Heavy Cruiser Class: Portland
Commissioned: 02/23/33
Length Overall: 610'3"
Extreme Beam: 66'1"
Standard Displacement tons: 9,950
Mean Draft: 17'1"
Designed Complement: Off.: 51;  Enl.: 797
Armament: Main: (9) 8"/55cal.
Armament: Secondary: (8) 5"/25cal.;  (8) .50cal. AA
Catapults: (2) Amidship
Armor: Max. Thickness: 8"
Designed Speed: 32.7 kts.
Designed Shaft Horsepower 107,000
Engine Manufacturer Parson (Beth)
Engine Type
Fuel (oil) tons 2775

WAR DIARY of the U.S.S. PORTLAND Nov.1 to 16, 1942

Action Report on the Night of Nov. 12-13, 1942" of U.S.S. PORTLAND


U.S.S. PORTLAND (CA-33) South Pacific Force From November 1, 1942 to November 20, 1942
November 1, 1942. G.C.T. L.C.T. Anchored in Berth 10, Dumbea Bay, Noumea, New Calendonia, Ships present: various units of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, COMSOPAC in ARGONNE is SOPA. The PORTLAND is a unit of Task Force 16, which is now at Noumea effecting temporary repairs to the damage incurred to the ENTERPRISE, SAN JUAN, SMITH, SOUTH DAKOTA, and the steering units of the PORTLAND during the air engagement with the Japanese on October 26, 1942. 0000 0000 Wartime port routine in effect. 1817 0717 Underway to shift berths. 1901 1801 Anchored in berth A -4, Ile Nou, Noumea. 2001 0901 San DIEGO moored alongside. 2400 1300 Liberty was ranted the crew during our stay here. November 2, 1942. 0000 0000 Wartime port routine in effect. 1906 0806 CRESENT CITY stood in and moored. November 3, 1942. 0000 0000 Wartime port routine in effect. November 4, 1942. 0000 0000 Wartime port routine in effect. 1755 0655 General Quarters on signal from SOFA. Enemy carrier reported sighted off the Loyalty Island. 2021 0921 Set condition III. November 5, 1942. 0000 0000 Port wartime routine in affect, November 6, 1942. 0000 0000 Wartime port routine in effect. November 7, 1942 0000 0000 Wartime port routine in effect. November 8, 1942 0000-2400 Wartime port routine in effect. 2005 0905 NASSAU stood in and moored. 0210 1510 Stationed special sea details. 0255 1555 JUNEAU got underway and stood out. 0312 1612 Underway in accordance with Secret OP-Plan 'A' -23-42. Duty with Task force 16 is now completed. The PORTLAND is a unit of Task Force 67. Captain DuBose is now ComTaskGroup 67.3, the surface attack group. This latter will be in effect until joining Task Group 67.4. Rear Admiral Callaghan is ComTaskGroup 67.4. The purpose of this operation is to land supporting troops in Guadalcanal. The troops and supplies are on the four accompanying transports: McCAWLEY, CRESCENT CITY, PRESIDENT ADAMS, and PRESIDENT JACKSON. ComTaskForce 67 is Rear Admiral Turner, in the McCAWLEY. Task Group 67.4 is to support the landing of the troops and attack enemy ships which may be in the vicinity. Task Force 67 is, at present, composed of the McCAWLEY, CRESCENT CITY, PRESIDENT ADAMS, PRESIDENT JACKSON, PORTLAND, JUNEAU, MONSSEN, BART0N, and O,BANNON. 0501 1801 Changed fleet speed and standard speed to 13.5 knots. 0525 1825 Passed Amedee Light abeam. Formed Cruising Disposition 'AC'. 0600 1900 Fleet course and axis 303T. November 9, l942 G.C.T. L.C.T. 0114 1514 0414 General Quarters. 1345 0445 Zig-Zag plan #8. 1615 0515 Set condition III, 1800 0700 Changed fleet course & axis 325T, changed' fleet speed 13 knots. 1900 0800 Lat. 20-55-00 S. Long. 163-44-00 E. Wind 18, SE. Sea condition 1, SE. 2300 1200 Lat. 20-46-07 S. Long. 163-15-07 E. Wind 8, SE. Sea condition 1. E. Distance made good since 1200 yesterday 204 miles. Course made good since 1200 yesterday 300 degrees. Speed made good since 1200 yesterday 8.5 kts. 0125 1325 Changed fleet course & axis to 340T. 0130 1330 Catapulted 2 planes for simulated dive bombing and torpedo attacks on this force. 0240 1540 'D' recovery of 2 planes. 0403 1703 JUNEAU made submarine contact. BART0N was sent to investigate. 0614 1914 Ceases Zig-zag. 0700 2000 Lat. 18-56-00 S. Long. 167-38-00 E. Wind 6 knots, E. Sea condition 1, SE. November 10, 1942. G.C.T. L.C.T. 1528 0426 General Quarters. 1545 0445 Zig-zag plan #8. 1628 0528 Set condition III, condition Zed below second deck. 1900 0800 Lat. 16-28-00 S. Long. 162-27-00E. Wind 12, E; sea condition 1, E. 2300 1200 Lat. 15-43-00 S. Long. 162-36-00 E. Wind 10 knots, SE. Sea condition l, SE. Distance made good since 1200 yesterday 305 miles. Course made good since 1200 yesterday 353 degrees. Speed made good since 1200 yesterday 12.7 kts. 2350 1250 Rotate course & axis to O1OT. 0205 1505 U.S.S. SHAW sighted closing formation. 0317 1617 U.S.S. SHAW closed McCAWLEY to transfer guard mail and personnel. 0433 1733 U.S.S. SHAW closed PORTLAND to transfer guard mail. 0600 1900 Ceased zig-zag. 0617 1917 Starboard steering unit failed. Shifted to the port Unit. 0650 1950 Set condition II. 0700 2000 Lat. 14-05-08 S. Long. 167057-00 E. Wind 14 knots. Sea condition 1, SE. During the evening watch there were several shifts or steering units with control remaining on the bridge. The rudder was observed to have a 4-5 degree bunting or weaving motion. November 11, 1942. G.C.T. L.C.T. 1532 0432 General Quarters. 1600 0500 Zig-zag plan #8. 1620 0520 Catapulted 4 planes, Lt. R.E. Seibels, USN., Senior Aviator, for temporary duty at Espiritu Santo to remain there until other wise notified. Ceased zig-zag. 1632 0532 Set condition III. 1730 0630 Joined up with Task Group 67.4. Task Group 67.3 is now dissolved. Additional ships present: SAN FRANCISCO, HELENA, STERRET BUCHANAN, CUSHING, LAFFEY. 1737 0637 Changed course to 310T. 1837 0737 Changed fleet course to 330T. 1839 0739 Zig-zag plan #8. 1848 0748 Changed fleet course to 300T. 2000 0800 Lat. 11-35-03S. Long. 162-58-00 E. Wind 15, SSE. Sea condition 2, SSE. 1955 0855 Changed fleet course to 240T. 2006 0906 Changed fleet course 330T. 2018 0918 Formed 2 section columns. PORTLAND leader of section II. 2109 1009 Changed fleet course & axis to 300T. 2231 1131 General Quarters. Plane sighted on port quarter identified as enemy petrol plane. 2300 1200 Lat. 11-75-02 S. Long. 162-26-00.E. Wind 16, SSE. Sea condition 2, SSE. Distance made good since 1200 yesterday 259 miles. Course made good since 1200 yesterday 357 degrees. Speed made good since 1200 yesterday 10.8 knots. 