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The Whaling War - a possible future history (Consolidated)

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…As soon as it became apparent that this fleet was indeed heading south, the diplomatic channels started to work overtime.  Public passions were also raised thanks to the media on both sides.

Recalling the success of the Cuban missile crisis blockade and hoping for a similar result as in 1962, the Oceanic Confederation declared a blockade of the key routes to the Southern Ocean through their territorial waters.  It specifically declared that the Southern Ocean was a Protected Marine Environment and that no fishing/whaling or similar vessels intending to take from this environment would be permitted to enter.  Further reinforcing this was the recent decision by the Confederation members to actively defend their Antarctic territorial claims.

The world waited hoped that there wouldn’t be another conflict.  However, with passions strong on both sides, this wouldn’t be the case.

The first incident took place long before the first Japanese ships even reached the blockade line.  An OCDF AP-3C Orion that had been sent to shadow the Japanese fleet was intercepted and fired upon by a JMSDF Sea Harrier from the Hyūga (it was later revealed that the Hyūga was also supporting a small contingent of Sea Harriers operating from the whaling ships).  The Orion actually managed to recover to a friendly airfield though had been badly damaged with its port outer engine destroyed by cannon fire from the Japanese fighter.  Perhaps ominously, the Japanese subsequently marked the fighter with an Orion kill marking.  This incident sparked outrage, although the Japanese claimed it was an accident caused when the Orion crew ignored instructions not to approach the fleet.

A day later, a second incident occurred involving an aircraft from an outside party.  This was a USN RQ-4B Naval Hawk.  Apparently, in order to gain better imagery (clouds were a constant problem), this had descended from its standard 60000ft operating altitude.  In doing so it had come within range of a JMSDF Sea Harrier which quickly destroyed it with a single AAM-5 missile.  The OCDF also operated a small number of Naval Hawks and thus it was thought that the Japanese had mistaken this for one of them.

Following the Orion incident, the OCDF forces patrolling the blockade line were ordered onto high alert.  These forces included a combination of MS-3C and AP-3C patrol aircraft, JAS-39A, F/A-18A+ and F-16A (just prior to the creation of the Oceanic Confederation, the Papua New Guinea Defence Force had acquired 6 ex-USAF F-16As and 2 F-16Bs primarily to deter Indonesian incursions from West Papua) fighters stationed on various island airstrips.  Supporting these detachments at sea was a combination of frigates (the upgraded OCS (former HMAS) Darwin and OCS Newcastle FFGs; OCS Toowoomba. OCS Stuart and OCS (former HMNZS) Te Mana FFHs), air capable ships (OCS Kanimbla and OCS Oceanic, the later rapidly rushed to the area) as well as a number of smaller Armidale class patrol boats retrofitted to act as missile corvettes (this retrofit added a limited air defence capability using a 4 round RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) pod attached to the Typhoon 25 mm deck gun, as well as two dual round, Kongsberg Naval Strike Missile (NSM) pods) to carry.  In addition, two Collins class submarines, (OCS Farncomb and OCS Dechaineux – the later having been blooded in the earlier conflict) were also operating in support of the blockade.

To confuse things more, a number of civilian protest vessels also decided to join in the blockade to stop the whaling vessels.

By the early hours of Friday, the 17th December 2010, the first of the Japanese ships (a whaler escorted by the destroyer Atago) approached the blockade line.  The world waited anxiously to see what would happen…

Blockade Run

…at first nothing happened.  Unfortunately though, whilst the naval forces from both sides waited to see what the other would do, an inflatable boat from one of the protest vessels took the opportunity to harass the whaling vessel.  Whether by accident or intent, the crew of the whaling ship responded in the worst possible way, opening fire with their CIWS gun.  Mistaking the firing of this weapon as a defensive measure, the crew of the Atago instantly reacted as if they were under attack.  In doing so they instantly accelerated to maximum speed and opened fire on the closest naval vessel – the OCS Toowoomba – with two Type 90 anti-ship missiles.  Being so close, the crew of the Toowoomba had no chance to react. Their only saving grace was that only one of the missiles had a chance to detonate, though that one missile crippled the ship, having destroyed its main bridge and combat centre.

At the same time as the Atago launched its attack, both the Hiryu and Hyūga responded to this apparent attack by launching fighters armed with anti shipping missiles to attack any OCDF vessels in the area.  Their first target was the ailing OCS Toowoomba which was quickly sunk by a second missile fired by a JMSDF Sea Harrier.  Also attacked were the OCS Te Mana, OCS Darwin and two Armidale class patrol boats as well as two protest vessels (including the one from which the initial inflatable boat had come).   

