|Free Republic of the Landreich
|First to Kilrah
The TCS Tarawa (CVE-8) was one of the original nine Wake-Class Escort Carriers converted from medium transports following the heavy carrier losses of 2665-66. The ship carried a crew of 500, some 375 of which were to support the flight wing. Tarawa was the first warship to reach Kilrah and return alive.
When the ship entered service its fighter complement consisted of a squadron of F-44C Rapiers (Rapier II), a squadron of F-57B Sabres fighter bombers, and a squadron of Ferret scout ships. 44 inexperienced pilots were brought on board in addition to a handful of veterans. On average, the young pilots pilot had 250 and 300 hours of flight time as there was much pressure to make up for losses in the Confederation fleet. The trade-off was that the inexperienced pilots suffered casualties at a higher rate. Jason Bondarevsky was assigned as Wing Commander, and Etienne Montclair and Janice Parker served as Squadron Commanders. The carrier was captained by Thaddeus O'Brian.
Operation Back Lash
Invasion of Vukar Tag
On its first mission Tarawa was assigned to escort nine marine transport ships to Khartoum Station for ground assault exercises. Some of the best marine regiments were among them. The operation served only as a cover for the real mission. Based on information gathered by the TCS Johnny Greene and Lieutenant Commander Ramona Chekova, Operation Back Lash was established. Tarawa played a part in the opening actions, bringing in marine landing troops to capture the planet Vukar Tag from the Kilrathi and desecrate the palace of Graknala. The move was to lure the Kilrathi leadership into sending the Home Fleet to Vukar Tag to recapture the planet.
Strike Force Valkyrie
With Vukar Tag taken, Tarawa, along with escorts TCS Intrepid and TCS Kagimasha, was assigned to Strike Force Valkyrie. The Strike Force was to jump into the heart of the Kilrathi Empire using a recently discovered jump point and strike at the Kilrathi home system. The First Marine Battalion was assigned to the Tarawa, and the battalion was given ten new landing craft fully loaded with combat supplies. Valkyrie was to inflict as much damage as possible to the Kilrathi ship building facilities on Largkza, the second moon of Kilrah, and remain in the area long enough for the Kilrathi to send back part of the Kilrathi Home Fleet. The reduced Home Fleet could then be defeated by the Confederation at Vukar Tag. Once part of the fleet was committed to returning to Kilrah, Tarawa would then try to escape out of the system, but at this point, Admiral Wayne Banbridge declared that the Strike Force would be on its own. It would be too risky too send assistance even if the Confederation fleet succeeded in holding Vukar Tag.
While marines were on Largkza setting mines, Tarawa was attacked by Strakha fighters. Part of the Home Fleet, a carrier and eight escorts, were on their way back to Kilrah. Commodore Thaddeus O'Brian chose to abandon the marines on Largkza and retreat, while Jason Bondarevsky returned to Tarawa in an attemp to prevent this. A Kilrathi kamikaze crashed into Tarawa, destroying the entire bridge and killing the bridge crew, including Captain O'Brian. As the senior officer, Jason took command of Tarawa and ordered the ship back to Largkza and retrieve the marines. Some marines failed to return, with some landing craft was shot down while returning to the Tarawa. At last one landing craft detonated all of its explosives before crashing back to the planet, destroying six carriers, six construction yards, a cruiser construction center and 4,000 of the Kilrathi's best trained personnel: a third of the Kilrathi carrier construction capability.
By this point, Tarawa was heavily damaged. Long range scanning was destroyed, so the ship had to depend on TCS Intrepid for sensors. Tarawa had also lost a hundred crew. Helm, Combat Information Center, Comms, weapons control and damage control were all relocated to the flight deck, as escort carriers did not have a reserve bridge. Bondarevsky decided to take refuge in Igrathi's atmosphere to conduct emergency repairs on the Tarawa.
Kilrathi Crown Prince Thrakhath expected Tarawa to eventually leave the atmosphere and for a suicidal run against Kilrah. Upon leaving the atmosphere, Tarawa and her two escorts initially did fly for Kilrah, accelerating quickly. Tarawa then launched a marine landing craft and a Ferret on auto-pilot and carrying a nuclear bomb and programmed them to fly towards Kilrah as a diversion. The Strike Force changed their course and used Jim Bane's tractor beam theory to slingshot around Kilrah. The Kilrathi ships mostly focused on the shuttle and Ferret and their deadly payloads, but a Sartha destroyed the TCS Kagimasha with a suicide run. The Strike Force was left with no choice but to jump to Baragh, with the other jump points blocked by the Kilrathi fleet.
