War Diary and Action Reports November 1942,
U.S.S. STRERETT (DD-407) South Pacific Force
From November 1, 1942 to November 30, 1942
Enroute Efate to Guadalcanal with Task Force 65.
0800 Lat. 14-31.7S; L. 167-17.6E.
1200 Lat. 14-04.5S; L. 166-34.2E.
2000 Lat. 12-52.2S; L. 165-13.8E.
Noon to noon - 248 miles - course 329° T.
Task Force 65 - Organization:
C.T.F. 65 - Rear Admiral - Callaghan.
T.G. 65.1 - Captain Reifsnider.
HUNTER LIGGETT BARNETT PRES. HAYES
T.G. 65.2 - Col. Jeschke.
Landing Group - Eighth Marines.
T.G. 65.3 - Rear Admiral Scott.
ATLANTA FLETCHER AARON WARD
LARDNER BENHAM STERETT
GWIN WALKE McCALLA
SAN FRANCISCO HELENA BUCHANAN
T.G. 65.5 - Captain Ashe.
Eastern Transport Group.
NEVILLE HEYWOOD FOMALHAULT
T.G. 65.6 - Col. Sturgis
Eastern landing group:- Fifth Marines ( detachment ) of.
246th Field Artillery.
500 Acorn personnel.
Two (2) companies - 2nd Raider Battalion.
T.G. 65.7 - Rear Admiral Tisdale.
PENSACOLA - Eastern Screening Group.
Mission - Reinforce Guadalcanal Garrison and establish new beachhead at Aola Bay.
0800 Lat. 11-05S; L. 163-31.4E.
1200 Lat. 10-20.7S; L. 163-20.7E.
2000 Lat. 10-33.3S; L. 162-35.3E.
Noon to - 300 miles - course 318 T.
1600 Task Group 65.7 joined.
1700 Formed approach disposition with HELENA, WALKE and STERETT
2000 Received radio report that a Japanese force of 4 cruisers
and 17 destroyers were headed for Indispensable Straits. The
transports screened by destroyers were ordered to retire.
HELENA, PENSACOLA, SAN FRANCISCO and six destroyers, including
STERETT (screen commander) proceeded at 22 knots to intercept
Heavy rain most of night.
Japanese force retired, contact not established. The enemy,
however, landed troops and equipment at Koli Point,
Task Force 65 ordered to rendezvous and carry out mission on
morning of November 4th.
1600 Entire Force, less one transport and one destroyer formed up
and started approach with STERETT in van. Passed crippled
CONYNGHAM that had been in collision with FULLER.
Support Group now composed of HELENA, SAN FRANCISCO, BUCHANAN,
LAFFEY and STERETT.
2000 Went to General Quarters and so remained until 0600 Nov. 4th.
0800 Lat. 10-59.9S; L. 161-17.9E.
1200 Lat. 11-10.1S; L. 162-17.8E.
2000 Lat. 09.58.5S; L. 161-46.8E.
Operating with Support Group in Indispensable Straits covering
approach and entrance of our Force.
0630 Entered Sealark Channel.
0810 Went to General Quarters, enemy shore battery at Kokumbona
opened A/A fire on our planes and enemy shore batteries at
Koli Point opened fire on our landing boats, loaded with
troops. Our destroyers bombarded Koli Point. SAN FRANCISCO,
screened by STERETT, proceeded to Kokumbona and shelled area
for 35 minutes, silencing battery and starting fires. Then
proceeded to Koli Point.
1008 SAN FRANCISCO, HELENA and STERETT opened fire on enemy
positions at Koli, each ship had its own plane for spotting.
1048 Ceased firing, having expended 503 rounds, 5"/38, no
casualties. Large fires were started and our spotters
repeatedly reported direct hits on enemy concentrations, dumps
and buildings. Fires burned throughout day.
1100 Secured from G.Q. and set 2 MS and Baker.
1150 Went to General Quarters and screened transport group.
Received report 12 enemy planes headed for this vicinity.
1310 Resumed "2 MS", attack failed to materialize.
1800 Stood out through Sealark Channel, patrolling Indispensable
Operating in STRAITS with support group.
Received word a Japanese force of 27 bombers and 24 fighters
were headed this way. No air coverage is available for our
1050 went to G.Q. and formed close A/A screen about our transports
group off Aola Point. The enemy bombed our air field at Lunga
but did not approach this force.
1225 Secured from air alarm and transports resumed unloading.
1230 Task Group 65.1 screened by T.G. 65.3 departed.
1330 GWIN reported to this group.
Patrolled Indispensable Straits.
0215 Went to General Quarters and Support Group, with STERETT in
van, took approach disposition and headed for Sealark Channel.
Report received that two enemy cruisers were headed for
Guadalcanal from westward and enemy planes were headed for
Our Support Group and motor torpedo boats headed for enemy,
who retired before we could make contact. Shore battery
played searchlights and opened fire on planes. One of our
planes dropped one 500 lb. near CL, no damaged claimed.
0330 All clear.
0400 Mission completed, Task Force 65 departed for Espiritu Santo.
The Support Group five miles astern, toward possible enemy.
0800 Lat. 09-52S; L. 161-35.7E.
1200 Lat. 10-09.9S; L. 162-32.2E.
2000 Lat. 11-46.6S; L. 162-56.2E.
0800 Lat. 14-07.6S; L. 163-19.2E.
1200 Lat. 14-14.1S; L. 164.12.6E
2000 Lat. 14-22.5S; L. 166-19.8E.
Noon to noon - 264 miles - course 158 T.