In response to the initial attack on the Toowoomba, and the subsequent attacks, the OCDF forces defended themselves.  At first this involved defensive SAMs launched by the OCDF vessels under attack.  This action claimed a number of attacking Japanese fighters and missiles.  Shortly thereafter though, OCDF aircraft also entered the fray, both to attack the attacking fighters as well as their escorts.  It was in this battle that the first ever Papua New Guinean air-to-air kill was achieved as an OCDF F-16A flown by FLGOFF Paulias Ona downed an attacking JMSDF F-2C as it prepared to launch a missile at the OCS Darwin.

By the time dawn broke, the initial battle was over.  One the Oceanic Confederation side, the losses were heavy with not only the OCS Toowoomba sunk, but also the OCS Te Mana and two Armidale class patrol boats.  Additionally, the OCS Darwin had been damaged by a near miss from one of the Japanese missiles.  Also lost had been two Harrier AV-8B+s and a JAS-39A.

On the Japanese side, the losses had not been as high, with no ships attacked what-so-ever.  Eight aircraft (five F-2Cs, one Sea Harrier, one F-3 and a single F-15JN) had been lost though.

The opposing forces now rapidly worked to make the next move and thus gain the advantage…


…unexpectedly, the next move would come far to the west.  Weeks before the main fleet had set sail, the Japanese had also sent two Oyashio class submarines down into the Indian Ocean.  These now struck.  Using an indigenous modification of their UGM-84 Harpoons, the Japanese had given these submarines a limited land attack capability which they now put to use.  Each submarine fired 6 missiles.  These were aimed at the main naval base on the Australian west coast (Fleet Base West), located on Garden Island just off the Western Australian coast near the city of Perth.  It was also the home port of many of the ships currently in action in the Pacific.  Within 20 minutes, the base was ablaze as the missiles struck home.

This action was primarily aimed at throwing the OCDF off balance and forcing them to split their forces.  To a degree it did accomplish this, however it also unleashed the fury of the Australian public which, having already awoken to the news of their ships being attacked and sunk in the Pacific, now demanded retribution.  They would not need to wait long as the Oceanic Confederation voted to allow for unrestricted combat operations against Japanese and allied forces…


…back in the Pacific, having been advised of the Oceanic Confederation declaration, the Japanese now decided to split their fleet in two.  It was hoped that this would complicate matters for the OCDF and also provide more flexibility.  The Hyūga, Atago and submarine Asashio along with approximately half the whaling ships headed east in a flanking manoeuvre.  At the same time the Hiryu and remaining warships (including the Roald Amundsen) and whaling ships continued south, looking for a decisive confrontation with the OCDF.

The OCDF had been severely wounded but rather than retreat, the men and women were now more determined then ever to fight.  In record time aircraft and ships were ready for action.  However, for now it was decided to only conduct harassment operations against the Japanese fleet.  This was to provide time for a more comprehensive response to be prepared.  The first such harassment  action would come from below the waves.  The OCS Farncomb had quietly closed on the Hyūga fleet.  Having received its new orders it now decided to strike, sending four Mk48 ADCAP torpedoes on their way.  Three of these would find targets – two striking and in fact blowing apart a whaling ship and one narrowly missing the destroyer Atago, but going on to hit and sink another whaling ship.

Minutes later, this fleet would be attacked again, this time by two MS-3Cs escorted by two JAS-39As.  Before the Hyūga’s F-3s could reach them, each MS-3C had launched a AGM-84 towards the fleet.  Neither hit a target though being destroyed by the ships CIWSs.  The attack wasn’t a complete failure though as one of the JAS-39As managed to shoot down an F-3 before retreating.

Meanwhile to the west, the Hiryu fleet had also been on the receiving end of a number of similar pinprick attacks.  However with its E-2Cs providing early warning it was better able to defend itself.  For the loss of a single F-2C, the Japanese had managed to shoot down an OCDF AP-3C and 2 F/A-18A+s.  It looked as though this time, the Japanese would be the victors.  Now as dusk approached, they decided to prepare a new strike package to find and sink the main remaining OCDF ships and thus effectively end the war in one day.  Little did they know that the OCDF was already ahead of them…

Decisive Action

…all day, the OCDF forces had been organising their retaliation.  The harassment strikes, although costly, had served their purpose in keeping the Japanese busy and thinking that was all the OCDF could offer.  Now as dusk fell, the first element of the plan was initiated.  The OCS Dechaineux had been shadowing the Hiryu fleet since mid morning.  It now dropped further behind and prepared its launch tubes.  Very quickly, two of the torpedo tubes were readied and fired.  With this done, the Dechaineux now dived deep and awaited the result.

