War Diary and Action Reports November 1942,

CL50/A16-3                   U. S. S. HELENA             10-s
                                          November 17,1942.

From:              Senior Known Survivor, U.S.S. JUNEAU (Lieutenant
                    Roger W. O'Neil, MC-V(G), U.S. Naval Reserve).
To  :              Commander in Chief, United States Pacific Fleet.

Via :              Commanding Officer, U.S.S. HELENA.

Subject:           Report of U.S.S. JUNEAU Activity from November 11 to
                   13, 1942n inclusive.

References:        (a) U.S. Navy Regulations, 1940, Arts. 712 and 874(6).
                   (b) PacFlt Conf. Ltr. 24CL-42.

      1.           In accordance with references (a) and (b) the following
report covering the activity of the U.S.S. JUNEAU from November 11
to 13, 1942, inclusive is submitted:

November 11

  Occupied our positions in formation of Task Force.  Nothing of
Unusual note occurred aboard ship.

November 12

   Captain and Gunnery Officer were very much satisfied with anti-
Aircraft performance during afternoon air attack by Japanese planes.
They felt that we had accounted for a good percentage of planes
destroyed.  Planes were described as twin engine bombers of Mitaubishi
type, and very large.  There were no casualties on board the JUNEAU
during this attack.  At nightfall we were on our way out the channel,
and to the best of my knowledge we were outside the channel about
2230.  We reentered with the Task Force sometime later, approximately
between 2300 and 2400.  We had radar contact about 2400 which was at
first thought to have been enemy contact but later found to be land.
We were advised on station at approximately 0130 of November 13 to
expect enemy contact momentarily.  Scene of action illuminated by
star shells, searchlights, and some of JUNEAU personnel thought also
enemy planes were dropping flares.  We commenced firing somewhere in
the vicinity of 0140  to 0150, at which time we were on the port side
of the SAN FRANCISCO.  I understand that she ordered us to get out
of the way in order that she might get a broadside on a heavier Jap-
anese warship on the port side, and we proceeded to pick up speed, cross
the SAN FRANCISCO's bow, and come back on her starboard side where we
were when hit by an enemy torpedo which I feel was originally intended
for the SAN FRANCISCO.  We had fired a very small amount of ammun-
ition.  I would say approximately 25 rounds of 5" plus 20 mm and
1.1 ammunition.  The torpedo hit was of sufficient concussion to
buckle the deck just aft of turret 8  plus throwing 3 depth charges
overboard.  The port motor whaleboat was also torn to pieces and
lost by the impact of that hit.  I should say that the torpedo hit
somewhere between frames 42 and 45 on the port side and entered the 
forward fireroom.  The hit was below armor belt and a above rolling
chalks.  All hands, approximately 17 inside, were lost immediately.
Immediately forward to the forward fireroom was the plotting room,
And later on I learned from Enisgn Kloter, who had been there, that
They were thrown to the floor but were protected from the forward
fireroom by a double bulkhead.  The first one had given away and the
second had buckled somewhat and was leaking in spots at seam.  The
deck had also buckled and oil fumes were coming through.  They at-
tempted to carry on but had to secure a short time following this.
The Chief Engineer was quoted as having said that in his opinion the
keel had been broken by the torpedo hit.  Immediately following the
hit the ship seemed to rise and settle deeper and listed somewhat to
port.  All lighting forward of after mess hall was lost.  I under-
stood that immediately following the hit we shifted to the after
engine room generators for power but that they could not carry the
load, so we shifted immediately back to emergency diesel for our power.
We had lost all fire control of our turrets.  We immediately
left the scene of action; to best of my knowledge proceeded
through Sealark channel, and headed northeast for Malaita Island.
had occasion to do some minor surgery on the Navigator and Chief
Engineer about dawn and had occasion to overhear their discussion
From which I was given to understand that we were running on our
after fire and engine room and doing approximately 20 knots, and
were headed towards Malaita where Captain Swenson had hopes of find-
ing a cove which might offer sufficient shelter to enable us to ac-
complish temporary repairs before making a dash for Button.  By dawn
