Battle of the Veylo Channel

Jump to navigation Jump to search
Battle of the Veylo Channel
Part of the Divide War
Syaran light cruiser RS Valorous Chronicler during the battle.
Date30 September - 2 October 1916
Veylo Channel
Result Cacertian Victory
Cacertian Empire Republic of Syara
Commanders and leaders
Lea Davion Filip Kostadinov
Units involved
Cacertian Grand Fleet Navy of the Syaran Republic
12 Battleships
15 cruisers
36 destroyers
6 battleships
12 cruisers
26 destroyers
12 submarines
Casualties and losses
1 battleship sunk
1 battleship damaged
1 cruiser sunk
2 cruiser damaged
2 destroyers sunk
4 destroyers damaged
1 battleship sunk
2 battleships damaged
1 cruiser sunk
2 cruisers damaged
3 destroyers sunk
2 submarines sunk

The Battle of the Veylo Channel was a naval battle fought between the Cacertian Empire and the Republic of Syara from 30 September to 2 October 1916. The Cacertian Grand Fleet of the Cacertian Royal Navy engaged the Navy of the Syaran Republic in the Veylo Channel, between the island of Chryse and the coast of Makedon. The Cacertians were able to force the Syaran Navy to retreat, but were unable to commit to the decisive battle their doctrine called for, while the unexpected loss of the HMS Lea Colina was a blow to Cacertian morale.


Following the commencement of hostilities in the Divide War, the Cacertian Grand Fleet had expected to engage and decisively defeat the Navy of the Syaran Republic in a series of direct fleet engagements, where Cacertian superiority in gunnery, command and control, and ship design was expected to deliver an easy victory. Earlier on 17 September, the Grand Fleet under Admiral Lea Davion had engaged and defeated the Syarans in the Slaveiko Bay. After waiting for a counter-attack or a request for a ceasefire that never came, Davion sailed west and lightly shelled the city of Lira, causing minor damage and inflicting several casualties. On 27 September the fleet came under attack from a small flotilla of Syaran submarines, which did no major damage, but were able to escape unharmed.

Uncertain as to the disposition of the Syaran fleet and unaware of its intentions, the Cacertians sailed west into the Veylo Channel. The progress of the Grand Fleet was slowed considerably by the prolific usage of mines by the Syarans, coupled with frequent attacks by Syaran destroyers and submarines, who were often able to escape from counter-fire thanks to Cacertian inexperience with targeting such small, fast ships. Especially concerning to the Cacertians was the extensive use of torpedoes by the Syarans, which were of noticeably longer range and faster speeds than their Cacertian counterparts. By 30 September the Grand Fleet had sailed just outside the Zeliat Bay, where Davion had expected to find the Syaran fleet in waiting. Forewarned by their destroyers and scouting submarines however, the Syarans had withdrawn further into the channel, forcing the Grand Fleet to pursue.

Having already been forced to deal with the abundance of naval mines and asymmetric tactics of the Syarans, Davion ordered her fleet to split up into more manageable portions, with her taking personal control of a task force of 12 battleships, 15 cruisers, and 36 destroyers to lead the way into the Channel.


In the late afternoon of 30 September, Davion's forward fleet passed by the western edge of the Zeliat Bay approximately 15 kilometers from the coast of Chryse. Spearheaded by a forward screen of destroyers ahead of her battleship line, Davion made contact with the Syaran fleet at approximately 16:15 when her lead destroyer reported sighting the Syaran battleship Salvation in Purpose. Davion had 18 destroyers in front of her battle line, organized into six triads of three destroyers each. Per doctrine, they were supposed to act as escorts for capital ships. Davion had arrayed her cruisers along the flanks of her battleships, positioning them so they could extend the battlespace and engage on the edges of the enemy fleet, with the overall objective of keeping the Syarans together in a single group where the Cacertian gunners could concentrate their fire.

