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The Free Navy's ambush of the Rocinante was an engagement during the Free Navy Conflict that took place between Ceres and Tycho Station.


After the liberation of Ceres by the Consolidated Fleet Tycho Station OPA leader, Fred Johnson arranged to meet with several significant Outer Planets Alliance factions that had not declared for the Free Navy. These factions however were not prepared to meet at Ceres due to the high MCRN and UNN presence, so a meeting was prepared for Tycho Station.

Fred believed that information of his journey would likely leak, so he hired the Rocinante to transport him to Tycho Station several hours ahead of schedule. Free Navy leader Marco Inaros, however, was prepared for this and had three of his ships covered in stealth coating and waiting in ambush.

The Rocinante found itself being chased and engaged by three Free Navy Corvette-class ships. The ships engaged with missiles and PDCs for several minutes with Rocinante using a quarter of its missiles in the early stages. However, the Rocinante had previously been modified with a keel-mounted rail gun, which it was able to operate against the pursuers. With three enemy ships, the Rocinante was likely to be boxed in and the odds were against it. Fred Johnson tightbeamed friendly forces on Ceres and was able to get multiple missiles fired towards the engagement. This forced the Shinakuto to leave the fight in order to prevent this new threat from hitting any of the Free Navy ships.

In order to use its railgun, Rocinante had to completely change its direction, aiming its dorsal side towards the enemy fire then continue completing the 360° turn to return to its course. This action had to be repeated but gave the ship a significant tactical advantage. Performing this rail gun maneuver required heavy levels of g-forces, and at one point, Bobbie Draper temporarily blacked out, causing her to miss the moment when the Rocinante's railgun tore through the Koto, forcing it to drop core. With the Koto crippled, the Free Navy fleet was no longer able to try and box in the Rocinante and the fight continued between the three remaining ships. Rocinante continued to fire its railgun and torpedoes whilst the Pella fired its torpedoes and took evasive maneuvers to avoid the rail gun slugs.

During the engagement, Bobbie Draper had studied the evasive manuevers of the Pella, seeing how it avoided each torpedo round and had PDCs fired at a particular point in space knowing that the Pella would likely move into this point to avoid the rail gun's shot. When the Rocinante fired its rail gun, the Pella was hit with many rounds and lost one thruster on its starboard side and struggled to bring its PDCs to bear. This allowed a torpedo to hit the Pella. However, this torpedo turned out to be a dud and did not detonate[1], thus sparing the ship.

Victorious, the Rocinante continued on its way when it was realized that Fred Johnson, who was already in poor health, was having a stroke. Thrust was dropped to one-third of a g and he was rushed to the medical bay where an autodoc was attached. However, it was already too late and Fred Johnson had already died.

Despite their loss in the field, Marco Inaros and the Free Navy would claim victory at the engagement after learning of Fred's death.


  1. The reason for the failure to detonate was not a technical malfunction[citation needed]