2305 1205 Set condition II. 2331 1231 Changed fleet speed 22 knots. 0303 1603 Changed fleet course 345T. 0405 1705 Changed fleet speed 25 knots. 0409 1709 Changed fleet course 000T. 0430 1730 General Quarters, sighted Guadalcanal Island 0530 1830 Formed column disposition, order of ships: SAN FRANCISCO, HELENA, PORTLAND, JUNEAU. 0615 1915 Changed fleet course & axis to 315T. 0700 2000 Lat. 09-30-00 S. Long. 160-57-00 E. Wind 10 knots, SE. Sea condition 2, E. 0720 2020 Changed fleet course to 285T. 0730 2030 Changed fleet speed to 18 knots. 0833 2133 Sighted white 1ight on Pari Pile. The ATLANTA and 3 destroyers joined the formation. Task Group 67.4 now formed Battle Disposition 'B-1', column of station units from the van as follows: BUCHANAN, LAFFEY, STERRET, CUSHING, SAN FRANCISCO, HELENA, PORTLAND, JUNEAU, ATLANTA, AARON WARD, FLETCHER, and LARDNER. Distance between destroyers 500 yards, between cruisers 700 yards. 0850 2150 Changed fleet course to 275T, speed 10 knots entering Sealark Channel. 0920 2220 Changed fleet course to 258T. 0937 2237 Changed fleet speed to 15 knots. 0944 2224 Observed artillery fire on Guadalcanal. 2245 2345 Changed fleet course to 270T. 2250 2350 Sighted Savo Island bearing 317T. 2255 2355 Changed fleet course to 300T. November12, 1942. G.C.T. L.C.T. 1105 0005 Changed fleet course to 000T, by column movement. 1115 0015 Changed fleet course to O6OT, by column movement. 1253 0153 Changed fleet course to 260T, by column movement. 1440 0340 Changed fleet course to 270T, by column movement. 1459 0359 Changed fleet course to 000T, by Column movement. 1512 0412 Changed fleet course to l80T, by column movement. 1548 0458 Changed fleet course to 090T, by co1umn movement. 1602 0502 Changed fleet speed to 15 knots. 1603 0503 Changed fleet course to 180T. 1618 0518 Changed fleet course to 090T. 1635 0535 Changed fleet speed to 10 knots. 1646 0546 Sound contact emergency turn to 000T. 1649 0549 Sunrise. 1656 0556 Changed fleet course to 140T. 1705 0605 On orders from CTE 67, took station in eastern screening semi-circle 3000 yards from transport group. 1737 0637 Set condition III. 1744 0644 General Quarters, shell hit water near McCAWLEY. 1746 0646 HELENA left station to bombard Japanese battery near Kokumbona. 1804 0704 Set condition III. 1900 0800 Lat. 09-23-02 S, Long. 160-01-07 E. Wind 5, SE. Sea condition 1, SE. 2108 1008 Opened fire, following actions of JUNEAU and Destroyer, on friendly planes. No damage done. 2255 1155 CUSHING & BUCHANAN left formation to destroy enemy landing boats sighted along the beach near Tasafaranga. 2300 1200 Lat, 09-20-00 S. Long. 160-02-00 E, Wind 8, SE. Sea condition 1 SE. Distance made good since 1200 yesterday 190 miles. Course made good since 1200 yesterday 311 degrees. Speed made good since 1200 yesterday 8.0 knots. 0020 1320 Stand by to repel enemy air attack, from CTF 67. General Quarters. Transport group underway. 0054 1354 30 enemy planes due about 1415 from N.W. from Cactus Control. Fleet course & axis 340T, speed 14 Knots. 3 columns of two transports or AK's in the center with combatant ships about 1000 yards from nearest AK. P0RTLAND's station on starboard quarter. 0107 1407 19 twin-engined planes sighted approaching from over Tulagi, bearing 055T. Planes identified as Mitsubishi heavy bombers, type 97. 0110 1410 Changed course to 340T. 0114 1414 Opened fire with main and A.A. batteries 0115 1415 Observed enemy plane, in flames, crash on main- mast of SAN FRANCISCO. 0125 1425 Enemy planes bearing 110T, from Cactus Control. Observed 9 planes down by A.A. fire and at least 6 by fighters. 2 planes believed credited to this vessel. 0200 1500 Set condition III upon receipt of "All clear" from Cactus Control. Steadied on course 160T, returning to Kokum with transports. 0218 1518 Resumed former patrolling station in same sector. 0225 1525 Set condition II. 0530 1830 Set condition I. 0545 1845 Transport group underway to retire for the night to the vicinity of Indispensable Straits. Took station in column astern SAN FRANCISCO on course 070T, speed 10 Knots. 0641 1941 Changed fleet speed to 15 knots, Task Group 67.4 supporting withdrawal of Transport Group. Formed Battle Disposition B-1. 0700 2000 Lat. 09-17-05 S. Long. 160-21-00 E. Wind 8, SE. Sea condition 1, SE. 0710 2010 Changed fleet course, and all future changes, by column movement to 100T. 0912 2212 Changed fleet course to 180T. 0920 2220 Changed fleet speed to 18 knots. 0921 2221 Changed fleet course to 270T. 0937 2337 Changed fleet speed to 15 knots. 0947 2347 JUNEAU reported surface contact bearing 315T, distant 17 miles. November 13, 1942. G.C.T. L.C.T. 1100 0000 Entered Lengo Channel from eastward searching for Japanese surface forces to prevent the bombardment of Henderson Field off Kokum. 1215 0115 Formation course 280T. 1224 0124 Speed l8 knots from CTG 67.4 1227 0127 HELENA reported 2 contacts, 310T distant 31900 yards, changed course to 310T. 1232 0132 Another contact in same vicinity. HELENA reported contact speed 23 knots, course 105T. 1233 0133 Changed fleet course to 000T in column movement. 1235 0135 "We have 4 in a line" from HELENA to CTG 67.4. 1241 0141 As we changed course, our 'SG' radar showed 4 ships in a SW to NE line. Third ship in line appeared to be a battleship. 1242 0142 "We have about ten targets", from HELENA. 1246 0146 Column left 90° believe to have been ordered. 1250 0150 "All hands hold your course". Odd ships fire starboard even to port. P0RTLAND had started to turn left when about 5 enemy searchlights illuminated from broad on the port bow to 30° on the starboard bow. "Action Starboard" and "Commence firing", on vessels in left group" from Captain DuBose. 1251 0151 An enemy vessel illuminated by searchlight and just as the ray illuminated this vessel, the main battery opened fire at range of 6200 yards. (See enclosure B). The 2nd salvo was fired immediately after, and the destroyer exploded and sank. This ship was identified as a Hibiki class destroyer. Just after opening fire, PORTLAND received a large caliber shell hit in the starboard hanger. Commander T.R.Wirth, Executive Officer received a shrapnel wound in the right shoulder. 