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Battle of Gethsemane

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Battle of Gethsemane
Void Battle involving a Chaos Warfleet.jpg
The Chaos warfleet battles the Imperial fleet.
Conflict 12th Black Crusade
Date 151.M41[1b]
Location Gethsemane system[3b]
Outcome Imperial victory
An-Iolsus Asuryani
Forces of Chaos
Lord Admiral Cornelius von Ravensburg[1b]
Admiral Spire[2]
Captain Leoten Semper[3b]
Captain Compel Bast[3b]
Captain Leonardus Mathieu(KIA)[3b]
Captain Augustus Ortelius[3b]
Captain Abridal[2]
Craftmistress Lileathon[3b]
Baal-Hierophant Lokkis Vanama(KIA)[3b]
Imperium: 2 battleships, 2 battlecruisers, 20 escorts[1b]
Aeldari: 20+ ships[3b]
More than the Imperials[3b]
Heavy[2] All ships destroyed[3b]

The Battle of Gethsemane was a pivotal battle and the turning point of the 12th Black Crusade.[1b]


The first years of the 12th Black Crusade saw the Imperial Navy on the defensive, pressed hard on all fronts.[1b] However, it had concluded alliances with some Aeldari Corsairs[2] and a representative of the Craftworld An-Iolsus, strengthening its position.[3a] In 151.M41, Lord Admiral Cornelius von Ravensburg went on the attack. After many failed attempts to bring the Chaos forces to battle, scout vessels detected a major Chaos fleet heading for the Gethsemane system. Ravensburg took personal command as his task force of seventeen capital ships including two battleships and two battlecruisers and twenty escorts sped towards Gethsemane.[1b]

The Imperial fleet consisted of the majority of Battlefleet Gothic's remaining strength,[2] and included Ravensburg's flagship Divine Right, Imperious, Lord Solar Macharius under Captain Leoten Semper, Cardinal Boras, Iron Duke, Minotaur, Zealous, Hammer of Justice, Sword of Orion, Mjollnir, Legend of Romulus, Sinus, Lord Daros, Jotunheim, Invincible, Drachenfels, Zigmund, Excellent, Incendrius, and Cypra Probati.[3b]



Ravensburg pursued the Chaos fleet into the Gethsemane system, and the enemy soon became aware of their precarious situation.[1b] In addition, the Lord Admiral was informed that one of Abaddon's main lieutnants, Baal-Hierophant Lokkis Vanama, commanded the fleet at Gethsemane. His elimination was regarded as a primary objective by the Imperials.[3b] The Chaos forces tried to flee the system, only to be chased by the fastest Imperial ships. After a week-long sternchase, a second Chaos fleet appeared and closed a trap on the Imperial forces. A firefight ensued that cost the Imperium seven escorts and the Chaos fleet about the same before the Imperial forces escaped and retreated to the safety of the main fleet.[1b]

For the next three days, the two fleets played hide-and-seek through the Gethsemane system.[1b][3b] Finally, a squadron of Firestorm Frigates located the Chaos fleet above Gethsemane II, and Ravensburg launched his assault.[1b]

Full Fleet Action

Though outnumbered and outgunned, the Imperial fleet nonetheless held the advantage in a head-on pounding match,[1b] unleashing a wave of topedos as the Chaos ships were still moving into battle position.[3b] Presenting their more heavily armored prows to absorb the enemy counter-fire, the Imperials moved closer while reloading their torpedos.[3b]

At this point, the Mars Class Battlecruiser Imperious under Captain Compel Bast was the first ship to seriously damage a Chaos battleship, using its Nova Cannon to cripple the Murder Cruiser Deathblade.[3b] The Imperials then tore into the Chaos armada, splitting it into two parts and unleashing their broadside weaponry as they moved through the gap. This resulted in a brutal slaughter, with the Tyrant Cruiser Zigmund and Lunar Cruiser Excellent being crippled in the intial exchange of fire. While the Zigmund was then destroyed by Chaos bomber squadrons, Excellent Captain Leonardus Mathieu ordered his burning ship to ram the Chaos grand cruiser Foe Reaper. The Imperial Omega Squadron of Sword Frigates was destroyed in combat with the Carnage Cruiser Wanton Desecration and Styx Heavy Cruiser Violator. The Chaos flagship, Desolator Battleship Nergal, wiped out the Firestorm Frigate Europa. Lord Solar Macharius unleashed its bomber squadrons.[3b]

Despite the heavy Imperial losses, Ravensburg's plan had succeeded in throwing the Chaos fleet into disarray; the tactical situation rapidly improved for the Imperium, as the Chaos forces lost several important ships in quick succession: Foe Reaper, Malignus Maximus, and the Murder Cruisers Steel Fang as well as Krotos were completely crippled, while Styx Heavy Cruiser Corpsemaker was knocked out of the fight due to the destruction of its launch bays by the Divine Right. The Nergal suffered heavy damage, including one of its reactors.[3b]

After passing through the Chaos line, Ravensburg ordered his fleet to turn around and finish off the Chaos fleet. At this point, the Imperials unleashed a new wave of torpedos.[3b] Realizing that the battle had turned against him, Baal-Hierophant Vanama ordered his fleet to run.[1b] His ships launched mines to cover their retreat, preventing an immediate pursuit.[3b] Taken together with the Chaos vessels' higher speed, Vanama's surviving forces appeared ready to escape from their pursuers.[1b]

Aeldari intervention

At this moment, however, a massive Aeldari fleet arrived seemingly out of nowhere, blocking the Chaos fleet's way. The Xenos force included more than 20 vessels, including about a dozen capital-class ones. Some Imperials initially suspected treachery, urging Ravensburg to open fire on the Aeldari. However, Inquisitor Thadus Valconet Horst (who had accompanied the Lord Admiral) ordered the Imperial ships to wait. Soon after, Craftmistress Lileathon of the Aeldari ship Vual'en Sho hailed the Lord Solar Macharius, revealing that the armada belonged to An-Iolsus and had come to wipe out the Chaos forces.[3b]

The Aeldari laid into Vanama's would-be escapees.[3b] Caught between the two forces, the Chaos ships had nowhere to run, and were destroyed[1b] over the course of several days. A few Chaos ships broke out of the trap, only to be hunted down.[3b]


The Chaos fleet was completely wiped out by the allied forces, though at the cost of a dozen Imperial vessels crippled or destroyed.[1b][2] Many Imperial captains were killed.[2] Among those who lost their lives during this battle was Lord Admiral Ravensburg's son Manfred who had served on the Europa.[3b]

After the battle, the Imperium and Aeldari cemented their uneasy alliance. The Xenos consequently unleashed several new weapons, including the mighty Void Stalker Battleship.[1a]

The massive morale boost from the victory was only the beginning of the curtain of darkness lifting from the Gothic Sector. Not long after the Battle of Gethsemane, the warp storms that had cut the sector off from the rest of Imperial space began to lessen, allowing Imperial reinforcements to get through, fresh troops and several Space Marine chapters flooding in to help the fight. Though the war for the Gothic Sector was far from over, the Battle of Gethsemane had finally helped turn the tide in the Imperium's favor.[1b]