This deployment reflected Cacertian doctrine well, but also reflected the shortcomings of the decisive battle doctrine. By placing so much emphasis on the battleships while relegating cruisers to a secondary role, it wasn't uncommon for Cacertian admirals to neglect the full usage of their cruisers. Not helping this matter was that many Cacertian cruiser designs had been neglected since the advent of the dreadnought, and thus enjoyed little advantage over their Syaran counterparts. One bigger problem was destroyers; as a navy centered around battleships, the larger warships often received priority assignment of officers and personnel allocation. As a result, destroyers were often manned by less experienced and capable crews and commanders.

Syaran destroyers in particular were a major source of trouble; their torpedoes outranged the gunnery capabilities of Cacertian destroyer crews, while they were also too fast and maneuverable to be reliably targeted by battleship batteries.

Evening Action 30 September

Admiral Lea Davion aboard the HMS Dana Baldini, the most modern warship in the Cacertian Royal Navy, ordered her ships to turn to port in a south-western direction, intent on bringing her firepower to bear on the Syaran fleet. But a torpedo volley by the Syaran destroyer force scattered her escorts, leaving her battle line vulnerable to Syaran attack. Pressing their advantage the Syarans did just that, their destroyers unleashing a second wave of torpedoes in the direction of the Cacertian battleships. Davion again ordered a hard turn to port, intent on minimizing the speed differential of potential torpedo impacts. The maneuver successfully avoided any hits by the Syarans, but also meant the battle line was out of position to target the Syaran body. Davion ordered her ships to come about, only to receive word that the Syaran fleet was itself withdrawing.

Frustrated at the possibility of the Syarans escaping again, Davion ordered her fleet to sail south-west with the intention of swinging back north-west, splitting her battleships into two groups of six. Davion took control of her group consisting of her battleship the Dana Baldini, along with the Roberto Lenzi, the Rosita Ambrosi, the Vasco di Cesare, the Elda Saraceni, and the Siriano Vetro, along with nine cruisers and 12 destroyers while the remainder of the fleet under Admiral Ateia Iusta headed due west to pursue the Syarans. Davion likely expected the Syarans to try to feint a retreat before swinging around and striking her forces from the south.

The move however had been anticipated by the Syarans, who deployed the heavy cruiser Valorous Salvation and a flotilla of destroyers and submarines to screen the southern flank of the main Syaran fleet. Once more Syaran torpedo volleys were thrown against the Cacertian line, this time finding their mark; the Fugre-class Cruiser Antonia was hit, though she remained afloat. Not to be denied Davion ordered her battleships to fire back as soon as they were able. Shells peppered the Syaran flotilla, doing moderate damage to the Valorous Chronicler. This time the Cacertian destroyers performed better, sinking the Syaran submarine Sermon. Breaking contact, the Syarans steamed north, to reunite with their fleet. Davion ordered her forces to give chase, but in the rapidly approaching twilight she elected not to pursue.

Action on 1 October

Neither side chose to engage in the night, the Syarans wary of their lackluster night fighting skills and the Cacertians concerned over lurking Syaran submarines and naval mines. Admiral Iusta had attempted to pursue the Syaran main body but had been unable to keep them engaged while simultaneously dealing with Syaran mines. The move however confused the Syarans, who hadn't identified Davion and Iusta's forces as two separate groups and instead assumed they were operating as one. As a result Fleet Admiral Janevska believed the entire Cacertian force was withdrawing further east, and ordered his fleet to sail slowly in the same direction, trying to shadow the Cacertian fleet.

Residue of early morning fog and low hanging clouds denied both sides clear visibility, leading to no major engagements throughout the morning. Around 1000 Iusta drifted her fleet south, wary of surprise Syaran attacks by subs and torpedo-boats operating out of small coves along the southern coast of Chryse. This maneuver ended up moving the Cacertians into the path of the Syaran fleet, which spotted the Cacertians just before noon. For the first time in the war the Syarans had the advantage; Janevska and Iusta had an equal number of battleships, but the Syarans had twice as many cruisers, more destroyers and more submarines.

