SD/TS133/A16-3

DESTROYER SQUADRON TWELVE United States Pacific Fleet.
Serial 0033
                                             Care Fleet Post Office,
                                             San Francisco, California,
                                             November 27, 1942.

From:                Commander Destroyer Squadron TWELVE.     
To  :                Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Fleet.
Via :                (1) Commander Task Force SIXTY-SEVEN.
                     (2) Commander South Pacific Force.
                     (3) Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet.

Subject:             Report of Night Action off Savo Island, November
                     13, 1942.

Reference:           (a) Commander Task Group 67.4 dispatch 120615
                         of November, 1942. 
                     (b) Commanding Officer, AARON WARD's ltr. DD483/
                         A16-3(1) Serial #003 of November 20, 1942.
                     (c) Commanding Officer, FLETCHER's ltr. DD445/
                         A16-3, Serial No. (S)-1 of November 15, 1942.
                     (d) Commanding Officer, MONSSEN's secret ltr.
                         of November 16, 1942.
                     (e) Senior Survivor, BARTON's ltr. A16-3/L11 of 
                         November 26, 1942.

Enclosures:          (A) Copy of chart showing position of AARON WARD
                         at 0145 and 0156 for purpose of orientation.
                     (B) Sketch showing approximate disposition of
                         own and probable enemy forces at 0145
                         November 13, 1942.         
                     (C) Sketch showing approximate relative positions
                         of ships of this unit at the time U.S.S.
                         BARTON was sunk.

    1.  In accordance with reference (a) Commander Destroyer Squadron 
        TWELVE at about 1800 formed up the ARRON WARD, BARTON, MONSSEN, 
        and FLETCHER, and joined Task Group 67.4, forming column astern 
        of JUNEAU.  This group was now formed in column in the 
        following order: CUSHING, Commander Destroyer Division TEN 
        aboard, LAFFEY, STERETT, O'BANNON, ATLANTA, Commander Task 
        Group 62.4 aboard, SAN FRANCISCO, Commander Task Group 67.4 
        aboard (O.T.C.), PORTLAND, HELENA, JUNEAU, ARRON WARD, 
        Commander Destroyer Squadron TWELVE aboard, BARTON, MONSSEN, 
        and FLETCHER. After forming up Task Group 67.4 proceeded out 
        Sealark Channel.  When Task Group 67.1 was eastward of channel, 
        Task Group 67.4 turned to the westward and proceeded back 
        through Lengo Channel, and at 0125 was in column on course 280° 
        in approximately the position shown on Enclosure (A).

    2.  At about 0126 numerous radar contacts were reported.  HELENA 
        had two contacts bearing 310° T. distance 31,900 yards.  At 
        0127 disposition changed course to 310° T., apparently in order 
        to close contact.  Shortly after making the course change, 
        HELENA reported contact bearing 310° T., 26,000 yards and 
        reported the enemy course 105° T., speed 23 knots.  At about 
        0130 changed course by head of column movement to 000° T., 
        speed 18 knots.  At about 0130 FLETCHER had radar contact with 
        enemy southwest of Savo Island, approximately 20 enemy ships 
        visible on radar screen.  At about 0140 CUSHING reported three 
        unidentified ships on port bow 315°-300° relative, HELENA 
        reported four more.  CUSHING reported ships dead ahead of port 
        bow, at about 4,500 yards maximum.  Shortly thereafter it 
        appears that the CUSHING changed course to about 315° T. for a 
        short while, and then returned to 000° T. Enclosure (B) shows 
        the approximate disposition of own and probable enemy forces at 
        approximately 0145; this being gleaned from information 
        available.  At about 0149 an enemy ship on port beam of our 
        column illuminated our cruisers by searchlights.  Our forces 
        opened fire on the enemy.  Ships of this group took ships on 
        the port bow under fire.  At about 0152 BARTON fired five 
        torpedoed to port, but there is no information relative to 
        hits.  At 0153 MONSSEN fired five torpedoes to starboard, 
        intermediate speed, average depth 10 feet, 2 ½° unit of spread.  
        Two torpedo hits on target between forward superstructure and 
        mainmast were observed.

    3.  At 0155 it was necessary for AARON WARD to stop and reverse 
        engines to avoid collision with a ship ahead.  Apparently the 
        JUNEAU. At 0156 BARTON, having been hit by two torpedoes, brook 
        in two and sank within a short time.  At about this time 
        observed a large ship about 90° relative from AARON WARD roll 
        over and sink.  This ship was about 1000 yards distance, and 
        was thought to be the JUNEAU, as the paint was approximately 
        the same shade as that of the JUNEAU, this however, now is 
        assumed to be an enemy ship.  The approximate position of ships 
        of this unit at the time BARTON was sunk is given in Enclosure 
        (c).  Our cruisers appeared to have turned left to about 270° 
        T., and were engaging heavy units ahead.  Shortly after this 
        the FLETCHER turned left to the southward and later delivered a 
        torpedo attack on the enemy, details given in reference (c).

