The Second Battle of the Maw was a circumstantial battle fought in 11 ABY. The Imperial forces of Admiral Natasi Daala were chasing the escaped Sun Crusher piloted by Han Solo, Chewbacca, Kyp Durron and deserting Maw Installation scientist Qwi Xux. At their point of leaving the Maw, a cluster of black holes, they encountered the mercenary force of Kessel that had been gathered to protect the planet by its administrator, Moruth Doole. The fleet of mismatched ships was chasing the Millennium Falcon piloted by Luke Skywalker and Lando Calrissian, which was fleeing into the Maw. Neither fleet was aware of the other's existence, and when the Star Destroyers emerged from the Maw, the undisciplined Kessel fleet attacked out of self-preservation.
Prelude to the battle
Shortly before the battle, Qwi Xux had rescued the captives Han Solo and Kyp Durron from their cells in the Maw Installation, and released Chewbacca from his slave duties repairing TIE fighters. They had escaped in the Sun Crusher, a virtually indestructible vessel of unparalleled destructive capability. Unwilling to let the Sun Crusher escape her control, Admiral Daala ordered the Star Destroyer Hydra to block off the only safe exit from the Maw. However, due to the Quantum-crystalline armor of the small vessel, Han Solo piloted the ship directly through the bridge of the Hydra, causing it to loose all control and fall into one of the Maw's black holes, killing all aboard, although 40 TIE's from Hydra were saved. Outraged, Daala ordered a full pursuit of the Sun Crusher.
Meanwhile, on the moon orbiting Kessel, Luke Skywalker and Lando Calrissian were investigating the disappearance of Han Solo and Chewbacca during their diplomatic mission fro the New Republic. Moruth Doole, the de facto administrator of the Kessel facility, had in fact ordered them to be shot them down, and imprisoned them in the spice mines. Unbeknownst to Skywalker and Calrissian, the pair had escaped with Kyp into the Maw. However, when inspecting the defensive fleet Doole had developed on the Garrison Moon, the pair found the Millennium Falcon and realized what had happened. They stole the ship and fled. Unfortunately, the ship's hyperdrive computer was disabled, forcing them to flee into the Maw. Fearing New Republic retribution, Doole ordered a full pursuit of the craft. However, the pilots didn't know the formations for when the whole fleet was mobilized and they converged into a disorderly mass of ships.
As Daala's Star Destroyers arrived out of the Maw Cluster, they ran headlong into the Kessel fleet. Some of the mercenary ships peeled sideways to escape back to Kessel, but others panicked and opened fire. Daala ordered her ships to raise their shields and open fire, speculating that it may be a trap that the New Republic had set for her.
The battle itself was swift and violent. The mercenaries were unorganized and unprepared for any large-scale assault. The highly trained and drilled Imperial troops laid waste to the many various ships in the opposing fleet; many fled the system just before and soon after engagement, fearing the power of an organized Star Destroyer fleet.
The clash of these two forces granted both pursuees time to join up and escape undetected.
As the New Republic envoys went to go to hyperspace, three Carrack-class cruisers lined up to blast the Star Destroyer Basilisk, while all the Star Destroyers launched their TIE/ln starfighters. The Kessel fleet's Loronar strike cruiser exploded under the combined fire of the Manticore and the Basilisk and some of its flaming hulk hit the Basilisk, causing it's bottom to buckle and burn, although the damage wasn't critical.
Most of the Kessel fleet was eventually defeated by Daala and the few surviving ships fled into hyperspace. The Maw fleet suffered far less casualties; three TIE Fighter squadrons were lost and the Basilisk was damaged and had to be linked to the Gorgon's navicomputer before it could leave the Kessel system.
Following the near eradication of the Kessel fleet, Daala launched her fleet into hyperspace. She eventually sought refuge in the Cauldron Nebula as a staging base to launch her guerrilla strikes against the New Republic. The first of these would be the Dantooine Massacre.
The Millennium Falcon and Sun Crusher escaped in tandem (the Falcon using coordinates from the Sun Crusher's navicomputer and informed the New Republic of the situation in the Maw Installation, appealing to send an investigatory force. They dispatched some ships to assess the situation on Kessel, gain access to the Installation, and free the Wookiee slaves captive there.
Behind the scenes
There is a minor variance in how much of the Kessel fleet was said to have been destroyed during the battle. In Dark Apprentice, Commander Kratas says that two thirds of it was destroyed, but in Champions of the Force, Mara Jade claims that it was 90%. Kratas' figure is probably the more likely of the two to be correct, as he was present during the battle, whereas Jade wasn't.
- Jedi Search (First appearance)
- Dark Apprentice (Mentioned only)
- Champions of the Force (Mentioned only)