we had accomplished sufficient repairs so that we had local fire
control in one turret at a time.  This was previous to sighting the
remainder of the Task Force - HELENA, SA FRANCISCO, ect.  We sighted
them about dawn on our starboard side until which time we thought we
were alone.  We were not sure at this time whether they were friendly
or enemy ships.  Also at dawn there was evidence the JUNEAU was 10
to 12 feet down by the bow with approximately 2 degrees list.  I
understood this remark was attributed to the First Lieutenant.  We
had also lost suction in the main feed causing reduced pressure
and the ship to go dead in the water several times about dawn.  We
were making turns for 27 knots and doing approximately 20, according
to Dennis, who was a throttleman in the after engine room.  Due to
the excessive casualties on the SAN FRANCISCO, the senior medical
officer of the later asked assistance, and my senior medical officer,
Lieutenant Commander James G. Neff, 9MC), USN, who had struck his
head at the time of the first torpedo hit, asked me if I would care
to go over.  The destroyer O'BANNON a short time later, sent over a
boat and I took three of my corpsman, namely, Theodore D. Merchant,
Orrel G. Cecil, and William T. Sims, plus some medical supplies and
proceeded to the SAN FRANCISCO.  I was in the Admiral's cabin just
donning a mask prior to a assisting Lieutenant Commander Lowe to oper-
ate on Captain Young of the SAN FRANCISCO, when the JUNEAU was tor-
pedoed the second time at approximately 1101, November 13th.  In
view of the fact that the Admiral's cabin is located on the port side,
and the JUNEAU was on our starboard side when it hit, I did not see the
actual hit.  However the SAN FRANCISCO swung to the starboard side
and within 30 seconds of the hit I saw the spot where the JUNEAU had
been.  The only thing visible was tremendous clouds of gray and black
smoke.  I could not see any debris in the water but I was at least
two to three thousand  yards distant.  Later on I questioned men on
the SAN FRANCISCO, who had been on watch on the starboard side and
ad witnessed the incident, from the gist of which I gathered that
three torpedoes had been fired.  The first crossed the SAN FRAN-
CISCO's bow and just missed astern of the JUNEAU.  The second appear-
ed to come from beneath the SAN FRANSCISCO and its wake was not visible
immediately.  The third came aft of both ships.  It was the second 
torpedo which struck the JUNEAU on its port side very close to the
location of the first torpedo hit in the early morning.  It was
impossible for the SAN FRANCISCO to inform the JUNEAU of its imminent
attack, and if the JUNEAU actually saw the torpedo wake I am of the
belief that it was impossible to heel hard starboard because of its
broken kell and the possibility of breaking the ship in two.  The men
told me that the JUNEAU appeared to explode instantaneously and ap-
peared to break in two, both segments of which sunk within 20 seconds.
The debris from the explosion flew many feet in the air, one portion
of which struck number 1 gun of the SAN FRANCISCO, putting it out of
commission.  The signalman on the bridge of the HELENA was in the 
process of taking a message from the JUNEAU and his glass trained
on the signalman of that ship and reports that the signalman was blown
at least 30 feet into the air.

      2.           I wish to state emphatically, that during the operations
described above, my shipmates conducted themselves magnificently.

                                   ROGER W. O'NIEL




R S V VISUAL TOD 0052-13 NOV     SUPV WSB        DATE 13 NOV '42

TO:    B 17 PLANE

Information on the U.S.S. JUNEAU CL-52


History of the JUNEAU CL-52

                      Atlanta Class
                    CL-Light Cruisers



Displacement (tons):
    6,00 (stand)
    8,200 (Mean war service)

Length (oa):


Draft (max):

Armament (max auth):
    16 5"/38 
     3 40 mm twins (SAN JUAN 5)
     1 40 mm quads 
    15 20 mm (SAN JUAN 9)
     2 DC tracks
     2 21" quad TT


       32 knots (max)

    Max. Cruising radius:
       4,000 miles @ 25 knots
       7,700 MILES @ 15 knots

       75,000 (shaft)

       2 screws
       geared turbine
       1,528 tons oil (max)

       3 SC-1

War Time Losses:

      ATLANTA CL-51
       JUNEAU CL-52

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To learn more about the U.S.S. JUNEAU Please visit these Web-site

Naval History and Heritage Command has information of CL-52
NavSource Online  Has photos of CL-52


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