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DD-407 U.S.S. STERETT


Destroyer Class: Benham
Commissioned 08/15/1939
Length Overall 341'
Extreme Beam: 35'6"
Mean Draft: 10'9"
Standard Displacement tons: 1859
Normal tons: 1728
Designed Complement: Off.: 9;  Enl.: 175
Armament: Primary: (4) 5"/38 cal.
Armament: Secondary:  (4) .50 cal.
Torpedo Tubes: (16) 21"
Designed Speed: 38.5 kts.
Designed Shaft Horse Power: 50,000
Screws: 2
Engine Manufacturer: Wstsh.
Type: Turbine
Fuel (oil) tons 483


War Diary of the U.S.S. STERETT Nov.1 to 16, 1942


Action Report on the Night of Nov. 12-13, 1942" of USS STERETT


WAR DIARY

U.S.S. STRERETT (DD-407)    South Pacific Force

From November 1, 1942 to November 30, 1942


November 1
Enroute Efate to Guadalcanal with Task Force 65.
0800    Lat. 14-31.7S; L. 167-17.6E.
1200    Lat. 14-04.5S; L. 166-34.2E.
2000    Lat. 12-52.2S; L. 165-13.8E.
        Noon to noon - 248 miles - course 329° T.

Task Force 65 - Organization:

C.T.F. 65 - Rear Admiral - Callaghan.
T.G. 65.1 - Captain Reifsnider.
HUNTER LIGGETT             BARNETT         PRES. HAYES

T.G. 65.2 - Col. Jeschke.
Landing Group - Eighth Marines.
T.G. 65.3 - Rear Admiral Scott.
Screening Group:
     ATLANTA                FLETCHER              AARON WARD
     LARDNER                BENHAM                STERETT
     GWIN                   WALKE                 McCALLA

T.G. 65.4
Support Group.
     SAN FRANCISCO          HELENA                BUCHANAN
     LAFFEY

T.G. 65.5 - Captain Ashe.
Eastern Transport Group.
     NEVILLE                HEYWOOD               FOMALHAULT
     MANLEY                 McKEAN

T.G. 65.6 - Col. Sturgis
Eastern landing group:- Fifth Marines ( detachment ) of.
147th Infantry.
246th Field Artillery.
500 Acorn personnel.
Two (2) companies - 2nd Raider Battalion.
T.G. 65.7 - Rear Admiral Tisdale.
     PENSACOLA - Eastern Screening Group.
     CUSHING
     PRESTON
     MUSTIN
     ANDERSON
Mission - Reinforce Guadalcanal Garrison and establish new beachhead
at Aola Bay.

November 2
0800    Lat. 11-05S; L. 163-31.4E.
1200    Lat. 10-20.7S; L. 163-20.7E.
2000    Lat. 10-33.3S; L. 162-35.3E.
        Noon to - 300 miles - course 318 T.
1600    Task Group 65.7 joined.
1700    Formed approach disposition with HELENA, WALKE and STERETT
        in van.
2000    Received radio report that a Japanese force of 4 cruisers and 17
        destroyers were headed for Indispensable Straits.  The transports 
        screened by destroyers were ordered to retire.
        HELENA, PENSACOLA, SAN FRANCISCO and six destroyers, including STERETT 
        (screen commander) proceeded at 22 knots to intercept the enemy.
        Heavy rain most of night.

November 3
        Japanese force retired, contact not established.  The enemy, however,
        landed troops and equipment at Koli Point, Guadalcanal Island.
        Task Force 65 ordered to rendezvous and carry out mission on morning of
        November 4th.
1600    Entire Force, less one transport and one destroyer formed up and started 
        approach with STERETT in van.  Passed crippled CONYNGHAM that had been 
        in collision with FULLER.
        Support Group now composed of HELENA, SAN FRANCISCO, BUCHANAN, LAFFEY 
        and STERETT.
2000    Went to General Quarters and so remained until 0600 Nov. 4th.
0800    Lat. 10-59.9S; L. 161-17.9E.
1200    Lat. 11-10.1S; L. 162-17.8E.
2000    Lat. 09.58.5S;  L. 161-46.8E.

November 4
        Operating with Support Group in Indispensable Straits covering approach 
        and entrance of our Force.
0630    Entered Sealark Channel.
0810    Went to General Quarters, enemy shore battery at Kokumbona opened A/A 
        fire on our planes and enemy shore batteries at Koli Point opened fire 
        on our landing boats, loaded with troops.  Our destroyers bombarded Koli 
        Point.  SAN FRANCISCO, screened by STERETT, proceeded to Kokumbona and 
        shelled area for 35 minutes, silencing battery and starting fires.  Then 
        proceeded to Koli Point.
1008    SAN FRANCISCO, HELENA and STERETT opened fire on enemy positions at 
        Koli, each ship had its own plane for spotting.
1048    Ceased firing, having expended 503 rounds, 5"/38, no casualties.
        Large fires were started and our spotters repeatedly reported direct 
        hits on enemy concentrations, dumps and buildings.  Fires burned 
        throughout day.
1100    Secured from G.Q. and set 2 MS and Baker.
1150    Went to General Quarters and screened transport group.  Received report 
        12 enemy planes headed for this vicinity.
1310    Resumed "2 MS", attack failed to materialize.
1800    Stood out through Sealark Channel, patrolling Indispensable Straits.

