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The 13th Fleet (Japanese: 第13艦隊) was a unit of the Free Planets Star Fleet. Formed shortly after the Battle of Astarte in 796 UC (487 IC / 3596 CE), its command was granted to recently-promoted Rear Admiral Yang Wen-li. The flagship of the 13th Fleet was the Hyperion.
Following the Alliance's devastating defeat at the Battle of Astarte, the 13th fleet was formed out of the survivors of the 2nd, 4th and 6th Fleets, supplemented with new-recruits. Composed of both newly constructed warships and vessels still bearing damage from the Astarte fiasco, the 13th Fleet was only about one-half the typical size of a Free Planets Alliance fleet, numbering only 6,400 vessels and 700,000 personnel at its inception. (LOGH: 'Birth of the 13th Fleet')
Its original command group included Rear Admiral Yang Wen-li as Fleet Commander, Commodore Edwin Fischer as Deputy Fleet Commander, Captain Murai as Chief of Staff and Commander Fyodor Patrichev as Deputy Chief of Staff. (LOGH: 'The Rosen Ritter')
The Seventh Battle of Iserlohn
Recognising that his newly formed 13th Fleet could not take the fortress directly through firepower or numbers, Yang Wen-li resolved to use subterfuge.
On 14 May 796 UC (487 IC / 3596 CE), the Rosen Ritter flew the damaged captured Imperial cruiser Bremen to the fortress, pretending to be wounded Imperial forces. Yang Wen-li drew the Iserlohn fleet away from the fortress with decoys, and advanced towards Iserlohn whilst the Imperial fleet was too far away to maintain contact.
The 13th Fleet then began maneuvering back and forth just outside the range of Iserlohn's main cannon, the Thor Hammer. By this time, Walter von Schönkopf had docked and demanded to see the fortress's commander immediately, claiming to have access to vital intelligence concerning an Alliance invasion of the Iserlohn Corridor.
Iserlohn's commander, Admiral Thoma von Stockhausen, was confused by the odd movements of Yang's fleet. The Rosen Ritter infiltrators, brought to the fortress command room, indicated that the strange movements were part of the Alliance's plan to seize the fortress. The Rosen Ritter were then allowed close to Stockhausen, enabling Schönkopf to tackle the admiral and hold him hostage. Within seconds, the Rosen Ritter infiltrators seized complete control over Iserlohn's command centre. Stockhausen surrendered, and the Rosen Ritter were able to lock down the fortress and disable all of its weapon systems.
Yang was able to bring the 13th Fleet inside the fortress unmolested; he then sent a message to the Imperial fleet commander, Admiral Hans Dietrich von Seeckt, informing him that he had occupied Iserlohh Fortress, and asking for Seeckt to surrender. Of course, although Yang's fleet had access to the fortress, and the Rosen Ritter were in control of the command centre, the Imperial forces stationed within were still active. Seeckt's staff officer, Paul von Oberstein, advised Seeckt to attack the fortress, correctly determining that Iserlohn was not yet under Yang's control. Seeckt, however, ignored Oberstein's advice, and kept his fleet a safe distance away from the fortress to observe the situation.
This gave Yang and the Rosen Ritter ample time to complete their take-over of Iserlohn. By the time Seeckt realised he had been tricked, Iserlohn had fallen to Yang already. Seeckt belatedly ordered the Imperial fleet to attack, and Yang used the massive destructive power of the Thor Hammer to rout the Imperial forces, destroying more than 1,000 Imperial ships with a single shot. Yang again sent a message to Admiral Seeckt, requesting that he either surrender or withdraw from battle.
Admiral Seeckt responded, saying, 'You do not understand a soldier's heart: our code will not allow us to endure living with dishonour. Dying to fulfil our honour, that is our code. For the glory of the Kaiser, all ships will charge to die in an honourable defeat.' Seeckt then ordered the Imperial fleet to advance; in an effort to prevent excessive casualties, Yang targeted Seeckt's flagship with the Thor Hammer and destroyed it (along with several nearby Imperial ships). With Seeckt dead, the Imperial fleet withdrew, thus ending the Seventh Battle of Iserlohn in a major victory for the Free Planets Alliance.