The missiles fired by the Dechaineux were of a type unseen by the rest of the world.  They were large and as they broke the surface, each quickly fired a rocket that took them high into the air.  As they ascended, they received encrypted data-bursts from an overhead satellite. At the peak of their trajectories (around 70000ft), each missile split apart and released 3 smaller projectiles (each was around 1 m in length).  Each of these small black, wedge shaped projectiles now fired a scramjet engine (these had been developed by DSTO scientists in conjunction with the University of Queensland and a number of Australian companies).  Each projectile, designated Taipans, now quickly identified its designated target and homed in on it.  As they descended, the Taipans quickly reached a speed in excess of Mach 8.  The entire action was over in a matter of minutes.  The Roald Amundsen and the two Atago class destroyers, Ashigara and Fusō were each hit by two Taipans.  Interestingly, the Taipans did not carry a warhead per sae, but rather relied on their kinetic energy to inflict damage - it would be sufficient.  All three ships were critically damaged, with the Ashigara (having been hit in the forward VLS which detonated) already sinking.  The Fusō and Roald Amundsen were also rapidly taking on water and out of action.  The only force defending the fleet now was the aircraft of the Hiryu, many of which were on deck being readied for the planned attack on the OCDF vessels.

Within seconds of the Taipans striking, the early warning E-2C spotted a large number of contacts approaching fast at wave top level from the West.  Half a minute later a second force was spotted this time from the South East.  The orbiting F-15JN and F-2C fighters were urgently dispatched towards the two approaching forces.  Meanwhile aboard the Hiryu crews worked frantically to rearm (or at least remove large anti-shipping weapons) and launch fighters.  The first to launch were three F-3s, followed by two F-2Cs which were to have been escorts for the strike aircraft.  It wouldn’t be anywhere near enough.

Spotting the approaching fighters, the F/A-18A+s escorting each strike package quickly fired their AIM-120 AMRAAMs.  These quickly struck their targets leaving pillars of smoke spiralling down.  At the same time, the F-111Cs and JAS-39As they were escorting launched their main weapons – AGM-84 Harpoons and RBS-15 (a number of these had been acquired originally with the Gripens) anti-shipping missiles.  Like a cloud of modern arrows (over 70 missiles had been fired in total), the missiles converged on the fleet.  Many were shot down by the CIWSs, however a number still broke though to strike ship after ship.  For the Hiryu though, the OCDF had something special in mind.  Given that it was so large and well defended, not to mention strong with its original VLCC double hull still there, it was believed that even multiple anti-shipping missile hits would be insufficient to sink it.  Therefore, to provide a large enough blow, the OCDF now revealed another of its ‘secret weapons’.  These were two F-111Gs specially modified to be uninhabited missiles.  These had been developed a few years earlier when the F-111G had been retired from RAAF service and were originally planned as a weapon to strike underground bunkers (technically they were now designated as QF-111Gs, though to the OCDF forces who prepared them, they were known as “Terminator Pigs”).  They had their cockpits removed and replaced by a large explosive charge and weapon bays also loaded with bombs.  Now as the conventional anti-shipping missiles started to strike targets, these Terminator Pigs closed to deliver the coup de grace.   As they approached the fleet, each accelerated to its maximum speed of around Mach 2.8 (the engines had been modified to provide 115% power and the airframes were clean – what’s more, they only had a one-way trip to complete).  Despite the attempts of the already hit Hiryu’s CIWSs, the Terminator Pigs struck.  Shortly thereafter, the large super carrier broke into three and settled below the waves.  It would not be alone, as every one of the whaling ships as well as the escorting destroyers and frigate also were either sunk or blown apart.  The night sky was lit by burning oil slicks.  Even below the surface, the Japanese had not escaped with the Dechaineux taking the opportunity presented by the confusion on the surface to close on the Harushio class submarine, Wakashio.  In the short underwater dogfight that ensued, the Dechaineux once again was victorious.

Far to the East, the ships of the Hyūga’s fleet received information of the fate of their sister ships with shock.  Only hours earlier, everything had been going so well…


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