BATTLE OF SAVO ISLAND--AUG.1942

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aurora
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BATTLE OF SAVO ISLAND--AUG.1942

Postby aurora » Mon Jan 19, 2015 2:52 pm

After two days of constant action, the tired crews of the Allied ships were at Condition II which meant that half were on duty while half rested. In addition, several of the cruiser captains were also asleep. Approaching Guadalcanal after dark, Mikawa again launched floatplanes to scout the enemy and to drop flares during the upcoming fight. Closing in a single file line, his ships successfully passed between Blue and Ralph Talbot whose radars were hampered by the nearby land masses. Around 1:35 AM on August 9, Mikawa spotted the ships of the southern force silhouetted by the fires from the burning George F. Elliot.

Though spotting the northern force, Mikawa commenced attacking the southern force with torpedoes around 1:38. Five minutes later, Patterson was the first Allied ship to spot the enemy and immediately went into action. As it did so, both Chicago and Canberra were illuminated by aerial flares. The latter ship attempted to attack, but quickly came under heavy fire and was put out of action, listing and on fire. At 1:47, as Captain Howard Bode was attempting to get Chicago into the fight, the ship was hit in the bow by a torpedo. Rather than assert control, Bode steamed west for forty minutes and left the fight.

Defeat of the Northern Force:
Moving through the southern passage, Mikawa turned north to engage the other Allied ships. In doing so, Tenryu, Yubari, and Furutaka took a more westerly course than the rest of the fleet. As a result, the Allied northern force was soon bracketed by the enemy. Though firing had been observed to the south, the northern ships were unsure of the situation and were slow to go to general quarters. At 1:44, the Japanese began launching torpedoes at the American cruisers and six minutes later illuminated them with searchlights. Astoria came into action, but was hit hard by fire from Chokai which disabled its engines. Drifting to a halt, the cruiser was soon on fire, but managed to inflict moderate damage on Chokai.

Quincy was slower to enter the fray and was soon caught in a crossfire between the two Japanese columns. Though one of its salvos hit Chokai, nearly killing Mikawa, the cruiser was soon on fire from Japanese shells and three torpedo hits. Burning, Quincy sank at 2:38. Vincennes was hesitant to enter the fight for fear of friendly fire. When it did, it quickly took two torpedo hits and became the focus of Japanese fire. Taking over 70 hits and a third torpedo, Vincennes sank at 2:50.

At 2:16, Mikawa met with his staff about pressing the battle to attack the Guadalcanal anchorage. As their ships were scattered and low on ammunition, it was decided to withdraw back to Rabaul. In addition, he believed that the American carriers were still in the area. As he lacked air cover, it was necessary for him to clear the area before daylight. Departing, his ships inflicted damage on Ralph Talbot as they moved northwest.

Aftermath of Savo Island
The first of a series of naval battles around Guadalcanal, the defeat at Savo Island saw the Allies lose four heavy cruisers and suffer 1,077 killed PLUS TWO USN Admirals. In addition, Chicago and three destroyers were damaged. Japanese losses were a light 58 killed with three heavy cruisers damaged. Despite the severity of the defeat, the Allied ships did succeed in preventing Mikawa from striking the transports in the anchorage. Had Mikawa pressed his advantage, it would have severely hampered Allied efforts to resupply and reinforce the island later in the campaign. The US Navy later commissioned the Hepburn Investigation to look into the defeat. Of those involved, only Bode was severely criticized.
Just what went badly wrong ????
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Re: BATTLE OF SAVO ISLAND--AUG.1942

Postby Steve Crandell » Mon Jan 19, 2015 5:56 pm

In a nutshell, first surface combat for a peacetime navy that was totally unprepared for night fighting, especially against the very well prepared IJN. The outcome was probably not surprising under the circumstances.

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Re: BATTLE OF SAVO ISLAND--AUG.1942

Postby aurora » Mon Jan 19, 2015 6:11 pm

Thanks Steve for your interest and input as you say-The amateurs versus the professionals-Game over-but two USN admirals dead -one by friendly fire.The lookouts both missed Makawa's entry; and as usual the Americans gunfire lighting up the battle scene like a fairground.A bloody rebuff for Midway. :( :(
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Re: BATTLE OF SAVO ISLAND--AUG.1942

Postby Steve Crandell » Mon Jan 19, 2015 8:10 pm

Atlanta was hit by friendly fire from San Francisco at "Guadalcanal 1". It's actually kind of surprising the USN managed to keep the Japanese from dominating the Island, but the Marines did well (both sides underestimated the other) and the IJN having to vacate the area and lose any ships which remained after daylight seems to have tipped the balance.

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Re: BATTLE OF SAVO ISLAND--AUG.1942

Postby Dave Saxton » Mon Jan 19, 2015 9:45 pm

aurora wrote:, his ships successfully passed between Blue and Ralph Talbot whose radars were hampered by the nearby land masses.

Land interference is often cited in early reports because the technology was so new that very few people understood the physics of it. Actually both destroyers and the Japanese ships were far enough from any land mass that it could not have been land interference. Both destroyers were equipped with SC radar. This radar type only had a typical range to surface ships of about 10,000 yards from a destroyer. It was actually the 150cm USN airwarning (CXAM and/or SK) radar with an antenna small enough to be mounted on the mast head of a destroyer. The antenna was too small to give it acceptable performance to surface targets, but it was a decent air warning set. Adm Crutchley was only told that destroyers had radar not knowing that these two destroyers and their radars were totally inadequate for guarding the passages into Savo Sound-soon to be Iron Bottom Sound. The Japanese crossed right over the still bubbling wake of Blue at less than 10km while keeping it under a close watch, and Blue didn't see them with radar or with the Mk1 eyeball.
Entering a night sea battle is an awesome business.The enveloping darkness, hiding the enemy's.. seems a living thing, malignant and oppressive.Swishing water at the bow and stern mark an inexorable advance toward an unknown destiny.