November 5
        Operating in STRAITS with support group.
        Received word a Japanese force of 27 bombers and 24 fighters were headed 
        this way.  No air coverage is available for our transports.
1050    went to G.Q. and formed close A/A screen about our transports group off 
        Aola Point.
        The enemy bombed our air field at Lunga but did not approach this force.
1225    Secured from air alarm and transports resumed unloading.
1230    Task Group 65.1 screened by T.G. 65.3 departed.
1330    GWIN reported to this group.
        Patrolled Indispensable Straits.

November 6
0215    Went to General Quarters and Support Group, with STERETT in van, took 
        approach disposition and headed for Sealark Channel.
        Report received that two enemy cruisers were headed for Guadalcanal from 
        westward and enemy planes were headed for Henderson Field.
        Our Support Group and motor torpedo boats headed for enemy, who retired 
        before we could make contact.  Shore battery played searchlights and 
        opened fire on planes.  One of our planes dropped one 500 lb. near CL, 
        no damaged claimed.
0330    All clear.
0400    Mission completed, Task Force 65 departed for Espiritu Santo.
        The Support Group five miles astern, toward possible enemy.
0800    Lat. 09-52S; L. 161-35.7E.
1200    Lat. 10-09.9S; L. 162-32.2E.
2000    Lat. 11-46.6S; L. 162-56.2E.

November 7
0800    Lat. 14-07.6S; L. 163-19.2E.
1200    Lat. 14-14.1S; L. 164.12.6E
2000    Lat. 14-22.5S; L. 166-19.8E.
        Noon to noon - 264 miles - course 158 T.

November 8
0600    Entered Segund Channel, following heavy units.  Fueled from tanker.
1000    Anchored in berth C-1
        Received ammunition and provisions.
1700    Held C.O.'s conference.

November 9
1200    STERETT and six other DDs in "C' berths dragged.  GWIN and LAFFEY had 
        minor collision.  GWIN's bow was dished in and her wildcat was disabled.
2000    CO's conference in CUSHING (CDD-10).

November 10
0520    Task Group 67.4 Sortied.
SAN FRANCISCO; T.G.C. Rear Adm. CALLAGHAN.
PENSACOLA                   HELENA                 CUSHING (CDD10)
PRESTON                     BUCHANAN               LAFFEY
GWIN                        STERETT

0800    Lat. 15-51S; L. 167-07.SE.
1200    Lat. 15-22S; L. 166-09.5E.
2000    Lat. 14-13.7S; L. 164-39.1E.
1800    PENSACOLA, PRESTON, and Gwin departed to join T.F. 16.

November 11
0500    Rendezvoused with remainder of Task Force 67.
        Task Force Commander - Rear Admiral Turner.

Transports - 67.1
  McCAWLEY (Flag)                          PRES. JACKSON  
  CRESCENT CITY                            PRES. ADAMS

Landing Group 67.2
  ATLANTA    -  R. Adm SCOTT.
  MAURY      -  AARON WARD (CDS12)
  BARTON     -  FLETCHER
  LARDNER    -  McCALLA

Support Group 67.4
        See November 10 plus PORTLAND, JUNEAU, SHAW.

        Mission to reinforce our land forces in Guadalcanal, protect our 
        transports and destroy enemy forces as opportunity offers.

1135    Went to General Quarters - Japanese reconnaissance planes sighted our 
        force but remained out of range.
1200    Secured.
1840    General Quarters, Condition Afirm.
2000    Formed battle disposition.
2200    Support Group 67.4 entered Sealark Channel and headed Westward toward 
        SAVO Island in search of enemy forces.
0800    Lat. 11-39.8S; L. 162-56.9E.
1200    Lat. 11-25.8S; L. 162-23.9E.
2000            do
        Noon to noon - 324 miles - course 316 T.

