FE25/A16-3 (8) SOUTH PACIFIC FORCE
Office of the Commander
U.S.S. McCAWLEY, Flagship,
December 3, 1942.
From: Commander Amphibious Force, South Pacific.
To: Commander South Pacific Force.
Subject: Report of Operations of Task Force SIXTYSEVEN and
Task Group 62.4 - Reinforcement of GUADALCANAL
November 8-15, 1942, and Summary of Third Battle of
Enclosures: (A) Directives and modifications of plans
for the operations as follows:
(1) CTF 62 paraphrased despatches 070430 and 100400
to CTG 62.4.
(2) Comsopac paraphrased despatch 080222 of
(3) CTF 67 mailgrams 070917, 070225 and 070952 of
(4) CTF 67.1 OpOrd No. 2-42 of November 7, 1942.
(5) 182nd Infantry Field Order No. 1 of November 8,
(6) CTF 67 secret serial 00389 of November 11, 1942.
(7) CTF 67 letter of Instructions, serial 00386 of
November 10, 1942, and Modifications of
instructions, serial 00388 of November 11, 1942.
(8) CTF 67 paraphrased despatch 120133 of November,
(9) CTG 67.4 paraphrased despatch 120615 of
(10) HELENA paraphrased despatch 122005 of November.
(11) CTF 67 paraphrased despatch 130200 of November.
(B) Two track charts of the subject operations.
1. Minus eleven zone time is used for all times and dates in this
report. Zone zero time is used in dispatches.
2. The enemy during the last half of October succeeded in interrupting,
to a great extent, the logistic supply to our forces in GUADALCANAL
and TULAGI; and succeeded in landing additional troops. As a counter
to this forward push of the enemy, a comprehensive plan was drawn up
for expediting the movement of supplies and reinforcements to
GUADALCANAL, and for disorganizing enemy operations. The operations
described herein, a part of this larger plan, involved the movement
to GUADALCANAL of two groups of transports supported by strong
combatant forces. The first group was scheduled to arrive on
November eleventh, and the second on November twelfth:
(a) The ZEILIN, LIBRA, and BETELGEUSE, having on board the First
Marine Aviation Engineer Battalion, Marine replacement troops,
Marine Air Wing ONE ground personnel, and aviation engineering
and operating material, ammunition and food. These ships, with
an escort consisting of the ATLANTA, AARON WARD, FLETCHER,
LARDNER, and the McCALLA, the whole under command of Rear
Admiral Norman SCOTT, constituted Task Group 62.4. This group
was under the operational control of Commander Amphibious Force,
(b) The McCAWLEY, PRESIDENT JACKSON, PRESIDENT ADAMS, and CRESCENT
CITY, (Task Group 67.1) with the Army 182nd Reinforced Regiment
(less one infantry battalion); a Marine 155mm howitzer battery;
1300 officers and men of the Fourth Marine Replacement
Battalion; casuals; 372 naval personnel as reinforcements for
the Naval Local Defense Force; and considerable ammunition
reserves for the troops in GUADALCANAL. Cover for this convoy
was provided by Task Group 67.4, under Rear Admiral D.J.
CALLAGHAN, consisting initially of the SAN FRANCISCO, PENSACOLA,
PORTLAND, HELENA, JUNEAU, O'BANNON, BARTON, MONSSEN, SHAW,
LAFFEY, BUCHANAN, GWIN, STERETT, PRESTON, and CUSHING. The
units listed in this subparagraph were organized into temporary
Task Force 67, directly commanded by Rear Admiral R.K. TURNER in
The McCAWLEY. On arrival of this force at GUADALCANAL it was
intended to merge Task Group 62.4 with Task Force 67.
3. An essential feature of the plan was the employment of the
considerable surface combatant forces listed in the preceding
paragraph. There were two chief purposes in assigning a strong
combatant force to accompany the transports: first, to provide
adequate protection for the GUADALCANAL reinforcements against the
expanding enemy operations; and second, to make an offensive strike
against enemy surface forces which might be encountered, or which
might be drawn to GUADALCANAL to attack our transports. As the
situation developed, the offensive purpose turned out to have the
4. Task Group 62.4 departed from ESPIRITU SANTO on November ninth and,
passing by the north of SAN CRISTOBAL ISLAND, arrived at GUADALCANAL
on the morning of November eleventh, The route north of SAY CRISTOBAL
was chosen in order to evade discovery by the long-range enemy air
scouts based in the BUIN region; and to avoid a cluster of submarines
further westward. However, the enemy, about November ninth, began
basing two or three large twin-float seaplanes on a surface tender
thought at first to be in the SWALLOW ISLANDS, as had occurred about
two weeks previously. Task Group 62.4 was sighted by one of these
airplanes during the forenoon of the tenth, and this probably led to
the enemy air attack described below.
