About a week ago, Concord, in name of the 4 navies sent out a call to arms, to help the nations defend against an unnamed large threat to the cluster. This caused alot of speculation due to the timing and the scale. The only times the 4 nations banded together was to put a stop to Sansha's Nation advance, so rumors where high of a new large scale attack from them. On the other side, people believed it was related to the mysterious explosion in Syndicate, that it was an advanced weapon tested by a piratefaction and had to be stopped.
It quickly became apparent that the call to arms was a great succes. As the day of the gathering came closer, pilots of various backgrounds travelled to the two meetingpoints. Sarum Prime was the chosen system for the Amarr and their Caldari allies, Meves was the chosen rallypoint for the Gallente and their Minmatar friends.
As times passed, capsuleers numbers increased greatly, showing the great support they were willing to lend to the 4 nations in order to defend it's population from harm. By the time the navy commanders arrived for the briefing, thousands of capsuleers were present to offer their support, an overwhelming number!
The briefing, and troublesome traffic controllers
As everyone gathered, the navy commanders informed they would visit several systems, looking for clues and investigations and to throw off possible enemies. Two fleets were formed, one in Meves under Gallente/Minmatar control, and the other in Sarum prime, under Caldari/Amarr control. Initial destination systems were set, but as the fleets started to move, a large problem became apparent.... Traffic control wasn't informed of the huge additional load of thousands of capsuleers using the jumpgates...
Jumps were cancelled or placed in queue as capsuleers tried to stay with the Navy Commanders, who didn't pay any attention to the problems caused by the overloaded traffic controllers. This caused the fleets to string out, and after a few new systems were called for visits, the fleet got scattered across a large part of the cluster.
By now, it became apparent that the Navies didn't care much for the massed capsuleer support... Yet many choose to go on, if not for the Navies, at least for the people they're supposed to defend from the threat...
And then the final destination was given. For the Amarr/Caldari Fleet, they would go to Curse, the RMOC-W system, to take out a clandestine Angel research station. The second fleet, under Gallente/Minmatar command, would go to Syndicate, to take out an illegal Serpentis research station in the 8V-SJJ system.
The Angels are waiting...
As the target system is called for the Amarr/Caldari fleet, the commanders flew directly to RMOC-W at high speed, without waiting for the capsuleers, avoiding the whole traffic congestion at gates, leaving the supportfleet to fend for themselves. Despite being scattered across the region and left behind by their Navy Commanders, they decide to push on. As they enter Curse, a nasty suprise awaits the first arrivals. The Nullsec powerblocs await them, their fleets to slaughter the barely prepared and scattered capsuleerfleets. As the capsuleers trickle in and getting blown up, some make it through to the next gatecamp to die.
A fleet accompanied by Wedgetail manages to reach the target system by a combination of skill and luck. They noticed the Navy commanders had attacked the Angel installation by themselves, without any form of backup. With this action, they had alerted every Angel combat ship in the region to reinforce the station's defenses. Wedgetail's fleet rushed in to assist, but the Angels were just too strong... All thanks to the foolish attack of those Commanders... As the attack was repelled, reports flooded in that the Angels had evacuated the station, securing their researchdata and scientists and had activated the self-destruct sequence, to prevent anything valuable to fall in Navy hands.
It was clear the Amarr/caldari side of the operation was a failure... Maybe the Minmatar/Gallente fleet fared better?
Friend or Foe? Confusion at the Serpentis Station!
As the Gallente & Minmatar commander confirm the target destination is the Serpentis research station in the syndicate system 8V-SJJ, they immediate set course for the system, avoiding the traffic control shenagians for jumpgates. And here the same story as above, the capsuleers were left behind, fending for themselves to help. Many decided to push on, part in revenge for the destruction of Rilnais by the Serpentis.
As the first fleets enter Syndicate, they face off against the Nullsec powerbloc residing there, albeit not on the scale as the Amarr/Caldari fleet encountered in Curse. Quite some manage to pass the Nullsec defenses and reach the Serpentis researchstation, where the Gallente Commander already attacked the pirate station, alerting the Serpentis defense fleet with his actions.
