As an experiment, I put a stationary decoy cruiser in one corner. I then put my battlelines in the opposite corner. I then used the escort command so that in each line, the first two ships were escorting the stationary decoy, and then chain escorted the odd ships to follow the odd ones, and the even to follow the even numbered ships at the appropriate spacing.
The result was that my ships were moving perpendicular to the enemy force, but the battle line stayed perfectly perpendicular to the enemy approach.
Something I am going to try the next time I do a survival challenge. I am going to completely chain my cruisers. 1 will escort 2, 2 will escort 3, and 3 will escort 4, with 4 escorting 1. Have the “keep moving” command so that my ships continually wheel about, hopefully allowing them to recover and repair in turn.