5. On November eleventh, the enemy made heavy air attacks on the
airfield at GUADALCANAL, and also made a dive-bombing attack on Task
Group 62.4, which had arrived that morning. The ZEILIN was struck by
one bomb and flooded aft, while near misses slightly damaged the
LIBRA and BETELGEUSE. There were considerable personnel casualties.
The vessels continued unloading after the attack, but it became
necessary at the end of the day to send the ZEILIN back to ESPIRITU
SANTO, with the LARDNER escorting. She proceeded under her own power
at a speed of ten knots and arrived safely on November fourteenth.
Remaining vessels of the group retired into INDISPENSABLE STRAIT at
sunset, and joined Task Force 67 on its arrival in the Strait during
6. The four transports of Task Force 67, Rear Admiral TURNER commanding,
with the PORTLAND, JUNEAU, O'BANNON, BARTON, and MONSSEN escorting,
departed NOUMEA for GUADALCANAL on November eighth. The SHAW left
NOUMEA on the ninth and joined the group on the eleventh. The other
vessels of Task Force 67, comprising the greater part of Task Group
67.4, under the command of Rear Admiral D.J. CALLAGHAN, the SAN
FRANCISCO, HELENA, PENSACOLA, LAFFEY, BUCHANAN, GWIN, STERETT,
PRESTON, and CUSHING, departed ESPIRITU SANTO on November tenth, and
rendezvoused with the Transport Group near the eastern end of SAN
CRISTOBAL ISLAND on the morning of the eleventh. The PORTLAND and
JUNEAU were detached from Task Group 67.1 and joined Task Group 67.4.
This group thereafter, during daylight of the eleventh, operated
about twenty miles to the rear of the Transport Group and its four
escorting destroyers. On November tenth the PENSACOLA, GWIN, and
PRESTON had been detached from Task Group 67.4 by orders of the
Commander South Pacific Force for the purpose of reinforcing Task
Force 16. The developing situation had caused the Commander South
Pacific Force to order Task Force 16 to leave NOUMEA on November
tenth, and to proceed northward for offensive operations against the
7. By the afternoon of November ninth, it became apparent that the enemy
had set in process a very strong amphibious, surface, and air
offensive against GUADALCANAL, and that he was already enroute to the
attack with strong units. It looked like his "all-out" effort, and
created considerable apprehension for the safety of our position in
the SOLOMONS. Since intelligence reports indicated November
thirteenth as the prospective arrival date of enemy transports at
GUADALCANAL it was apparent, that we ought to make every possible
effort to land our own troops and equipment on the twelfth; and also
to make the most of favorable opportunities for offensive operations
against enemy transports and surface vessels. An estimate of the
situation, including instructions to Rear Admiral CALLAGHAN,
Commanding Task Group 67.4, was drawn up by the Force Commander in
the forenoon of November tenth. Since the key to our successful
defense of GUADALCANAL is the airfield, it was then decided by the
Force Commander that Task Force 67, with its excellent anti-aircraft
and torpedo strength, must take the risk of serious damage for the
sake of inflicting heavy loss on enemy carrier aircraft, and on enemy
naval bombardment units. Our GUADALCANAL aircraft, and our surface
and carrier forces then starting northward, might thereafter be
enabled to drive the enemy back.
