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In the novel The Fall of Reach, Captain Keyes notes after the Battle of Sigma Octanus IV, that:

There had been only three small engagements in which the UNSC fleet had decisively defeated the Covenenat. And not since Andmiral Cole had retaken Harvest colony had there been an engagement on this scale.

What were these three engagements? Obviously the Harvest engagement, but what were the other two? Does this include the battle that had just occured? Did the first engagement at Sigma Octanus IV count? (where Keyes executed the Keyes Loop)?

I realize this is a list question, but it is an on-topic one, as it is answerable by a closed list

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    Does the first Spartan-Covenant contact count? A fleetborne naval asset (three Spartans) destroyed a Covenant ship, so technically it was an engagement. – rsegal Jun 21 '13 at 4:56
  • I think Capt. Keyes won with some sort of bastard maneuver, scraping the top armor off of his ship down to like an inch if i remember correctly. For the life of me I can't remember the book it was in. I want to say First Strike? – acolyte Jun 21 '13 at 13:59
  • @rsegal - Hmmm. I wouldn't think so, since it said "UNSC fleet" – The Fallen Jun 21 '13 at 14:43
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    @acolyte - that was the first engagement at Sigma Octanus IV, where Keyes executed the Keyes Loop. It appears in The Fall of Reach (and it was the bottom part of his armor. He actually abraded through all of it, opening some of the lower decks to space) – The Fallen Jun 21 '13 at 14:43
  • @SSumner 3 Spartans deployed for boarding action from a UNSC cruiser and destroying a Covenant frigate could probably be considered a UNSC fleet engagement. – rsegal Jun 21 '13 at 15:05
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One of the first ones is Admiral Preston Cole's victory and possible death at the Battle of Psi Serpentis with Battle group Indie with 13 Cruisers, 23 carriers, seventy nine destroyers, 42 frigates, 5 prowlers, and 50 repair, supply and rescue ships. Cole managed to destroy a good chunk of the covenant's fleet while losing a third of his in the first attack. Later unknown friendlies, possibly Insurrectionists, led a charge from slipspace destroying the Covenant fleet to half its original strength - in the area of 100-150 ships. The unknown friendlies flee quickly and Cole's ship splits off his retreating battle group and taunts every Covenant ship and claims

"From where I sit, we [humans] are the worthy inheritors"

All the Covenant approach his ship where he fires everything he has, then drops 12 nukes into a nearby gas giant, making a momentary sun killing himself, and the Covenant fleet.

The other two battle were the battle of Sigma Octanus IV and Harvest (second battle).

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