0600 Entered Segund Channel, following heavy units. Fueled from
1000 Anchored in berth C-1
Received ammunition and provisions.
1700 Held C.O.'s conference.
1200 STERETT and six other DDs in "C' berths dragged. GWIN and
LAFFEY had minor collision. GWIN's bow was dished in and her
wildcat was disabled.
2000 CO's conference in CUSHING (CDD-10).
0520 Task Group 67.4 Sortied.
SAN FRANCISCO; T.G.C. Rear Adm. CALLAGHAN.
PENSACOLA HELENA CUSHING (CDD10)
PRESTON BUCHANAN LAFFEY
0800 Lat. 15-51S; L. 167-07.SE.
1200 Lat. 15-22S; L. 166-09.5E.
2000 Lat. 14-13.7S; L. 164-39.1E.
1800 PENSACOLA, PRESTON, and GWIN departed to join T.F. 16.
0500 Rendezvoused with remainder of Task Force 67.
Task Force Commander - Rear Admiral Turner.
Transports - 67.1
McCAWLEY (Flag) PRES. JACKSON
CRESCENT CITY PRES. ADAMS
Landing Group 67.2
ATLANTA - R. Adm SCOTT.
MAURY - AARON WARD (CDS12)
BARTON - FLETCHER
LARDNER - McCALLA
Support Group 67.4
See November 10 plus PORTLAND, JUNEAU, SHAW.
Mission to reinforce our land forces in Guadalcanal, protect our
transports and destroy enemy forces as opportunity offers.
1135 Went to General Quarters - Japanese reconnaissance planes
sighted our force but remained out of range.
1840 General Quarters, Condition Afirm.
2000 Formed battle disposition.
2200 Support Group 67.4 entered Sealark Channel and headed Westward
SAVO Island in search of enemy forces.
0800 Lat. 11-39.8S; L. 162-56.9E.
1200 Lat. 11-25.8S; L. 162-23.9E.
Noon to noon - 324 miles - course 316 T.
STERETT in Support Group in Battle Formation searching SAVO Island
area for enemy forces.
Order in column: BUCHANAN, CUSHING, LAFFEY, STERETT, SAN FRANCISCO,
HELENA, PENSACOLA, PORTLAND, JUNEAU, AARON WARD, FLETCHER AND LARDNER.
500 yards between DD's, 700 yards between types and cruisers.
0550 BUCHANAN had sound contact and delivered attack.
0600 Secured from night general quarters, Transports anchored and
began unloading, screened by cruisers at 3,000 yards, and by
DDs plus ATLANTA and JUNEAU at 6,000 yards.
0730 Enemy shore batteries began firing on our HIGGINS boats loaded
with troops. No direct hits observed. HELENA, SHAW, and
BARTON were designated and began shore bombardment.
1010 SOME of our cruisers and destroyers opened fire on Douglas
transport and 8 Grumman fighters.
1230 CUSHING and BUCHANAN ordered to destroy enemy landing boats to
westward. They destroyed about 25 craft. BUCHANAN was hit in
after stack by a 5"/38 during the T.B. attack killing 5 men
and damaging stack.
1320 Air alarm - general quarters - condition afirm - transports
got underway, formed 3 columns, base course 340 T.
Combatants ships formed close screen 1,000 yards. Maneuvered
by turn signals.
1406 Sighted formation of 21 enemy bombers standing in from north
over Florida Island. STERETT reported sight contact to O.T.C.
over T.B.S. Attacking planes made one circle over Florida
Island, then fanned out and started approach 50 to 100 feet
off water. STERETT was in perfect position in direct line of
approach between planes and our transports. Began tracking
and had fire control solution well before planes came in
During the approach our fighter planes destroyed some of the
attackers. One of our Higgins boats hit one plane with .50
cal. machine gun fire.
1413 Surface craft opened fire. STERETT shot down two with 5"/38
and two with 20 mm. machine gun fire. These four are
definite. We most probably damaged a fifth with 20 mm.
1417 ceased firing. 20 of the 21 torpedo bombers were shot down.
Many of them before they could release their torpedoes. Three
torpedoes were sighted by us and easily avoided. We had to
maneuver radically to miss hitting one plane that crashed and
went up in flames close aboard. One burning plane crashed
into SAN FRANCISCO and did minor damage. One of our fighters
crashed in sea close to our formation, pilot was rescued.
No other damage was sustained by surface units.
At same time a formation of high level bombers and Zero
fighters headed for this force were engaged by our fighters.
They never reached their objective.
All told 52 enemy planes were engaged and 32 of them shot
down. The water was one mess of burning planes. STERETT
suffered two personnel casualties, not critical, one from
shrapnel, one from bullet wound in chest.
1450 Secured from air attack and transports resumed unloading.
1830 transports got underway and stood out through Lengo Channel.
Task Group 67.4 covered sortie, departing through Sealark
Channel. Covered transport group until 2200 in Indispensable
Straits then we reversed course, through south to west and
headed for Lengo Channel and the enemy. PENSACOLA, GWIN and
PRESTON were sent ahead of transports to protect them and then
join Task Force 16.
2000 Task Group 67.4 went to General Quarters and formed battle
disposition. Order in column: - CUSHING (CDD1O), LAFFEY,
STERETT, O'BANNON, ATLANTA (R. Adm. Scott), SAN FRANCISC0 (R.
