finished, the Burt stood motionless in the Pasadena’s CIVC watching the Captain as he mulled over what had been said. Still looking at his XO the Captain spoke, Con bring us up fast, sail only exposed, Sonar, I want a full active sweep, make sure we have nobody and i mean nobody within 50 miles of us”.

Having issued his orders, the various departments responded in kind, “ Con sonar, we have zero targets on passive, now going active Captain, how many sweeps Sir” asked his leading sonar man. Whilst both the Captain and Xo were hovering over the plot table  he spoke again.

“Sonar, I want three sweeps and one every 2 minutes thereafter until we are back under, EWO, As soon as we break the surface I want both surface and air search radars up and radiating and link 16 online, If we can get a tether to the RAN we can data link, so the ROTS drone needs to lift off the minute the pods clear understood”. It was s followed by ‘”Aye Sir” from all quarters, as he focused back on the plot table.

Looking at the plot, it was clear that the 9 surface contacts were still some considerable distance from the small surface group of Australian Navy ships, but that didn’t matter once inside 200 kilometres which the little flotilla was, But they still needed targeting data the Captain knew, just like the Backfire bombers that had just over flown them or they would be shooting their missiles into a larger circle of where they hoped the fleet would be.

 

Spreading his hand over the plot table the Captain explained to his XO his plan. “Burt, as soon as ROTS is up get on the horn to the RAN SAG and get the link 16 established, we should have both surface and air targeting data to be able to feed them, right behind ROTS I want a TACEYE prepped and launched, I plan on taking us back to periscope depth  and have the TACEYE relay its own targeting data back to the SAG, whilst we stay undetected, I don’t fancy on having one of the Backfires turn around and pop a missile into out lovely sail, that would fuck the whole show right royally I think”, he said, seeing also a grin spread across the XO’s face and a nod at the plan also.

It was a simple plan really, the SNN Pasadena and its TACEYE drone would radiate its radar and track both surface groups, proving targeting data to the RAN SAG which should allow them to not radiate and give away their position, certainly long enough to get a few early shots in or at least that was what the Commander of the Pasadena had in mind.

“ Any further ideas you have XO would be welcome, now’s the time” the Captain said.

Captain, I think we should be letting the SAG commander know that his priority targets are the surface fleet, hes got to have at least 16 harpoons between his two ships and I would be recommending two birds per target, if he even halves the surface vessels numbers arrayed against him, its going to give him more SAMS V SSM’s in bound and if they have any air assets I’d be having them head into the teeth of that flotilla as well or provide some eyes on and targeting data as well”

Shifting slightly, the XO continued,” Captain, our ROE at present does not allow us to shoot unless fired upon, that extends also to the TACEYE and ROTS units Sir” he said, letting the line hand in the air, it was thin and the XO knew full well it was and could result in them having their heads and careers both terminated and posted on COMPACFLTS office wall in Pearl alongside other not so bright Commanders.

Without looking up the Captain replied, “ XO, are you suggesting we move both or one unit closer and provoke an incident, I would myself move the units closer to ensure that we maintain contact with these forces and glean whatever intel we can from anything they do, If by chance they opt to fire on our assets we might be free to respond in self Defence,……. lets get that on the printer to Pearl and request a weapons free conditionally, that ROE’s gotta change” he said as he headed towards the galley.