NOVEMBER 12th-15th 1942 Naval Battle Of Guadalcanal

Two Japanese transports beached on Guadalcanal and burning on 15 November.
The first part of the battle took place early in the morning hours of the 13th. American cruisers; Atlanta, San Francisco, Portland, and Juneau, attacked a force of two battleships and support ships. The battle turned into a melee, during the course of it two American cruisers were sunk. The Japanese battleship Hei was so severely damaged that it was sunk the next day by planes. As the American force retired the cruiser, Juneau was sunk by a Japanese submarine, taking with it the five Sullivan brothers. The battle continued through the next day with two Japanese cruisers sunk by American planes. Finally, on the night of the 14-15, the American battleships Washington and South Dakota met a Japanese force containing the battleship Kirishima. The American force sank the Kiriishma while losing two destroyers. The South Dakota which lost electrical power at a critical moment was severely damaged.


The Japanese were not willing to give up trying to resupply the Japanese troops on Guadalcanal. On November 13th the Japanese sent a task force that included the battleships Hiei and Kirishima, a light cruiser and 11 destroyers. In addition, a second force of transports with destroyer escorts was detached. The mission of the first task force was to attack Henderson Field and put it out of commission. As a result, the Japanese ships had fragmentation ammunition designed to bombard the airfield prepared in and around their guns.

The American detected the approaching Japanese ships and scrambled their available ships that included two heavy cruisers the San Francisco and Portland, three light cruisers the Helena, Juneau and Atlanta and eight destroyers.

The two forces collided in the sea between Salvo Island and Guadalcanal. Two Japanese ships turned on their searchlights to find the US ships. The Atlanta was only 3000 yards away, and the Japanese ships opened fire on it. It was disabled and drifted out of the battle. Meanwhile, the Japanese destroyer Akatsuki was hit by dozens of shells and blew up and sank. The American ships then aimed their guns at the Hiei. She was hit repeatedly, while the destroyer Laffey passed so close to the Hiei that the Hie was unable to depress her guns and hit her while the Laffey’s 5inch guns raked the Hiei. The Hiei meanwhile aimed her guns at the San Francisco hitting her bridge and killing Rear Admiral Callaghan. Three US destroyers were sunk while others were damaged. At this point, the Japanese had one battleship and a light cruiser with only light damage and four undamaged destroyers while the US only had one cruiser and one destroyer who were ready for battle.
The Japanese commander Vice Admiral Hiroaki Abe was not aware of this and decided to withdraw. The morning dawned with the Japanese Hiei, Yudchi and Amatsukaze heavily damaged, while the US Portland San Francisco, Aaron Ward and Sterrett limping away as was the USS Juneau. .The Hiei was sunk by American aircraft, and the Yudchi was sunk by the damaged Portland. The Amatsukaze was able to limp away. The USS Juneau was sunk by a Japanese submarine and with it went down the five Sullivan brothers. The other American ships made it back for extensive repairs.

The next night the 14th new Japanese ships managed to make their way to Guadalcanal and shell the airfield, while a group of transport tried to make their way to the island. However, with first flight American planes from Henderson Fields and from the USS Enterprise attacked the Japanese ships sinking the Japanese cruiser Kingasa and damaging the Maya. They also attacked the transport ships sinking is of them and forcing the force to turn back.

On the night of the 14-15, the last naval battle of the Guadalcanal took place. The US Navy sent two new battleships the Washington and the South Dakota with nine destroyers. Two of the Japanese cruisers were sunk, and the South Dakota was damaged. A few transports managed to reach Guadalcanal, but they were sunk while unloading.

This battle was the last attempt by Japanese to resupply Guadalcanal with fresh troops and to try to destroy Henderson Field. The cost to the US Navy of the repeated battles off Guadalcanal was high, but they had success in denying the Japanese navy their ability to attack Guadalcanal. The ships lost by the American would soon be replaced, the Japanese would never be able to replace their ships lost.