Adm. Callaghan O.T.C), PORTLAND, HELENA, JUNEAU, AARON
WARD(CDD 12), BARTON, MONSSEN and FLETCHER.
1700 Conducted Burial at sea services. Buried 28 late shipmates.
0800 Lat. 09-51S; L. 161-06E.
1200 Lat. 10-52.1S; L. l61-12.8E.
2000 Lat. 12-27.5S; L. 162-51E.
0800 Lat. 13-52.5S; L. l66-08.9E.
1200 Lat. 14-40.3S; L. 167-02.2E.
Noon to noon - 377 miles - course 123 T.
0955 HELENA reported periscope.
1016 STERETT had sound contact.
1352 FLETCHER had sound contact.
1635 Stood in to Segund Channel and fueled from tanker.
2030 Minor fire on tanker - sent our fire and rescue party and
prepared to cast off.
0130 Received orders from Comairsopac, to report on board CURTISS.
The "Staff", despite the fact that they had a despatch report
on the battle damages to STERETT, wanted to know if vessel
could return to Guadalcanal and join R. Adm. Lee's force.
0400 Returned on board ship.
0800 Cast off from tanker and moored alongside TANGIER for
emergency battle repairs.
1100 Transferred 13 seriously wounded cases to SOLACE.
1330 Attended conference held by R. Adm. Turner in McCAWLEY,
regarding engagement November 13th.
2030 Went to General Quarters - Jap submarine shelled harbor
leisurely for half hour. No damage, nuisance value only.
Undergoing emergency repairs alongside TANGIER.
Transferred all unsafe (overheated and flooded ammunition to shore
Undergoing emergency repairs.
1520 GWIN, BUCHANAN and STERETT stood out and patrolled entrance.
1640 HELENA and SAN FRANCISCO stood out. DD's formed A/S screen,
enroute to Noumea, N.C.
2035 GWIN had underwater sound contact and delivered depth charge
2234 STERETT had sound contact and delivered an urgent depth charge
0800 Lat. 19-17.2S; L. 167-54E.
1200 Lat. 20-18.8S; L. 168-19.2E.
2000 Lat. 22-18.8S; L. 168-20E.
1143 GWIN sighted a periscope and made a D.C. attack.
0730 Task Group began entering Harbor of Noumea, New Caledonia.
0830 Fueled from tanker.
1400 Moored alongside WHITNEY in nest.
1000 Payed official call on Admiral Halsey, Comsopac.
1400 Admiral Halsey returned call and inspected our damages.
Undergoing emergency repairs alongside WHITNEY.
0900 Attended conference in SAN FRANCISCO.
1000 Admiral Halsey awarded several decorations, including Navy
Cross to writer.
1200 Underway. SAN FRANCISCO, CONYNGHAM, MAHAN and STERETT, Task
Group 66.7, enroute Noumea to Pearl Harbor, T.H., speed 16.5
2000 Lat. 23-30S; L. 167-01.3E.
0800 Lat. 23-23.8S; L. 170-15.6E.
1200 Lat. 23-13.7S; L. 171-19.4E.
2000 Lat. 22-38.6S; L. 173-21.3E.
Noon to noon - 275 miles - course 102T.
0800 Lat. 21-53.4S; L. 176-22.1E.
1200 Lat. 21-25.8S; L. 177-20.5E.
2000 Lat. 20-36.6S; L. 179-24.9E.
Noon to noon - 351 miles - course 072T.
November 26 (PLUS 12 ZT)
0800 Lat. 19-13S; L. 177-35.7W.
1200 Lat. 18-37.6S; L. 176-40W.
2000 Lat. 17-28S; L. 174-50.8W.
Noon to noon - 386 miles - course 064°T.
0800 Lat. 15-43.1S; L. 172-15.4W.
1200 Lat. 15-16.4S; L. 171-37.6W.
2000 Lat. 13-50.6S; L. 170-09.7W.
Noon to noon - 354 miles.
0800 Lat. 11-03.5S; L. 168-53.6W.
1200 Lat. 10-10.5S; L. 168-32.2W.
2000 Lat. 08-21.3S; L. 167-33.9W.
Noon to noon - 355 miles - course 030T.
0800 Lat. 05-33.9S; L. 166-15.2W.
1200 Lat. 04-42.1S; L. 165-55.4W.
2000 Lat. 02-54.4S; L. 165-01.3W.
Noon to noon - 365 miles - course 025T.
0800 Lat. 00-04.8S; L. 163-51.5W.
1200 Lat. 00-56.5N; L. 163-29.8W.
2000 Lat. 02-52.8N; L. 162-78.4W.
Noon to noon - 367 miles - course 023½ T.
DD407/TS133 U.S.S. STERETT
S E C E R T
___________ November 20, 1942.
From: The Commanding Officer.
To: The Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet.
Via: (1) The Commanding Officer, U.S.S. HELENA (Senior Officer
Task Group 64.7).
(2) The Commander, South Pacific Force.
Subject: Report of Action on Night of November 12-13, 1942.
Reference: (a) U.S. Navy Regs., 1920, Arts. 712 and 874(6).
(b) PacFltConf.Ltr. #24CL-42.
1. As directed by references, the following is submitted:
I. COMMENTS ON AND SUMMARY OF OUTSTANDING EVENTS:
Task Group 67.4, consisting of thirteen ships listed
below, on the night of November 12-13, 1942 stood in from the Eastward
through Lengo Channel, Guadalcanal Island area to contact and destroy
a Japanese force reported standing in from the Westward. The
immediate mission of the enemy force was to bombard our forces on
Guadalcanal Island, preparatory to landing large troop reinforcements
and to recapture this vital air base.
