Friday, 26 June 2015

AAR - The Russian Coalition versus The Prussian Empire

"In the weeks since the disastrous attack on Stavanger, the Russian Coalition had endeavoured to blockade the Byfjorden and scour every nook and cranny of the broken coastline, searching for signs of a secret port that could accommodate the grand Dreadnought Markgraf. Their largest vessels were held back to enforce the blockade or were commissioned away from the North Sea theatre, leaving packs of smaller vessels to reave the western coastline of Prussian-Scandinavia. 

Chance encounters and skirmishes between opposing squadrons were common, but without the movement of massed fleets nothing would occur to rival the immense Battle of Stavanger or the Breakthrough at Byfjorden. The Russians held the line, while the Prussian Empire effected refits and licked their wounds. A period of relative calm settled over the Norwegian coastline, and the eyes of the world looked elsewhere. 

In the wake of the Battle of Stavanger and the string of brutal losses that had preceded it, the Prussian fleet commander Karl-Ehrhart Grunner had had his requests for reinforcement intercepted or ignored and his attempts to break the deadlock thrown back. His best hunter, submarine commander Jürgen Grönemeyer, had not returned from the counter-attack at Kvitsøy, and he began to fear the Byfjorden theatre would be locked for the rest of the war. If he could just break the blockade, Prussian naval operations in the North Sea could resume at full effect - without the support of the Norwegian coastal ports, their operational range was severely limited. 

In the last week of June, 1873, Grunner was presented an opportunity to upset the balance. A small column of Russian ships based around the assault carrier Ulyanovsk had broken formation and advanced beyond the protection of the blockade, gathering speed toward Stavanger once more. Ignoring the risks of this potential feint, Grunner gathered what frontline-worthy warships he could find and pounced - he lacked the patience for this siege, and would take any chance to score a blow against the Russian Juggernaut! 

The price of Grunner's hubris would soon be discovered..."
- The Hunt for the Markgraf (cont.)
Naval Battles of 1873

Thursday, 11 June 2015