November 12
        STERETT in Support Group in Battle Formation searching SAVO Island 
        area for enemy forces.
        Order in column: BUCHANAN, CUSHING, LAFFEY, STERETT, SAN FRANCISCO, 
        HELENA, PENSACOLA, PORTLAND, JUNEAU, AARON WARD, FLETCHER AND LARDNER.
        500 yards between DD's, 700 yards between types and cruisers.
0550    BUCHANAN had sound contact and delivered attack.
0600    Secured from night general quarters,  Transports anchored and began 
        unloading, screened by cruisers at 3,000 yards, and by DDs plus ATLANTA 
        and JUNEAU at 6,000 yards.
0730    Enemy shore batteries began firing on our HIGGINS boats loaded with 
        troops.  No direct hits observed.  HELENA, SHAW, and BARTON were 
        designated and began shore bombardment.
1010    SOME of our cruisers and destroyers opened fire on Douglas transport and 
        8 grumman fighters.
1230    CUSHING and BUCHANAN ordered to destroy enemy landing boats to westward.  
        They destroyed about 25 craft.  BUCHANAN was hit in after stack by a 
        5"/38 during the T.B. attack killing 5 men and damaging stack.
1320    Air alarm - general quarters - condition afirm - transports got 
        underway, formed 3 columns, base course 340 T.  Combatants ships formed 
        close screen 1,000 yards.  Maneuvered by turn signals.
1406    Sighted formation of 21 enemy bombers standing in from north over 
        Florida Island.  STERETT reported sight contact to O.T.C. over T.B.S.
        Attacking planes made one circle over Florida Island, then fanned out 
        and started approach 50 to 100 feet off water.  STERETT was in perfect 
        position in direct line of approach between planes and our transports.  
        Began tracking and had fire control solution well before planes came in 
        range.
        During the approach our fighter planes destroyed some of the attackers.
        One of our Higgins boats hit one plane with .50 cal. machine gun fire.
1413    Surface craft opened fire.  STERETT shot down two with 5"/38 and two 
        with 20 mm. machine gun fire.  These four are definite.  We most 
        probably damaged a fifth with 20 mm.
1417    ceased firing.  20 of the 21 torpedo bombers were shot down.
        Many of them before they could release their torpedoes.  Three torpedoes 
        were sighted by us and easily avoided.  We had to maneuver radically to 
        miss hitting one plane that crashed and went up in flames close aboard.
        One burning plane crashed into SAN FRANCISCO and did minor damage.
        One of our fighters crashed in sea close to our formation, pilot was 
        rescued.
        No other damage was sustained by surface units.
        At same time a formation of high level bombers and Zero fighters headed 
        for this force were engaged by our fighters.  They never reached their 
        objective.
        All told 52 enemy planes were engaged and 32 of them shot down.  The 
        water was one mess of burning planes.
        STERETT suffered two personnel casualties, not critical, one from 
        shrapnel, one from bullet wound in chest.
1450    Secured from air attack and transports resumed unloading.
1830    transports got underway and stood out through Lengo Channel.
        Task Group 67.4 covered sortie, departing through Sealark Channel.
        Covered transport group until 2200 in Indispensable Straits then we 
        reversed course, through south to west and headed for Lengo Channel and 
        the enemy.  PENSACOLA, GWIN and PRESTON were sent ahead of transports to 
        protect them and then join Task Force 16.
2000    Task Group 67.4 went to General Quarters and formed battle
        disposition.  Order in column: - CUSHING (CDD1O), LAFFEY, STERETT,
        O'BANNON, ATLANTA (R. Adm. Scott), SAN FRANCISC0 (R. Adm. Callaghan
        O.T.C), PORTLAND, HELENA, JUNEAU, AARON WARD(CDD 12), BARTON,
        MONSSEN and FLETCHER.
         
November 13
1700    Conducted Burial at sea services.  Buried 28 late shipmates.

0800    Lat. 09-51S; L. 161-06E.
1200    Lat. 10-52.1S; L. l61-12.8E.
2000    Lat. 12-27.5S; L. 162-51E.
         
November 14
0800    Lat. 13-52.5S; L. l66-08.9E.
1200    Lat. 14-40.3S; L. 167-02.2E.
        Noon to noon - 377 miles - course 123 T.

0955    HELENA reported periscope.
1016    STERETT had sound contact.
1352    FLETCHER had sound contact. 
1635    Stood in to Segund Channel and fueled from tanker.
2030    Minor fire on tanker - sent our fire and rescue party and
        prepared to cast off.
2040    Secured.

November 15
0130    Received orders from Comairsopac, to report on board CURTISS.
        The "Staff", despite the fact that they had a despatch report on the
        battle damages to STERETT, wanted to know if vessel could return
        to Guadalcanal and join R. Adm. Lee's force.
0400    Returned on board ship.
0800    Cast off from tanker and moored alongside TANGIER for emergency
        battle repairs.
1100    Transferred 13 seriously wounded cases to SOLACE.
1330    Attended conference held by R. Adm. Turner in McCAWLEY, 
        regarding engagement November 13th.
2030    Went to General Quarters - Jap submarine shelled harbor
        leisurely for half hour.  No damage, nuisance value only.

November 16
        Undergoing emergency repairs alongside TANGIER.
        Transferred all unsafe (overheated and flooded ammunition to shore
        station). 

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U.S.S. STERETT

November 20, 1942.

From:         The Commanding Officer.
To  :         The Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet.
Via :     (1) The Commanding Officer, U.S.S. HELENA (Senior Officer
              Task Group 64.7).
          (2)  The Commander, South Pacific Force.
        
Subject:      Report of Action on Night of November 12-13, 1942.

Reference:   (a)  U.S. Navy Regs., 1920, Arts. 712 and 874(6).
             (b)  PacFltConf.Ltr. #24CL-42.
         
   1.        As directed by references, the following is submitted:

      I. COMMENTS ON AND SUMMARY OF OUTSTANDING EVENTS:
         
        Task Group 67.4, consisting of thirteen ships listed below, on the night
        of November 12-13, 1942 stood in from the Eastward through Lengo 
        Channel, Guadalcanal Island area to contact and destroy a Japanese force 
        reported standing in from the Westward.  The immediate mission of the 
        enemy force was to bombard our forces on Guadalcanal Island, preparatory 
        to landing large troop reinforcements and to recapture this vital air 
        base.

        The STERETT, equipped only with F.D. and S.C. radars made contact with 
        only two enemy groups, estimated course about 110 speed 23 knots.  These 
        later proved to be the right and center units of three groups.  Sight 
        contact revealed two cruisers (probably both CL's) and three destroyers 
        in the right wing.  The center force was later estimated to consist of 
        two battleships and two or three heavy cruisers.