1252 0152 "Cease firing" from SAN FRANCISCO. P0RTLAND reply "What is the dope? did you want to cease fire?" "Affirmative from SAN FRANCISCO. "All ships take course 000T" from SAN FRANCISC0. P0RTLAND came round to 000T, continuing to fire. At this time the 2nd target, definetly a cruiser and probably a 'CA' received two 9-gun salvos with many hits observed This. cruiser could not be positively identified because of the poor visibility. The target burst into flames. 1258-30 0158-30 with all turrets loaded and ready for the 5th salvo, a violent explosion occurred art. The PORTLAND receive a torpedo hit on the Starboard quarter at frame 134. Both inboard screws were blown off, steering gear and steering engine rooms flooded and rudder jammed at 5° right. The ship began to circle to the right and it was impossible to steer manipulating the engines. 4° list to starboard was quickly removed by shifting fuel & water. Turret #3 was jammed in train and elevation. Shortly after this, after completing a full turn a Haruna type battleship was picked up by directors 1 and 2 to starboard. This ship was clearly illuminated by flares and the fire of at least 5 burning ships. Range was 4200 yards. "Commence firing when on the target" from Captain DuBose. Four 6 gun salvos were fired at the target. Many hits were observed and flames broke out immediately. The battleship, at first, fired at us, but the shells passed overhead. The two 14 inch. shell hits we received proved to be bombardment shells and inflicted a minimum of damage. At this point, the situation was both critical and confusing. As we continued to circle, it became impossible in many cases to distinguish between friend and foe. A large anti-aircraft cruiser was observed to explode and disappear at this time. 1330 0230 "All ships show fighting lights momentarily" from HELENA. PORTLAND complied. There was no further firing from the P0RTLAND. No further enemy targets presented themselves. 1335 0235 PORTLAND'S position; Lat. 09-18-00 S. Long. 159-58-00 E. But for a few sporadic outbursts to the northeast, all firing had ceased. 'SG' radar contacted 3 vessels retiring toward Savo Island. 1345 0245 Action completed. HELENA ordered remaining ships to form 18 and retire toward Sealark Channel. 1400 0300 9 ships observed to be burning of which 5 were major fleet units. (cruisers or battleships). 3 were ours, the ATLANTA, M0NSSEN & CUSHING. A Nachi type cruiser was positively identified. It sank before dawn. A Tenryu class light cruiser was tentatively identified. It also exploded and sank before dawn. 1430 0430 Picked up several survivors from our forces. 1530 0530 The following vessels in sight: ATLANTA CUSHING, MONSSEN, all burning; AARON WARD; Shigure type destroyer to westward of Savo Island; Haruna type battleship and cruiser hull. down to northwest 1649 0549 Sunrise. 1730 0630 Opened fire on positively identified Shigure class destroyer at range 12500 yards with 6-gun salvos. On the 6th salvo she exploded, rolled over and sank in less than five minutes. 1758 0658 Enemy planes reported 324T, distant 42 miles. 1800 0700 AARON WARD was fired upon by Japanese battleship. No hits. During this period a boat was lowered over the side to pick up survivors. On the approach of Higgins boats and SOC planes based on Guadalcanal, the boat was picked up. Captain DuBose requested by despatch to Radio Guadalcanal the use of a tug, to tow the PORTLAND. 1851 0751 Received a report that 4 enemy destroyers were proceeding to the aid of the battleship. 1905 0805 Sighted tug, believed to be the BOBOLINK, on the horizon. 2008 0908 Set condition III. 2013 0913 General Quarters. "Enemy planes coming in from the northwest" from Cactus Control. 2053 0953 BOBOLINK arrived and was directed by Captain DuBose to take the ATLANTA in tow and proceed to Kikum. By manipulating the engines, by backing, and with the aid of Higgins boats pushing on the starboard bow, the PORTLAND succeeded in moving toward Kikum in close proximity to the BOBOLINK and ATLANTA. 2124 1024 Set condition III. November 14, 1942. G.C.T. L.C.T. 1112 0012 Received Pilot Harper from Shore Station. 1140 0040 Set condition III. 1218 0118 Anchored in Tulagi Harbor, Solomons Islands in 39 fathoms of water. SOPA in PORTLAND. 1251 0151 General quarters. Japanese warships bombarded Henderson Air Field on Guadalcanal. 1330 0230 Set condition III. 1628 0528 Underway to shift berths. Pilot Harper conning. 1654 0554 Moored in Tulagi Harbor opposite 'PT' base in 19 fathom of water with anchor forward and two quarter springs to shore. 2044 0944 Half masted colors and transferred remains of battle casualties to shore for burial at Government Cemetery, Tulagi, Solomon Islands. 2100 1000 1000-2400 wartime port routine in effect. 0145 1445 Commenced diving operations. 1016 2316 Observed what appeared to be a naval battle in progress in the outer harbor in the vicinity of Savo Island. Intercepted message saying that our warships were engaging the enemy. This action lasted until about 0400 Nov. 15. November 15, 1942. G.C.T. L.C.T. 0000-2400 Wartime port routine in effect. 2200 1100 Held divine services. 0230 1590 General Quarters. Stand by for air attack. 0410 1710 Set condition III. All Clear reported from Cactus Control. 0805 2205 KOPARA anchored off our starboard bow. November 16, 1942. G.C.T. L.C.T. 0000-2400 Wartime port routine in effect. 0800 2100 Expert personnel came aboard with equipment to effect emergency repairs to the damage stern. November 17, 1942. G.C.T. L.C.T. 0000-2400 Wartime port routine in effect. November 18, 1942. G.C.T. L.C.T. 0000-2400 Wartime port routine in effect. 1630 0530 Kopara Got underway and stood out. 1747 0647 Sent out crash boat to assist 'PBY' which crashed taking off. 1818 0718 Crash boat returned; plane sank, crew taken ashore. 1826 0726 HOVEY stood in and moored. 0110 1410 SOUTHARD stood in and moored. November 19, 1942. G.C.T. L.C.T. 0000-2400 Wartime port routine in effect. 0445 1745 McFARLAND came alongside and moored. November 20, 1942. G.C.T. L.C.T. 0000-2400 Wartime port routine in effect. 1758 0658 TREVER stood in and moored. 1804 0704 ZANE stood in and moored.