Janevska's ship, the Basileus-class battleship Serenity in Salvation, opened fire first, followed shortly by the Syara-class battleship Shadows and Light. Before long they were joined by the other Syaran battleships, followed by the cruisers and destroyers. The Cacertians were soon under withering Syaran shell fire; Iusta attempted to form her battle line to deliver a counter-strike but repeated volleys of torpedoes and interdiction from the Syaran cruisers made this difficult. Despite their tactical superiority the Syarans struggled to press home their advantage; inexperience with large scale fleet action quickly revealed itself, as Syaran squadrons committed unnecessary overlap of fields of fire, with some Cacertian ships remaining untargeted.

Despite these flaws the Syarans still found their mark on more than one occasion. Within the first 15 minutes of the fight Iusta had already lost one destroyer sunk and two damaged, and the cruiser Palessari was hit and badly damaged. Further disaster occurred when the Fugre-class armored cruiser Katia was hit by two torpedoes and rapidly foundered. This was followed up by repeated hits on the Helena Davion-class battleship HMS Joana Venier, which began to list to starboard though remained afloat.

The prompt arrival of Davion's fleet suddenly changed the dynamic of the battle and turned the tide of the engagement. Davion, once informed of the fighting between Iusta and the Syaran fleet, immediately sailed north, surprising the Syarans by appearing to their south. Suddenly the roles were reversed, and it was the Syarans who found themselves under tremendous fire from both sides. Merciless Cacertian fire began pouring on the Syarans, with immediate results. First to go were two destroyers, the Renowned and the Jubilant, who were sundered by 305mm shells from the Cacertian main battle line. Not long after the armored cruiser Ethereal Bonds was hit hard and began listing to starboard. She capsized and foundered after less than 15 minutes.

Suddenly in a terrible position, Janevska gave the only permissible course of action: break contact by steaming as fast as possible. Unable to maneuver north or south and a reverse to the west infeasible, the only hope the Syarans had was to sail east, hopefully conducting a hard turn sometime before they met the rest of the Grand Fleet that was sailing closer to the mouth of the Veylo Channel. The Cacertians gave chase, resulting in a prolonged engagement as the two sides sailed east, the Syarans caught between the broadsides of the two Cacertian fleets. Things continued to go poorly for the Syarans. The destroyer Arbiter was hit and sank, and the battleship Child of Nature lost her forward most turret.

The worst was yet to come. Not long after the Arbiter slipped under, the Basileus-class battleship Gracious and Gallant was hit repeatedly by Cacertian dreadnought shelling. Two shells damaged her propulsion and steering, she started pivoting south away from the rest of the fleet and closer to the Cacertians under Davion. Unable to rectify the course, she was hit 11 more times, the final few shells igniting her magazine and ammunition. The resulting fireball tore through her deck, destroying most of her superstructure and her turrets. She sat in the water before sinking by the stern in less than three minutes. If any of her crew survived the sinking, none were picked up out of the water.

Just as the battle seeming to be turning irrecoverably in their favor, the Cacertians suffered another blow. Holding part of Isuta's battle line was the HMS Lea Colina, a pre-dreadnought Martinella de Calco-class battleship. The former flagship of the Cacertian Royal Navy, she had been rendered outdated by the HMS Eerika Waterly-Davion but was still a popular ship among the fleet. Not long after the Gracious and Gallant went under, a flotilla of four destroyers led by the cruiser Determined Follower launched a torpedo attack on the Cacertian battle line. The pre-dreadnought was struck twice in rapid succession amidship and the subsequent explosion tore through her decks. She sank in less than two minutes, more than 80% of her crew going down with her.