8. It had been the intention to pass Task Force 67 to the north of SAN
CRISTOBAL ISLAND. When news was received that Task Group 62.4 had
been sighted by enemy seaplanes on the tenth, together with news that
the SOUTHARD had sunk an enemy submarine off the west end of SAN
CRISTOBAL ISLAND, the route was changed so as to pass via the south
of that island. Information as to the change of route, together with
minor modifications in the operating plan, was incorporated in a
second letter of instruction to Commander Task Group 67.4. These two
letters were delivered to Rear Admiral CALLAGHAN when he joined on
the morning of November eleventh. They are shown in enclosure
(A)(7). At about the same time, all four seaplanes of the PORTLAND
were sent to ESPIRITU SANTO, since they were not desired on board
during the expected night action. Despatches were carried by these
planes for transmission by Commander Task Force 63, one giving
instructions to Rear Admiral SCOTT to join Task Group 67.4 during the
night of November 11-12; one with instructions to the SOUTHARD and
HOVEY to remain in TULAGI and join Task Force 67 on arrival; and one
with instructions to the Commander Advanced Naval Base at GUADALCANAL
concerning unloading plans. The SOUTHARD and HOVEY for two days had
been sweeping LENGO CHANNEL and the transport anchorage areas, since
some evidence had appeared that the enemy had laid mines in these
9. On the morning of November eleventh it seemed almost certain that
Task Force 67 would be subjected to attack by carrier aircraft early
in the morning of November twelfth, soon after arrival at GUADALCANAL
The unloading plan was somewhat changed, therefore, in order to get
all the troops except unloading details off the ships immediately on
arrival. Troops were ordered to carry one unit of fire and two days'
rations. They would thus be valuable to the defense if the enemy
succeeded in landing, even if some of our own transports were struck
and equipment and supplies lost. Orders for this change in the
debarkation plan are shown in enclosure (A)(6).
10. The November eleventh evening air search from GUADALCANAL disclosed
no enemy naval forces in the vicinity. However, the scouting report
was not considered conclusive, as in the past enemy forces had
sometimes been missed by air scouts. Task Group 67.4, in accordance
with orders, therefore proceeded at high speed in advance of the
transports, and, after reinforcement during the night by Rear
Admiral SCOTT with the ATLANTA, AARON WARD, FLETCHER, and McCALLA,
entered SAVO SCUND about 2330 in search of the enemy. Two thorough
sweeps were made, both to the east and to the west of SAVO ISLAND,
but no enemy were found. The group remained in SAVO SOUND and
joined the Transport Group on its arrival at dawn on the twelfth.
11. The four transports of Task Group 67.1 anchored at 0540 off KUKUM
beach, and the BETELGEUSE and LIBRA of Task Group 62.4 anchored two
miles eastward of LUNGA POINT. Combatant vessels were disposed
about the Transport Group in two protective semi-circles; the SAN
FRANCISCO, PORTLAND, and HELENA formed a semi-circle three thousand
yards from the transports; and the ATLANTA, JUNEAU, eleven
destroyers, and two light minelayers, formed an anti-submarine semi-
circle six thousand yards from the transports. Preparatory orders
were issued to close in to form a screen one thousand yards from the
transports, should these be directed to get underway to repel the
expected enemy air attack.
12. A vessel of the anti-submarine screen made contact with a submarine
about six miles north of LUNGA POINT about 0600. Depth charge
attacks seemed ineffective. The presence of the submarine was
confirmed when, at 1930 of the same day, one was reported by
GUADALCANAL about one mile from the reported morning position.
Apparently, this submarine had lain dormant during the day.
13. At 0718 the transports off KUKUM were taken under fire by an enemy
six-inch shore battery. This battery was soon silenced by counter-
battery work from our own shore batteries, and by naval gunfire from
the HELENA, who began returning the fire at 0725, and by the BARTON
and the SHAW, who began firing at 0743. Transports continued
debarkation. None were hit. Subsequently, the BUCHANAN and CUSHING
fired on enemy positions further westward. Fire of all vessels
appeared to be effective. Many large fires and explosions were
caused ashore, about thirty large landing boats were destroyed, and
other landing boats were damaged.
14. The expected attack by enemy carrier aircraft did not eventuate.
This fact was taken as an indication that the enemy might have
postponed his troop landing from the thirteenth to the fourteenth.
More time would thus be given Task Force 16 to get into position for
an offensive strike.
15. About 1010 on the twelfth, a flight of friendly aircraft, arriving
from ESPIRITU SANTO, was fired on by two or three vessels of the
screen and by two transports, who mistook these planes for enemy.
Fortunately, the planes were not hit. Announcement of the expected
arrival, of these planes had previously been made over a radio
circuit which all ships were required to guard, but a low, direct
approach by the planes was believed by the firing vessels to
constitute an enemy torpedo attack.