        During the battle, the STERETT engaged three enemy vessels; a light 
        cruiser, a battleship and a destroyer.  Numerous 5 inch direct hits were 
        made on the bridge and forward structure of the cruiser.  Fires were 
        started.  This cruiser was later destroyed by other unit or units of our 
        force.  The STERETT fired a salvo of four torpedoes at the battleship 
        scoring two positive hits.  Bridge structure of battleship was hit with 
        several salvos of 5 inch.  The enemy destroyer was blown up by two 
        torpedoes and two 5 inch salvos.  This destroyer did not get a chance to 
        fire a single shot at STERETT and was seen to sink.


        The explosion on the enemy destroyer illuminated the entire area.  This 
        occurred about 0220 and caused resumption of heavy cross-fire from sharp 
        on our starboard bow and on our port beam.  It was during the next few 
        minutes that the STERETT received most or her damage.  It is believed 
        that all our units had started retirement prior to this last engagement 
        and it is quite definitely established that the enemy ships at this 
        time, were confused and fired at their own units.  At 0230 the STERETT 
        was burning fiercely aft, both after guns were disabled and when it was 
        certain that the two remaining torpedoes could not be fired the STERETT 
        retired at high speed.


        The STERETT had received eleven direct hits and fragments from several 
        near misses.  Serious fires had started in #3 and #4 handling rooms and 
        up through the mounts; several compartments were on fire.  Over twenty 
        percent of our ship's company had been killed or seriously wounded.  Yet 
        the STERETT managed to retire at flank speed (a short time later boilers 
        #1 and #2 had to be secured and speed was limited to 23 knots) and about
        0615 joined up with remainder of our retiring force.  This can be
        attributed only to the high state of training for battle; the prompt 
        action on the part of the gunnery officer in flooding all magazines aft 
        and ordering all power to mounts #3 and 4 cut; to the prompt and 
        efficient action of the damage control officer and his repair parties 
        and the coolness and efficient co-operation of every officer and man in 
        the ship.

      II. PRELIMINARY OPERATIONS:

        (a) Air reconnaissance indicated that a strong Japanese force from the 
            West would arrive Guadalcanal area about midnight November 12-13, 
            1942.  Contact was first made by S.C. radar in HELENA.

        (b) See below.

        (c) Wind was force 1.  Sea was smooth (area nearly landlocked).  
            Visibility about 5000 yards for ships; about 15,000 for prominent 
            land objects.  This was before any fires or firing.  Moonset was at 
            0248 this morning, but the sky was 8/10 overcast.

      III CHRONOLOGICAL LOG OF BATTLE:

November 12

2000    Ship at General Quarters; Material Condition Afirm.
2203    Task Group 67.4 completed covering retirement of transports
        group Reversed course through South and headed for Lengo
        Channel, course 270° T, speed 18 knots.
        In battle formation, in column in following order van to rear:
        CUSHING (Comdr. Stokes), LAFFEY, STERETT, O'BANNAN, ATLANTA,
        SAN FRANCISCO, (Admiral Callaghan, 0.T.C.), PORTLAND, HELENA, 
        JUNEAU, AARON WARD (Capt. Tobin), BARTON, MONSSEN, FLETCHER.
        Distance between DD's 500 yards.  
        Distance between types 700 yards.
        Distance between cruisers 700 yards.

November 13.

