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USS MONSSEN DD-436


Class: Gleaves
Commissioned 03/14/1941
Length Overall 348' 2"
Extreme Beam: 36' 1"
Mean Draft:
Normal Displacement tons:
Standard Displacement tons:
2,060
1,620
Ships Company: Off. 9; Enl.:199
Cargo Capacity:
Armament: Primary: (4) 5"/38 cal. DP
Armament: Secondary: (6) .50 cal.AA
Armament: Torpedo Tubes: (2) 21' quint
Designed Speed: 33 knots
Designed Shaft Horse Power: 50,000
Screws: 2
Engine Manufacturer: P S N Y
Type: Tturbine
Fuel (oil) tons 449



                        ACTION REPORT

USS MONSSEN                                               DD-436

Serial TS/133                                   16 November 1942

USS MONSSEN, Report of battle of November 13, 1942.
    Report of loss in cruiser night action
    Phase of battle of Guadalcanal.
    (C.O. Charles E. McCombs)

S-E-C-R-E-T
                                                16 November 1942



From:         Commanding Officer, U.S.S. MONSSEN.
To  :         The Commander-in Chief, Pacific Fleet.

Via :         The Commander, Task Group 67.4.

Subject:      U.S.S. MONSSEN, Report of battle of November 13, 1942.

Reference:    (a) U.S.N.R., 1920, Arts. 712 and 874(6).
              (b) Report of casualties and survivors of U.S.S. MONSSEN,
              dated November 14, 1942.

    1.        At about 1830 Love, November 12, 1942, MONSSEN took 
assigned position in battle formation of Task Group 67.4. Order of ships 
in column were as follows:  CUSHING, LAFFEY, STERETT, O'BANNON, ATLANTA, 
SAN FRANCISCO (CTG 67.4 Rear Admiral Callaghan) PORTLAND, HELENA, JUNEAU, AARON
WARD, BARTON, MONSSEN, FLETCHER. This formation proceeded East through 
Sealark Channel screening the retirement of Task Group 67.1 from Cactus 
area through Lengo Channel.

    2.        Formation made a sweep of Indespensible Straits and 
returned to Cactus area via Lengo Channel arriving at a point about 
three miles North of Kukum at about 0150 Love.  At this time course was 
changed by column movement to 290° T, speed 15 knots.  Shortly 
thereafter radar contact with two unidentified vessels was reported 
bearing 310° T, distant 30,000 yards.  Course was again changed by 
column movement to 310° T and speed to 18 knots.  Column leader was 
approximately 6,000 yards ahead of MONSSEN. At about 0200 Radar 
Contact with three vessels was reported as bearing 312° T, distant 
23,000 yards, course 105° T, speed 20 knots. MONSSEN FD radar was out 
of commission as a result of a burned out transformer during an
afternoon anti-aircraft action and had been so reported.  No contacts 
were made by usually reliable SC radar.  All contact information was 
received via voice radio.  All hands were at their battle stations and 
alert, torpedoes were primed and depth charges were set on "safe". 
Material condition Afirm was set throughout the ship.  Weather was 
calm but overcast with visibility to North and West estimated at 2,000 
to 3,000 yards.

    3.        Upon receipt of radar contact bearing 312°T, formation 
course was changed by column movement to 000° T. This is estimated to have 
been about 0200.

    4.        At about 0212 and just after MONSSEN had turned to course 
000° T gunfire was observed on port bow at a range of about 10,000 
yards.  It appeared that head of own column was engaged to port. A few 
minutes previously a TBS report had been received that some enemy 
units had been observed crossing the head of the column from port to 
starboard. All torpedoes had been primed and tubes were ordered 
trained out to starboard and the Torpedo Officer was ordered to fire 
on any Good enemy target to starboard giving preference to Capital 
ships if any should be sighted. At about 0215 at least one enemy 
torpedo was seen to pass under the after conning station, probably 
from starboard. No explosion of this torpedo was observed. At about 
the same time a large target was observed by the Torpedo Officer about 
30° forward of the starboard beam. It appeared to be a battleship or 
large cruiser and appeared to be making little or no way, target angle 
about 320° range about 4,000 yards. A 20 MM gunner on the forward 
battery claimed to have seen a fair silhouette and later promptly and 
definitely identified it in the book of Japanese silhouettes as a 
battleship of the Kongo class. At about 0216 all five torpedoes in 
tube No. 2 were fired at this target singly, by precussion, using 
target speed zero, torpedo speed intermediate, average depth setting 10 
feet with 21/2° gyro spread. The above mentioned 20 MM gunner reported 
two hits on this target between forward superstructure and mainmast. 
Several other survivors reported two heavy underwater explosions on 
this target. These hits were observed at about 3 minutes after the 
torpedoes were launched.