16. At 1317 Commander Task Force 67 received from Radio GUADALCANAL, a
despatch stating that the coastwatcher near TONOLEI had reported a
flight of enemy bombers and fighters passing to the southeastward,
and further stating that these planes could arrive at GUADALCANAL by
about 1330. Orders were at once given to get underway and form an
anti-aircraft disposition. The disposition was formed by 1340, at
which time another despatch was received indicating that the radar
ashore had picked up approaching enemy planes, and that they would
arrive about 1415.
17. The enemy aircraft turned out to be twenty-one torpedo planes,
protected by about twelve fighters. These planes approached low
behind FLORIDA ISLAND, and remained out of sight until they appeared
over the eastern end of the island at about 1405.
18. The enemy torpedo planes first headed toward the transport anchorage
in a single group, but, finding the force underway, turned back to
the north and divided into two equal groups, One of these headed
westerly over the top of FLORIDA ISLAND, and the other circled toward
the south, the evident intention being for the two groups to attack
simultaneously, one coming from the northeast and the other from the
southeast. At this time our own disposition was headed away from the
northern group. The Task Force Commander then turned the ships
ninety degrees to the right, to put them broadside to the northern
group of enemy planes. The idea was to induce the northern group to
attack before the eastern group gained its position; and thus to
permit our ships to deal with the groups in succession rather than
simultaneously. The scheme was successful, as the northern group
immediately attacked from directly on the starboard beam, though the
eastern group was not yet ready. As soon as the northern group was
within gun range, the ships were turned to the left ninety degrees,
with the result that enemy torpedoes ran harmlessly parallel to our
own course. This group of torpedo planes was not attacked by our
fighter aircraft until after passing through our disposition.
19. During its approach, the eastern group was attacked by our fighters.
Due possibly to this fact, this group also made a rather premature
attack, coming in from the eastward instead of the southeastward, as
apparently had been intended. While prepared to turn the disposition
away from this attack, this did not become necessary, as the
torpedoes came up from astern nearly parallel with the ships, and
small individual maneuvers proved adequate for preventing hits.
20. One enemy plane was shot down by the landing boats scattered off
LUNGA POINT. Light other enemy planes were seen shot down by ships'
gunfire; these fell in or near the disposition. Others undoubtedly
were hit by ships' gunfire and fell to the westward during an attack
on the remaining planes by our own fighter aircraft. Only one of the
twenty-one attacking aircraft was seen to escape, and this one was
later reported passing over NEW GEORGIA ISLAND. Our fighters were
also seen to shoot down several enemy fighters. Ships' gunfire was
accurate, and in great volume.
21. High level and dive bombing attacks on the disposition were also
expected at this time. While not reported by radio by GUADALCANAL, a
staff officer was told at General VANDEGRIFT's headquarters about
1730 that ten enemy dive bombing planes had been shot down by our
fighters to the westward of SAVO ISLAND; and that nine high altitude
bombers had dropped their bombs harmlessly on shore near the
airfield. The statement was made that, out of a total of fifty-two
enemy planes which made this coordinated attack, between thirty-two
and thirty-five had been destroyed by our own fighters and by ships'
gunfire. No confirmation of these figures has been received.
22. The enemy torpedo planes flew very close to the water in making their
attack. As a result, a number of vessels were struck by the
defensive gunfire from other vessels. The BUCHANAN was hit by a
five-inch projectile, which exploded and caused numerous casualties,
besides doing considerable damage to the ship. A few casualties on
other vessels were caused by twenty millimeter and fifty caliber
projectiles. Several casualties were caused by machine gun fire from
enemy planes. One enemy plane, which passed close along the
starboard side of the enemy and there dropped its torpedo, was
heavily set on fire by gunfire from the McCAWLEY. The pilot headed
to crash the SAN FRANCISCO, but, as he was flying almost parallel to
that ship succeeded only in striking Battle II and the After Control
structure with one wing. The plane then side-swiped the ship and
fell in the water to port. Fires started on the SAN FRANCISCO, but
these were soon extinguished. However, a considerable number of
officers and men of the SAN FRANCISCO were killed or badly burred,
and Battle II and the After Control Station were destroyed. All of
these incidents have been separately reported by the vessels
23. The signals made during this action, and a detailed sequence of
events, are as follows:
HOISTED MANEUVERING SIGNALS (ALL TIMES ZONE LOVE) EXECUTED
1318 Prepare to repel air attack. 1320
1318 Get underway (emergency). 1322
1323 Fleet course and axis 340°. 1342
1324 Standard speed 14 knots steam at 2/3 speed 1342
1349 Ships right 90°. 1351
1352 Steam at standard speed. 1356
1356 Ships left 900. 1357
NOTE: 21 enemy torpedo planes sighted over
FLORIDA ISLAND at 1405.
