- "I'm glad we accomplished something today. Taking weapons out of the Empire's hands was a worthy goal and one I'm glad the Senate supported."
- ―Commodore Kyrsta Agate
The battle for Kuat Drive Yards, also known as the Battle of Kuat or the Battle of the Kuat Shipyards, was a battle fought between the New Republic and the Galactic Empire in the months following the Battle of Endor for the Kuat Drive Yards shipyards, orbiting the Core World planet of Kuat. The New Republic Defense Fleet inflicted heavy casualties on the defending Imperial Navy. Following the surrender of the Imperial authorities and the guild head of Kuat Drive Yards, Grand Admiral Rae Sloane, the public leader of the Imperial remnant forces, proposed peace talks with the New Republic's political and military leaders.
During the Age of the Empire, the Kuat Drive Yards was a major producer of starships for the Imperial Navy. Following the Battle of Endor, the Galactic Empire splintered after it was left leaderless. The Rebel Alliance transitioned into the New Republic and gained control over large areas of the galaxy.
In 5 ABY, the reconvened Galactic Senate on Chandrila authorized an attack on the planet Kuat and its surrounding shipyards. Due to its strategic importance, the shipyards were defended by substantial Imperial forces.
Elements of the New Republic Defense Fleet under Admiral Gial Ackbar and Commodore Kyrsta Agate launched an assault on the Kuat Drive Yards shipyards above the Core Worlds planet Kuat. This assault involved a bombing campaign of the shipyards and supply bases around Kuat. The battle lasted several weeks and the Empire lost more ships than the New Republic. New Republic forces included Captain Tane and Lieutenant Gina Moonsong's B-wing Blade Squadron, which was deployed on bombing runs against Kuat Drive Yards.
Breaking the deadlock
After several days of fighting, neither side was able to gain an advantage. Both sides sustained significant casualties. Commodore Agate recalled New Republic starfighters to their ships. After Captain Tane was reassigned to Combat Operations Planning, Lieutenant Gina was made the acting commander of Blade Squadron. Since the New Republic fleet lacked the firepower to overwhelm the Imperial fleet with a single strike, Commander Braylen Stramm launched a series of surgical strikes on key parts of the shipyard's infrastructure including fuel dumps, supply monorails and sensor arrays.
While elements of the New Republic fleet engaged the Imperial Star Destroyers, B-wing bombers and their X-wing starfighter escorts attacked the shipyard. Blade Squadron was assigned with taking out a monorail ferrying supplies and ammunition through Kuat Drive Yards. However, the monorail was defended by several Imperial walkers including AT-ATs, AT-ACTs, and vintage AT-TE walkers. Despite Lieutenant Moonsong's orders for her squadron's X-wings escorts not to engage the walkers, Lieutenant Sandara Li attacked the walkers but were unable to pierce through their heavy armor.
Blade Squadron was forced to rescue their X-wing escorts by bombing the gun emplacements and walkers with proton torpedoes. However, one of Blade Squadron's pilots was killed by an attacking TIE fighter, causing him to crash into one of the walkers. After knocking out the monorail, Blade Squadron returned to the MC80 Star Cruiser Amalthea. There, Moonsong chastised Lieutenant Li for disobeying her orders. Following a brief argument in which Li alleged that Commander Stramm had favored Moonsong, the two reconciled and decided to work together to take out TIE fighters.
Attacking the command hub
After resting, the New Republic fleet launched a renewed offensive. While elements of the fleet engaged the Imperial fleet above Kuat's north pole, Blade Squadron and two other B-wing squadrons launched a raid on the Imperial command hub. However, the Imperials managed to divert several TIE fighters to defend the hub. While Lieutenant Li wanted Lieutenant Moonsong's B-wings to hold their positions to engage the TIEs, Moonsong instead convinced her B-wing pilots to set their laser cannons to rapid fire mode and target the ion cannons past the target.
While Lieutenant Li's X-wings engaged the TIE fighters, Moonsong and her B-wings were able to destroy the command hub with laser-guided bombs and torpedoes. Upon returning to the Amalthea, Moonsong learned that her former boyfriend Commander Stramm would be flying in an X-wing for the next mission since the X-wing pilot Johan Volk had been wounded. Despite the bitterness stemming from their breakup, Moonsong accepted Stramm's request to escort her B-wing.
For the next engagement, the New Republic and Imperial fleets met in battle formation. In a last ditch attempt to break the New Republic cruiser flotilla, the Empire deployed numerous TIE fighters, TIE bombers, TIE interceptors, and heavily armed shuttles. In response, the New Republic fleet threw all of their remaining starfighters against the Imperial offensive. Escorted by Stramm's and Li's X-wings, Blade Squadron managed to bomb the hangar of an Imperial light carrier.
Due to the heavy losses, Moff Pollus Maksim, the sector's governor and the guild head of Kuat Drive Yards surrendered to the Republic. Moonsong and her fellow pilots were about to aid the defense of the cruiser Amalthea when they received news of the Imperial surrender.
Following the battle, Princess Leia Organa contacted Admiral Ackbar and Commodore Agate via hologram to congratulate them for their victory. The New Republic victory deprived the Galactic Empire of a major source of weapons. Princess Leia was a New Republic senator who had played an important role in mustering sufficient votes to authorize the attack on Kuat. Shortly later, Chancellor Mon Mothma contacted Ackbar, Agate, and Leia to inform them that the mysterious Imperial informant known as the Operator was seeking to contact the New Republic leadership.
Grand Admiral Rae Sloane then joined the hologram conversation and claimed to be the Operator. Sloane was the leader of the largest Imperial remnant which was based in the Vulpinus Nebula. With the Empire facing defeat, Sloane proposed to discuss peace with the New Republic. Believing that the end of the war was in sight, Chancellor Mothma agreed to convene an emergency session of the Senate to discuss Sloane's offer. In truth, the peace talks were a ruse by the Imperial Fleet Admiral Gallius Rax to assassinate the New Republic leadership on Chandrila.
Behind the scenes
The battle for Kuat Drive Yards first appeared in Aftermath: Life Debt, a canon adult novel written by Chuck Wendig. The battle also made an appearance in David J. Williams and Mark S. Williams' short story Blade Squadron: Kuat in the 168th issue of the Star Wars Insider magazine.
- Aftermath: Life Debt (First appearance, simultaneous with Aftermath: Life Debt audiobook)
- Aftermath: Life Debt audiobook
- "Blade Squadron: Kuat" – Star Wars Insider 168 (First pictured)
- Aftermath: Empire's End (Indirect mention only)
- Aftermath: Empire's End audiobook (Indirect mention only)
- "Blade Squadron: Jakku" – Star Wars Insider 172 (Indirect mention only)
- Star Wars Helmet Collection 34 (Databank A-Z: Davish Krail–Kuat Drive Yards)
- Star Wars Helmet Collection 67 (Weapons & Uniforms: Blade Squadron) (First identified as Battle of Kuat)
- "The Battle of Endor and the Fall of the Empire" – Star Wars Encyclopedia (First identified as Battle of the Kuat Shipyards)
- Star Wars: Battles that Changed the Galaxy
- "The Pilots of the Rebel Alliance" – Star Wars Encyclopedia
Notes and references
- Aftermath: Life Debt
- Star Wars: Battles that Changed the Galaxy states that the battle for Kuat Drive Yards took place twenty-four years after the formation of the Galactic Empire, which Star Wars: Galactic Atlas dates to 19 BBY. Therefore, the battle must have taken place in 5 ABY.
- "Blade Squadron: Kuat" – Star Wars Insider 168