        Served hot soup and coffee to all hands in relays.
        Making transit of Lengo Channel.
0026    Changed course to 275° T.
0028    Changed course to 285° T.
        Received "Condition Red" over warning net from Guadalcanal.
        Enemy planes coming in from North, Distant 26 miles.
0130    Received T.B.S. report of contact with enemy ships.
        Picked up enemy ships on our F.D. radar on our port bow, 14,500 yards, 
        and began tracking nearest large unit.
0148    Received order to commence fire, odd numbered ships to starboard, even 
        to port.  Had a complete fire control solution of heavy unit on port bow 
        but immediately ordered action starboard in order to avoid any confusion 
        or undue concentration of targets.  Our course was then 000° T, speed
        18 knots.  We had sight contact of three ships on our starboard bow
        and one to port.  One of the ships to starboard appeared to be the size 
        of a cruiser.  Shortly after sight contact ComDesDiv 10, in CUSHING, 
        leading destroyer, turned to left apparently to parallel enemy track.
        LAFFEY followed and STERETT had started left when O.T.C. ordered 
        ComDesDiv 10 to resume column formation.  Some ships commenced fire 
        immediately.  One enemy ship to port played searchlight on our 
        formation.
0149    Opened fire on largest vessel in starboard group, range 4,000 yards, 
        opening.  This target was sharp on bow and silhouette too vague for 
        torpedo attack,  The order for leading destroyer to resume column 
        prevented this unit from making a co-ordinated torpedo attack at this 
        time.  Shortly after STERETT opened fire to starboard, an enemy
        large ship on port hand began firing at our cruisers and opened a 
        searchlight.  This made it more difficult, to see our target.  Fire 
        control radar was of great assistance at this time.  Thirteen salvos 
        were fired at this target.  Fire broke out on target illuminating 
        forcastle of cruiser.  Two turrets could be definitely seen: forward of
        Several observers insist they saw three turrets forward.  Only two 
        stacks were sighted but there could have been three.  Best estimate is 
        that this was of the NATORI class.
0151    Received hit on port quarter cutting starboard cable to steering gear 
        and rudder was momentarily jammed.  Ship was maneuvered by engines.  
        During this period 0'BANNON came up on our starboard hand and STERETT 
        checked fire.  The cruiser was burning fiercely forward at this time.
        Several minutes later there was a heavy explosion in this cruiser.  It 
        is believed she blew up, probably due to fire from some other ship in 
        our group.  The CUSHING and LAFFEY were under heavy cross fire during 
        this period and sight contact of them was lost.
0155    Received order over T.B.S. from 0.T.C. to "Cease Fire".
0205    Under heavy fire from port.  Numerous near misses and many shells passed 
        overhead.  About this time foremast was hit disabling S.C. radar, 
        emergency identification lights, and T.B.S. transmitting antenna, and 
        wounding 1 officer and 2 men in gun director.  Temporary emergency 
        lights and antenna were rigged.  Ordered action port and designated 
        KONGO class battleship as target.  This target was plainly visible, 
        Illuminated by starshells and by flare from a burning ship to the
        southward.  Closed range to 4000 yards, then 2000 yards.  Fired full 
        salvo of four torpedoes, normal Spread shortly thereafter, and opened 
        fire with 5"/38 on bridge structure.  Two torpedoes were seen to hit, 
        causing two explosions aft.  A number of direct 5" hits were observed.
        This battleship had been under fire by other ships in our force.  A few
        minutes later, saw men abandoning battleship going over the side fore 
        and aft.  STERETT was then within 2000 yards of battleship and under 
        heavy cross fire.
0220    (approx).  A Jap destroyer of the FUDUKI class was silhouetted, 1000 
        yards on STERETT's starboard bow, target angle 120°.  Immediately 
        ordered torpedo battery to fire two torpedoes and 5 inch battery to open 
        fire on destroyer.  Two torpedo hits were definitely scored.  Only two 
        salvos of 5 inch had been fired and were hitting squarely when the 
        torpedoes hit the destroyer causing large explosions lifting ship out or
        water and starting fires forward and aft.  This destroyer positively
        sank almost immediately.
0227    Received numerous hits on port quarter.  STERETT was thoroughly 
        illuminated when enemy destroyer to starboard exploded.  Enemy salvos 
        from relative bearing 280° (approximate) struck port side of #3 handling 
        room, gun shelter and #4 handling room.  These hits started fires in
        each of the stations noted, causing detonation of several 5# ready 
        service powder tanks in each handling room and inflicting severe 
        casualties to both material and personnel.  Both after guns were thus 
        put out of action.  Later inspection revealed two 4 or 5 inch shell hits 
        in the hull which passed through #4 handling room, one hit of the same 
        size in #3 gun shelter and three hits closely grouped in #3 handling 
        room.  These latter were of undetermined calibre, the holes made by 
        their entry measuring 15 inches across the smallest diameter; only small 
        fragments of these were recovered.  A second salvo of 5 inch struck the 
        ship in the quarterdeck area, one pierced the corner of the port inboard 
        torpedo tube, while the others passed through the midships clipping 
        room, causing 6 personnel casualties, but little material damage other 
        than holes in. the superstructure and damage to the starboard torpedo 
        tube nest.  This hit also caused a fire on the quarterdeck.  Nearly
        complete 4 inch projectile was recovered in #4 upper handling room.  
        Word was passed immediately to guns #3 and 4 to flood both magazines and 
        handling room, and the repair party was dispatched to the scene of the 
        fires.  Power was ordered cut out to guns #3 and #4 in order to prevent 
        fires and explosions from severed electrical leads.  Ready service 
        ammunition, much of it on the verge of explosion from the heat of the 
        fires, was dumped overboard from both handling rooms.  Hoses and C02 
        extinguishers were quickly brought into action and the fires brought
        under control.  Personnel casualties were then carried to the battle 
        dressing station and turned over to the Doctor.
0230    STERETT was burning fiercely aft and was at this time completely 
        separated from own force.  Colors and after part of ship were 
        illuminated.  Only two guns were serviceable.  Two torpedoes were still 
        in the starboard nest but one 5 inch hit had put this battery out of 
        commission.  When torpedo officer stated that it was impossible to fire 
        this battery, STERETT retired at high speed, slowing from time to time 
        to reduce 'draft' when fire appeared to be getting out of control.  
        Remainder of our force had already retired.  D.R.T. had been disabled 
        during afternoon air attack.  Ship was headed east to clear area then 
        South until close to Guadalcanal shore.
0255    Headed for Lengo Channel course 090° T.
0258    Avoided what nay have been a torpedo that crossed our bow port to 
        starboard.  Increased speed to 23 knots to clear area then maneuvered 
        toward Lengo Channel running at 10 to 23 knots depending on condition of
        fire art.  Boilers #l and 2 were secured about this time due to failure
        of firemain forward and loss of cooling water to forced draft blowers
        and loss of ventilation blowers in this fireroom.  Transformers had been
        grounded when firemain carried away.  Temporary firemain jumper was 
        quickly rigged
0311    Heard and sighted heavy explosion in large ship bearing 345° T.  That
        ship was burning from stem to stern but did not sink at this time.  Six
        or seven burning ships were in sight during our retirement.
0300    Reported by T.B.S. to HELENA.
0327    Rudder jammed at full right.  Backed full both engines to avoid going 
        ashore on Guadalcanal Island.
0332    Went ahead using trick wheel and rudder director from bridge.
0345    Entered Lengo Channel.
0415    Proceeded at 23 knots to overtake own forces which had gone out Sealark 
        Channel.
0425    Crossed 100 fathom curve to eastward of Leugo Channel.
0600    Joined HELENA, SAN FRANCISCO, JUNEAU, O'BANNON and FLETCHER.

