First Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, November 13, 1942

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

  1. spidge

    spidge Active Member

    First Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, November 13, 1942

    By early November, the Japanese had finally come to two important (if belated) realizations: one, that the Americans had far more troops on Guadalcanal than earlier estimates had indicated, and two, Henderson Field had to be neutralized in order for the Japanese to control the seas around the island. Consequently, on November 11th, the Japanese assembled a large convoy of merchant vessels, loaded with enough supplies and ammunition for a month's worth of fighting. And in order to assure the delivery of those supplies, they assembled a very powerful force, centered on the battleships Hiei and Kirishima, whose job would be to bombard Henderson Field into impotence. Around 1:00 AM on the 13th, this bombardment force entered Ironbottom Sound. Waiting for them was an American force of heavy and light cruisers, and destroyers.

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  2. Tiornu

    Tiornu New Member

    I hope it's not too late to comment.
    This was an especially brutal battle. The heavy cruiser San Francisco delivered some of the most withering short-range gunfire of the entire war. She landed seven hits with one salvo, and landed three more salvos for twelve more hits.
    Unfortunately, her target was the light cruiser Atlanta.
  3. Antipodean Andy

    Antipodean Andy New Member

    Not at all, Tiornu. Welcome aboard. Hope you enjoy it here. You seem to have some specialist knowledge on this action. We would welcome any other information you might have.
  4. John

    John Active Member

    Welcome to the forum, Tiornu. The USS Atlanta was only a new ship of about 1 year.
    It suffered so much damage that it had to be scuttled. The Atlantic had a crew of 723 officers and men. The action cost the Atlanta 161 officers and men killed.
    ( Article in Google)
  5. Tiornu

    Tiornu New Member

    Thanks for the welcomes.
    Atlanta and her sistership Juneau were both lost in this battle, the only members of their class to be sunk during the war. Atlanta's situation was horrifying. The USN issued a yearly Summary of War Damage including each vessel sunk or damaged with a sketch showing exactly where the hits were, marked with a little "x." For Atlanta, they just drew a big rectangle around her midships and filled it with a giant "X."
    Fortunately San Francisco did more than inflict some serious friendly fire. She also went toe-to-toe with Hiei, a ship thrice her size. This resulted in her receiving about fifteen 14-inch hits. Normally this would have reduced a cruiser to a smudge, but Hiei's crew had loaded her shell hoists with Type 3 shrapnel shells in expectation of bombarding American positions on Guadalcanal. These caused about as little damage as a 14-inch shell could cause, and San Francisco came through it with two of her three turrets still in action. She is usually credited with scoring the 8-inch hit that flooded Hiei's stern and knocked out her steering, the direct cause of her subsequent loss.
  6. Antipodean Andy

    Antipodean Andy New Member

    What's your background and how did you come to get into the naval actions of the Pacific? Certainly some great knowledge there and fascinating detail.

    San Francisco had an eventful war indeed (would make a bloody good book - are there any?). Don't know much about her at all but her original bridge wings survive as part of alookout in San Francisco.

    Juneau was "home" to the five Fighting Sullivans, IIRC.
  7. Tiornu

    Tiornu New Member

    Yes, that's right. At least some of the brothers survived the sinking, but this was one of the first cases when the USN left its people floating in the ocean without rescue. By the time help came, none of the brothers remained.
    I do a lot of writing on naval subjects. My focus is mostly on the ship designs and on naval policy. I'm not above shameless plugging, so you can search around for my titles. FLEETS OF WORLD WAR II is now out of print, though I hope to change that soon. RAISING THE RED BANNER is something I wrote with Vladimir Yakubov, with whom I've also written for WARSHIP 2007 (and 2008 and 2009). I also have a little booklet out called IN THE SHADOW OF THE BATTLESHIP, which attempts to unravel some of the confusion surrounding these ships; they typically get much less coverage than the battleships.
    Depending on where you live, you may be able to find the FLEETS book at Google Books.
  8. Antipodean Andy

    Antipodean Andy New Member

    Interesting stuff, Richard :becky:. I have to admit to being a cruiser fan (particularly RN and RAN) ahead of all else with the destroyers and smaller ships coming in a close second.

    Good to have another author on board.
  9. NASAAN101

    NASAAN101 New Member

    Atlanta and her sister, Juneau, were both young ships at a year-old right? They are both cool cruisers..
  10. cunliffe

    cunliffe New Member

    1st Battle of Guadalcanal

    Callaghan's dismal performance can not be explained; we do not know what plans the late Admiral prepared for this battle, nor how far they were executed. We do know that Admiral Abe's deeds were not particularly helpful to his cause. His fighting formation was unjustifiably difficult, and he paid the price in not knowing where his ships were. He had little chance to execute command functions because his own flagship was badly mauled.

    Callaghan's problems were similiar, but his confusion was more obvious during the heat of the battle. His initial delay in ordering the opening of fire is hardly forgiveable. His open fire order, "Odd ships fire starboard, even ships fire to port", was sound, for Callaghan didn't know where the enemy was and needed a quick spreading of fire. His next orders "We want the big ones! Get the big ones first!" were born out of the heat of battle, and had little influence. His order to cease fire in the middle of action, probably only directed to the San Francisco, which was mistakenly firing on Atlanta, caused further confusion, but how it was wrongly transmitted is unclear and cannot be blamed on him unless further study is made. He did not attempt to execute maneuvers with his ships other than those his captains ordered.

    However, it must be admitted that Callaghan's maneuvers led to the abandonment of the bombardment effort, and resulted in the destruction of Hiei, and that his effort was never characterised by a desire not to risk his ships. The battle in its form probably was the only way to stop the Japanese, disrupting their formation and providing, with close-range 203mm fire, the only way to pierce the battleships' armor. A heavy price had been paid; but the victory was Callaghan's.


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