Battle of Baltim - Battle

Battle

The Israeli battle line was crescent-shaped, with the northern pair positioned further forward from the rest. Two pairs of Osas were moving towards the Israeli force but were still outside the forty-five kilometer range of their Styx missiles. The range of the Israelis' Gabriel missiles was twenty-five kilometers, forming a 20 kilometres (12 mi) gap the Israelis hoped to bridge unharmed using their Electronic Warfare equipment which offered the Styx missiles more targets than were available. At 12:15 AM, the sensors detected an Egyptian missile launch at a range of 48 kilometres (30 mi). After two minutes, these missiles exploded harmlessly in the sea. The Egyptians continued their advance and fired three more salvos in the following ten minutes, their fire aimed mostly at the chaff clouds dispersed by the northern Israeli pair. After firing their last barrage at a range of thirty kilometers, the Osas made a figure-eight maneuver and began speeding back to Alexandria, with the Sa'ars giving chase. Barkai warned his commanders not to fire at any range longer than 17 kilometres (11 mi). His calculations suggested that they could catch the slower Osas before they reach the port.

After a twenty-five minute chase, INS Keshet entered the seventeen kilometer range and fired a missile which hit an Osa. At this point, Keshet's engine room began taking water from a burst pipe. Firing off another missile, Keshet stopped two kilometers from the damaged Osa while INS Misgav closed in and hit it with gunfire. Meanwhile, INS Reshef fired and hit the second Osa, while INS Eilat also fired one missile. The Reshef charged at the damaged Osa and sank it with gunfire. The southern pair of Osas split, one of which was then hit and came to a standstill, although it did not sink. The Herev and the Soufa fired dozens of shells into the Osa before discovering that it had in fact run aground. The other Osa headed west toward Alexandria, and got out of range. The Reshef was closest to it and began chasing the Osa, but the weapons officer reported an electrical malfunction preventing a missile launch. INS Reshef kept pursuing, hoping to reach gun range, but Barkai noticed that it was breaking away from the rest of the force and was getting dangerously close to the coast. Fearing it would be vulnerable to air attacks, he ordered it to withdraw. The commander of the Reshef asked for a few more minutes, but eventually rejoined the force.

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