    5.        A few seconds before the above two hits were observed, 
another target was observed broad on the starboard beam and was 
believed to be a cruiser or destroyer, more likely the latter. It 
appeared to be making no speed relative to the previous target so 
another spread of 5 torpedoes were fired singly, by electricity from 
the forward tube using the same set up and torpedo speed and depth 
setting as was used on the previous target. This was about 0219. The 
range was again estimated at 4,000 yards. Before the last 5 torpedoes 
could reach the target, the 5" battery opened fire to port and no 
definite observations were made. The Chief Torpedoman, who is missing 
in action, told a surviving torpedo striker at the time, that he 
thought that there was a possible hit resulting from the second 
spread. During this period in which all torpedoes were fired, MONSSEN 
was not under fire but had been illuminated by star shells from port.

    6.        At about 0220 one of our own destroyers was observed 
about 30° on port bow being heavily hit by an enemy cruiser or 
destroyer at close range. Range to enemy vessel was estimated to be 
about 6,000 yards, target angle 330° or 150°. The 5" battery was 
ordered to open fire on this target and all four guns began firing in 
salvo, director controlled. There was no illumination at this time but 
several hits are believed to have been scored on this target. The 
target vessel ceased firing and MONSSEN ceased fire. This action is 
believed to have lasted 30-45 seconds. MONSSEN was still undamaged. 

    7.        Almost immediately star shells began bursting above 
and slightly ahead. These appeared to be coming from port 
quarter. course was changed with full rudder at full speed to 
about 040°T. during this maneuver and at about 0221 a 
destroyer was sighted close aboard to starboard, range about 
500 to 1000 yards on course about 150° T and either stopped 
or making very slow speed. All starboard 20 mm guns (five) opened 
fire on this target and sprayed her entire upper works with 
800 to 1000 rounds. Gun #4 seeing this target opened fire and 
expended about 5 or 6 rounds at point blank range, local 
control. None of this fire was returned by this enemy 
vessel. It was definitely described as being a destroyer with 
low superstructure and having two stacks, each having two 
white bands near the top of each stack. Still MONSSEN had not 
been hit.

    8.        Almost immediately after this action or at 
about 0223 MONSSEN was again illuminated by star shells from 
port. Thinking that stars from port were from a friendly 
vessel, recognition lights were flashed. Immediately MONSSEN 
was illuminated by two searchlights from starboard beam, 
lights being estimated to be 24" and range about 2500 yards. 
Starboard 20 mm battery immediately opened fire on both 
searchlights. At this instant MONSSEN began to be hit by medium 
caliber shells from starboard No. 1 gun shield was hit almost 
immediately killing the gun crew. Two torpedoes were 
observed approaching close on starboard bow, perpendicular to 
own track and running on the surface. Hard right rudder was 
used and course changed about 50°. Flank speed was ordered but 
could not be answered because forward steam line had been hit 
in No. 1 fire room and throttle manifold in after engine room 
had been ruptured. At this same time two torpedoes were 
observed by torpedomen aft to pass under the MONSSEN but did 
not explode. Torpedoes on bow passed close ahead.