The STERETT, equipped only with F.D. and S.C. radars
made contact with only two enemy groups, estimated course about 110
speed 23 knots. These later proved to be the right and center units
of three groups. Sight contact revealed two cruisers (probably both
CL's) and three destroyers in the right wing. The center force was
later estimated to consist of two battleships and two or three heavy
During the battle, the STERETT engaged three enemy
vessels; a light cruiser, a battleship and a destroyer. Numerous 5
inch direct hits were made on the bridge and forward structure of the
cruiser. Fires were started. This cruiser was later destroyed by
other unit or units of our force. The STERETT fired a salvo of four
torpedoes at the battleship scoring two positive hits. Bridge
structure of battleship was hit with several salvos of 5 inch. The
enemy destroyer was blown up by two torpedoes and two 5 inch salvos.
This destroyer did not get a chance to fire a single shot at STERETT
and was seen to sink.
The explosion on the enemy destroyer illuminated the
entire area. This occurred about 0220 and caused resumption of heavy
cross-fire from sharp on our starboard bow and on our port beam. It
was during the next few minutes that the STERETT received most or her
damage. It is believed that all our units had started retirement
prior to this last engagement and it is quite definitely established
that the enemy ships at this time, were confused and fired at their
own units. At 0230 the STERETT was burning fiercely aft, both after
guns were disabled and when it was certain that the two remaining
torpedoes could not be fired the STERETT retired at high speed.
The STERETT had received eleven direct hits and
fragments from several near misses. Serious fires had started in #3
and #4 handling rooms and up through the mounts; several compartments
were on fire. Over twenty percent of our ship's company had been
killed or seriously wounded. Yet the STERETT managed to retire at
flank speed (a short time later boilers #1 and #2 had to be secured
and speed was limited to 23 knots) and about0615 joined up with
remainder of our retiring force. This can be attributed only to the
high state of training for battle; the prompt action on the part of
the gunnery officer in flooding all magazines aft and ordering all
power to mounts #3 and 4 cut; to the prompt and efficient action of
the damage control officer and his repair parties and the coolness and
efficient co-operation of every officer and man in the ship.
II. PRELIMINARY OPERATIONS:
(a) Air reconnaissance indicated that a strong Japanese
force from the West would arrive Guadalcanal area about midnight
November 12-13, 1942. Contact was first made by S.C. radar in HELENA.
(b) See below.
(c) Wind was force 1. Sea was smooth (area nearly
landlocked). Visibility about 5000 yards for ships; about 15,000 for
prominent land objects. This was before any fires or firing. Moonset
was at 0248 this morning, but the sky was 8/10 overcast.
III CHRONOLOGICAL LOG OF BATTLE:
2000 - Ship at General Quarters; Material Condition Afirm.
2203 - Task Group 67.4 completed covering retirement of
transports group Reversed course through South and headed
for Lengo Channel, course 270° T, speed 18 knots.
In battle formation, in column in following order van to
rear: CUSHING (Comdr. Stokes), LAFFEY, STERETT, O'BANNAN,
ATLANTA, SAN FRANCISCO, (Admiral Callaghan, 0.T.C.),
PORTLAND, HELENA, JUNEAU, AARON WARD (Capt. Tobin),
BARTON, MONSSEN, FLETCHER. Distance between DD's 500
yards. Distance between types 700 yards. Distance
between cruisers 700 yards.
Served hot soup and coffee to all hands in relays.
Making transit of Lengo Channel.
0026 - Changed course to 275° T.
0028 - Changed course to 285° T.
Received "Condition Red" over warning net from
Guadalcanal. Enemy planes coming in from North, Distant
0130 - Received T.B.S. report of contact with enemy ships.
Picked up enemy ships on our F.D. radar on our port bow,
14,500 yards, and began tracking nearest large unit.
0148 - Received order to commence fire, odd numbered ships to
starboard, even to port. Had a complete fire control
solution of heavy unit on port bow but immediately ordered
action starboard in order to avoid any confusion or undue
concentration of targets. Our course was then 000° T,
speed 18 knots.
We had sight contact of three ships on our starboard bow
and one to port. One of the ships to starboard appeared
to be the size of a cruiser.
Shortly after sight contact ComDesDiv 10, in CUSHING,
leading destroyer, turned to left apparently to parallel
enemy track. LAFFEY followed and STERETT had started left
when O.T.C. ordered ComDesDiv 10 to resume column
formation. Some ships commenced fire immediately. One
enemy ship to port played searchlight on our formation.
0149 - Opened fire on largest vessel in starboard group, range
4,000 yards, opening. This target was sharp on bow and
silhouette too vague for torpedo attack, The order for
leading destroyer to resume column prevented this unit
from making a co-ordinated torpedo attack at this time.
Shortly after STERETT opened fire to starboard, an enemy
large ship on port hand began firing at our cruisers and
opened a searchlight. This made it more difficult, to see
our target. Fire control radar was of great assistance at
this time. Thirteen salvos were fired at this target.
Fire broke out on target illuminating forecastle of
cruiser. Two turrets could be definitely seen: forward of
Several observers insist they saw three turrets forward.
Only two stacks were sighted but there could have been
three. Best estimate is that this was of the NATORI
0151 - Received hit on port quarter cutting starboard cable to
steering gear and rudder was momentarily jammed. Ship was
maneuvered by engines. During this period 0'BANNON came
up on our starboard hand and STERETT checked fire. The
cruiser was burning fiercely forward at this time.