1359 Ships left 90°. 1403
NOTE: Enemy planes divided into two groups,
one apparently intending to attack
from north east, and one from
1407 Ships right 90°. 1408
NOTE: This turn to 340° was made to induce
enemy planes to the north to hurry
their attack. They did so, with the
result that the two groups attacked
about three minutes apart instead of
1410 Planes in sight are enemy. 1420
NOTE: Ships opened fire at 1412 and
ceased about 1420.
1411 Ships left 90°. 1414
NOTE: This was a 90° turn away from the
northern group. Torpedoes ran
parallel to ships.
1414 Ships right 90° annulled at 1416.
NOTE: The second group, hurried by fighter
attacks and gunfire, attacked from
nearly astern instead of the port
beam, as evidently intended. This
signal was not executed as ships
were already nearly parallel to
tracks of torpedoes.
1419 General info - My course 250° (T) 1420
1420 Ships right 90°. 1422
NOTE: This was a 90° turn to northward to
gain maneuvering room.
1428 Ships right 90°. 1429
NOTE: This was the start of the return
1433 Ships right 90°. 1434
1447 Steam at 2/3 speed. 1448
1451 Ships left 90°. 1452
1452 Steam at 1/3 speed. 1454
NOTE: Shore station signaled
"All clear" at 1452.
1457 Ships right 90°. 1500
1457 Steam at standard speed. 1500
1501 To transports - Act independently. 1505
24. Transports anchored at about 1525, having lost two hours' unloading
25. During the day, reports from our scouting aircraft indicated the
following enemy vessels had been sighted in positions from which they
could arrive in the GUADALCANAL area during the night of November
(a) Two battleships or heavy cruisers, one cruiser, and six
destroyers, sighted at 1035 bearing 008°, distant 335 miles from
(b) Five destroyers, sighted at 1045, bearing 347°, distant 195 miles
(c) Two enemy aircraft carriers and two destroyers, sighted at 1450,
bearing 264°, distant 265 miles from GUADALCANAL. (It later
developed that these vessels were not carriers).
There could be no feeling of assurance that additional vessels were
not in the vicinity, since enemy task units had in the past
frequently been missed by scouting aircraft. Nor could there be any
assurance that enemy types were correctly reported.
26. Since no transports were sighted, the enemy's intention was estimated
(a) To attack transports and escort in INDISPENSABLE STRAIT during
the night, or
(b) To bombard GUADALCANAL airfield and troop positions.
Enemy probable strength, for either task, was estimated at two
battleships, two to four heavy cruisers, two light cruisers, and ten
to twelve destroyers. Since the enemy strength previously reported
in BUIN and to the north was considerably greater than this, it was
considered possible that additional cruisers and destroyers might be
enroute from the west. (See enclosure (A)(7).
27. At the disposal of the Task Force Commander, besides four transports
and two cargo vessels, were two heavy cruisers, one light cruiser,
two AA light cruisers, eleven destroyers, and two light minesweepers.
The decision was made to assign to Rear Admiral CALLAGHAN all of the
cruisers and eight destroyers. This left one damaged destroyer, two
destroyers with reduced fuel, and two DMS for the protection of the
transports, as there was some prospect of attack on these vessels on
their retirement to the south. But the chief reason for not
assigning all eleven destroyers to Task Group 67.4 was that, during a
night action, a force of five cruisers and eight destroyers seemed
about all that could be effectively handled in the restricted
maneuvering room available in INDISPENSABLE STRAIT and SAVO SOUND.
28. Most careful consideration was given to the tactical situation.
There was no question that, in fire power, the enemy force in the
vicinity was far stronger than our own. In reaching the decision to
send Task Group 67.4 to the attack, the Force Commander considered
that this action was the only method through which this major enemy
offensive against GUADALCANAL might be stopped. Even were our own
force almost entirely sacrificed, bombardment of the airfield would
be prevented, and enemy losses might permit our remaining air and
surface forces to complete the defeat of the landing attempt. On the
other hand, while greater cruiser fire power would have been
desirable, Task Group 67.4, in a close night engagement, was
considered a formidable unit. The event is considered to have
justified the decision to order the attack.
