3. Splitting the Enemy’s Fire
You are free to call this either selfish or pragmatic. The fact remains that if you give the enemy more targets to choose from, the odds will be that not all of them will be shooting at you. That was part of the Donnager‘s problem. There was no one else for the mystery ships to shoot at, so they all ganged up on her.
If she had had escorts, it’s possible that the mystery ships would’ve shifted some of their fire to the escort. Heck, it might’ve been possible that the mystery ships would’ve concentrated all their fire on one escort at a time to take them out of the fight. Depending on how many escorts are there, the mystery ships would’ve expended so much ammo and lost so many ships that they would’ve been forced to retreat. Regardless of how many kills they bag.
The mystery ships really wanted to capture the Donnager. The fact that there were only 2 of them left, and they still boarded her only reinforces this. It makes sense for multiple reasons. The Donnager is one of the newest Martian warships. Her technology would been state-of-the-art, and she would’ve been a fountain of information on Martian affairs. Boarding her would’ve been entirely sensible.
Of course, this is also why repelling the boarders is just as important to the Donnager‘s crew.
Escorts would be able to help fight back against any boarders trying to board the Donnager. The obvious solution here is to blow up the ships carrying the boarders. In the event that the boarders still make it aboard, the escorts can launch their own counter-boarders into the Donnager to help out the crew. With the mystery boarders being pressed on both sides, it’d be very unlikely that they’d have gotten to the CIC. Thus, the scuttling would’ve never occurred.
5. Donnager on the Run
Of course, if all else fails, there is the time-old strategy of getting the hell out of there. It’s better to live to fight another day, than to die today in a hopeless fight. Or even if the fight is entirely winnable, but you don’t feel like it today. Or unless, your name is Sir Robin.
Escorts would’ve allowed the Donnager‘s fleet to flee in multiple directions. Since one of the mystery ships’ goals is to keep anyone from finding out what happened to the Donnager, having to chase down multiple ships would’ve been problematic. The mystery ships’ only choice would’ve been to split up as well. This would make it much more in favor of the Martians. A series of 1 vs. 1 fights is always preferable to a 6 vs. 1 fight. Of course, splitting up would allow the mystery ships to gang up on the poor Donnager yet again, so the fleet had better be sure about this plan before giving it the go-ahead.
Escorts are great, and no capital ship should go without them. This is why it baffles me that the Donnager only had that 1 corvette in her hangar, and that she didn’t launch her when the attack started. It would’ve been much better to launch that corvette at the start of the battle, rather than waiting until the enemy were boarding before finally launching her.
Of course, if the Martians had done that, it would’ve been much more difficult for the main characters to escape from the Donnager before she was scuttled. So, plot reasons, I guess?