Several minutes later there was a heavy explosion in this
cruiser. It is believed she blew up, probably due to fire
from some other ship in our group. The CUSHING and LAFFEY
were under heavy cross fire during this period and sight
contact of them was lost.
0155 - Received order over T.B.S. from 0.T.C. to "Cease Fire".
0205 - Under heavy fire from port. Numerous near misses and many
shells passed overhead. About this time foremast was hit
disabling S.C. radar, emergency identification lights, and
T.B.S. transmitting antenna, and wounding 1 officer and 2
men in gun director. Temporary emergency lights and
antenna were rigged.
Ordered action port and designated KONGO class battleship
as target. This target was plainly visible, Illuminated
by starshells and by flare from a burning ship to the
southward. Closed range to 4000 yards, then 2000 yards.
Fired full salvo of four torpedoes, normal Spread shortly
thereafter, and opened fire with 5"/38 on bridge
structure. Two torpedoes were seen to hit, causing two
explosions aft. A number of direct 5" hits were observed.
This battleship had been under fire by other ships in our
force. A few minutes later, saw men abandoning battleship
going over the side fore and aft. STERETT was then within
2000 yards of battleship and under heavy cross fire.
0220 - (approx). A Jap destroyer of the FUDUKI class was
silhouetted, 1000 yards on STERETT's starboard bow, target
angle 120°. Immediately ordered torpedo battery to fire
two torpedoes and 5 inch battery to open fire on
destroyer. Two torpedo hits were definitely scored. Only
two salvos of 5 inch had been fired and were hitting
squarely when the torpedoes hit the destroyer causing
large explosions lifting ship out or water and starting
fires forward and aft. This destroyer positively sank
0227 - Received numerous hits on port quarter. STERETT was
thoroughly illuminated when enemy destroyer to starboard
exploded. Enemy salvos from relative bearing 280°
(approximate) struck port side of #3 handling room, gun
shelter and #4 handling room. These hits started fires in
each of the stations noted, causing detonation of several
5# ready service powder tanks in each handling room and
inflicting severe casualties to both material and
personnel. Both after guns were thus put out of action.
Later inspection revealed two 4 or 5 inch shell hits in
the hull which passed through #4 handling room, one hit of
the same size in #3 gun shelter and three hits closely
grouped in #3 handling room. These latter were of
undetermined calibre, the holes made by their entry
measuring 15 inches across the smallest diameter; only
small fragments of these were recovered. A second salvo
of 5 inch struck the ship in the quarterdeck area, one
pierced the corner of the port inboard torpedo tube, while
the others passed through the midships clipping room,
causing 6 personnel casualties, but little material damage
other than holes in. the superstructure and damage to the
starboard torpedo tube nest. This hit also caused a fire
on the quarterdeck. Nearly complete 4 inch projectile was
recovered in #4 upper handling room. Word was passed
immediately to guns #3 and 4 to flood both magazines and
handling room, and the repair party was dispatched to the
scene of the fires. Power was ordered cut out to guns #3
and #4 in order to prevent fires and explosions from
severed electrical leads. Ready service ammunition, much
of it on the verge of explosion from the heat of the
fires, was dumped overboard from both handling rooms.
Hoses and C02 extinguishers were quickly brought into
action and the fires brought under control. Personnel
casualties were then carried to the battle dressing
station and turned over to the Doctor.
0230 - STERETT was burning fiercely aft and was at this time
completely separated from own force. Colors and after
part of ship were illuminated. Only two guns were
serviceable. Two torpedoes were still in the starboard
nest but one 5 inch hit had put this battery out of
commission. When torpedo officer stated that it was
impossible to fire this battery, STERETT retired at high
speed, slowing from time to time to reduce 'draft' when
fire appeared to be getting out of control. Remainder of
our force had already retired. D.R.T. had been disabled
during afternoon air attack. Ship was headed east to
clear area then South until close to Guadalcanal shore.
0255 - Headed for Lengo Channel course 090° T.
0258 - Avoided what nay have been a torpedo that crossed our bow
port to starboard. Increased speed to 23 knots to clear
area then maneuvered toward Lengo Channel running at 10 to
23 knots depending on condition of fire art. Boilers #l
and 2 were secured about this time due to failure of
firemain forward and loss of cooling water to forced draft
blowers and loss of ventilation blowers in this fireroom.
Transformers had been grounded when firemain carried away.
Temporary firemain jumper was quickly rigged.
0311 - Heard and sighted heavy explosion in large ship bearing
345° T. That ship was burning from stem to stern but did
not sink at this time. Six or seven burning ships were in
sight during our retirement.
0322 - Reported by T.B.S. to HELENA.
0327 - Rudder jammed at full right. Backed full both engines to
avoid going ashore on Guadalcanal Island.
0332 - Went ahead using trick wheel and rudder director from
0345 - Entered Lengo Channel.
0415 - Proceeded at 23 knots to overtake own forces which had
gone out Sealark Channel.
0425 - Crossed 100 fathom curve to eastward of Lengo Channel.
0600 - Joined HELENA, SAN FRANCISCO, JUNEAU, O'BANNON and
IV. SPECIAL COMMENTS ON ENEMY FORCES:
(a) STERETT encountered two groups of enemy ships,
on roughly easterly heading making twenty three knots. These
groups consisted of two battleships, five cruisers, two or three
were heavy, and about three or four destroyers. One or more
searchlights were used first by the enemy, then several starshells
or aircraft flares high over the area between the forces, and
thirdly a form of firecracker or sparkle effect with brilliant
white flashes fired low between the two forces with apparent
intention of blinding our cruisers.