29. By late afternoon, it was seen that ninety percent of the material
on the transports could be landed, but that it would take several
days' additional time to complete unloading the LIBRA and BETELGEUSE.
In view of the developing enemy offensive, it was decided to withdraw
all transports and cargo vessels from the area, and to direct Task
Group 67.4 to strike the enemy on his arrival, either in IDISPENSABLE
STRAIT, or in SAVO SOUND. A preliminary despatch, 120133, was sent
during the forenoon forecasting this decision. During the late
afternoon, this decision was confirmed to Rear Admiral CALLAGHAN by
TBS voice, but was modified to the extent that Task Group 67.4 was
directed to remain concentrated after entering INDISPENSABLE STRAIT,
to sweep north through the strait to strike the enemy if he came that
way, and, if no enemy were found, to return to SAVO SOUND for the
purpose of striking him there. At the time the Task Force Commander
issued the afternoon directive, both he and the Commander Task Group
67. 4 were cognizant of the despatches concerning enemy forces,
referred to in paragraph 24.
30. The following brief narrative of the Third Battle of SAVO is based on
prolonged interviews with most of the commanding officers of surviving
vessels and with some of those that were sunk, and on a study of
reports so far received. It is believed that the reports themselves
merit a more careful analysis than can be given here, in order to
bring out the many valuable points which can be found in them. The
Force Commander has some despatch reports of our own air activity the
following day, but the picture given by them is incomplete. Until do
accurate report from aviation sources is available, it will be
impossible to make an estimate of enemy losses that will not be
subject to doubt.
31. Task Force 67, at 1815, proceeded eastward out of SAVO SOUND. Task
Group 67.1, Rear Admiral TURNER, with McCAWLEY, PRESIDENT JACKSON,
PRESIDENT ADAMS, CRESCENT CITY, BETELGEUSE, LIBRA, BUCHANAN, SHAW,
McCALLA, SOUTHARD, and HOVEY passed southward via the western end of
SAN CRISTOBAL ISLAND and thence to ESPIRITU SANTO, where it arrived
on November fifteenth. Task Group 67.4, Rear Admiral CALLAGHAN in
the SAN FRANCISCO and Rear Admiral SCOTT in the ATLANTA, passed
through SEA LARK CHANNEL and northward for its sweep of INDISPENSABLE
STRAIT. It was in "Battle Disposition Baker One", (Enclosure (A)(9)),
a column with order of ships: CUSHING (Commander Destroyer Division
TEN), LAFFEY, STERETT, O'BANNON, ATLANTA, SAN FRANCISCO,
PORTLAND, HELENA, JUNEAU, AARON WARD ( Commander Destroyer
Squadron TWELVE), BARTON, MONSSEN, and FLETCHER. Signals were
made by voice over TBS. At 0000, November thirteenth, making
eighteen knots, Task Group 67.4, entered LENGO CHANNEL. The sky
was overcast; the moon had set, and the night was dark.
32. Near LUNGA POINT, at 0124, while on course 280° enemy vessels
were picked up to the northwest by SG radar at a range of 27,000
yards. It later developed that the enemy was in four groups,
one being considerably to the northward of the others. The
existence of the northern group, certainly containing at least
one battleship, previously suspected, though not reported, is
confirmed by the report of the O'BANNON, and the fact that the
SAN FRANCISCO received one fourteen-inch hit which, entering
through the deck of the communication platform, without
exploding, passed downward through two decks at an angle of fall
of about twenty degrees. All other hits noted were nearly
33. The exact strength and composition of the enemy is difficult to
estimate. Including the two "carriers" reported to the southwest, a
total of eighteen enemy combatant vessels had been sighted the
afternoon of the twelfth. All were on routes of approach known to
have been used frequently by the enemy. After further study of this
matter, the Force Commander has somewhat revised his former opinion,
and now believes the enemy strength and composition to have been
substantially as follows:
(a) The force sighted to the southwestward at 1450 and reported as
two aircraft carriers and two destroyers, probably consisted of
two heavy cruisers and two or three destroyers. These vessels
are believed to have formed the left hand enemy group in the
(b) The force sighted to the north at 1035 consisted of two
battleships of the KONGO Class, one light cruiser of the TENRYU
Class, and six destroyers. This force probably divided on
entering SAVO SOUND; one detachment formed the northern group of
one battleship and three destroyers, and the other formed the
center group of one battleship, one light cruiser, and three
destroyers. However, see paragraph 34.