    9.        The remaining 5" guns opened fire on the 
aftermost searchlight and it was soon extinguished. Numerous 
hits are believed to have been made on this target. This 
opinion was concurred in by the Commanding Officer of the 
SHAW, who observed what he believes to have been this 
engagement. A few shells from port were hitting and many hits 
were being received from starboard. There appeared to be some 
large caliber firing from the starboard bow but the type of 
vessel firing was not determined. One early hit was received 
in CPO quarters which started a fire in No. 2 handling room, 
putting that gun out of action. Shortly thereafter the bridge 
and director were hit and local control was ordered for the 
two remaining after guns. From  this point on hits were too 
numerous to account for in order. Guns No. 3 and 4 continued 
to fire to starboard until a shell exploded in the crews head 
and killed the No. 3 handling room crew and putting the 
training mechanism out of commission. Gun No. 4 continued to 
fire a few more single shots, local control until train 
control was lost.

    10.       Steering control power/being taken from the 
after board until that board was hit. It was then shifted to 
the forward board. This was also hit shortly thereafter and 
control was shifted to hand pump. When the after steering 
station was abandoned the rudder was 26° right.

    11.       At about 0240 the general conditions prevailing 
were as follows:

           All torpedoes fired.
           All 5" suns and director out of commission.
           All 20 MM guns or crews out of commission.
           All Depth Charges set on safe.
           Entire officer's country, main radio, Captain's and 
Executive Officer's cabins and level above burning 
fiercely. This was later fed by Pyrotechnics and 20 MM 
ammunition in forward clipping room.

          There were many hits on bridge and superstructure 
and main deck as far aft as Gun No. 3.

           There was no power on the ship, both engine rooms
and fire rooms had been holed. There was no pressure on the 
fire main or flooding systems. The small gasoline handy 
billy was out of commission, the crank case having been 
holed. There was no telephone communication from the bridge.



           The proximity of other enemy ships was not known.

           Both battle dressing stations had received direct
           hits. 

           MONSSEN was ordered abandoned at approximately 0240.

    12.       By testimony of all survivors it appears that
MONSSEN received the following hits:

    1 major cal. at stbd water line 3 feet aft of stem.
    1 major cal. in stbd bow above water line at gun No. 1
      These two apparently passed through without exploding.
    1 medium cal. from port on top of No. 1 gun shield killing
      gun crew.
    2 medium cal. from port in CPO Quarters starting fires in 
      handling room.
    1 medium cal. from port in after mess compartment.
    1 medium cal. From port through No. 2 gun shield but did
      not burst.
    5 or more medium cal. from port and stbd on bridge and 
      director.
    1 major cal. in vicinity of Captain's cabin, starting 
      huge fires in vicinity	main radio. This spread quickly
      upward through superstructure.
    10 or more medium cal. from stbd in vicinity of plot and galley 
       above water line.
    1 medium cal. from port near laundry.
    4 median cal. from port in No. 1 Fireroom.
    3 medium cal. 2 from stbd, 1 from port in Forward Enigneroom.
    1 medium cal. from port in No. 2 uptake.
    2 medium cal. from strd in After Engineroom. The second of
      these struck the throttle manifold rupturing it. 
    Unknown number medium cal. in vicinity of after stack and
      torpedo tubes.
    1 medium cal. exploded in crews wash room (after battle dressing
      station) killing many personnel in No. 3 handling room.
    1 medium cal. from port near after depth charge projector killing
      or wounding many men about to abandon snip.
    1 medium cal. on after deck house just aft of search light.

    13.       Inasmuch as most engineers are missing very little 
information is known concerning engineering material casualties. It 
is known that the after board was hit early in the action and 
attempts to put it back in operation caused an electrical fire at the 
board. It appears that the major damage to the ship was done by 
medium caliber hits and from fires that resulted. There were very few 
members of the crew who were not struck by shrapnel. The ships one 
boat was blown off and so badly holed by shrapnel that it soon sank.
All rafts seem to have been hit by shrapnel and at least four forward 
rafts were blown clear of the ship. Rations and medical supplies on 
several rafts were struck and ruined after leakage of sea water. The 
fiber float life net alone seems to have been undamaged rafts. All 
rafts, life nets and many powder cans were used to float 
survivors, particularly wounded.