Back to the top


Serial SD/TS133,                                                    10-jrh.
C-O-N-F-I-D-E-N-T-I-A-L November 21, 1942. From: Commanding Officer. To : Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet. Via : (1) Commander Task Force 67. (2) Commander South Pacific Forces. Subject: Night Action between Task Force 67.4 and Japanese Forces, November 13, 1942. References: (a) U.S. Navy Regs., 1920, Arts. 712, 847(6), 948, and 2029. (b) PacFlt Ltr. 11L-2. (c) PacFlt Conf. Ltr. 24CL-42. (d) CTF 67 Oplan Afirm 23-42. Enclosure: (A) Report of Executive Officer, U.S.S. PORTLAND. (B) Report of Gunnery Officer, U.S.S. PORTLAND. 1. At about 0000, November 13, 1942, Task Force 67.4 entered Lengo Channel from the Eastward, searching for Japanese forces. (To prevent surface bombardment of Guadalcanal airfield). At about 0151, in Latitude 09-20- 50, Long. 159-57-30 this vessel, as a unit of Task Force 67.4., participated in a surface action with Japanese forces. The action lasted until about 0245. 2. Commander Task Force 67.4 Was in the SAN FRANCISCO. Disposition was Battle Formation Baker One, column of Station units in column; van unit CUSHING, LAFFEY, STERRET, O'BANNON; base unit ATLANTA, SAN FRANCISCO, PORTLAND, HELENA, JUNEAU; rear unit AARON WARD, BARTON, MONSSEN, and FLETCHER; distance between destroyers 500 yards, between cruisers and between units 700 yards. 3. Weather. The sky was mainly cloudy, with frequent intense lighting. Wind from SSE, about 10 knots, barometer 29:76, dry bulb 81°, wet bulb 78°, sea calm. Visibility 15 to 20 miles. 4. A chronological record of events follows: Communications received or sent over the TBS are so marked. All TBS transmissions are not clear, but the text is given as recorded.

