The Steel Aegis
"Captain, the Endless Rainbow has managed to free us! Hearken Midnight has its hooks attached to us, and is helping tow us out!" "Well, what are we waiting for?! All thrusters full forward tilt, full power!" Captain Armides had the Steel Aegis churn its damaged insides, but she would still move. She would still fly, away from a near-certain death and to freedom. "Fire control, keep those tendrils off of us!"The SHS Steel Aegis was an Ibalin-class supercarrier that formed the core of the Sherlandic 2nd Aerocombat Carrier Group. The first of her class, the Steel Aegis was considered a breakthrough vehicle for the Kingdom of Sherland with respect to non-ethereal aerofortresses, and is considered an engineering marvel. The Steel Aegis would be the center in the debacle called the Steel Aegis Disaster, in which an unknown ethereal entity ambushed and severely damaged the Aegis in Etherspace, crippling her and warranting reinforcements in the form of Battlegroup Altis of the Mithambian Aeroservices Branch, and the 3rd Battlegroup of the Cleolinian Air Force - both of whom took extensive losses in a bid to rescue the Aegis. Although the Aegis was able to return to Sherland under her own power, the cost of repair was considered disproportionate, and the Aegis was decommissioned and subsequently scuttled. The Steel Aegis's wreckage rests at the bottom of the Bay of Kasil, where it provides the foundations of an artificial reef. The waters surrounding the wreckage are considered an ocean sanctuary and a memorial ground, with floating lanterns commemorating the servicepersons and officers who served and died alongside the Aegis in the climax and twilight of her service life.
DevelopmentWith the debut of the Marb-class battleships of the Mithambe Aeroservices Branch and the Isidia-class carriers of the Cleolinian Air Force, Sherlandic High Command dictated that its own aerial combat fleets needed a means of efficient force projection, as they were currently outgunned. One of the largest problems plaguing aerial combat vessel development was the lack of ethereal resources that the other nations were able to take advantage of. Despite this setback, the prinicple of bouyancy was selected as the basis of primary lift. The size of the vessel would preclude traditional aerodynamics, so multiple propellors and engines would be required to generate propulsion. The basis of rocket engines for power-assisted takeoffs was explored and ultimately integrated into the final design. The development and prototyping phase would last a total of 12 years, during which at least two prototype vessels - the IX-42 and IX-46, crashed into the Upton plains, to the consternation of the researchers and prototyping team. The final prototype, the IX-71b, was found to perform admirably for all combat conditions as outlined by the Sherlandic Military Strategic Initiative, and the IHB-152 was ordered. The contract for the construction was awarded to the Hatona Works Shipyard, and construction began in 1856.
Launching and AssignmentIHB-152 was officially christened the Steel Aegis by King Silas Malbur in 1859, before her propellers began to spin and slowly lifted the supercarrier upwards. Under her own power, she left for the Cares Airfield, in which she was given her callsign and assigned her first crew and complement. Captain Carlyle Seniran was appointed as her commanding officer, and the 2nd Aerocombat Carrier Group was formed - Aegis Combat Group.
2nd Aerocombat Carrier Group - Aegis Combat Group
Operation PaperweightAegis Carrier Group was deployed over the Alleland Isles to perform overwatch duties as part of the Kingdom of Sherland's commitment to the Western Watch, including interception of airborne Seraxi and maintaining the Alleland Corridor's safe passage for aerial and ocean traffic.
The Moume Lake CrisisAegis Carrier Group was deployed over the West Pehambian Shore and supervising the river delta that fed into Lake Moume. As tensions picked up, the Aegis' sensors pinpointed mass concentrations of protesters, and positively ID'd multiple weapons caches which were subsequently seized and destroyed by Pehambian forces.
Operation AnvilThe Aegis utilized her aerial complement as a combat air patrol during the suppression of the Rinez Sea militants, while other Sherlandic forces neutralized the threat. Attempts to attack the Aegis via AA cannons were proven unfruitful. The aerial dhow Kalik Mighty was downed by the Aegis' missiles, while the skiffs Hiniji and Sora Faithful were shot out of the sky by the Aegis' fighters.
Operation Serene GardenIn the former part of 1885, the Aegis Combat Group was involved in an extensive combat action alongside Battlegroup Altis against pirate vessels operated by the Broken Dusk. The Aegis provided theater control with her aerial complement, and her multipurpose fighters are credited with the destruction of the Linead, the Crimson Proposition, the Funari Wind, and the Ebon Stronghold. The Aegis' fighters are also complemented with curbing Seraxi Dianids who were attracted to the intense combat and who appeared to pluck survivors floating in the oceans below and drag them down for consumption.