(d) When STERETT was under heavy fire, the
majority of shells fell over or short or astern. No hits were
received below waterline. What hits were received were quite
effective except for low order burst in one 4. inch projectile
recovered (see above), and two 5 inch projectiles which went
through ship without exploding.
(e) Unable to estimate total damage to enemy. A
cruiser and a destroyer were seen to explode. Two battleships
were seriously damaged. When STERETT left area seven ships were
seen burning fiercely.
V. SPECIAL COMMENTS ON OWN FORCES:
(a) See paragraph 3 above for number and type.
(b) Communications were all via TBS. Our
transmitter was disabled by hit on mast. Almost impossible to
hear TBS on destroyer bridge during height of battle.
(c) No smoke was used.
(d) Torpedo battery functioned perfectly until
disabled by enemy gun fire. All six torpedoes wore fired with 45
knot speed setting. Gun performance was excellent. Fire control
radar was of invaluable assistance against light cruiser. Also 5"
ammunition was very effective.
(e) No criticism of gunnery.
(f) Following ammunition was expended:
5"/38 common - 90 rounds.
Mk XV torpedoes - 6
(g) Radar search was with FD radar only as
directed by Task Group Commander. Two groups at enemy ships were
located, first at 14,500 yards.
(h) Engineering department answered every bell at
once, including 1 emergency full astern to avoid ramming own
destroyer. Performance of medical department was outstanding.
Three leg amputations were performed, and one splint compound
fracture treated shortly after the battle. Only one wounded man
was lost after he had reached the doctor's care, and he had been
nearly torn in two.
(i) Summary of own damage:
STERETT received eleven direct hits and
fragments from several near misses.
Three hits were from major calibre shells set
with instantaneous fuses, possibly for shore bombardment, Two or
three hits were 4", source not known. All others are believed to
have been 5". Two 5" shells pierced ship completely from port to
starboard without exploding.
Hit #1 pierced the hull, port side, at frame
159 about one foot below the main deck and passed through ship
diagonally and pierced the starboard hull at frame 166 just below
the main deck without exploding. This shell severed the starboard
steering gear cable which was then in use. Fragments from
bulkheads pierced the starboard degaussing gear cable. Other
damage was of minor nature to centilating system and lookers.
The second shell hit the fore mast below the
yard arm, gouging a 6 inch hole in mast. Fragments severed the
main stays and cut the mast ladder in two. Several fragments hit
the director and slightly wounded five of the personnel. This hit
demolished the emergency recognition lights, the S.C. radar
antenna and the TBS transmitting antenna.
The third shell, believed to be in the same
slave, hit above the yardarm bending the ladder and flying
fragments knicked the yardarm and stays.
The fourth shell went through the port side of
the hull frame 160, through compartment C-203-L, damaging lockers
and exploding 5 or 6 tanks of 5" ready service powder killing six
men by burns, concussion and shrapnel. This hit also severed all
power leads to #4 handling room, and fragments entered the power
panel at the bottom of the shell hoist.
The fifth hit (a 15" hole) pierced the port
bulkhead of the crews' washroom, frame 155, destroying the
urinals, damaging the flushing system, and piercing the
ventilation system, twisting and bending the forward frame to #3
handling room fragments pierced the prophylactic station and sheet
metal partitions in head. This hit killed two men.
The sixth hit, a 15" diameter hole through
port side #3 handling room, frame 157 caused the ignition of 5
tanks of 5" ready service powder creating fierce fires, bending
and gutting the C-103-L bulkhead by the gun crews' passageway.
Fragments and shrapnel tore and twisted a transverse frame,
pierced holes in after deck house; severed battle, lighting
general power and general lighting cables. The ammunition joist
and bulkhead were pierced by numerous pieces of shrapnel. The
center column cable trunk and projectile hoist were also pierced
by fragments. This hit killed about five men.
The seventh hit shattered the port side
superstructure deck after deck house piercing the armor shield of
gun mount number 3 in numerous places, killing and severely
burning several men.
The eighth hit pierced the port side of gun
mount #3 and continued on through the starboard side, fragments
damaging rammer motor and killing one man.
The ninth hit pierced the lower after corner
of the amidships clipping room, making a hole about 14" in
diameter, severed upright in clipping room, cut the sprinkling
system pipe from #1 engine room, bent frame of WT door, fragments
setting off numerous pieces of small calibre and 20 mm ammunition.
Fragments passed through clipping room and carried away roller
path shield to #1 torpedo tube.
The tenth hit shattered the shield and O.D.D.
desk destroying it and fragments hitting the starboard torpedo
tube killing one man.
The eleventh hit pierced door and adjacent
section or inboard barrel of port torpedo tube, fragments piercing
machine shop, #4 barrel and torpedo airflask in starboard tube,
damaging trainers seat of starboard tube, and severing gland
exhauster line from forward engine room. It killed two men and
seriously injured two men.
Many fragments or shrapnel also pierced the
trainer's sight window on gun #4, shattering the telescope glass.
Origin of these fragments is undetermined. Probably they came
from a near-miss.
At the close of the action the conditions on
board the ship were as follows:
1. Gun #3 and 4 were out of commission.
2. Fires burning in #4 handling room,
compartmentO-203-L, #3 handling room and O-103-L.