0000 November 13, 1942. Task Force 67.4 entered Lengo Channel from the Eastward, with Taivo Point bearing; 240°T, distance two miles, and proceeded through Lengo Channel skirting the North coast of Guadalcanal at a distance of one to two miles. Speed 15.0 knots.
0114 TBS T.F. 6.7.4 from T.F. Comdr. "Keep well closed up. Report any contacts immediately. Do not answer."
0115 Course 280° on TBS signal, speed still 15.0 knots, position Lat. O9-23 S., Long. 160-06 E.
0124 Speed 18.0 knots on TBS signal.
0127 TBS SAN FRANCISCO from HELENA. "Two contacts, 310°, 31,900 yards."
Van Unit from SAN FRANCISCO. "Take course 310°."
Ol32(about) TBS T.F. 67.4 from SAN FRANCISCO. "Guadalcanal reports unidentified planes 000°, 26 miles."
TBS Contact 312°, 26,000 yards.
TBS SAN FRANCISCO from HELENA. "Contact course 105, Speed 23" (Note: An recorded).
TBS Van Unit from SAN FRANCISCO. "Take course 000°."
TBS Van Unit from SAN FRANCISCO. "Any of you boys pick her up?" Answer negative.
0135 PORTLAND c/c to 310°T&G, following column movement. (Note) This entry may not be properly placed in TBS sequence.)
TBS SAN FRANCISCO from O'BANNON. "45 from course as you have directed. Distance 7". (Note: As recorded).
TBS "All ships" (Note: Probably from van commander, or ship in van) "Three unidentified ships bearing approximately on our port bow from 45 degrees. Be on the alert. That is on the new course." (Note: As recorded).
TBS SAN FRANCISCO from HELENA. "We have four in a line."
0140 c/c by column movement to 000°T&G. Time of PORTLAND change.
TBS O'BANNON or van unit) from SAN FRANCISCO. "What is range?"
0142 About this time the Sail George showed four ships in a SW to NE line, Eastward of Savo. The third ship from SW gave a large echo, believed to be a BB. The other three were cruisers or DD's. This force was moving toward Florida Island.
TBS SAN FRANCISCO from HELENA. "Range 2,246."
TBS SAN FRANCISCO from CUSHING. "Looks like dead ahead on port bow."
TBS Van Unit from SAN FRANCISCO. "What is their course?"
TBS SAN FRANCISCO from Van Unit. "There is a ship crossing bow from port to starboard, range 4,000 yards, maximum."
TBS Van Unit from SAN FRANCISCO. "What do you make of it now?"
TBS SAN FRANCISCO from HELENA. "We have a total of about ten targets."
TBS "FLETCHER have you come around yet?" TBS "I have come 25 to left."
TBS "Can you let them have a couple of fish?" "Wilco" "Do so."
TBS SAN FRANCISCO from HELENA. "Appear to be in cruising disposition."
TBS Van Unit from SAN FRANCISCO. "What is bearing now."
0146 At about this time, column movement 90° L to 270° was believed ordered.
TBS SAN FRANCISCO from Van Unit. "They bear sixty from last course you ordered."
TBS To or from HELENA. "Do you still have target support." ?(Note: Support probably should read "in sight").
TBS "There are some ships on starboard in cruising disposition. Also a few on port. Stand by to open fire."
TBS "ATLANTA what are you doing?"
TBS from ATLANTA. "We------------ destroyer."
TBS Van Unit from SAN FRANCISCO. "Come back to course as soon as you can. You are throwing whole column into disorder."
TBS Van Unit from SAN FRANCISCO. "What do you have on starboard hand now?"
TBS Van Unit from SAN FRANCISCO. "Are you back?"
TBS SAN FRANCISCO from JUNEAU. "We have several ships on starboard."
TBS "All hands hold your course."
0150(About) TBS "Odd ships commence fire to starboard, even to port."
0150 At about this time the PORTLAND was starting the turn to the left to 270°. About five evenly spaced enemy searchlights illuminated from about 45° on the port bow to about 30° on the starboard bow. Captain ordered "Action Starboard", and ordered "Commence firing on vessels in left group". Firing opened between both forces.
0152 About this time the starboard battery was unmasked, and the main and AA batteries commenced firing. Visibility was poor from this point, due to own gun flashes, burning ships, flares, and starshells. At about this time enemy searchlights illumination ceased. Own firing was continuous. An enemy destroyer was blown from the water on our second salvo.
0152-30 Received shell hit in starboard hanger. No fire, negligible damage. Executive Officer received a fragment wound in the right shoulder, and about twelve men received fragment or shrapnel wounds or bruises.
0153 TBS From SAN FRANCISCO. "Cease firing own ships." (Note: As recorded. This order was disregarded by all vessels, apparently.)
TBS SAN FRANCISCO from PORTLAND. "What is the dope, did you want to cease fire?" Answer from SAN FRANCISCO. "Affirmative."
(About) TBS PORTLAND from SAN FRANCISCO. "All ships take course 000°." Come right to 000.
Resumed fire, opening on enemy cruiser on starboard beam, 7,000 yards.
0158-30 While loading for the third salvo to be fired at the cruiser, the ship received a torpedo hit near the stern on the starboard side, shearing the inboard screws, flooding steering aft, and bending out the shell plating on the starboard side to form an extensive right rudder. Explosion centered at frame 134. Ship began circling to right, and turning could not be counteracted by the two outboard screws. A four degree list to starboard was promptly removed. As the first swing to the right was completed a HARUNA type BB became clearly visible. Fire was opened on the BB and continued by the forward turrets through out the swing, four hitting salvos being fired, range 4,000 yards. Sometime later the HELENA drew forward along our starboard side, and passed clear. At about the same time a friendly destroyer was about 1,000 yards to port. The four salvos fired at the BB concluded this vessels main battery firing. In the confused picture of burning and milling ships it became impossible to distinguish friend from foe. The action drew away from this vessel. Star shell illumination of the enemy was continued as long as they remained within range.
0230 (About) TBS All ships from HELENA. "Show fighting lights momentarily." Fighting lights were lighted and turned off.
0235 PORTLAND position Lat. 09-18 S., Long,. 159-58 E. Still turning in tight circles. By this time most of the firing had ceased, with some firing to Northward. About this time Sail George observed three vessels retiring around Savo Island. One passed to Southward, two to Northward. About this time, or shortly after, HELENA ordered our ships to form 18, to retire toward Sealark Channel. After the firing had (nearly died out or) stopped (altogether), (about) nine ships were burning. One appeared to be a Nachi class cruiser, which exploded About 0400. Other occasional explosions were observed on burning ships, and one Tenryu class cruiser, or large DD, is believed to have blown up. About 0400 the ATLANTA was observed to be burning.
0630 Sank the Shigure class destroyer south of Savo Island with six gun salvos, range 12,500.
0700 Requested tow from ComNavAct., S.I.
0805 Sighted BOBOLINK standing toward this ship.
0820 Received damage report from ATLANTA, stating that if tow was not available, conditions warranted scuttling and requesting instructions. Directed ATLANTA to act at discretion.
0908 Set Condition III in attempt to rest crews which had been in Condition I throughout two nights.
0913 Enemy planes reported approaching from NNW. Sounded General Quarters.
0953 BOBOLINK reported. Directed her to tow ATLANTA to Lunga beach. Both ATLANTA and this vessel were still in waters off the Japanese held shores. Meanwhile, with the aid of Higgins boats pushing continuously on the starboard bow, this vessel continued efforts to crab to the southeastward. Only during the short arc of swing during which the wind was on the starboard bow, did the effort succeed in slight gains. During the morning thirty four survivors from the BARTON, one from the CUSHING, and three from the STERETT were received. These survivors were picked up by our motor whale boat, SOC planes, and Higgins boats from Guadalcanal. All were transferred ashore at Tulagi on 14 November, after treatment for burns, contusion and broken 1egs and arms.
1024 Set Condition III.
Whenever Condition III was set Condition ZED was kept in the second deck and all spaces below that deck.
1035 Received additional supply of blood plasma requested from Guadalcanal.
1115 ATLANTA reported flooding beyond pumping capacity and jettisoning topside weights.
1205 Enemy planes reported approaching, bearing 333°T, 35 miles.
Sounded General Quarters.
1240 Set Condition III.
1300 YP239 reported and took a tow line. Since 0235 this vessel had secceeded in making four miles toward Lunga. Position at this time was 09-21-30 S., 159-57 E. Every conceivable maneuver had been attempted to work the ship toward the shelter of Lunga. All engine combinations had failed. The port anchor had been streamed. Sea anchors from canvas to garbage containers (5 Ft. diameter), Streamed from the port quarter, could not perceptibly reduce the rudder effect of the plating projecting to starboard. The many sweeps of over ten hours of nearly continuous circling had netted this gain from the turns thru the wind quadrant, with the aid or the resistance given by the Higgins boats on the starboard bow. YP239 had insufficient power to better matters.
1432 BOBOLINK came along starboard side, abreast well deck, having anchored ATLANTA off Lunga Point.
1447 Enemy planes reported approaching from Northeast.
Sounded General Quarters.
BOBOLINK failed to counteract rudder effect at position abreast well deck, quarter, and bridge, all starboard. During these trials YP239 attempted to hold the head to port with a tow line. This attempt was or little benefit because of the crafts low power and because, being fitted to take a tow line over her stern, only, her rudder was overcome and she dropped off, with a strain, across our bow. The BOBOLINK was ordered, in time, to nose against the starboard bow, forward or the bridge, and the YP239 was toe-ed in alongside the tug. This arrangement, with the backing of his vessels port propeller, overcame the rudder effect and contributed an advance of from two to three knots.
1722 Headed for Tulagi.
1810 Set Condition III
1850 Sighted res flare and red steady light near Savo Island. Received report of ememy BB near Sandfly passage. Sounded General Quarters.
2000 Position 09-17 S., 160-03 E
2315 Sighted two small vessels sent out to assist this vessel into Tulagi Harbor.
14 November, 1942
0012 Received pilot, Captain Harper.
0040 Set Condition III.
0108 Anchored in Tulagi Harbor.
0151 Received report Guadalcanal (Henderson Field) was under attack. Sounded General Quarters.
0215 Japanese BB bombarded Guadalcanal.
0230 Set Condition III.