The shocking loss of the former pride of the Royal Navy was quickly seized upon by the Syarans, who unleashed volley after volley of cannon fire and torpedoes on Iusta's fleet. The Cacertian Admiral was forced to break contact, needing time to reorganize her now ruptured battle line and regroup her forces; she peeled off north, giving the Syarans the breathing room to pivot their own path away from Davion's fleet. Refusing to allow the Syarans to escape, Davion pressed hard against the Syarans, but with their northern flank now temporarily secure, the Syarans were able to screen their south with destroyers and cruisers, forcing Davion to break and reform her line numerous times. Despite her best efforts the Syarans were able to retain just enough pressure to prevent Davion from bringing her full firepower to bear; it was a frustrating engagement for the Cacertians, consisting mostly of constantly conducting the same repeated maneuvers again and again.

By the evening this tactic had put enough space between the two fleets that Janevska felt confident enough to execute a hard turn to starboard, sailing south then south-west, cutting across Davion's avenue of advance. With the sun setting Davion attempted to keep in contact and was able to maintain visibility on the fleet, and ordered Iusta to conduct a turn as well to try to cut off the Syarans as they maneuvered. But as night fell harassment from Syaran submarines impeded both Cacertian fleets. Iusta essentially reversed course and headed west, but during the night Janevska reversed his fleet then cut behind Davion's wake before turning north-west. Davion pursued but in the course of the night action lost direct contact with the Syarans, disrupted by Syaran submarine attacks that ended with the sinking of the Syaran sub Ordained.

2 October

Around midnight Iusta received word the Syarans had swung around behind Davion and were heading north, but unclear indications of their exact distance and heading meant that her fleet sailed too far north; a 25 kilometer gap between the two fleets kept the Syarans safe. Davion wanted to keep up the pursuit but by now her fleet was becoming ragged and stretched out, with the tight battle lines deemed necessary for victory increasingly hard to keep. At daybreak the Cacertians regained contact with the Syarans, but critically Iusta was still out of position and too far behind. Davion exchanged salvos with the Syarans, damaging the cruiser Expedient Messenger but failing to slow the fleet. By the late morning the Syarans were once again slipping away and, having reached the edge of the channel, Davion was reluctant to go further west owing to a lack of intelligence on the positions of the rest of the Syaran fleet. By 1000 she ordered her fleet to break contact and regroup with Iusta, ending the battle.


Unlike the battle of the Slaveiko Bay, the end result of the Veylo Channel engagements were far more equal. The Syarans had lost one battleship, one cruiser, two destroyers, and two submarines sunk in exchange for sinking one Cacertian battleship, one cruiser, and three destroyers. Another four destroyers and one cruiser had been knocked out of action. Although the battle had ended more or less in a Cacertian victory by chasing the Syarans out of the Veylo, it had demonstrated that the Cacertian Grand Fleet did not hold superiority in all matters, and was in fact outclassed in several key factors. Torpedoes were especially worrisome now, with the Syarans having demonstrated their devastating effect and their ability to interfere with Cacertian maneuvers with ease.

Davion followed up the battle by returning east to bombard the city of Sena. The subsequent shelling of the city was, by contrast to the earlier bombardment of Lira, intended to cause significant damage. Counter-fire from Syaran coastal batteries, coupled with harassment from more Syaran destroyers and coastal craft, led to the loss of another pre-dreadnought battleship on the 10th on October. With still no sight of the Syaran fleet from the observation airships of the Cacertian Aerial Fleet, Davion sailed west again through the Veylo Channel to shell Khorzany on 14 October. Meeting no resistance, the Grand Fleet then sailed to Nemyta and bombarded the city, inflicting around 1,500 casualties. Before the Grand Fleet could move elsewhere, Davion was contacted by her aunt Grand Admiral Cianna Davion in Cacerta who informed her negotiations had restarted with Zovahr and that she was not to take further action until informed otherwise. Lea Davion took this time to reorganize her forces, dispatching damaged ships for repairs and rerouting wounded personnel out of the fleet back for Arkoenn.

Davion would engage the Navy of the Syaran Republic twice more by the end of the year, in the Bay of Ruchalas and later in the Sanguine Sea.