As the Kosovo conflict escalates into skirmishing between American and Russian ground forces in the Balkans, Washington decides to send a 'message' to Moscow by attacking her ballistic missile submarines under the Polar Ice Cap. Responsibility for this insane mission falls to you as the captain of the Los Angeles-class SSN Hartford. Your orders are to sink the battleship-sized Typhoon-class SSBN Dimitri Donskoy, which is reputedly escorted by one or more leading-edge SSNs. You are told that your survival is not vital!.
Hartford is armed with Mk48 ASW torpedoes, with a range of 8nm...period. She's very stealthy and has a towed array with a range of 70nm and conventional sonar out to 40nm. Unfortunately, she faces three Russian SSNs (one each of Victor III, Sierra and Akula I class) as well as the Donskoy. These all have equivalent sensors and a mix of Starfish (22nm) and Stallion (54nm) ASW missiles. Not exactly encouraging.
As the scenario takes place under the polar ice, there is no chance of outside support for your single, vulnerable unit. One mistake or piece of bad luck and it's game over. The only good thing about the Arctic conditions is that they reduce sensor range/reliability, which goes a long way in practice to negating the Russians' range advantage. Hartford is also a little bit stealthier than her foes.
As I tend to when playing submarine scenarios, I took a good look at my notes from the tutorials first. On this basis, I decided to keep just above the layer to enable my towed array to search below it and my conventional sonar above it. I fully expected the Russians to do the same.
As Hartford's torpedoes are wire-guided, I followed a policy of switching Evasion (Doctrine window) to No whenever I had a contact, thereby ensuring that the wire didn't break should the enemy retaliate and force the AI to turn me away from the target. It could be reverted to Yes straight afterwards.
It was otherwise a case of proceeding the 125nm to the Donskoy's probable patrol zone at Cruise speed (avoiding cavitation), then slowing to Creep as soon as I came within potential enemy sonar range. This took a while, even at 15x speed, but you have two days to complete the mission.
Aiming for the centre of the patrol zone to maximise sonar coverage, I was nearing this point when I fortunately got the drop on an Akula SSN (which was facing the other way). It tried to evade upon detecting my torpedoes and would have succeeded had the default not been to use kinematic range, extending my reach beyond the official 8nm. The Akula was sunk and my immediate concern was then to steer well away from my second tinfish, which was still searching for targets.
Two similar encounters followed, first with the Victor III (met head-on), then with the Sierra (at an angle). The crucial factors seemed to be the Hartford seeing them first and the Russians then choosing to turn and evade instead of firing back (in all likelihood, they hadn't seen me, which may or may not have been a matter of luck, despite all precautions). That small stealth advantage was proving crucial, as was the short range of engagements in Polar conditions.
Reasoning that the Russian SSNs were screening the Typhoon, I continued on the same course. Anti-climactically, this proved not to be the case and I spent the rest of the game vainly searching for my principal quarry. I can only suppose that it was randomly moving around the patrol zone or tucked in a remote corner. I could have increased speed with time running-out, but this would have reduced my detection ability and stealth at the same time...and the Donskoy still has Starfish.
So it ended in a Minor Defeat with a score of 60, despite a frankly remarkable showing from the Hartford. I have a save game from the point where I'd sunk the Sierra and I could no doubt restart repeatedly from here until I eventually find the Donskoy...but what would it prove?
Have to say that I prefer larger scenarios where you don't have all of your eggs in one basket.