3. S.C. radar out of commission.
4. Starboard torpedo tubes out of commission.
5. Port torpedo tubes empty.
6. Engineering plant was intact.
7. Starboard steering gear cable severed.
8. Degaussing cable starboard side severed.
9. T.B.S. antenna severed temporarily out of
10. The emergency power cable to the steering
motors was severed.
Following the battle, damage control measures
as outlined below were taken. Fires were fought in C-203-L, #3
and 4 handling rooms with C02 extinguishers and hose led into
compartment C-203-L to extinguish burning clothing and mattresses.
The after magazines had been flooded. The four holes in the
ship's side were plugged and shored. The water was drained from
compartment into magazine below and from here pumped out with a
portable submersible pump to maintain proper level. About two
inches of water was bailed out of compartment C-203-L and #4
(j) Casualties to Personnel:
JACKSON, George R. CTM(PA) KOPROSKI, Lawrence J. Sea2c
PETE, Leo J. F2c STAPELTON, James P. Sea2c
KOSS, Clifford N. Sea2c PONCHIN, Robert D. Sea2c
FLACK, Perry C. Sea1c KREILICK, Kenneth L. Sea2c
KULA, Mathew A. SC1c TYNAN Joseph M. Jr. Sea2c
WALKER, Williams S. Matt2c SPAULDING, Ronald G. Cox
LANOZAK, Chester J. F2c RUTH, Charles D. F2c
LACHAPELLE, Harry D. F2c MARM, Harry H. S1c
FRENCH, Loyd J. Sea2c NORMANDIE, Arthur M. Sea1c
WHITE, William J. Sea2c MARTIE, Vernon R.E. GM2c
SMITH, Joseph RM3c PERRY, Carmen D. S1c
KLEPACKI, Alphonse B. SC3c ROBINSON, "J" "E" Jr. SC2c
SMITH, Morris E. Sea2c HAZARD, Edward S. F2c
SMITH, Dale R. Sea2c PIKE, Amos F. F2c
Seriously injured and transferred to
NORGROSS, D.W. Sea2c - Multiple second and third degree
SKUTLEY, R.L. Sea1c - Burns.
LAYTON, S.R. Cox - Burns.
RICH, J.E. S2c - Burns, shrapnel wounds.
PARKIS, B.W. MM1c - Shrapnel wounds.
RHODES, H.G. TM3c - do
TAFIA, ON F2c - do
SHRIEVES, D.F. S1c - Burns.
TERRANO, R.R. RM3c - Shrapnel wounds.
Martin, L.A. F2c - do , burns.
HAWKINS, E.J. TM3c do
SEYMOUR, R. S1c - Burns.
KELLEY, D.W. S2c - Burns.
Lt(jg) J.D. Jeffery, USN - Multiple small shrapnel wounds.
HAMMACK, W.R. SF2c - do
SHELTON, J.W. FC1c - do
FORSMAN, C.L. Sea1c - do
DYERS, R.O. BM1c - do
The following named men were burned and jumped overboard
to extinguish the flames:
GODECKER, Hubert T. RM2c
SIMMONS, Clarence M. GM2c
GRANN, James I. Jr, Sea1c
CARTWRIGHT, William H. GM3c
VI. COMMENDATI0NS WHERE MERITED:
During the entire action and subsequent fires all
officers and men conducted themselves with the utmost coolness and
bravery. There was no panic. There was no confusion, and every
officer and man proceeded to do his own job regardless of
The medical department was remarkable for the efficiency
with which it functioned under difficult conditions. The medical
officer and his staff could not have done a better job. They were
assisted by CONN, G.E., Y2c, HAMMACK, W.R., SF2c, LOVAS, C.R.,
MM2c, and BOUDREAUX, F.A., F2c, who cared for the wounded
voluntarily in addition to their regular duties and watches until
reaching port, getting no sleep for at least 48 hours.
The following officers are deserving of special
Lieutenant C.H. Calhoun, U.S.N., gunnery officer, for
the accuracy of his control of the gun battery, and the fact that,
as we were retiring from tile battle area, he proceeded aft and
personally checked the work of fire fighting parties. At great
risk he entered the smoke filled handling rooms #3 and 4 and saw
that the after magazines were properly flooded.
Lieutenant (jg) G.W. Hanna, USNR, first lieutenant and
damage control officer, for the manner in which he directed the
damage control parties and the removal of the wounded, without
thought to his own safety.
Ensign P. Hall, U.S.N., assistant first lieutenant for
his courage in personally supervising the fire fighting below
decks, despite the dangers of smoke, gas, and overheated powder.
The following men are especially deserving of
ROBINSON, J.A. SFlc - During action #3 handling room was
hit and set on fire and 4 shell holes put in compartment C-203-L.
ROBINSON led fire party to extinguish fire and later patched holes
and shored up bulkheads. He worked continuously all night and the
next day reinforcing shores and operating pumps. It is
recommended that this man be advanced to Chief Shipfitter for his
efficient work in handling men and directing the repair party
under dangerous conditions.
MORRIS, D.B. MM2c - for heroic action under extremely
hazardous conditions helping fight fire and shoring bulkheads.
BLANKENSHIP, H. CCM(AA) - for his cool and efficient
work in fighting fires in #4 handling room and his leadership in
directing the fire party to successfully extinguish the fire which
helped the ship continue its fighting efficiency.
SPENCE, M.R. Sealc - for his assistance in removing
casualties from gun #3 and getting #7 life raft into water for men
from gun #4 who were thrown over the side.
