Monday, January 28, 2013

Routine repairs to Enterprise

In January through April of 1943, Dad's ship, Vestal, completed various repairs to the carrier Enterprise at Espiritu Santo. Dad had been previously assigned to repair this ship during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal in November. On this date in 1943, Enterprise was sent into the Coral Sea, to cover the landings of 4 transports full of men and supplies for Guadalcanal, part of the final push to drive the Japanese from the island. In her final engagement in the seas around Guadalcanal, Enterprise provided air cover for the heavy cruiser Chicago, torpedoed by land-based Japanese planes the evening of January 29. Late the next afternoon, another enemy strike materialized. In the attack, known as the Battle of Rennell Island, Enterprise's fighters downed 11 of the 12 enemy planes, unfortunately not before 4 more torpedoes had slammed into Chicago's hull, fatally wounding her.

Detached after the battle, the carrier returned to Espiritu Santo on February 1, and for the next 3 months operated out of that base, covering U.S. surface forces up to the Solomons. During that period, Enterprise will receive additional repairs and refitting by the Vestal.

USS Enterprise at Noumea, in November 1942, while the "Big E"
 was undergoing repairs after the Battle of Santa Cruz
Source: NavSource Online
Sources: USS Vestal War Diary, January 1943; USS Enterprise CV-6

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