    14.       Firing had ceased about 5 minutes after orders to
abandon ship were given. Lt.(jg) George S. Hamm, USNR, First Lieut., 
was uninjured and he with all able bodied men on the main deck carried 
on heroically in attempts to give emergency first aid to the wounded 
and to launch life rafts and empty powder cans to which the wounded 
were secured. This group, without thought of safety for themselves 
searched the ship as thoroughly as conditions of fire and damage would 
permit to make certain that all living were got off the ship. Lt.(jg) 
Ham left the ship only after he had been persuaded by his men that he 
could do no more good on board and that the fires would undoubtedly 
reach the magazines before long. The Commanding Officer and all bride 
survivors were trapped on the bride. The inside passage was all 
aflame and the outside ladder was shot away. Several tried jumping to 
the superstructure deck or torpedo deck. Four men survived in this 
manner. The officers, followed at about 0300 by the Commanding 
Officer, jumped from the bride rail to the water. One of 
these officers is believed to have struck the boat davit on the way 
down. He, Ens. R.W. Kittredge, USNR died later in the water as a 
result of injuries believed to have been received in his fall. Ens. 
Lassen, USNR, Torpedo Officer with a serious shrapnel wound in one leg 
suffered no additional injuries from his leap. The Commanding Officer 
only slightly wounded by shrapnel received broken bones in both 
shoulders as a result of his jump. All reached rafts. Ens. 
Kittredge disappeared during the night.

    15.       This report has been written entirely from memory 
and from testimony of survivors, all records and papers having been 
destroyed with the ship. Confidential publications and codes were made 
up with heavy weights attached and the coding machine was cast loose 
ready for destruction but since the entire area in which this material 
was located was a blazing inferno, there was no opportunity to reach 
it. It is not believed that any of it could Lave survived the fire and 
tae depth of water which the ship rests makes any possible salvage and 
compromise almost impossible. Approximately 40% of officers and men 
survived and a complete report, reference (b) has been 
forwarded under separate cover.

    16.       It is believed MONSSEN was engaged by two and possibly
three destroyers and one cruiser or battleship who inflicted the 
damaged described above. It is the opinion of the Commanding Officer 
that MONSSEN inflicted damage to the enemy as follows:

    Two torpedo hits amidships on KONGO class battleship.
    One possible torpedo hit on a cruiser or large destroyer. 
    Several 5" hits on one cruiser or destroyer to port.
    Many 20 MM and 3 or 4 5" hits on a destroyer at close range
    to stbd. This destroyer had two stacks with two white bands on each 
    stack.
    
    Numerous 20 MM and several 5" hits on a large destroyer to stbd 
at about 2000 to 2500 yards range.

    The Gunnery Officer and control party are missing in action and 
the above statements are made from scanty information now 
available.

    17.       After daylight MONSSEN though burning from forward 
bulkhead of CPO Quarters to Torpedo Workshop was still afloat. At  
this time Storey, C.C., BM2c, Spurgeon, L.F., GM2c and Hughes J.G. 
F1c, returned to the ship and found eight more men alive. These 
they put on their raft. Five of these eight lived after reaching 
shore. The presence of the mind of these men, the utter disregard 
for own safety in the possibility of rescuing additional shipmates 
is most commendable. The actions of Storey, C.C., BM2c are reported to 
have been calm, determined and in many cases far beyond the call of 
duty but in accordance with the highest traditions of the Naval service. 
A supplementary report in the case of Storey will be submitted when 
more details are available. At about 0900 more heavy fires were seen 
to break out and during the late forenoon or early afternoon MONSSEN 
blew up and sunk at approximately Latitude 09-04-30 South, Longitude 
159-54 East in about 500 fathoms of water.

    18.       All survivors reported in reference (a} were picked up 
by landing boats at about 0800 love, November 13th and put ashore at 
Guadalcanal about at 0930 where they were encamped or hospitalized. 
Seven critically wounded enlisted men died and were buried in the 
First Marine Division Cemetery at Guadalcanal. The moral of all 
survivors is high and they are most anxious to stay together. It is 
felt that the efficiency of the fleet and the moral of the men could best 
be served if the survivors of the MONSSEN, who prior to this action 
claimed the definite destruction of seven aircraft and four 
submarines, could be used as the nucleus crew for a new ship.

    19.       The Executive Officer is missing in action and no 
supplementary report will be available. It is believed that this 
report covers all the essential facts that are available.

