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SD/TS133/A16-3
DESTROYER SQUADRON TWELVE United States Pacific Fleet.
Serial 0033 Care Fleet Post Office, San Francisco, California, November 27, 1942. From: Commander Destroyer Squadron TWELVE. To : Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Fleet. Via : (1) Commander Task Force SIXTY-SEVEN. (2) Commander South Pacific Force. (3) Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet. Subject: Report of Night Action off Savo Island, November 13, 1942. Reference: (a) Commander Task Group 67.4 dispatch 120615 of November, 1942. (b) Commanding Officer, AARON WARD's ltr. DD483/ A16-3(1) Serial #003 of November 20, 1942. (c) Commanding Officer, FLETCHER's ltr. DD445/ A16-3, Serial No. (S)-1 of November 15, 1942. (d) Commanding Officer, MONSSEN's secret ltr. of November 16, 1942. (e) Senior Survivor, BARTON's ltr. A16-3/L11 of November 26, 1942. Enclosures: (A) Copy of chart showing position of AARON WARD at 0145 and 0156 for purpose of orientation. (B) Sketch showing approximate disposition of own and probable enemy forces at 0145 November 13, 1942. (C) Sketch showing approximate relative positions of ships of this unit at the time U.S.S. BARTON was sunk. 1. In accordance with reference (a) Commander Destroyer Squadron TWELVE at about 1800 formed up the ARRON WARD, BARTON, MONSSEN, and FLETCHER, and joined Task Group 67.4, forming column astern of JUNEAU. This group was now formed in column in the following order: CUSHING, Commander Destroyer Division TEN aboard, LAFFEY, STERETT, O'BANNON, ATLANTA, Commander Task Group 62.4 aboard, SAN FRANCISCO, Commander Task Group 67.4 aboard (O.T.C.), PORTLAND, HELENA, JUNEAU, ARRON WARD, Commander Destroyer Squadron TWELVE aboard, BARTON, MONSSEN, and FLETCHER. After forming up Task Group 67.4 proceeded out Sealark Channel. When Task Group 67.1 was eastward of channel, Task Group 67.4 turned to the westward and proceeded back through Lengo Channel, and at 0125 was in column on course 280° in approximately the position shown on Enclosure (A). 2. At about 0126 numerous radar contacts were reported. HELENA had two contacts bearing 310° T. distance 31,900 yards. At 0127 disposition changed course to 310° T., apparently in order to close contact. Shortly after making the course change, HELENA reported contact bearing 310° T., 26,000 yards and reported the enemy course 105° T., speed 23 knots. At about 0130 changed course by head of column movement to 000° T., speed 18 knots. At about 0130 FLETCHER had radar contact with enemy southwest of Savo Island, approximately 20 enemy ships visible on radar screen. At about 0140 CUSHING reported three unidentified ships on port bow 315°-300° relative, HELENA reported four more. CUSHING reported ships dead ahead of port bow, at about 4,500 yards maximum. Shortly thereafter it appears that the CUSHING changed course to about 315° T. for a short while, and then returned to 000° T. Enclosure (B) shows the approximate disposition of own and probable enemy forces at approximately 0145; this being gleaned from information available. At about 0149 an enemy ship on port beam of our column illuminated our cruisers by searchlights. Our forces opened fire on the enemy. Ships of this group took ships on the port bow under fire. At about 0152 BARTON fired five torpedoed to port, but there is no information relative to hits. At 0153 MONSSEN fired five torpedoes to starboard, intermediate speed, average depth 10 feet, 2 ° unit of spread. Two torpedo hits on target between forward superstructure and mainmast were observed. 3. At 0155 it was necessary for AARON WARD to stop and reverse engines to avoid collision with a ship ahead. Apparently the JUNEAU. At 0156 BARTON, having been hit by two torpedoes, brook in two and sank within a short time. At about this time observed a large ship about 90° relative from AARON WARD roll over and sink. This ship was about 1000 yards distance, and was thought to be the JUNEAU, as the paint was approximately the same shade as that of the JUNEAU, this however, now is assumed to be an enemy ship. The approximate position of ships of this unit at the time BARTON was sunk is given in Enclosure (c). Our cruisers appeared to have turned left to about 270° T., and were engaging heavy units ahead. Shortly after this the FLETCHER turned left to the southward and later delivered a torpedo attack on the enemy, details given in reference (c). 4. At about 0200 the MONSSEN was taken under heavy fire and fell out of formation, subsequent actions given in reference (d). 5. The subsequent movements of the ARRON WARD are given in reference (b). 6. A summary for ships of this unit is as follows:
ARRON WARDBARTONMONSSENFLETCHER
Number of targets taken under fire
4
1
?
