Test: A Running Gun Battle in the English Channel

Your ship is on patrol in the English Channel along with three other destroyers. Your mission is to defend Allied minesweepers who are clearing out floating German minefields. Patrols like this have run into German "T-boats" or fast torpedo boats, armed trawlers, destroyers, and minelayers. Your ship is running without lights, in line with the other three destroyers. Your lookouts are on full alert and your radar operators are scanning for air or sea contacts. After four quiet nights on patrol the sense of urgency is fading. About three o'clock in the morning your radar operator reports four ships moving towards you, bearing starboard 150 degrees, range twenty four kilometres.

All of your ships quietly move to action stations. The gunners are ready. The gun covers are off and the turrets swung around. The torpedo tubes are swung into position and the torpedoes are armed. Even the rapid fire 20 and 40 mm guns are ready. The radar operator tells the captain that the unidentified ships have not changed course. They do not seem to know you are there. Your captain checks the daily English Channel traffic report. No Allied ships should be in that area, especially ones headed away from the French coast and towards you. None of the lookouts can see anything but thirty minutes later your radar operator announces that the ships are in range of your guns.

What is your best course of action?

A. Fire your torpedoes now. These are your most potent weapons. 300 lbs of explosives in one torpedo head can blow an enemy destroyer right out of the water.

B. Open fire with your 4.7 inch guns. Your four guns can fire fifty pound explosive shells. At the rate of four shells per minute for over an hour. Even one well placed shell could destroy an enemy ship's bridge or gun turret, cripple an engine boiler, or punch a hole in the hull.

C. Wait for the ships to come closer and use your Aldis lamp to send a challenge. This might be one of your own patrols who are off course, or the traffic report may be incomplete.

E. Fire starshell flares into the sky over the ships. The flares will light them up so you can see what type of ships they are and give your gunners a target.