    5.     Ammunition expended by this vessel in the night
           action totaled one hundred and fifty rounds of 5" 
           starshells and ninety rounds of 8" A.P., fired at targets 
           as follows:

Target Turrets Salvos Rounds
DD I and II 2 12
Cruisers I, II and III 2 18
BB I and II 4 24
DD (daylight) I and II 6 36

    6.     Summary of damage to Enemy.

       A.  By PORTLAND.
         1.  Hibiki class DD sunk during action.
         2.  Several hits on unidentified cruiser.
         3.  Hit HARUNA type BB many times (estimated 10 to 14 hits),
             with four salvos, at about 4,000 yards.
         4.  Sank SHIGURE type DD off Savo Island at 0630.

       B.  Observed by PORTLAND in addition to (A) above.
         1.  One large vessel, at least light cruiser, blew up
             during the action.  At least three destroyers,
             unidentified, were seen to blow up.
         2.  After the action, and at about 0300, nine ships were
             burning, only three of which could have been friendly,
             the ATLANTA, CUSHING AND MONSSEN.  0330 NACHI type
             cruiser (or possibly HARUNA type BB) blew up, and
             a TENRYU, or possibly a heavy DD also.  At daylight,
             one HARUNA type BB (later hit by Guadalcanal
             aircraft), and one unidentified cruiser, were NW
             of Savo.

    7.     Damage incurred by PORTLAND.
       A.  Torpedo hit on starboard side at about frame 134.  All
           decks and ships side blown away from frame 125 to 139,
           except for shell plating on port side and some framing
           attached thereto; and buckle damage from frame 139 aft.
           Shell and frames gone from baker strake starboard to
           main deck.  Shear line in way of damage on port side
           not distorted.  Propellors two and three sheared off.
           Rudder jammed right five degrees.  Number three turret
           unseated and out of commission.
           Damage to compartments as follows:

           Legend:- D-Destroyed    F-Flooded
                    R-Ruptured     FL-Flooded, later pumped dry
Second Deck                   First Platform
D-203-L (CPO) D               D-311-L      D
D-203-- Partly                D D-310-L    D
                              D-307-L      R-about 3' of water.
                              D-309-T      D
                              D-304-E      F-About 3' of water.
                              D-305-E (Ice Mach.) FL
                              D-303-A (Cold Stor.) Partly F

Second Platform               Hold
D-414-W      D                D-504-V     D
D-413-E (Steering gear) D     D-505-V     D
D-16-A       D                D-506-V     D
D-14-A       D                D-507-V     D
D-412-E (Motor Rm.)           D D-508-V   D
D-17-A       D
D-15-A       D
D-13-A       D
D-12-A Partly F-3 of water
#2 Low pressure turbine badly damaged.
Numerous electrical grounds and ruptured connections.

       B.  Shell hit on starboard side, frame 68, at second deck
           level; negligible damage except Degaussing cable ruptured.

       C.  Shell hit in starboard hanger at frame 81, above
           mezzanine deck; large hole in side plating, negligible

       D.  Several shell hits from 40mm or slightly larger

    8.     Casualties to personnel.
       A.  Lieut. R.H. Williams, (MC), U.S. Navy, Scott Davis Sea1c
           and eight men killed in action.