?
Number of 5"/38 Cal. Projectiles expended
216
80
?
?
Number of 20mm. Expended
500
?
?
?
Number of 1.1 expended
300
?
?
-
Number of targets at which torpedoes fired
0
1
1/1
1
Number of torpedoes expended
-
5
5/5
10
Number of torpedoe hits obtained (estimated)
-
?
2/1(?)
2-3
Number of torpedoe hits sustained
0
2
0
0
Number of shell hits sustained
2-8"
4-5"
3-14"
?
37
0
Number of dead
15
210
140
0
Number of wounded
57
-
-
0
7. Special comments on enemy forces: (a) It is believed that the enemy forces comprised of destroyers, cruiser, and battleships. This assumption is based on tie fact that hits received on AARON WARD were from 5", 8" and 14" caliber shells. (b) The enemy used blinker tubes, and clusters of lights on the foremasts for recognition purposes. (c) No smoke was used. (d) The enemy's gunnery appeared to be fairly effective. However, they appeared to have considerable difficulty in locating and identifying targets. Star shell control appeared effective. It is believed that bombardment projectiles were used. Apparently no delay action fuses were employed. (e) It is difficult to make an accurate estimate of damage inflicted on the enemy. However, from reports submitted in references (b), (c), (d), and (e), it appears that tin following damage was inflicted on the enemy by vessels of this units SUNK 1 large Destroyer or Cruiser of the KATORI Class (gunfire). 1 "MAYA" type cruiser (Torpedoes). DAMAGED 2 Destroyers. Started fires on one destroyer, and fires and small explosions on another (Gunfire). 1 TENYRU or NATORI class cruiser reported hit heavily damaged . and sunk (Possible). 1 Battleship. Two torpedo hits on "KONGO" type battleship (Possible) 8. Special comments on own forces: (a) Our own forces consisted of eight destroyers, two heavy cruisers, and three light cruisers. Own forces disposed in single column, making 18 knots. Just prior to opening fire an order was received for our forces to come to course 000° T. After the battle started it was pretty much a matter of every ship for itself. (b) Communication: T.B.S. was need to transmit battle orders. Four combinations for fighting lights were seen, three combination of which one observer believed to be on U.S. Ships. The confusion in the fleet regarding fighting lights combinations is very serious. It has resulted from the use of CSP 1102 (soon to be eliminated), and from the fact that special combinations have been prescrbed at various times. (c) Effectiveness of Gunnery: Considered that gunnery was most effective, both main and machine gun battery, and torpedo battery. No material or training deficiencies were noted. Fire discipline was excellent, and the fire control communications observed by the Squadron Commander in AARON WARD was excellent. (d) Pertinent comments on Engineering are covered thoroughly in reference (b), which are concurred in. 9. Lessons learned and recommendations: That the importance of careful study of own and enemy ship silhouettes cannot be too strongly emphasized. That too much despondence on T.B.S. is not wise. It is recommended that authenticators be provided for use on valid circuits if it is suspected that the enemy is practicing deception. A voice circuit in the 3,000-7,000 KC band should be provided for use in the event of T.B.S. failure. A voice circuit in the 3,000-7,000 KC band should be used for tactical purposes when there is a possibility of engaging the enemy. An intercepted T.B.S. transmission may warn the Japanese that an American force is very near (within approximately fifteen miles), and therefore continued use of the T.B.S. will soon render it impossible to catch the Japs by surprise. Several enemy targets were identified by the AARON WARD by means of their use of identification lights. These lights must be used with utmost discretion.
R. G. TOBIN

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