Operation WatchtowerIn the latter part of 1885, the Steel Aegis with two of her escorts, the Desperate Lady and the Vicar Ilona, provided aerial overwatch for a shipment of military hardware from Port Carlton to Thethertow in Mithambe. They were provided assistance from Battlegroup Altis - The Endless Rainbow, the Infinite Sunrise, the Kristen Steadfast, and the Hearken Midnight.
The Steel Aegis DisasterDuring a routine Etherspace experiment, a rift was opened inadvertently and without good explanation. The resultant disturbance formed a vacuum, which drew the Aegis and three of her escorts - the Vicar Ilona, the Onyx Arbalest, and the Vicar Rila - in with her. On the other side, the vessels were isolated and attacked by an unknown ethereal entity of impossible magnitude and malevolence. The Aegis' weapon and propulsion systems were taken offline by severe damage, but the crew had mustered and took to the fight with their personal weapons. The Aegis' complement was able to take flight and provide to the fight, which ended up being recorded via bridge chronometer as nearly 16 hours of straight fighting before reinforcements arrived, even as her escorts around her were destroyed piece by piece. The Steel Aegis was dragged out of the Etherspace corridor by the Hearken Midnight, with the surviving vessels of the 2nd Aerocombat Group, Battlegroup Altis, and the 3rd Fleet following behind, while the Endless Rainbow subjugated the unknown ethereal entity before translating out alongside the others. Despite the severe level of damage inflicted on her propulsion and steering systems, the Aegis was able to make the safe passage back to the Kingdom of Sherland.
After-action and InquiryA formal royal inquiry was made as to the events of the Disaster - commissioned by King Silas Malbur, Queen Isana Stillingfleet of Cleolinia, and King Marcus Mitfield of Mithambe (whose own son, Jacob, suffered severe ethereal combat injuries in the event and required experimental surgery to save his life). The inquiry wanted to know how things went poorly with a routine Etherspace experiment, why hundreds of hands were lost, and how to prevent such a disaster from reoccuring. The inquiry is still ongoing, but has found that there was no blame to be assigned based on human error, poor operating procedures, or gross negligence - the situation was considered too absurd for even intense training regimen to fully cover, and that all hands involved handled the situation to the best of their ability. Most of the surviving crew and complement of the Steel Aegis were honorably discharged. Many required treatment for wounds (physical and mental) that were incurred throughout the course of the fighting, and for whom several dozen require ongoing treatment for the rest of their lives.
Decommissioning and ScuttlingWith the majority of her critical and combat systems gutted in the fighting, it was decided by Sherlandic High Command that the Steel Aegis was considered unsalvageable, and was formally decommissioned on the 14th day of the 3rd month, 1886. On the 21st day of the 8th month, 1886, the remnants of the Steel Aegis were towed out to sea, and were scuttled in the Bay of Kasil. The surviving crew of the Aegis, and various other dignitaries from the kingdoms involved in the action, were there to bear witness and to provide final commemoration for the vessel and her valiant crew. Honorary gun salutes were fired from vessels of the 1st Aerocombat Group, the Cleolinian 3rd Battlegroup, and the Mithambian Battlegroup Altis.
LegacyThe Steel Aegis would be remembered as a mundane vessel that went agains all odds and escaped the maw of an otherwise inescapable demise. Her crew - living and deceased - were hailed as heroes, and respect for the Sherlandic Aerial Combat Corps grew a thousand fold. Increased rates of enlistment and commissioning were noted for the Aerial Combat Corps for years to come, up to the modern day. The cooperation of both Mithambian and Cleolinian aerial assets have further solidified relations between the nations. Sherlandic High Command, Cleolinian Valkyrie commanders, and Mithambian Force Command have begun laying the groundwork for further military cross-training opportunities. The Aegis reef is monitored by scientists to this day, and its corals are healthy and growing strong.
Awards and CommendationsThe Steel Aegis has the following honors ascribed to her:
- Sherland Medal of Honor
- Mithambian Monarch's Combat Commendation
- Stillingfleet Award of Combat Excellence
- Gold Star of Exemplary Combat x2
- Silver Star of Exemplary Combat x4
- Silver Shield of Unyielding Defense
Hatona Works Shipyards
King Silar Malbur
Out of Service
Callsign: SHJRY (former)
Hull Number: IHB-152 (former)
"Unbroken and Unyielding"
Confirmed Vessel Kills