       B.  Nine men missing in action.
       C.  Commander T.R. Wirth, U.S. Navy, and 16 men injured in

    9.     Commendations will be forwarded by separate

    10.    Subject to the trying limitation imposed by damage, the 
           ship operated and handled satisfactorily.  The engineering 
           plant stood up well under the shock of the torpedo 
           explosion, as did the entire vessel's structure.  The main 
           and five inch batteries functioned well.  The fire control 
           and fire effect are considered to have been excellent.  The 
           ship's company, without exception, performed their arduous 
           duties magnificently throughout fifty seven trying and 
           exhausting hours, including two actions.  Their bearing, 
           through all, was inspiring.

    11.    In conclusion the following comment is submitted:

           It is believed that the remarkable success with which the 
           force met was due primarily to the circumstance that the 
           enemy was surprised at the moment he was prepared to 
           commence bombardment of Guadalcanal.  Apparently his guns 
           and hoists were loaded with this type of ammunition.  
           Neither of the two fourteen inch hits made on this vessel 
           penetrated the side, both exploding instantaneously on the 
           ship's side. 

                                                          L.T. BuBose.
Advance copy to Cincpac.
        Copy to war diary.

November 19, 1942. From: Acting Executive Officer. To : Commanding Officer. Subject: Night action on Nov. 13, 1942. Reference: (a) U.S. Navy Regs., 1920, Art. 948. 1. Having assisted in the preparation of the Commanding Officer's report on the subject action, 1 report Herewith in compliance with reference (a), that I have nothing further to add to the Commanding Officer's report. S.E. Davis.

CA33/A9/AM93 90-bd November 14, 1942 C O N F I D E N T I A L From: Gunnery Officer. To : Commanding Officer. Subject: Report of surface engagement off Save Island, night of 12-13 November, 1942. 1. The following narrative regarding the night action off Savo Island, night of 12-13 November, 194?, in submitted. 2. Events leading up to the action, being included in separate report, are omitted. 3. Upon clearing Lango Channel at 0115, Ammunition Condition One was set in the Main and Secondary batteries. The condition of the ship's armament at this time was excellent with the following exceptions: (a) The FC radar on the forward main battery director was out, with numerous shorts in the transmitter condensers. (b) The FD radar on the starboard A.A. Director was out, never having been reliable since installation. (c) Automatic transmission to the starboard search lights was out, as a result of gunfire shick during the torpedo plane engagement of the preceding day. (d) The Mark 14-3 sight of No. 4 one point one director had been damaged beyond repair during the air attack on Task Force Sixteen on October 30, and replacement had not yet been received. 4. At about 0127, while on course 280, speed 18, the first radar contact with the enemy was reported by the U.S.S. HELENA, range 31-900 yards, bearing, 310°. At about 0142 the PORTLAND made her first radar contact on SG radar, showing about three echoes from 305 T. to 320 T. range 11,000 to 14,000 yards. The FC radar on main battery director two then picked up the contact about 30 degrees on the port bow, and tracking was commenced by the plotting room. 5. At about 0146 our leading destroyers made a column left 90 degrees, reporting that enemy groups were on both bows on present course. They were followed in turn by succeeding ships in the column. Just as the PORTLAND came up to the turn and put over the rudder, an enemy vessel on our port bow illuminated our leading destroyers. Several other enemy ships in this group illuminated immediately thereafter, and ships at the head of our column counter- illuminated. Fire was opened by both forces practically simultaneously. At the same time another group of enemy ships further to the right, also turned on searchlights. 6. "Action Starboard" was given by the Commanding Officer, followed by orders to open fire on enemy vessels of the left group. During the turn the main battery was kept on the designated bearing by radar contact and the plotting room obtained an approximate solution on the target. As soon as the PORTLAND swung sufficiently left to unmask the starboard A.A. battery, illumination by starshells was begun. By this time an enemy vessel on the designated bearing, which had just turned on her searchlights, was picked up optically by main battery director one. The plotting room solution was verified by Spot One, and fire was opened at range 6200 yards by turrets I and II, Turret III not yet having had opportunity to match up. When the first salvo landed at least four bursts of flame leapt from the enemy vessel, which by this time was recognized as a destroyer. The second salvo was fired and the destroyer exploded and sank immediately. This vessel was later identified from silhouettes as or the HIBIKI class, and probably was the AKUTSUKI. 7. Check fire was given and a new target picked up on about the same bearing, range about 7000 yards. Visibility at this point was poor, as flares were burning between the two forces and the smoke from gunfire was getting heavy. This second target was not positively identified, but is believed to have been either a light or heavy cruiser. Two nine-gun salvos were fired, and several hits from each salvo were observed. The after FC radar was functioning perfectly and the opening range was right on. The ship began to burn at several points. Just as the turrets were completing their loads for the third salvo (fifth of the action) a violent explosion occurred aft, which proved to be a torpedo hit in the starboard quarter at frame 135. Just previously enemy destroyers had been reported on the starboard quarter close aboard, the A.A. battery had fired a search spread of starshells in that direction without seeing anything. However, the wake of the torpedo was seen coming from the starboard quarter. 8. The ship immediately began to swing hard right, and steering control was completely lost. During the remainder of the engagement (and up to the present writing), it was impossible to maneuver the ship by the engines in other than a tight right-hand turn. Turret III was jammed, in elevation and train by this explosion, but otherwise the ship's armament was unpaired. The two inboard propellers were blown off, but speeds up to 20 knots were maintained when necessary, and the ship remained steaming in a tight circle until daylight. 9. A very short time after the torpedo hit, when the ship had made a full turn, a HARUNA type battleship was picked by directors one and two to starboard. This ship was adequately illuminated by the many flares and stars which were everywhere, as well as the fires of several burning ships. The after FC radar functioned sporadically due to excessive vibration, but a range of 4200 yards was obtained which proved excellent. Fire was opened when the battleship was almost dead ahead, and four six-gun salvos were fired as we swung around. The battleship was firing at us, but practically all of her salvos were passing overhead. We were hit twice by what appeared to be 14-inch bombardment shells which dissipated their force without serious penetration of our starboard side. These hits are fully described in the damage report. The battleship was an excellent target, and was hit many times by all four salvos. Flames broke out immediately, and were particularly fierce around the pagoda superstructure. 10. As we continued to swing in a circle the situation at this point became extremely confused, and it was impossible in many instances to distinguish friend from foe. A large ship, at least the size of a light cruiser, blew up in a tremendous blast and vanished. The SAN FRANCISCI was identified, burning rather badly but still firing. The HELENA came by close aboard with all guns blazing. No other ships could be identified at this time, and the action began to draw away from us. Orders were received at about this time from Commander Task Group 67.4 to turn on recognition lights, which was done for a short time by this ship. Due to smoke and flares it was impossible to tell whether any other ship complied, as no recognition lights could be distinguished by this ship. 11. The starboard searchlights and 5"/25 cal. Guns numbers 5 and 7 were now out of commission, caused as was later discovered by the 14 inch shell hit in the starboard hanger which ruptured the power cables. As no further recognized target presented itself, the action was over insofar as we were concerned. 12. A short time thereafter the action dwindled to a few sporadic outbursts for a brief interval, and then died out all together. The time off the action was from 0151 to 0245. The PORTLAND continued to steam in a circle, and we were surrounded by nine burning ships, all lying to or moving very slowly. We could identify the ATLANTA, lying about 5000 yards to the southward and burning badly. A NACHI type cruiser lying to the northwest was positively identified. She burned fiercely for a long time with the entire hull and superstructure glowing, and sank before daylight. Another vessel burning to the northward was tentatively identified as a TENRYU class light cruiser, as she appeared to have three stacks. This vessel might have been a large destroyer, and exploded and sank before daylight. 13. At daylight, about 0530, the following ships were in sight: (a) ATLANTA, lying to but not burning, 5000 yards to southward. (b) A SHIGURE class destroyer lying to, not burning 12,500 yards to westward, just south of Savo Island. (c) CUSHING, burning badly, 8000 yards to northwest. (d) MONSSEN, burning badly, 10,000 yards to northward. (e) A HARUNA class battleship and one unidentified Jap cruiser hull down, 35,000 yards to northwest. (f) ARRON WARD, 15,000 yards to northward. 14. At 0630, after positively identifying the SHIGURE class destroyer, we opened fire on it, range 12,500 yards. Six six-gun salvos were fired, she was hit several times, and when the sixth salvo landed her after magazines blew high in the air and she sank immediately. It was noted that two small boats were standing by her at the time. 15. At about 0700, the Japanese battleship fired two single gun salvos at the ARRON WARD. No hits were obtained. 16. A tow was requested from Tulagi, and while waiting the Portland Put over a boat which picked up survivors. As Higgins boats from Cactus, which had been requested earlier by this vessel, arrived a short time later as several SOC's were engaged in rescue work, the PORTLAND did not stop again for survivors. 17. At 0953 the BOBOLINK arrived and was directed by the PORTLAND as SOPA to take the ATLANTA in tow. This vessel attempted to work herself toward Kukum, and with the aid of Higgins boats pushing against the starboard bow, and the alternate backing and going ahead on the engines, succeeded in moving along in proximity to the ATLANTA and BOBOLOINK. 18. At about 1400 Commanding Officer, of the ATLANTA stated that he was unable to check flooding and would have to abandon and scuttle ship. Authority was granted to do so by Commanding Officer, PORTLAND as S.O.P.A. The crew of the ATLANTA was taken off by Higgins boats and The demolition party set to work. 19. At 1432 the BOBOLINK and YC236 came alongside this ship's starboard bow. By joint use of these vessels and the ship's engines, a speed of about three knots was maintained and Tulagi was reached at about 0110. E.W SHANKLIN, Lieut.-Comdr., U.S. Navy.

