Battleship Era‎ > ‎Fire When Ready‎ > ‎

Battle of Cape Bojeador

Since a friend of mine had bought the Great White Fleet fully painted and wanted to use it, I made up a whole 1908 Japanese-American War so we could play it against my own Japanese pre-dreadnought fleet.

The narrative goes like this:
The Japanese Empire, desperate for resources, hatches a plan to expand the empire further by conquering the lightly-defended Philippines in a lightning invasion. The theory is that this ought to be easy to defend by blockade, cruiser warfare and a strong fleet-in-being, because the nearest full-scale US bases are 7500 miles across the Pacific on the west coast of North America, and the minor supply depots in Guam and Oahu can be easily reduced and watched closely by long-range cruisers. The US Navy is already more powerful, but the hope is that it will take a year to organize it for a full-scale counter-invasion, and the US dreadnoughts under construction will not be ready until 1909. The experts are certain a peace agreement can be negotiated from a position of strength once the Philippines have been consolidated under Japanese rule.

Unbeknownst to the Japanese authorities, the gathering of Roosevelt's Great White Fleet has already begun on the western seaboard. It will be mere months before the US Navy is ready to set sail with a battlefleet, not a year as anticipated.

May: Japanese surprise attack on the Philippines. US warships in Manila are sunk, Luzon invaded. Manila falls in two weeks. Outrage, pandemonium, and seething anger in Washington D.C. get a declaration of war passed quickly.
June: Luzon conquered. Invasions of other islands begun. The Great White Fleet is moved to San Francisco Bay and a counter-invasion army is gathered there by rail. The requisition of colliers and transports begins in earnest.
September: The Great White Fleet, now in wartime gray, sets out across the Pacific. Togo rebases the main Japanese battlefleet at Formosa in anticipation of moving north or south as circumstances demand.
October: The US battlefleet, escorting Marine, Army and National Guard brigades in transports departs Guam en route to Luzon. Japanese cruisers shadow it all the way, but are unable to penetrate the superior screen of US cruisers to attack the convoy.

The stage is set for a fleet battle, which I decided to game as a pitched naval battle off Cape Bojeador at the extreme north end of Luzon. The OOB I came up with used only the ships we had painted, and ignored the transports and colliers. I collected merchant vessels to use as transports and supply ships, and also the Japanese semi-dreadnoughts of the Katori class, Satsuma class, and Kawachi class for alternate versions of this scenario and/or to allow the phony war to continue in the face of battleship losses.

I also thought it might be fun to game the forlorn defense of Manila by a couple US monitors against a full Japanese invasion fleet. There would be no way for the US to "win", but some help could be gained by causing sufficient damage to major Japanese warships.

I. Craig Nichols,
Dec 9, 2016, 1:24 PM