Battle of Cape Esperance, October 11, 1942

Discussion in 'World War 2' started by spidge, Sep 24, 2007.

  1. spidge

    spidge Active Member

    Battle of Cape Esperance, October 11, 1942

    The night of October 11, 9142, found a U.S. task force commanded by Rear Admiral Norman Scott standing off the entrance to Ironbottom Sound. His mission was to screen the Sound from possible intrusion by any Japanese bombardment forces. As it happened, such a Japanese group, commanded by Rear Admiral Aritomo Goto, was approaching the entrance to the Sound at around midnight. Scott's battle plan was simple. He knew that his force could not hope to match the night tactics of his adversaries. Instead, he would keep his ships in line-ahead formation, using the destroyers to illuminate targets, and his cruisers to neutralize the opponent with gunfire. His two light cruisers, Boise and Helena, each sported fifteen 6" guns, and could pump out prodigious quantities of shells. Unfortunately, Scott's choice of flagship, the heavy cruiser San Francisco, while nominally the more powerful vessel than either of his CLs, had an inferior radar suite.
    Helena detected the approaching Japanese force on radar at 2325, but owing to Scott's distrust of the information he was receiving from San Francisco's set, he first executed a 180-degree turnabout, and then allowed the range to close to perilous proximity before opening fire. As a result, two of his destroyers fell out of formation, and found themselves between the Japanese and US main bodies when firing commenced.

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  2. cunliffe

    cunliffe New Member

    This was unquestionably a great tactical victory for the USN, but an operational failure as Jojima was still able to get his troops ashore. It also did not supply the right lessons to take forward as we continued not to appreciate the true night fighting capabilities of the IJN and the exceptional danger posed by the Long Lance torpedo.
    This battle was the happy middle between two sobering hammers – The Battle of Savo Island for one, and two months later Tassafaronga. In the end, I think this best catches the results,
    A junior officer on Helena later wrote, “Cape Esperance was a three-sided battle in which chance was the major winner.”
    A great take-away would be this quote that could be heard after any sea battle for the last 2,500 years, I bet.


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