                                                     Chas. E. McCombs

Copy to:
     ComSoPac
     ComDesPac


SOUTH PACIFIC FORCE of the United States Pacific Fleet Headquarters of the Commander SECOND ENDORSEMENT ON CO MONSSEN Secret Ltr. of November 16, 1942. From: The Commander South Pacific Area and South Pacific Force. To : The Commander-in-Chief, U. S. Pacific Fleet. Subject: U.S.S. MONSSEN, Report of battle of November 13, 1942. 1. Forwarded. 2. This report gives a vivid picture of an outstanding performance which is in no way discredited by the loss of the MONSSEN. Only after the vessel had been completely immobilized in all departments was the order given to abandon ship. 3. Failure of the SC radar to produce results may indicate damage resulting from the previous anti-aircraft firing. 4. The report in its present phrasing has a great potential morale value, and substantial extracts might well be given to the press in addition to wide distribution within the armed forces. W. F. HALSEY Copy to: Comdesdiv Nine
ComDesDiv. NINE. File No. A16 Serial (03-43). Destroyer Division NINE. U.S.S. DRAYTON, Flagship % Fleet Post Office, San Francisco, Calif., January 18, 1943. From: The Commander Task Group 67.4. To : The Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet. Via : The Commander South Pacific Force. Subject: U.S.S. MONSSEN, Report of battle of November 13, 1942. 1. This action report received and forwarded this date. L.A. Abercrombie
U.S.S. MONSSEN c/o Postmaster San Francisco, California. 12 November 1942 From : Commanding Officer, U.S.S. MONSSEN. To : The Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet. Via : The Commander Task Group 67.4. Subject: U.S.S. MONSSEN, Anti-aircraft action report. Reference: U.S.N.R., 1920, Arts. 712, 784(6). 1. U.S.S. MONSSEN as a unit of Task Group 67.4 (Rear Admiral Callaghan) was patrolling the extreme western sector of an anti-submarine screen of radius 6,000 yards around Task Group 67.1 unloading at Lunga Point, Guadalcanal when word was received that an air attack was imminent. 2. General Quarters was immediately sounded at 1318 and MONSSEN closed TG 67.1 to 1,000 yards as had been previously order-ed. At about 134O TG 67.1 got underway and proceeded on base course 3400 T. TG 67.4 formed a circular screen about TB 67.1 at a radius of about 1200 to 150O yards from center of formation. At 1407, 23 Japanese twin engine torpedo bombers appeared over the middle eastern section of Florida Island at a low altitude. These enemy planes w ere instantly recognized and tracked as they approached the formation. 3. At 1412 the MONSSEN main battery, followed shortly by the 20 MM battery opened fire on aircraft targets of opportunity. One attacking plane each was shot down in flames by the main and 20 MM batteries. 4. Of the 23 planes attacking, 21 were shot down by anti- aircraft fire. No hits or casualties were observed on any ship of the formation. MONSSEN received no personnel casualties and only material casualty resulting was the burning out and rupture of an oil filled transformer in the FD Radar. This casualty was reported to Immediate Superior in Command. 5. MONSSEN picked up no prisoners or survivors and salvaged no material following this engagement. 6. At about 1500, TG 67.1 returned to anchorage and MONSSEN resumed her position in anti-submarine screen. Chas E. McCombs. Destroyer Division NINE. U.S.S. DRAYTON, Flagship % Fleet Post Office, San Francisco, Calif., January 18, 1943. From: The Commander Task Group 67.4. To : The Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet. Via : The Commander South Pacific Force. Subject: U.S.S. MONSSEN, Anti-Aircraft report 1. This action report received and forwarded this date. L.A. Abercrombie
SOUTH PACIFIC FORCE of the United States Pacific Fleet Headquarters of the Commander 1st Endorsement on CTG 67.4 Secret Ltr. A16 Serial 02-42 of January 18, 1943. From: The Commander South Pacific Area and South Pacific Force. To : The Commander-in-Chief, U. S. Pacific Fleet. Subject: U.S.S. MONSSEN, Anti-aircraft action report. 1. Forwarded. W.F. HALSEY


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