File No. 05/hw FE25/A16-3(3)
Serial 0222 U.S.S. McCAWLEY, Flagship, November 29, 1942. C-O-N-F-I-D-E-N-T-I-A-L FIRST ENDORSEMENT to CO PORTLAND conf. Ltr. CA33/A16-3 serial 073 Of November 21, 1942. From: Commander Task Force SIXTY SEVEN. To : Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet. Via : Commander South Pacific Force. Subject: Night Action between Task Force 67.4 and Japanese Forces, November 13, 1942. 1. Forwarded. R.K. TURNER Copy to: Comairsopac

A16-3/(90) December 9, 1942. Serial 00114c SECRET SECOND ENDORSEMENT to CO PORTLAND conf. ltr. CA33/A16-3 serial 073 of November 21, 1942. From: The Commander South Pacific Area and South Pacific Force. To : The Commander in Chief, U.S. PACIFIC FLEET. Subject: Night Action between Task Force 67.4 and Japanese Forces, November 13, 1942. 1. Forwarded. 2. The PORTLAND's performance was most commendable especially as regards ship and damage control. The sinking of an enemy destroyer by PORTLAND 3 hours and 45 minutes after the first night action while still out of control and steaming in circles was one of the hip, lights of this action. 3. Specific comments are as follows: (a) Conditions noted in Enclosure (B), paragraphs 3 (a) and 3 (b) were never brought to the attention of Commander South Pacific Force. Responsibility for initiating action to correct such all important deficiencies rests with the Commanding Officer. Competent radar repair units which have been functioning in this area for some time are believed capable of maintaining all types of radars in a satis factory state of material readiness. (b) Enclosure (B), paragraph 6. With normal functioning and operation of fire control radars, withholding fire to verify solution optically is not required nor recommended. Greater reliance must be placed on the excellent fire control radars installed. (c) Enclosure (B), paragraph 7. The use of starshells is questionable. Accurate information of enemy ships should have been obtained from the SG and SC radars and fire promptly opened with the 5-inch battery. 4. Classification of this correspondence has been changed from "Confidential" to "Secret", and by copy of this endorsement the originator is directed to change his copy accordingly. s/ W.F. HALSEY. Copy to: CTF 67 CO USS PORTLAND Comairsopac

Back to the top

History of the U.S.S. PORTLAND CA-33

Links to other web-sites with information on the

NavSource Online  Has photos of CA-33


Mail any comments or questions to Scott Davis All right reserved Copyright 1997 - 2010