Six times before, the Alliance had attempted to take Iserlohn from the Empire, and six times before they had failed. Yang managed to take the fortress with the smallest fleet out of the seven total attacks and did so without a single casualty. For this, he became the greatest hero in the Free Planets Alliance, earning the nicknames 'Miracle Yang' and 'Yang the Magician'. (LOGH: 'Iserlohn Captured!')
Invasion of the Imperial Territories
The 13th Fleet was later reinforced into a full-fledged fleet and assigned to the Free Planets Alliance invasion of the Empire. The fleet along with a force of 7 other numbered fleets and comprising around 30 million men and 200,000 spaceships were under the overall command of Fleet Admiral Lassalle Lobos, with Admiral Dwight Greenhill as second-in-command. Most of the field commanders including recently promoted Vice Admiral Yang were apprehensive of such ill conceived offensive but the political objectives of the sitting members of the High Council overruled sound military strategy. (LOGH: 'Invasion of the Imperial Territory')
The campaign started with quick advances through the Imperial territories that bordered the exit of the Iserlohn Fortress. The advances suddenly stopped due to the rapid expenditures of supplies that included supplying the newly liberated Imperial citizens and the lengthy supply lines created by the initial unopposed breakthrough. This weakness was exposed when the Imperial Fleet attacked a poorly escorted supply fleet task with resupplying the invasion force. In the Imperial counterattack, the 13th Fleet managed to avoid the disastrous fate experienced by the other Alliance fleets. Vice Admiral Yang gained the advantage against the Kempff Fleet in the Battle of Jafnhár and implemented a strategy of breaking contact with the enemy in order to regroup with other forces to present a unified opposition. Fleet Admiral Lobos (sitting in his headquarters in Iserlohn Fortress) ignored the advice of his Chief of Staff and surviving fleet commanders and decided to regroup all surviving fleets in the Amritsar system, resulting in the Battle of Amritsar. Lobos deployed his forces around the system star, with the 8th Fleet in the centre and the 5th and 13th Fleets on its flanks. The battle turned into a rout. The 8th Fleet lost its flagship and the minefield deployed to protect the fleet's rear was penetrated by Imperial Fleet reinforcements. It was only the rear guard action of the 13th Fleet that secured the retreat of the remains of the 8th Fleet and the battered 5th Fleet under Vice Admiral Alexandre Bewcock. (LOGH: 'The Battle of Amritsar Starzone', 'New Trends')
- Yang's command of the 13th Fleet was unusual: despite his promotion to Rear Admiral, Alliance numbered Fleets were typically only commanded by officers ranked Vice Admiral or higher. Yang's command was justified with the relatively small size of the fleet, and possibly his status as a 'hero' of the Alliance as well. Following the successful taking of Iserlohn, the 13th Fleet was rearranged as a full fleet, and Yang was promoted to the suitable rank of Vice Admiral.
The 13th Fleet flagship, Hyperion, was a second line battleship from the generation of ships preceding the Ajax class, and its design dates from the 760 UC (451 IC / 3560 CE) era. The Hyperion was originally assigned as flagship of the 3rd Border System Security Squadron but was hurriedly transferred to Heinessen, upon the decision to form the 13th Fleet. A rushed modernisation and refit were undertaken. The pennant number was meant to be 1301 as the flagship of the 13th Fleet but it was not changed due to the limited time available for refitting, so it went on to capture Iserlohn Fortress under its old pennant number of 144M. After the fame associated with capturing Iserlohn Fortress, it was decided to keep the old pennant number permanently. (Fleet File Collection Vol.3)
The use of a hurriedly refurbished old battleship as flagship instead of an Ajax-class flagship, the standard flagship for a numbered Fleet, and the lack of a standard pennant number further highlights the 13th Fleet's origins as an ad-hoc formation formed at short notice.
|Free Planets Alliance||1st Fleet • 2nd Fleet • 3rd Fleet • 4th Fleet • 5th Fleet • 6th Fleet • 7th Fleet • 8th Fleet • 9th Fleet • 10th Fleet • 11th Fleet • 12th Fleet • 13th Fleet • 14th Fleet • 15th Fleet • Yang Fleet|
|Galactic Empire||Black Lancers • Braunschweig Fleet • Eisenach Fleet • Fahrenheit Fleet • Kempff Fleet • Lohengramm Fleet • Merkatz Fleet • Mittermeyer Fleet • Müller Fleet • Reuenthal Fleet • Wahlen Fleet|