      IV.   SPECIAL COMMENTS ON ENEMY FORCES:

        (a)  STERETT encountered two groups of enemy ships, on roughly easterly
             heading making twenty three knots.  These groups consisted of two 
             battleships, five cruisers, two or three were heavy, and about 
             three or four destroyers.  One or more searchlights were used first 
             by the enemy, then several starshells or aircraft flares high over 
             the area between the forces, and thirdly a form of firecracker or
             sparkle effect with brilliant white flashes fired low between the
             two forces with apparent intention of blinding our cruisers.

        (b)  -

        (c)  -

        (d)  When STERETT was under heavy fire, the majority of shells fell over
             or short or astern.  No hits were received below waterline.  What 
             hits were received were quite effective except for low order burst 
             in one 4. inch projectile recovered (see above), and two 5 inch 
             projectiles which went through ship without exploding.

        (e)  Unable to estimate total damage to enemy.  A cruiser and a 
             destroyer were seen to explode.  Two battleships were seriously
             damaged.  When STERETT left area seven ships were seen burning
             fiercely.

      V.   SPECIAL COMMENTS ON OWN FORCES:

        (a)  See paragraph 3 above for number and type.

        (b)  Communications were all via TBS.  Our transmitter was disabled by 
             hit on mast.  Almost impossible to hear TBS on destroyer bridge 
             during height of battle.

        (c)  No smoke was used.

        (d)  Torpedo battery functioned perfectly until disabled by enemy gun 
             fire.  All six torpedoes wore fired with 45 knot speed setting.  
             Gun performance was excellent.  Fire control radar was of
             invaluable assistance against light cruiser.  Also 5" ammunition
             was very effective.

        (e)  No criticism of gunnery.

        (f)  Following ammunition was expended:
                 5"/38 common    - 90 rounds
                 Mk XV torpedoes -  6

        (g)  Radar search was with FD radar only as directed by Task Group 
             Commander.  Two groups at enemy ships were located, first at 14,500 
             yards.

        (h)  Engineering department answered every bell at once, including 1 
             emergency full astern to avoid ramming own destroyer.

        Performance of medical department was outstanding.  Three leg 
        amputations were performed, and one splint compound fracture treated 
        shortly after the battle.  Only one wounded man was lost after he had 
        reached the doctor's care, and he had been nearly torn in two.

      (i) Summary of own damage:

        STERETT received eleven direct hits and fragments from several near 
        misses.

        Three hits were from major calibre shells set with instantaneous fuses, 
        possibly for shore bombardment,  Two or three hits were 4", source not 
        known.  All others are believed to have been 5".  Two 5" shells pierced 
        ship completely from port to starboard without exploding.

        Hit #1 pierced the hull, port side, at frame 159 about one foot below 
        the main deck and passed through ship diagonally and pierced the 
        starboard hull at frame 166 just below the main deck without exploding.
        This shell severed the starboard steering gear cable which was then in 
        use.  Fragments from bulkheads pierced the starboard degaussing gear 
        cable.  Other damage was of minor nature to centilating system and 
        lookers.

        The second shell hit the fore mast below the yard arm, gouging a 6 inch 
        hole in mast.  Fragments severed the main stays and cut the mast ladder 
        in two.  Several fragments hit the director and slightly wounded five of 
        the personnel.  This hit demolished the emergency recognition lights, 
        the S.C. radar antenna and the TBS transmitting antenna.

        The third shell, believed to be in the same slave, hit above the yardarm 
        bending the ladder and flying fragments knicked the yardarm and stays.

        The fourth shell went through the port side of the hull frame 160, 
        through compartment C-203-L, damaging lockers and exploding 5 or 6 tanks 
        of 5" ready service powder killing six men by burns, concussion and 
        shrapnel.  This hit also severed all power leads to #4 handling room, 
        and fragments entered the power panel at the bottom of the shell hoist.

        The fifth hit (a 15" hole) pierced the port bulkhead of the crews' 
        washroom, frame 155, destroying the urinals, damaging the flushing 
        system, and piercing the ventilation system, twisting and bending the 
        forward frame to #3 handling room fragments pierced the prophylactic 
        station and sheet metal partitions in head.  This hit killed two men.

        The sixth hit, a 15" diameter hole through port side #3 handling room, 
        frame 157 caused the ignition of 5 tanks of 5" ready service powder 
        creating fierce fires, bending and gutting the C-103-L bulkhead by the 
        gun crews' passageway.  Fragments and shrapnel tore and twisted a 
        transverse frame, pierced holes in after deck house; severed battle, 
        lighting general power and general lighting cables.  The ammunition 
        joist and bulkhead were pierced by numerous pieces of shrapnel.  The 
        center column cable trunk and projectile hoist were also pierced by 
        fragments.  This hit killed about five men.