However, the Minmatar Navy Commander apparently waited for the capsuleer backup as he was parked near the gate. All hope of competence was shattered however when the Minmatar Commander bubbled the capsuleerfleet and fled, to assist his Gallente ally. The capsuleers struggled to get out the bubble, cursing the clueless Minmatar Commander.
Despite all this, many capsuleers still proceeded to engage the Serpentis, even managing to destroy a part of the science-station! A quick scan of the wreckage showed Vindicators and even unknown Serpentis implants among the items that could be retrieved.
But the Serpentis resistance proved too much, pushing back the Capsuleer fleet, taking out many of it's fleetcommanders.
In the end, they had no option but to withdraw and watch as the Serpentis destroyed the drifting assets and activated the stations self-destruct after they secured their research and scientists.... So here the fleet failed as well to accomplish its objective....
Wait? What? Nobody told us!
By now, both fleets had failed to complete their objective, prevent the pirates to secure their research. However, the Navy comms remained silent on this, causing hundreds of capsuleers to die for no reason in gatecamps layed out by the Nullsec powerblocs. Even worse, thousands were still enroute to the targetsystems, struggling with an overworked and disgruntled Gate Traffic Control departement that did not recieve any info for special clearance for these fleets.
Slowly but surely, conflicting reports about the piratestations being destroyed started to spread among the fleets. As the reports spread, more and more people managed to warn their fellow pilots to halt the advance to the targetsystems. Still, alot of confusion caused death, as official validation from the Navies was not given, instead capsuleers had to rely on people they didn't know.
Once it was clear the navies weren't responding, and the pirates were gloating, many fleets aborted their travels, checking for fleetmembers who went ahead and attempt to warn them on time. In many cases, the warning came too late... Several hundreds still poured into the targetsystems, only to be greeted by a hostile fleet and a failed objective...
The aftermath... Conclusions.
Well.... what can we say? It was a total disaster. Hundreds of ships lost for no reason, the pirates being able to continue their dangerous research at an unknown location and failure of clear communications from the Navy Commanders resulted in the majority of the fleets getting scattered across the regions and a substantial part getting blown up in gatecamps, without support.
But what caused this failure on such scale? Several different issues have lead to this... Lets sum them up and explain:
- Long travelroutes from the stagingsystem, with detours to far-away systems before the real targetsystem got called, at no point, the navy commanders slowed down to let people catch up.
>> This caused the large caspuleerfleet to get dispersed across the cluster, in an attempt to keep up, making them easy pickings in hostile space.
-Gate Traffic Control was not informed by Concord or the navies to give special clearance for the large amount of capsuleers.
>> This caused major delays in gatejumps, making catching up practically impossible, and got majority of the fleet stuck in systems long enough for the operation to be over before they could even assist.
- No assets deployed by the navies except the commanders.
>> For a call to arms to defend the cluster from a great threat; it's notable that the navies had deployed no assets to assist the capsuleers in their daunting task. They even went so far as to let the commanders attack the stations before the capsuleers even arrived, giving the pirates ample time to organize a defense against the approaching capsuleerfleet.
On the contrary, the Pirates had contributed serious assets in the defense of their stations, entire fleets of Machariels for the Angels, and Vindicators for the Serpentis proved to be a formidable opponent for those who managed to arrive at their destination.
-Sending capsuleers straight through a Nullsec Warzone riddled with chokepoints.
>> Since some time, Curse has seen serious fighting between the powerblocs in Null. This meant they were ready to defend their turf from any form of aggression with fleets on standby. Without any form of assistance, subcapital fleets entering Curse were doomed to die at the hands of these experienced combatfleets. The amount of chokepoints, preventing using alternative routes added to this.
-Almost non-existent communications from the Navies.
>> The lack of communications caused the fleets to get spread out in the region as the new patrolsystems were not always announced clearly. It also caused needless death at gatecamps as helpful capsuleers tried to reach the piratestations.
Also the lack of confirmation that the operation had failed and was aborted contributed to a few hundred extra shiplosses and their crews.
In short, this operation has baffled many capsuleers in how amateurish it was handled by the Navy Commanders and Concord. A closer stagingsystem, some more comms or support from the navies or Concord would have gone a long way in preventing the pirates evacuating their stations succesfully and would also avoided so many needless death..