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Re: BATTLE OF SAVO ISLAND--AUG.1942

Postby KevinD » Mon Jan 19, 2015 10:37 pm

>>>>>The first of a series of naval battles around Guadalcanal, the defeat at Savo Island saw the Allies lose four heavy cruisers and suffer 1,077 killed PLUS TWO USN Admirals.>>>>>>

Aurora, re underlined above, I don't recall two admirals being killed at Savo? If my memory serves me well it was later (as Steve alludes to) when Adm Scott was killed on USS Atlanta (by not so 'friendly' fire) and Adm Callaghan on USS San Francisco during the Barroom Brawl on 13th Nov, 42 that the USN lost two Adms in one battle, no?

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Re: BATTLE OF SAVO ISLAND--AUG.1942

Postby aurora » Tue Jan 20, 2015 9:43 am

Yes-you are right Kevin-I was speaking from memory; but quite obviously I got it wrong-I did include Callaghan-memory does make one the fool at times. :oops: :oops:
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Re: BATTLE OF SAVO ISLAND--AUG.1942

Postby Byron Angel » Tue Jan 20, 2015 12:10 pm

Several factors played roles in USS Blue's failure to detect the passing Japanese - Blue had been on alert continuously for quite a lengthy period (no time to pull the books down for full details) and her crew was practically asleep on its feet. Also, her SC radar was not only limited in surface search range, but also prone to picking up all sorts of return interference from nearby land masses. A retired radar analyst friend of mine indicated that any land within about +/- 30deg of the radar search heading would generate false echoes. It also bear mentioning that the available night search optics aboard USN destroyers were nothing more than regular issue 7x50 binoculars - nothing remotely comparable to that carried by the IJN.

FWIW.

B

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Re: BATTLE OF SAVO ISLAND--AUG.1942

Postby aurora » Tue Jan 20, 2015 1:52 pm

Thank you Byron for finally settling the Blue controversy-it would now seem thar a number of factors influenced her failure to pick up Mikawa's entry into the Slot
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Re: BATTLE OF SAVO ISLAND--AUG.1942

Postby aurora » Tue Jan 20, 2015 3:45 pm

R/Adm Daniel Callaghan USN

In April 1942, he was promoted to the rank of Rear Admiral and was appointed as Chief of Staff to the Commander, South Pacific Area and South Pacific Force Vice Admiral Robert L. Ghormley. In November, as commander of Task Group 67.4, he led US forces in an engagement off Savo Island during the Guadalcanal Campaign. During this battle, he was on the bridge of the USS San Francisco when incoming enemy fire killed him and most of his command staff on November 13, 1942. At that time, he became the third US Navy admiral killed in action during World War II. He received the Medal of Honor posthumously for his efforts in this battle.
Following the explosion, Lieutenant Commander Bruce McCandless assumed operational command of the San Francisco.Earlier in the battle, Rear Admiral Norman Scott had been killed, so two US commanders had now been lost, as well as several of their staff. Despite the deaths of so many senior officers, the battle ended in a strategic victory for the Allied side

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_J._ ... rld_War_II
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Re: BATTLE OF SAVO ISLAND--AUG.1942

Postby BobDonnald » Wed Jan 21, 2015 11:36 am

Could the outcome of the battle been changed if Adm Crutchley had kept the cruisers together in a single line, but used more destroyers to cover the entrances to the anchorage? Then was the practice of splitting your force equally to guard the sea lanes to the anchorage standard Royal Navy doctrine?

Bob

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Re: BATTLE OF SAVO ISLAND--AUG.1942

Postby aurora » Wed Jan 21, 2015 2:57 pm

Bob-I am of the opinion that the line ahead formation was the downfall of most of the early cruiser battles-when they fired (using standard propellant) their gun flashes made Japanese targeting easier and more importantly-accurate.The Japanese doctrine of filling the sea with running torpedoes was also deadly-the USN just did not the real range of the long lance torpedo and more often than not -closed with the enemy-to their deadly peril.
The Royal Navy's doctrine was to never split forces during a battle or air attack-non detachment was the Golden Rule
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Re: BATTLE OF SAVO ISLAND--AUG.1942

Postby pgollin » Wed Jan 21, 2015 5:40 pm

aurora wrote:
........... The Royal Navy's doctrine was to never split forces during a battle or air attack-non detachment was the Golden Rule



Was it ?

No such thing as far as I'm aware.

That does NOT agree with "Fighting Tactics" AND such documents were ADVISORY ONLY, with commanders free to use their own judgement.

(I would also quibble about the "during" of "during a battle".)
.

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Re: BATTLE OF SAVO ISLAND--AUG.1942

Postby aurora » Wed Jan 21, 2015 6:13 pm

Phil- Admiral Cunningham claimed that the "Golden Rule" in the confined waters of the Mediterranean was that ships must keep together for mutual defence and never be deployed for individual tasks.
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Re: BATTLE OF SAVO ISLAND--AUG.1942

Postby Steve Crandell » Wed Jan 21, 2015 8:05 pm

aurora wrote:Phil- Admiral Cunningham claimed that the "Golden Rule" in the confined waters of the Mediterranean was that ships must keep together for mutual defence and never be deployed for individual tasks.


Deploying for individual tasks is not the same as splitting your force into two groups.


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