        The seventh hit shattered the port side superstructure deck after deck 
        house piercing the armor shield of gun mount number 3 in numerous 
        places, killing and severely burning several men.

        The eighth hit pierced the port side of gun mount #3 and continued on 
        through the starboard side, fragments damaging rammer motor and killing 
        one man.

        The ninth hit pierced the lower after corner of the amidships clipping 
        room, making a hole about 14" in diameter, severed upright in clipping 
        room, cut the sprinkling system pipe from #1 engine room, bent frame of 
        WT door, fragments setting off numerous pieces of small calibre and 20 
        mm ammunition.  Fragments passed through clipping room and carried away 
        roller path shield to #1 torpedo tube.

        The tenth hit shattered the shield and O.D.D. desk destroying it and 
        fragments hitting the starboard torpedo tube killing one man.

        The eleventh hit pierced door and adjacent section or inboard barrel of
        port torpedo tube, fragments piercing machine shop, #4 barrel and 
        torpedo airflask in starboard tube, damaging trainers seat of starboard 
        tube, and severing gland exhauster line from forward engine room.  It 
        killed two men and seriously injured two men.

        Many fragments or shrapnel also pierced the trainer's sight window on 
        gun #4, shattering the telescope glass.  Origin of these fragments is 
        undetermined.  Probably they came from a near-miss.

        At the close of the action the conditions on board the ship were as 
        follows:

              1. Gun #3 and 4 were out of commission.

              2. Fires burning in #4 handling room, compartment
                 O-203-L, #3 handling room and O-103-L.

              3. S.C. radar out of commission.

              4. Starboard torpedo tubes out of commission.

              5. Port torpedo tubes empty.

              6. Engineering plant was intact.

              7. Starboard steering gear cable severed.

              8. Degaussing cable starboard side severed.

              9. T.B.S. antenna severed temporarily out of
                 commission.

             10. The emergency power cable to the steering motors
                 was severed.

        Following the battle, damage control measures as outlined below were 
        taken.  Fires were fought in C-203-L, #3 and 4 handling rooms with C02 
        extinguishers and hose led into compartment C-203-L to extinguish 
        burning clothing and mattresses.  The after magazines had been flooded.  
        The four holes in the ship's side were plugged and shored.  The water 
        was drained from compartment into magazine below and from here pumped 
        out with a portable submersible pump to maintain proper level.  About 
        two inches of water was bailed out of compartment C-203-L and #4 
        handling room.

        (j) Casualties to Personnel:
             The following named men were burned and jumped overboard to 
             extinguish the flames:
                           
                        GODECKER, Hubert T.        RM2c
                        SIMMONS, Clarence M.       GM2c
                        GRANN, James I. Jr,        Sea1c
                        CARTWRIGHT, William H.     GM3c
                        DAVIS, Scott E.            Sea1c

      VI.  C0MMENDATI0NS WHERE MERITED:

        During the entire action and subsequent fires all officers and men 
        conducted themselves with the utmost coolness and bravery.  There was no 
        panic.  There was no confusion, and every officer and man proceeded to 
        do his own job regardless of personnel risk.

        The medical department was remarkable for the efficiency with which it 
        functioned under difficult conditions. The medical officer and his staff 
        could not have done a better job.  They were assisted by CONN, G.E., 
        Y2c, HAMMACK, W.R., SF2c, LOVAS, C.R., MM2c, and BOUDREAUX, F.A., F2c, 
        who cared for the wounded voluntarily in addition to their regular 
        duties and watches until reaching port, getting no sleep for at least 48 
        hours.

        The following officers are deserving of special commendation:

        Lieutenant C.H. Calhoun, U.S.N., gunnery officer, for the accuracy of 
        his control of the gun battery, and the fact that, as we were retiring 
        from tile battle area, he proceeded aft and personally checked the work 
        of fire fighting parties.  At great risk he entered the smoke filled 
        handling rooms #3 and 4 and saw that the after magazines were properly 
        flooded.

        Lieutenant (jg) G.W. Hanna, USNR, first lieutenant and damage control 
        officer, for the manner in which he directed the damage control parties 
        and the removal of the wounded, without thought to his own safety.

        Ensign P. Hall, U.S.N., assistant first lieutenant for his courage in 
        personally supervising the fire fighting below decks, despite the 
        dangers of smoke, gas, and overheated powder.
    
        The following men are especially deserving of commendation:

        ROBINSON, J.A. SFlc - During action #3 handling room was hit and set on 
        fire and 4 shell holes put in compartment C-203-L.  ROBINSON led fire 
        party to extinguish fire and later patched holes and shored up
        bulkheads.  He worked continuously all night and the next day 
        reinforcing shores and operating pumps.  It is recommended that this man 
        be advanced to Chief Shipfitter for his efficient work in handling men
        and directing the repair party under dangerous conditions.

        MORRIS, D.B. MM2c - for heroic action under extremely hazardous 
        conditions helping fight fire and shoring bulkheads.

        BLANKENSHIP, H. CCM(AA) - for his cool and efficient work in fighting 
        fires in #4 handling room and his leadership in directing the fire party 
        to successfully extinguish the fire which helped the ship continue its 
        fighting efficiency. 

        SPENCE, M.R. Sealc - for his assistance in removing casualties from gun 
        #3 and getting #7 life raft into water for men from gun #4 who were 
        thrown over the side.

