On November 26, after two weeks of Caldari rule, Pavanakka was captured by a joint task force of several Gallente corps and alliances. The fighting was continuous, costly, and, at times, messy. Pavanakka is widely regarded by the Gallente who call that area of space home as an important system they were not keen to lose. A decision was made early and resoundingly that Pavanakka could not remain in “squid” control, and so GalMil formed to retake this jewel of Black Rise. But like all sieges, before the first shot is fired the political climate must be right.
The Akidagi-Innia pipe has been a hotbed of activity for months and after the capture of Aivonen by GalMil in September, the subsequent capture of Pavanakka afforded the Gallente a significant advantage over the area. To sweeten the situation further, the pipe also provided easy access to the critical high-sec gate (Ichoriya-Akidagi) which is frequented by CalMil and their neutral logistics allies/alts.
However, in mid-November Pavanakka succumbed to consistent and fierce Caldari pressure. Although rescued multiple times earlier in the month from brief spurts of GalMil defense, CalMil, spearheaded by Brave Squids (BARVE), eventually was able to push the system vulnerable and smash the iHub. This elicited a strong response from the elements of GalMil who badly wanted to retain the system. Gallente forces in the region often had difficulty competing with the numbers their enemy could put up, so talks with Gallente fighters in other parts of space commenced shortly after the system flipped to Caldari.
Word was passed around the higher ranks of GalMil that Brave had decided to stage out of Pavanakka. This further stoked the desire for a strong counterattack to deny the Gallente’s newfound enemies a base of operations near other strongholds like Eha. Elements of Spaceship Bebop (BEBOP), Black Fox Marauders (BLFOX), Villore Accords (GMVA), Rapid Withdrawal (RDRAW) and others bought-in to the plan. With the diplomatic stars aligned, the numbers needed to stage a round-the-clock siege was set. The only question remaining was getting the right hulls, mods, and ammo into place…
The Gallente called on groups from a wide variety of places and doctrines. For instance, the pilots at RDRAW like to fly a doctrine that differs significantly from the likes of BEBOP, a large alliance in its own right. This lead to some interesting logistic situations where different time zones of pilots would have different doctrines at their disposal. To the bittervets, this was often a welcome change. New doctrines mean new fighting styles which is a breath of fresh air when you’re undocked and fighting for hours on end.
Additionally, different GalMil entities had different ideas on the most efficient way to keep their pilots in fitted hulls. Some groups would stage out of Innia and others would prefer to stay in Pavanakka and made use of a POS in system to house their ships and supplies. Ultimately, the diversity of ideas logistically made more for a nice variety in content than a complication and difficulty.
As for CalMil, they saw this offensive coming with ease. It is not difficult to detect consistent Jump Freighter deliveries into Innia, a system that is not usually very active and does not serve as a major staging system for any corps/alliances. Couple the multi-day force build-up in Innia with a significant local spike at the beginning of the siege, and their suspicions were quickly confirmed. CalMil in Pavanakka responded quickly by organizing their own counter-preparations of ships and materiel. This was not a difficult exercise since they had already decided to stage in this system so logistics operations were well underway.
The siege itself was a long, consistent plex grind. Many pilots I spoke with had difficulties singling out any one fight that was notable. There was so much destruction that for many the siege was all a blur of warfare. This is understandable since both sides showed no signs of backing down during any time zone. There were periods where each side simply could not field the numbers to contest plexes and so harassment would have to make do until greater numbers finally logged-on. Most pilots I spoke with thought that the first and last stages of the siege at least “felt” very intense. Perhaps this had more to do with re-acclimating to the ultraviolence of large-scale warfare at the beginning and then the apprehension on both sides as the system reached vulnerable.
Of course, as the siege wore on several days Pavanakka became a massive red stain on the Star Map. Third parties hungry for content spiked local on more than a few occasions. Interestingly, there was a third party that temporarily blued with GalMil at a critical time in the siege to help maintain the high 80% contested range until the EUTZ could log in. A mostly Korea-based contingent of Merlins and Bathams sat in plexes calmly with GalMil pilots while the timer ticked down. The majority of the offensive plexing was done by Gallente pilots, but it must be said that this neutral band of frigates did leave its mark on the siege at a time where the Caldari could have easily taken the upper hand.
Once Pavanakka’s contested bar hit that glaring red color of vulnerable we all know so well, the iHub bash came quickly and without hesitation. At this point, according to some GalMil sources, the Caldari resistance in the area had slowed and it’s possible the Caldari had resigned to losing the system. (This opinion is not shared with everyone in CalMil, mind you.) When it came time to strike the final blow to the system the Gallente had no stomach for sieging Dreads and fielding Logi and Battleships. Things stayed low-tech to keep the third parties interested elsewhere and, partially, just to bash the damn hub and be done with it. Frigates, high-DPS Destroyers, and the odd Cruiser finally pushed the system back into Gallente hands – an anti-climactic end to a whirlwind of destruction.
The CalMil pilots I talked to about this battle were also very happy to mention a pair of very shiny Nestors that attempted to tank the full brunt of Caldari firepower until downtime one night. Although Pavanakka was lost, a quick 4 billion ISK worth of green on your killboard is a nice consolation prize.
Some in the Caldari ranks applauded the Brave response (pun intended) to a concerted Gallente siege. Ultimately, though, some cited a lack of coordination between CalMil entities, a chronic problem among their ranks, as a key factor in the loss of Pavanakka. Although other parties like Church of Awesome (ASIO.)aided in the defense consistently, stalwart CalMil leaders maintain that with a higher degree of cooperation Pavanakka could have turned into a second Hasmijaala. (The battle for Hasmijaala, a Caldari stronghold, was a dramatic and decisive defeat of a GalMil-wide siege.)
For now, Pavanakka is seeing some plexing pressure, but the wholesale annihilation of ships has abated. It is common in Faction Warfare for systems to become lightning rods on conflict for no other reason than both sides want to one-up their enemies. Is Pavanakka the next crucible in which 1000s of more ships must be destroyed for pride and glory? Time will tell.