While the Japanese submarines continued to pick off the remaining Russian patrol boats in the East, the Japanese fleet moved to intercept the incoming Russian fleet. This time around, the Russians had, as mentioned before, made a concentrated effort to keep their ships supplied; and capital ships were escorted by large convoys meant to keep them refueled and operational during the long voyage. The Russians had also not skimped on destroyer escorts this time around.
The Japanese, in turn, made it a point to hunt these convoys down. On the 13th of August, I-107 hit the jackpot. She sighted a massive Russian convoy, a hundred miles to the south-west of Sumatra. More importantly, she spotted the ship the convoy was assigned to: a Russian capital ship; either a super-Dread, or a battlecruiser.
Unfortunately for the Russians, Kongo
were less than thirty miles away, escorted by Yaeyama
and her destroyer squadron.
Time for some pirating.
At 08:25 of the 14th of August, the Japanese ships crested the horizon; and opened fire at extreme long range. The ITMS signatures from the convoy were diffuse enough to confuse the targeting systems and so no hits were scored until 08:45, when Yaeyama
charged the Russian transports like a shark. The Japanese task force closed the range even further; and for the first time the ITMS systems got a lock on the escorting Russian BC.
left behind to finish off the convoy, the Japanese battlecruisers charge down the Russian ship. Their ITMS systems are still calculating target solutions and the Russian scores first blood, with an overpenetrating hit on Kongo's
The Japanes are not fazed and fire back: eighteen 17-inch rifles gouge overpressure craters into the ocean surface. Seconds later, the lookouts report at least four hits on the enemy. And as she turns to evade upcoming fire, they get enough of a silhouette to identify her.
She's the Rymnik
, the first and last remaining ship of her class. All of her younger sisters have been sunk. She's outmassing her opponents, but she's slower and can only bring six rifles to bear, as her Y Turret is, apparently, jammed.
The Japanese ships proceed to demonstrate why speed is king. They slot onto the Russian's tail, where she can only bring a single turret to bear and commence pursuit. As they close the range, they occastionally unshadow their rear batteries and fire broadsides.
It's as unfair a fight as they get. For every two shells that the Rymnik
can put in their direction, the Japanese ships can return twelve to eighteen, depending on their heading. And the Russian ship cannot outrun them or outmaneuver them.
It's a massacre. The Russian DDs attempt to intercept the Japanese ships, lay smokescreens and allow the Rymnik
to escape, but Kongo
trust their secondaries and torpedo protection and charge them down. The destroyers scatter and are promptly blown out of the water.
And the Japanese ships get a good look at the Rymnik
. Almost an hour into the engagement, she's a flaming wreck. Her A Turret is a mass of twisted metal and her Y Turret is still inoperable. She's listing hard to starboard, her decks are on fire and her speed is down to twenty knots.
The Japanese DDs close in for the kill. Fumizuki
launches her fish and disengages; a torpedo strikes the Rymnik
at 09:48, exactly an hour after the Yaeyama's
attack on the convoy.
There is a moment of peace; and then the entirety of the Rymnik's
secondary batteries on that side of the ship go up. Secondary explosions travel the lenght of the ship. Her turret mountings buckle; the top of B turret cracks under the pressure and a gout of flame reaches towards the heavens. The ship goes not break up, but she just...dies, drifting to a stop.
The surviving Russian sailors are evacuated. A quick inspection of the Rymnik
deems it to be unsalvageable.
And I-107 is called upon to sink the wreck.
Time to end this war.
The Japanese had had enough. The Russians were brave men, but they had to be brought to heel, quickly and decisively. The Japanese submariners were instructed to proceed with unrestricted warfare. Anything flying the Russian ensign was a valid target; and no warning would be given to the crews.
Practically overnight, Russian shipping received an unprecedented blow. The Japanese submarines just would not stop
. The Russian populace, already in considerable distress thanks to the new regime's...questionable domestic policy decisions, came to know true hardship over the upcoming weeks.
The Russian submariners tried to strike back - and three out of four times, whenever they sank a ship, the attacking submarine quickly was sent to join it.
Their raiders were more successful - for a given value of successful.
The Japanese were...more
successful, it must be said.
And oh, did the Russians feel it. In late October, with the dread Russian winter approaching quickly, the spectre of starvation loomed over the Russian populace.Break
, for God's sake.