(c) The force sighted to the northwest at 1045 and reported as
five destroyers, probably consisted of one or two light cruisers
of the NATORI Class and three or four destroyers. These vessels
are believed to have formed the right hand enemy group.
(d) The enemy force, under this concept, thus consisted of two
battleships, two heavy cruisers, three or four light cruisers,
and eleven or twelve destroyers. This is approximately the
composition of a force which bombarded the airfield on October
34. There is some evidence that one or two additional enemy battleships,
plus three or four destroyers, were present, but the evidence is not
sufficiently strong to justify its acceptance at this time. If these
ships actually were present, they probably formed the northern-group.
In this case, the center group would have consisted of two
battleships, one light cruiser, and six destroyers.
35. The enemy seems to have been completely surprised. Task Group 67.4,
from near LUNGA POINT, turned north, then northwest, west, and
finally north, and, passing between the right and center groups,
engaged the enemy from 0148 to about 0222, at ranges between 1,000
and 8,000 yards. Lost of the firing was at less than 5,000 yards.
The large enemy vessels fired only bombardment projectiles. Many
torpedoes were fired by both sides, the gunfire of our vessels
apparently was extremely effective and accurate.
36. The engagement soon became a melee, collisions being narrowly averted
between own and enemy vessels. At times, both sides fired into
friendly vessels. At the end of the action, ships of Task Group 67.4
able to do so retired from the scene. The enemy also withdrew, but
it is believed probable that they picked up many survivors of their
37. Early the next morning the PORTLAND, through with rudder jammed hard
right and unable to proceed under her own power, sank an enemy
destroyer of the SHIGURI type. Apparently the CUSHING and the
MONSEEN, afloat near SAVO ISLAND, were fired on by enemy vessels
still remaining in the vicinity near their stricken battleship.
38. Damage suffered by Task Force 67.4 was as follows:
LAFFEY and BARTON sunk during the action.
ATLANTA, CUSHING, and MONSEEN set on fire and sunk the following day.
JUNEAU damaged, sunk the following day enroute to ESPIRITU SANTO by a
torpedo from an enemy submarine.
SAN FRANCISCO and PORTLAND so damaged as to requires return to the
Untied States for repairs.
HELENA, AARON WARD, and STERETT damaged, and may require return to
the Untied States.
O'BANNON slightly damaged from underwater explosions, possibly depth
charges from the LAFFEY; now back in service.
Heavy personnel losses, including Rear Admirals CALLAGHAN and SCOTT.
39. Based on the best evidence available, it is believed that the enemy
suffered the following losses:
1 battleship of the KONGO CLASS (HIEI?) put out of action by gunfire
from the SAN FRANCISCO and by torpedoes, and sunk the next day by
1 heavy cruiser sunk by gunfire from the HELENA, and by torpedo hits.
1 heavy cruiser sunk by torpedo fire from the FLETCHER; this vessel
previously suffered gunfire and probably torpedo damage.
1 light cruiser of tae NATORI Class sunk by gunfire, probably
assisted by torpedoes.
2 destroyers, one of the AKUTSUKI and one of the 1 SHIGURI
destroyer Classes, sunk by gunfire from the PORTLAND.
1 destroyer of the FUBUKI Class sunk by gun and torpedo fire from the
1 destroyer set on fire, beached on OLEVUGA ISLAND, and lost.
1 light cruiser and one destroyer severely damaged. There is some
evidence that at least one of these vessels was abandoned and sunk
the next day in INDISPENSABLE STRAIT.
Other destroyers, number unknown, were damaged.
It seems probable that one battleship of the northern group was
damaged by both gunfire and torpedoes.
40. This desperately fought action, the Third Battle of SAVO, is believed
to have few parallels in naval history. We have come to expect, and
to count on, complete courage in battle from officers and men of the
United States Navy. But here, in this engagement, we had displayed
for our lasting respect and admiration, a cool but eager gallantry
that is above praise. These splendid ships and determined men won a
great victory against heavy odds. Had this battle not been fought
and won, our hold on GUADALCANAL would have been gravely endangered.
