The Imperials began with feints at Bpfassh and Draukyze which would ultimately lead to large numbers of ships (which would otherwise have been in these systems) being present in the Sluis system later. The hit-and-fade tactics also forced the New Republic to use its starfighter squadrons to become escort craft along various shipping routes to defend against possible Imperial attacks, and left the still-new galactic government strapped for freighters. This also caused the Republic to strip down and give only skeleton crews to some larger war vessels, even Mon Calamari Star Cruisers, to transport goods and supplies.
Finally, Thrawn's acquisition of cloaking technology gave him the extra help he would need to smuggle his ships into the system.
Hours before the battle began, Cloak Leader was dispatched in an A-class bulk freighter, the Nartissteu, which had a cloaking device installed inside its cargo hold. When activated, the ship remained fully visible to both scanners and the naked eye, but the TIE/ln starfighters and mole miners within appeared as empty space to any scans performed on the freighter.
Although to the eyes and battle senses of the seasoned New Republic officers Afyon and Wedge Antilles the ship still seemed strange, the Nartissteu and its hidden fighter compliment were able to fool Sluis Van Central and Sluis Control by reporting damage sustained in a pirate attack and being forced to drop their cargo and run. Antilles, deciding that the freighter handled more like a full, functional ship than a damaged, empty one, ordered Rogue Squadron to launch from Afyon's Larkhess.
The Nartissteu exploded as the X-wings reached it, with the command section piloting away and the destroyed hull leaving space open for forty TIEs and fifty mole miners to engage the under-defended fleet of undermanned New Republic ships.
The timely arrival of the Rogues and Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, and Lando Calrissian in the Millennium Falcon hardly slowed the Imperial forces as the mole miners drilled through the New Republic ships' hulls to place boarding parties. Thrawn had packed four or five stormtroopers and spacetroopers into each of the two-man mining craft.
These boarders were efficient enough to have even taken control of at least one Star Cruiser in only minutes, firing at Commander Antilles as he attempted to use what he thought was an allied ship as cover.
The Imperials were even tapping into Republic comms, listening to Solo and Antilles' tactics, so as to defend the mole miners against combined attacks.
Before the raiders could abscond with the New Republic fleet, Han Solo realized that the Imperials were not jamming their comms this time, and Lando Calrissian used his command codes to activate the miners, making them drill entirely through the fleeing starships. However, at least one winged Mon Calamari cruiser, three GR-75 medium transports, four Corellian Corvettes and one Nebulon-B frigate were crippled by the miners' engines and a self-destructive spacetrooper before they were stopped.
The Battle of Sluis Van may refer to:
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