    4.  At about 0200 the MONSSEN was taken under heavy fire and fell 
        out of formation, subsequent actions given in reference (d).

    5.  The subsequent movements of the ARRON WARD are given in 
        reference (b).

    6.  A summary for ships of this unit is as follows:

ARRON WARD BARTON MONSSEN FLETCHER
Number of targets taken under fire
4
1
?
?
Number of 5"/38 Cal. Projectiles expended
216
80
?
?
Number of 20mm. Expended
500
?
?
?
Number of 1.1 expended
300
?
?
-
Number of targets at which torpedoes fired
0
1
1/1
1
Number of torpedoes expended
-
5
5/5
10
Number of torpedoe hits obtained (estimated)
-
?
2/1(?)
2-3
Number of torpedoe hits sustained
0
2
0
0
Number of shell hits sustained
2-8"
4-5"
3-14"
?
37
0
Number of dead
15
210
140
0
Number of wounded
57
-
-
0
    7.  Special comments on enemy forces:

        (a)  It is believed that the enemy forces comprised of 
             destroyers, cruiser, and battleships. This assumption is 
             based on tie fact that hits received on AARON WARD were 
             from 5", 8" and 14" caliber shells.

        (b)  The enemy used blinker tubes, and clusters of lights on 
             the foremasts for recognition purposes.

        (c)  No smoke was used.

        (d)  The enemy's gunnery appeared to be fairly effective. 
             However, they appeared to have considerable difficulty in 
             locating and identifying targets. Star shell control 
             appeared effective. It is believed that bombardment 
             projectiles were used. Apparently no delay action fuses 
             were employed.

        (e)  It is difficult to make an accurate estimate of damage 
             inflicted on the enemy. However, from reports submitted in 
             references (b), (c), (d), and (e), it appears that tin 
             following damage was inflicted on the enemy by vessels of 
             this units

    SUNK

        1 large Destroyer or Cruiser of the KATORI Class 
        (gunfire).

        1 "MAYA" type cruiser (Torpedoes).

    DAMAGED

        2 Destroyers. Started fires on one destroyer, and fires and 
        small explosions on another (Gunfire).

        1 TENYRU or NATORI class cruiser reported hit heavily damaged .
        and sunk (Possible).

        1 Battleship. Two torpedo hits on "KONGO" type battleship
        (Possible)

    8.  Special comments on own forces:

        (a)  Our own forces consisted of eight destroyers, two heavy 
             cruisers, and three light cruisers. Own forces disposed in 
             single column, making 18 knots. Just prior to opening fire 
             an order was received for our forces to come to course 
             000° T. After the battle started it was pretty much a 
             matter of every ship for itself.

        (b)  Communication:

             T.B.S. was need to transmit battle orders.  Four 
             combinations for fighting lights were seen, three
             combination of which one observer believed to be on U.S. 
             Ships.  The confusion in the fleet regarding fighting 
             lights combinations is very serious.  It has resulted from 
             the use of CSP 1102 (soon to be eliminated), and from the 
             fact that special combinations have been prescrbed at 
             various times.

        (c)  Effectiveness of Gunnery:

             Considered that gunnery was most effective, both main and 
             machine gun battery, and torpedo battery.  No material or 
             training deficiencies were noted.  Fire discipline was 
             excellent, and the fire control communications observed by 
             the Squadron Commander in AARON WARD was excellent.

        (d)  Pertinent comments on Engineering are covered thoroughly 
             in reference (b), which are concurred in.

    9.  Lessons learned and recommendations:

        That the importance of careful study of own and enemy ship 
        silhouettes cannot be too strongly emphasized.

        That too much despondence on T.B.S. is not wise.  It is 
        recommended that authenticators be provided for use on valid 
        circuits if it is suspected that the enemy is practicing 
        deception.

        A voice circuit in the 3,000-7,000 KC band should be provided 
        for use in the event of T.B.S. failure.  A voice circuit in the 
        3,000-7,000 KC band should be used for tactical purposes when 
        there is a possibility of engaging the enemy.  An intercepted 
        T.B.S. transmission may warn the Japanese that an American 
        force is very near (within approximately fifteen miles), and 
        therefore continued use of the T.B.S. will soon render it 
        impossible to catch the Japs by surprise.

        Several enemy targets were identified by the AARON WARD by 
        means of their use of identification lights.  These lights must 
        be used with utmost discretion.

R. G. TOBIN

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