R. K. TURNER
All Transdiv Comdrs Sopac
FROM: CTF 62 NOV 070430 SECRET PRIORITY
TO : ATLANTA
INFO: COMSOPAC, CINCPAC, COMINCH, COMSOWESPAC, CTF 42-16-63-65
ZEILIN, BETELGEUSE, LIBRA
TASK GROUP SIX TWO POINT FOUR REAR ADMIRAL SCOTT ATLANTA AARON WARD FLETCHER
LARDNER MCCALLA ZEILIN BETELGEUSE LIBRA DEPART BUTTON NOVEMBER NINTH PROCEED
CACTUS VIA NORTH OF SAN CRISTOBAL AND SEALARK CHANNEL TO ARRIVE BY ZERO FIVE
THIRTY LOVE ELEVENTH X LAND TROOPS AND CARGO AT CACTUS DURING DAY X IF
TACTICAL CONDITIONS PERMIT UNLOAD BETELGEUSE AND LIBRA AT RINGBOLT DURING
NIGHT X RETAIN ON BOARD DURING UNLOADING SUFFICIENT TROOPS FOR WORKING HOLDS
AND BOATS X PARA ON COMPLETION UNLOADING ZEILIN BETELGEUSE LIBRA RETURN TO
BUTTON VIA SAME ROUTE SCREENED BY TWO DESTROYERS CMA BETELGEUSE TOWING PAB
SIX X ZEILIN MAY COMPLETE UNLOADING WELL IN ADVANCE OF BETELGEUSE LIBRA X IN
THIS EVENT DIRECT ZEILIN RETURN TO BUTTON SCREENED BY ONE DESTROYER PASSING
TO EASTWARD IN INDISPENSABLE STRAIT X REAR ADMIRAL SCOTT IN ATLANTA PLUS
DESTROYERS PRESENT REPORT TO ORIGINATOR IN MCCAWLEY ON HIS ARRIVAL CACTUS X
PARA ASSIST COMGEN CACTUS WITH NAVAL GUNFIRE AGAINST ENEMY SHORE POSITIONS
AND SEIZE OPPORTUNITIES FOR ADVANTAGEIOUS ATTACKS ON ENEMY NAVAL FORCES
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FROM: CTF 67 NOV 100400 SECRET
TO : CTG 62.4
INFO: COSOPAC, CINCPAC, CTF 16-63- COMSOWESPAC, CTG 67.4.,
COMINDIV FIVE, HOVEY, TG 62.4 COPIES TO COMAIRSOPAC
AND CTG 67.1
ON YOUR RETIREMENT FROM CACTUS NIGHT OF ELEVENTH FORM TASK UNIT SIX TWO POINT
FOUR POINT ONE CAPTAIN BUCHANAN ZEILIN BETELGEUSE LIBRA MCCALLA DIRECT THIS
UNIT REMAIN EAST OF LONGITUDE ONE SIX ZERO DEGREES THIRTY FIVE MINUTES AND
NORTH OF LATITUDE ZERO NINE DEGREES TWENTY MINUTES UNTIL TWO THREE HUNDRED
LOVE THEN TO FOLLOW TASK GROUP SIX SEVEN POINT ONE THROUGH LENGO IF SWEPT
OTHERWISE SEALARK X IF ZEILIN COMPLETELY UNLOADED MCCALLA ZEILIN PROCEED
BUTTON BETELGEUSE LIBRA CARRY OUT THESE ORDERS PARA REMAINDER TASK GROUP
ATLANTA THREE DOG DOGS COVER CALLAGHAN AGAINST ENEMY APPROACH FROM EASTWARD
OF FLORIDA JOIN CALLAGHAN EASTERN END SEALARK AS DIRECTED BY HIM BY VOICE
OVER TARE BAKER SAIL ABOUT TWO TWO HUNDRED LOVE
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FROM: COMSOPAC 080222 SECRET
TO : ALL TF COMS PACFLT, COMINCH, CINCPAC, COMSOWESPAC,
ALL TF COMS SWPAC, ALL SHIPS AND BASES SOPAC AREA.
TASK FORCE DESIGNATED TASK FORCE SIXTY SEVEN REAR ADMIRAL TURNER HAS BEEN
ORGANIZED EFFECTIVE THIS DATE X ORGANIZATION GIVEN IN COMAMPHFORSOPAC
MAILGRAM 070917 OPPLAN AFRIM TWENTY THREE DASH FORTY TWO
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