        MAYEFSKY, Jospeh, Sea2c - for assistance in removing casualties from gun 
        #3 and getting #7 life raft over the side to men of gun #4.

        KOEAK, J.J. Sea2c - for assistance in removing casualties from gun #3 to 
        wardroom and assisting in getting life raft #7 overboard.

        TALBOT W.W. CEM(AA) - for his tireless effort and continued excellent 
        performance of duty which was responsible for repairing the sick bay and 
        other electrical units necessary to carry on the fighting efficiency of 
        the ship.

        WELLER, L.A. Sea1c - for gallant action under extremely hazardous 
        conditions.  After #3 handling room was hit he led hose into #4 handling 
        room and shoring bulkheads.

        DEAN, J.D. MM2c - rendered valuable aid in putting out fire in
        compartment C-203-L and handling room or No. 4 gun.

        KELLY, B.A. Sea1c  - for fine assistance in handling casualties of gun    
        #3 and getting life raft over the side.

        WHOLLEY, J.B. F3c - for assistance in handling casualties of gun #3 and 
        getting life raft over the side.

        HODGE, H.J. CGM - for his immediate courageous and efficient action
        after the ship was hit by enemy shells.  HODGE immediately ascertained 
        the damage done, took charge in the vicinity of #3 and 4 handling rooms, 
        fought the fire, removed wounded, and personally removed ready service 
        ammunition which was sizzling hot and on the point of exploding (some of 
        this powder did explode in mid-air after it was thrown overboard).

        FRAY, V.W. WT2c - for his assistance in righting the fires in handling 
        rooms #3 and 4, including his help in removing burning mattresses, 
        clothing, and overheated ready-service powder.

        BURRIS, G. Sea1c, LASTRA, L.J. Sea2c, and HOMER, F.A. Seac2c - for their 
        assistance in running hoses into #1 handling room, for removing burning 
        material from vicinity of fires, and for assisting HODGE in handling 
        ready-service powder which was close to the point of explosion.

        KENNUM, L.G. CTM(AA) - for his assistance in fighting the fire on gun #3 
        and in #3 handling room, and for his heroic action in entering the 
        flames from this handling room in order to operate the magazine flooding     
        valves, which operation doubtless saved the ship.

        SEYMOUR, H.A. Jr. Sea1c - for his courageous and unselfish action when 
        after being severely burned in gun #4. he immediately, with complete 
        disregard for his own safety, broke out fire hose, coupled it together 
        (judging from the present condition of his hands this was really 
        remarkable) and fought fire on #3 mount.  He also helped extinguish 
        fires on clothing of SEUTLEY and NORCROSS, and assisted in removal of 
        wounded from gun #3.

        SKELTON, J.W. FC1c - for his cool and efficient performance of duty as 
        rangefinder operator when after being painfully struck by shrapnel he 
        (although he could in no way determine the extent of his wounds except 
        to feel flood soaking his shirt) calmly identified silhouettes as they 
        appeared, gave target angles and speeds, and ranged under the most 
        trying conditions.

        BYERS, R..O. BM1c - for his cool and efficient performance of duty as 
        director trainer when after being struck in the neck by shrapnel he 
        stuck to his post until ordered by the gunnery officer to leave during a 
        lull in the action.

      VII.  LESSONS LEARNED AND RECOMMENDATIONS:

        It is recommended that:    All TBS orders be paralled by C.W. radio.

        A spare temporary emergency identification light string be ready to run 
        up with a halyard for night action.

        A cease firing gong contact maker be installed on the bridge for use of 
        the captain in stopping gun fire, with a sounder in the gun director in 
        addition to those already mounted in gun shields.

        The flagship must be equipped with the most modern radar.

        Consideration should be given to locating remote control release to 
        magazine flooding and sprinkling valves on the top aide.  It is very 
        difficult to operate them in smoke and flames.

J. C. COWARD
Copy to:  Cominch   (direct)
          Comdespac (direct)

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U.S.S. HELENA                  10-s
         
      FIRST ENDORSEMENT
      CL50/A16-3/(SD/TS133)
      November 21, 1942.
         
         
         
      From:           The Commanding Officer, U.S.S. HELENA.
      To  :           The Commander south Pacific Force.
            1.        Forwarded.
         

/s/ GILBERT C. HOOVER

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SOUTH PACIFIC FORCE
A16-3/(90) Serial 00151b November 29, 1942. SECOND ENDORSEMENTT TO CO USS STERETT Secret ltr. DD407 A16-3(005) dated November 20, .1942. From: The Commander South Pacific Area and South Pacific Force. To: The Commander in Chief, U. S. Pacific Fleet. Subject: Report of Action on Night of November 12 - 13 1942. 1. Forwarded. 2. Another splendid example of the fighting spirit of bhe men in our destroyer force. Only after having afl offensive armament except forward 5" guns put out of action and being completely ablaze aft did the STERETT retire. Fire control and damage control are considered outstanding. 3. Specific comments are as follow: (a) F.D. radar proved invaluable. (b) Attention invited to possible enemy use of a new type pyrotechnic reported on page 7, par.l IV (a). (c) Another instance when the TBS could not be heard during gunfire.
/s/ W.F. HALSEY.
Copy to: CO USS STERETT CTG 64.7 Comdespac Cominch

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History of the U.S.S. STERETT DD-407





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