After Action Report – IJN Supply Mission in the Blackett Strait & Kula Gulf

Posted by Matt Schultheis - December 9th, 2013

Armed with more definitive intelligence, the USN was able to pinpoint the IJN route to Kula Gulf, but there Intel deserted them – the actual destination of the IJN was unknown – was it to Kape Harbor on Kolombangara Isl., or Hathorn Sound to supply the Munda Pt. airfield? Commodore Shcwartz and Cpt. Kane chose to concentrate their force and head straight down the middle of the Gulf.

Adm Davazuki chose to split the IJN forces in order to deceive the IJN – he went with two DDs and the supply vessels SE along their course to Hathorn Sd. while Cpt. Scotamoto took two others N to Kape Harbor. On a critical turn, the USN detected a deception in the North force and stayed on course to what they were pretty certain was the convoy with DD escorts. The next turn the IJN attempted to continue the deception [not realizing that it wasn’t working] and ended the turn too far divided. As the USN closed in, they outnumbered the escorts 4-2 in DDs, and the other two IJN DDs were just a bit too far away to help.

A fortunate opening salvo from the Fletcher devestated the Akatsuki, and started a fire in the main magazine [doesn’t that always ALWAYS happen with naval games????], and on Turn 2 she exploded in flames seen back in Pearl Harbor as Adm Davazuki went “up with the ship”. The Akitsuki gave the USN lead Fletcher-class DDs solid hits and close calls with torpedoes. Unfortunately, Commodore Schultz also threaded the needle with torpedoes and scored hits on two transports, sinking one and damaging another [honestly, how many 1s and 2s CAN that guy roll???].

Meanwhile, as the IJN second force closed in, Cpt. Kane concentrated on the transports damaging their superstructures and their gun mounts. A lucky shot against his Fire Direction Center was quickly repaired thru “Yankee ingenuity” in his words. A few turns of indecisive salvos resulted in a bit more damage all around, but only one US DD was in serious shape. Damage control parties were unable to repair the bulkheads, and the O’Bannon began to list heavily.

Unfortunately, the arrival of the second IJN force couldn’t change the position advantage of the USN – they had blocked the route to Hathorn Sd., pinning the IJN against Arundal Isl, and the convoy turned back towards help with Cpt. Kane’s ships in hot pursuit.

At this point we called the game. The USN won a morale victory by earning more points in the surface battle and sinking crippling half the supply ships. The loss of the O’Bannon, a brand-new Fletcher-class DD eliminated any chance of a full strategic victory for a USN critically short of DD’s already. With most torpedoes spent, and the convoy in a bad position, it seemed that the IJN DDs would cut their losses and take off.

The IJN ended up losing two desperately needed DDs, including the brand-new Akatsuki and the venerable Akitsuki. The supply convoy was successfully intercepted with loss as well.

A good game with the victory going to the USN who outguessed the IJN and relied upon concentration of force for their results! I’ll try to run more of these games in January if not sooner, perhaps at 7th Dimension when there’s space.

-Alex

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