Friday, November 30, 2012

The Battle of Tassafaronga, 1942

The Battle of Tassafaronga ("Fourth Battle of Savo Island") was a nighttime naval engagement that took place November 30, 1942, between United States Navy and Imperial Japanese Navy warships during the Guadalcanal campaign. The battle took place in Iron Bottom Sound* near Tassafaronga on Guadalcanal.

In the battle, a US warship force of 5 cruisers and 4 destroyers under the command of Rear Adm. Carleton H. Wright, attempted to surprise and destroy a Japanese warship force of 8 destroyers under the command of Rear Adm. Raizo Tanaka, who was attempting to deliver food supplies to Japanese forces on Guadalcanal.

Guided by radar, the US warships opened fire and sank a Japanese destroyer. The Japanese, however, reacted quickly and launched numerous torpedoes at the US warships. The torpedoes hit and sank 1 US cruiser and heavily damaged 3 others, enabling the rest of Tanaka's force to escape without significant additional damage, but also without completing the mission of delivering the food supplies. Although a severe tactical defeat for the US, the battle had little strategic impact for the Japanese, as they were unable to take advantage of the victory to assist in driving Allied forces from Guadalcanal.

Several ships damaged at the Battle of Tassafaronga were sent to Espiritu Santo, where repair crews, my dad among them, were waiting. Over the next year, his ship, Vestal, will undertake 5,603 jobs on 279 ships and 24 shore facilities.

* So named for the number of ships and planes sunk there during the earlier Battle of Guadalcanal. Prior to the war, it was called Sealark Channel. Every year on the battle's anniversary, a U.S. ship cruises into the waters and drops a wreath to commemorate those who lost their lives. For many Navy sailors, and those that served in the area during that time, these waters are considered sacred, and strict silence is observed as ships cruise through.

Source: Wikipedia

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