The torpedo boats zipped ahead of the fleet in a “V” formation. After a few minutes, one of the torpedo boats came back with a “enemy sighted” flag.
Captain Campbell looked to the signalman, “Davies, order the minesweepers forward.”
“Minesweeps forward Aye.”
“CAPTAIN!” A Boatswain’s Mate lowered his binoculars and turned around, “ENEMY OBSERVATION BALLOON! JUST OVER THE HORIZON. 33 DEGREES.”
“XO! FORE STARBOARD ANTI BALLOON ROCKETS GET ME A FIRING SOLUTION!”
“Firing Solution Aye!” Commander Blair picked up her handset, shouted some orders. Moments later, she looked up at Captain Campbell, “Rocket batteries have solution, Awaiting your command”
“Fore Starboard Rocket Launchers fire five rocket spreads.
“Five Rocket Spreads, Aye.” Commander Blair picked up the handset, “Rocket Batteries S1 through S5, Five Rocket Spread on target.”
Moments later the twenty five rockets streaked towards the balloon. This was quickly followed by a few of the rocket equipped cruisers. The idea was that while they may not be able to shoot down the balloon, they could force it to land and discourage anyone else from trying to take off in a balloon. Not that it would matter once the two fleets collided.
A klaxon went off, Commander Blair shouted, “ENEMY FLEET COMING INTO VIEW! FLAGSHIP AT 5 DEGREES.”
“HELM! TURN FIVE DEGREES STARBOARD,” Captain Campbell turned to Blair, “XO! ORDER NUMBER ONE THROUGH THREE GUNS TO FIRE ON TARGET!,” He flipped his handset to public address, “Multiple Contacts on Horizon, All Defense Guns weapons free.”
The first shells started walking in towards the Indefatigable.
“TORPEDO BOATS SPOTTED 245 DEGREES! THEY’RE SWEEPING AROUND THE FORMATION!”
“THEY’RE HEADED FOR THE CONVOY!”
“THE STEVEN’S POINT IS GOING DOWN!”
Captain Campbell cursed under his breath, “XO! YOU HAVE THE DECK AND CONN! “ This was the first operation where Captain Campbell had to control a fleet. If only they hadn’t decided to give this operation an admiral to take command so he could just focus on the Indefatigable. He yelled to Davies, “SEND THE ANTELOPE AND THE NIGHTINGALE TO INTERCEPT THE ENEMY TORPEDO BOATS!”
“GREEN BAY, ELLEN CARTER, AND PHILLIP MITCHELL ALL GOING DOWN! FITZGERALD, ROGER, AND EDMUN…” The Boatswain’s Mate was interrupted by an explosion on deck that rocked the ship, “NEAR MISS ON TURRET TWO!” He listened to his handset, “DAMAGE CONTROL TEAMS ARE MOVING IN TO… FIRES IN TURRET TWO!”
Commander Blair was shouting into her handset, “DAMCON CONCENTRATE ON THE FIRES! WE CAN’T LET IT REACH THE MAGAZINE!”
“FISH IN THE WATER OFF THE PORT BOW! COMING IT AT A 30 DEGREE ANGLE!”
“DAMCON ON READY FOR TORPEDOES OFF THE PORT BOW,” Commander Blair slammed down her handset and looked to the Helmsman, “HELM! HARD PORT!”
Captain Campbell focused back to the fleet. They had closed to about half a kilometer of the enemy fleet.