Naval House, Shepistan
Admiral First Class John Calhoun "Jesus Christ" Fisher sighed as he watched the politicans wend in.
Sure, Maximillan was a decent sorts; but the rest of them he wouldnt douse with water if they were on fire.
At least the politicans in the Shepistani Federation weren't as stupid as those in the Grand Dominion.
Fisher chuckled at the brief of what Lord Winton had said during a similar meeting at the Gold Palace.
It seemed too outrageously stupid to believe -- something that stupid had to be a feint, to mislead Shepistani intelligence -- which was what most of the Shepistani intelligence services believed.
But not Fisher. He'd had long contact with politicans and knew them to be that stupid.
Once everyone was seated, and refreshments in the form of pitchers of water were on the table; the meeting began.
"Now, gentlemen; what you are about to hear is classified 'burn before reading'. Or in other words, beyond top secret." began Fisher, to several chuckles.
"Burn Before Reading" had started out as apparently a joke in the Navy over the excessive levels of secrecy that the Shepistani Army had adopted for it's war plans following their crushing defeat at the Battle of Indiantown Gap, which had decided the course of the 1913 war with the Goddamns.
An aide carried a blown up map of the Crusader's Gate onto a podium and unveiled it.Map of Crusader's Gate
Pulling a pointer out, Fisher launched into his well-practiced speech.
"Gentlemen. What the a-rab barbarians called the Bab el Mandeb, we call the Crusader's Gate. Before the Suez canal was built, it was a worthless pile of land inhabited by beoudins and desert raiders. Still is in the areas the Goddamns have not civilized yet."
"What the A-rabs called the Island of Perim, and others Mayyun Island, the Goddamns call it now Fort William."
"A pile of concrete and steel capable of shrugging off the most powerful battlefleets in the world!"
"The Goddamns have built several types of defenses in the area. ONI has classified them by letters in the alphabet."
"Defense Emplacement A is the most common."
"As you can see it consists generally of a paired set of heavy artillery; usually warship surplus placed in reinforced casemates with overhead protection against plunging shellfire."
"Defense Emplacement B is rarer, but more than one example we have been able to identify exists -- the Goddamns don't take kindly to strangers roaming the area, or strange aero-planes flying overhead. We've lost a lot of good men to bring you this information."
"As you can see, it is literally a naval gun mount from a battleship. Many of the turrets from the ships that the Goddamns cancelled during their ill-advised naval holiday ended up as Type B Coastal Defense Emplacements."
Fisher coughed, and signaled for an aide to bring a pair of display boards up, covered in vellum.
"Next is the piece-de-resistance of the Goddamn Coastal Defense Corps; at least that we know of. The Concrete Battleships!"
"As you can see, the Type C Emplacements are well deserving of their names. We've identified two distinct subclasses; C-1 and C-2. C-1 has two 13.5" dual turrets; while C-2 has two 15" dual turrets."
"I should warn you, that the interior arrangements are guesswork - we were able to glean some information from informants during the construction of these; but it is not known which subclass this belongs to; or if this was deliberately allowed to be leaked as disinformation."
Another aide placed a new set of boards up.
"But as you well know; we, like the Goddamns, do not just rely solely on coastal defense guns for defensive purposes."
"This is a rough notational sketch of a generic remotely controlled minefield. They are controlled from several outposts on the shoreline; and because they are not of the conventional magnetic or contact detonated type, no effective countermeasure can be devised, except that of capturing the shore station itself."
"They are highly useful in that they allow friendly or neutral shipping to pass through a mined strait with no danger, but can be turned on at a moment's notice, denying the same strait to enemy shipping."
"Suffice to say, with the maximum width of Crusader's Gate at Fort William is only about eleven and a half miles; Coastal torpedo launchers are effective. Rumors have it that the Goddamns have begun fielding a new 21" torpedo that can carry 500 pounds of explosives to eight and a half miles at 27 knots." (OTL USN Mk 11 torpedo).
At this point, Fisher paused and drank from a mug of whiskey nearby. He never delivered a speech this important sober; liqueour was always good for loosening up the tongue so words flowed more easily.
"As I've just so eloquently demonstrated; the hue and cry over the evil Goddamns and Shepistanis threatening to mine the strait in the world press is just that -- poppycock. The Goddams right now can close the strait at any time of their chosing simply by sending a telegram."
"It leads me to just one conclusion. That the heretics around the world are using this as merely a casus belli to destroy the last true Crusader states in the world! We must not let this happen!"
At this point, Maximillan interrupted. "My dear Admiral; try to keep yourself controlled. We wouldn't want a repeat of the 1916 incident would we now?"
Fisher glared at Maximillan, remembering his ignomous relief of command as head of the Shepistani Navy after he had fired Admiral Richard Sims, the victor of the Battle of the Shepistani Sea; for not aggressively pursuing the broken remnants of the Goddamn fleet. It had taken the disaster of 1920; where a Shepistani Battlecruiser had exploded at anchor due to faulty ammunition handling procedures, to bring him back into the Navy.
"Confine yourself to Naval matters, my good sir. What would the effect of a Goddamn closure of the Crusader's Gate be on the geostrategic situation?"
"Catastrophic sir. For them, not us, I mean. The Germans for example, would be trapped in the Shepistani Sea about two thousand nautical miles from any friendly port -- though I grant you that they could bribe some local warlord and use international law to repair and revictual their ships in a neutral port as long as they wanted -- the 72 hour limit can be easily bent if you have sufficient money on hand."
"Our ships and those of the Goddamns would be about about two and a half day's steaming at twelve knots from friendly ports; allowing them to make port, even if they were severely damaged, like Sheppur XIV
was at the Battle of the Shepistani Sea."
"My recommendation sir, is that we sign a conditional ceasefire with the Goddamns to destroy these interlopers in the Shepistani Sea; and teach these people not to mess with our Brothers in Christ, even as misguided as they may be."