|Previous battle: Second Battle of Corellia|
|Next battle: Battle of Cochran|
|Third Battle of Sluis Van|
|Conflict: Galactic Civil War|
|Date: 11 ABY|
|Place: Sluis Van|
|Outcome: New Republic/Griffon Alliance victory|
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Death Star III
~1,000 starships, various types
The Third Battle of Sluis Van was the climatic confrontation between the Galactic Empire, New Republic, and the Griffons Alliance that marked the end of the Imperial military and political hegemony and the beginning of the end of Emperor Bacharan Valak's regime. Despite the destruction of the Death Star III, the battle would also result in massive Republic and Griffon casualties, which many historians have since considered to be a huge blunder on part of the Republic's High Command - a blunder that would lead to the Imperial Blitzkrieg, four years later.
The battle had its roots several years earlier in 9 ABY. The Empire had launched its first major offensive in a decade, unveiling the new Death Star to a shocked and helpless galaxy. Gastus IV was the first to fall victim to the new Death Star's superlaser, followed later by the destruction of the Calamari shipyards. Next, the Death Star would destroy Sluis Van itself during the Second Battle of Sluis Van. Little seemed possible to thwart the Death Star and the revitalized Imperial Military - technical analysts could find no weaknesses or exploits on the Death Star, the Imperials apparently having learned from their past two mistakes.
After Coruscant itself finally fell to the Imperial war machine, all seemed lost for the waning Republic. Whether it be the will of the Force, or a simple Imperial blunder, the Empire halted its offensive after capturing Coruscant and the Death Star disappeared from the public limelight. The Republic was given an opportunity to recompose itself and strike back. Talon Karrde was enlisted to discover where the Death Star was hiding, and then help devise a means to destroy it.
Karrde's agents were able to discover the Death Star hiding in the asteroid field that once was Sluis Van. After several months of planning, the Republic infiltrated an agent inside the Death Star, with plans to sabotage the mighty shield generators that protected the battle station. The Republic Fleet then moved in for the attack. The Imperials managed to discover the agent, but not before he successfully sabotaged the generators. Believing an attack was imminent, Moff Devron Nulesehk, commander of the battle station, called for reinforcements, which were brought in by Admiral Dyne Haederfeld. Haederfeld met Nuleshek aboard the Death Star and interrogated the captive agent. But before they could discover the extent of the agent's sabotage, the Republic fleet arrived, backed up by the Griffon Navy, having betrayed the Empire in defiance to the Death Star.
The Republic's plan was to ram the Death Star with their very warships, utilizing them as ramships. Loading them with explosives to maximize their efficiency, this sacrificed fleet, led by Lando Calrissian, moved into ramming position. The rest of the Fleet squared off against the Imperial defenders, the battle moving in and out of the nearby asteroid cluster. Both sides would suffer heavy, but Imperial incompetence would rule the day: Nuleshek did not believe the Republic could destroy the Death Star, and forewent an evacuation, even as the ramships accelerated. Nuleshek and Haederfeld would be the first to die aboard the Death Star's command room, as the explosions began to engulf the Death Star. Nevertheless, as the ramships would not destroy the Death Star in one fell swoop, many of the millions aboard the Death Star were able to evacuate to safety.
With the death of Haederfeld and the destruction of the Death Star, the Imperial fleet fell into confusion. Then Commodore Danik Kreldin, Chief of Starfighter Operations for the First Fleet, took command of the situation and rallied the remaining Imperial units. With the confusion brought upon by the Death Star's destruction, Kreldin was left with little choice but to order a retreat. The surviving Imperials fled and regrouped at Selene, and reported their failure to Valak.
Although the Republic would be saved by the destruction of the Death Star in the short-run, the long-term effects of sacrificing its fleet would come to haunt the Republic three years later when the Grand Admiral Kreldin initiated the Blitzkrieg. Taking advantage of the Republic's low fleet strength and utilizing superior tactics, Kreldin was able to lead the Imperial Military to full victory over the Republic, ultimately resulting in the recapture of Coruscant and the claiming of nearly seventy percent of the known galaxy.