In Baragh, Tarawa was confronted by three Kilrathi carriers. Twenty meters of the forward bow with the forward turret was torn off after sustaining a torpedo hit, killing another 35 crew. TCS Intrepid engaged the cruiser covering the nearest Kilrathi carrier. Both ships fired a spread of torpedoes at point blank range, with neither ship surviving, but not before Intrepid's Captain Grierson informed Tarawa that the TCS Concordia had entered at the other end of the system. Concordia's fighter and bomber reinforcements arrived quickly and rescued the Tarawa.
Tarawa had structural cracks running down three of its keel beams, limping back to Confederation space with fires still burning and air leaking. Tarawa had left with 44 young pilots and only 14 survived.
Jason Bondarevsky was promoted to Captain and offered command of a new escort carrier that would be coming online the next month, but he and Tolwyn insisted Tarawa be refitted instead of scrapped, even if it was be cheaper to build a new one. Tarawa's raid against Kilrah was a tremendous morale boost to the citizens of the Confederation.
Strike Force Valkyrie destroyed a total of six carriers and their construction bays, a cruiser construction building, one cruiser, two orbital stations, four corvettes and at least ninety fighters. Their action also demonstrated to the Confederation a good strategy for damaging the Kilrathi war effort. More escort carriers, TCS Khorsan and TCS Enigma were sent behind the lines to attack more construction yards as a result of Tarawa's successful operation.
The False Armistice
Tarawa spent roughly a year in repairs. Originally, Admiral Banbridge had wanted to simply scrap the carrier because of its extensive damage. However, public opinion and the conviction of Jason Bondarevsky and Admiral Geoffrey Tolwyn swayed his mind. When the 2668 armistice was signed, she was set to be decommissioned at Fleet Yard 5. Tarawa's decommissioning number was 2291. She was set to have her reactors pulled and put into cold storage.
Under secret authority of President Harold Rodham and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Nuragami had Geoffrey Tolwyn take Tarawa out to probe the Kilrathi-held Hari region. This was a direct violation of the armistice agreement, but the Confederation had reason to believe the Kilrathi were secretly building a fleet of supercarriers.
Tarawa left for Landreich with a skeleton crew of 35, three Ferrets and one Sabre. Most of the 500 crew, some 375, were only needed to maintain the flight wing, and on this particular operation Tarawa would be outfitted with a D 3S 5.
James Taggart in Bannockburn acquired footage and statistics on the Hakaga fleet being constructed as part of Project Hari. He relayed the information to Tarawa, which in turn passed it on to President Rodham.
Battle of Earth
As the Kilrathi armada encroached on Sol, Bondarevsky wanted to take Tarawa to Earth or Sirius and assist in the battle there, but President Kruger refused to release the carrier. Kruger had stationed several Landreich crew and pilots on Tarawa, making a hijack impossible. At the Second Battle of Hell Hole, Kruger had all the ships jump in at full speed. As a result Tarawa collided with Kruger's flagship, the FRLS Blitzkrieg. Tarawa's crew quarters were breached and Blitzkrieg lost a port rear stabilizer.
Eventually, Kruger conceded under pressure from Jason Bondarevsky, and headed to Sol System to assist the Confederation in the Battle of Earth. Tarawa arrived in time to prevent the Kilrathi from launching their Strontium-clad thermonuclear warheads against Earth.
Sale to the Landreich and Conversion to the FRLS Independence
|Free Republic of the Landreich
|John Calhoun Galbraith
|Third Battle of Hell Hole
Shortly after the Battle of Earth, Tarawa was again crippled. This time she was sold to the Landreich, where Armando Diaz' salvage team refitted the carrier. TCS Tarawa was rechristened FRLS Independence.
After the end of the Kilrathi War, the Tarawa was sold to the Free Republic of the Landreich where it went through a thorough refit which included the addition of crew and command berthing spaces. The ship was recommissioned FRLS Independence and became the flagship of Landreich Fleet. She provided her flight group to the FRLS Mjollnir before departing the derelict in 2671.
The Third Battle of Hell Hole
Upon learning of The Guild installation on Hell Hole, Independence along with its battle group proceeded to mop up the operation when a fleet from Baka Kar jumped in system. Two Kilrathi escort carriers and escorts engaged in a small action with Landreich forces before retiring. President Kruger jumped in system with the new carrier FRLS Magna Carta which was sufficient to force a Kilrathi withdrawal.
The FRLS Independence remains in service as the Landreich's flagship.