- “That's no strike force. It's an invading army!”
Cutting Reach OffEdit
On or prior to the night of July 23, 2552, the fleet arrived at the planet Reach in the Epsilon Eridani system, undetected by the human defenses. The fleet dispatched a small strike force, including a team of artifact-hunting Zealots, to one of the three communication relays at Visegrád to cut off communications between Reach and other UEG colonies. The Office of Naval Intelligence assumed that the communications blackout was caused by local Insurrectionists; in response, Colonel Urban Holland dispatched several Army troopers to the relay. After losing contact with the troopers, SPARTAN Team NOBLE was sent to investigate. The team discovered the Covenant presence and reported it back to CENTCOM. Thus causing the UNSC in declaring WINTER CONTINGENCY.
Over the next few weeks, the fleet continuously sent ground and air forces to attack the planet and gain intelligence. One of the corvettes in the fleet was sent to assault ONI's Sword Base, but was destroyed by an orbital defense platform's Magnetic Accelerator Cannon after its forces were driven away. The ground forces also focused on defending their fleet's landing zone at Szurdok Ridge, deploying anti-aircraft cannons and outposts around Szurdok Ridge; this effort, however, resulted in failure when SPARTAN Recon Team Bravo discovered the landing zone on the night of August 11.
On August 12, 2552, the UNSC attacked the Covenant landing zone, destroying a Covenant Spire in the process. Subsequently, the UNSC strike force was forced to retreat when the fleet's flagship, the CSO-class supercarrier Long Night of Solace, was revealed to be holding position over the planet, having been cloaked by the Spires. The UNSC on Reach, with little help until the arrival of reinforcements from elsewhere in the Epsilon Eridani system, derived an operation to destroy the supercarrier.
Operation: UPPER CUT, created by Catherine-B320, was initiated on August 14, 2552, in an effort to destroy the supercarrier. After the capture of Ardent Prayer, a makeshift "slipspace bomb" was activated, destroying Long Night of Solace. Though the fleet's flagship had been destroyed, the immediate arrival of another, larger Covenant Fleet turned the tide of the battle in the Covenant's favor.
- CSO-class supercarrier
- SDV-class heavy corvette