MAYEFSKY, Jospeh, Sea2c - for assistance in removing
casualties from gun #3 and getting #7 life raft over the side to
men of gun #4.
KOEAK, J.J. Sea2c - for assistance in removing
casualties from gun #3 to wardroom and assisting in getting life
raft #7 overboard.
TALBOT W.W. CEM(AA) - for his tireless effort and
continued excellent performance of duty which was responsible for
repairing the sick bay and other electrical units necessary to
carry on the fighting efficiency of the ship.
WELLER, L.A. Sea1c - for gallant action under extremely
hazardous conditions. After #3 handling room was hit he led hose
into #4 handling room and shoring bulkheads.
DEAN, J.D. MM2c - rendered valuable aid in putting out
fire in compartment C-203-L and handling room or No. 4 gun.
KELLY, B.A. Sea1c - for fine assistance in handling
casualties of gun #3 and getting life raft over the side.
WHOLLEY, J.B. F3c - for assistance in handling
casualties of gun #3 and getting life raft over the side.
HODGE, H.J. CGM - for his immediate courageous and
efficient actionafter the ship was hit by enemy shells. HODGE
immediately ascertained the damage done, took charge in the
vicinity of #3 and 4 handling rooms, fought the fire, removed
wounded, and personally removed ready service ammunition which was
sizzling hot and on the point of exploding (some of this powder
did explode in mid-air after it was thrown overboard).
FRAY, V.W. WT2c - for his assistance in righting the
fires in handling rooms #3 and 4, including his help in removing
burning mattresses, clothing, and overheated ready-service powder.
BURRIS, G. Sea1c, LASTRA, L.J. Sea2c, and HOMER, F.A.
Seac2c - for their assistance in running hoses into #1 handling
room, for removing burning material from vicinity of fires, and
for assisting HODGE in handling ready-service powder which was
close to the point of explosion.
KENNUM, L.G. CTM(AA) - for his assistance in fighting
the fire on gun #3 and in #3 handling room, and for his heroic
action in entering the flames from this handling room in order to
operate the magazine flooding valves, which operation doubtless
saved the ship.
SEYMOUR, H.A. Jr. Sea1c - for his courageous and
unselfish action when after being severely burned in gun #4, he
immediately, with complete disregard for his own safety, broke out
fire hose, coupled it together (judging from the present condition
of his hands this was really remarkable) and fought fire on #3
mount. He also helped extinguish fires on clothing of SEUTLEY and
NORCROSS, and assisted in removal of wounded from gun #3.
SKELTON, J.W. FC1c - for his cool and efficient
performance of duty as rangefinder operator when after being
painfully struck by shrapnel he (although he could in no way
determine the extent of his wounds except to feel flood soaking
his shirt) calmly identified silhouettes as they appeared, gave
target angles and speeds, and ranged under the most trying
BYERS, R..O. BM1c - for his cool and efficient
performance of duty as director trainer when after being struck in
the neck by shrapnel he stuck to his post until ordered by the
gunnery officer to leave during a lull in the action.
VII. LESSONS LEARNED AND RECOMMENDATIONS:
It is recommended that: All TBS orders be paralled
by C.W. radio.
A spare temporary emergency identification light string
be ready to run up with a halyard for night action.
A cease firing gong contact maker be installed on the
bridge for use of the captain in stopping gun fire, with a sounder
in the gun director in addition to those already mounted in gun
The flagship must be equipped with the most modern
Consideration should be given to locating remote
control release to magazine flooding and sprinkling valves on the
top aide. It is very difficult to operate them in smoke and
J. C. COWARD
Copy to: Cominch (direct).
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
FIRST ENDORSEMENT U.S.S. HELENA 10-s
November 21, 1942.
From: The Commanding Officer, U.S.S. HELENA.
To : The Commander south Pacific Force.
GILBERT C. HOOVER
A16-3/(90) SOUTH PACIFIC FORCE
Serial 00151b OF THE UNITED STATES PACIFIC FLEET
S-E-C-R-E-T HEADQUARTERS OF THE COMMANDER
SECOND ENDORSEMENTT to
CO USS STERETT Secret ltr.
DD407/ A16-3(005) dated
November 20, 1942.
From: The Commander South Pacific Area and
South Pacific Force.
To: The Commander in Chief, U. S. Pacific Fleet.
Subject: Report of Action on Night of November 12 - 13
2. Another splendid example of the fighting spirit of
the men in our destroyer force. Only after having all offensive
armament except forward 5" guns put out of action and being
completely ablaze aft did the STERETT retire. Fire control and
damage control are considered outstanding.
3. Specific comments are as follow:
(a) F.D. radar proved invaluable.
(b) Attention invited to possible enemy use of a new
type pyrotechnic reported on page 7, par.l IV (a).
(c) Another instance when the TBS could not be heard
CO USS STERETT
DD407/TS133 U.S.S. STERETT
December 6, 1942
From: The Commanding Officer.
To: The Chief of the Bureau of ships.
Subject: War Damage to U.S.S. STERETT (DD407).
Reference: (a) BuShips Conf. Ltr. C-FS/L11-1(374) C-EN26/A2-11
of April 17, 1942.
1. The damages listed below were received from enemy
action by this vessel on the night of November 12-13, 1942.
Preliminary repairs were made by the U.S.S. TANGIER and
photographs taken. Supplementary repairs were made by the U.S.S
(a) Date damage received - November 13, 1942.
(b) Geographic position - Lat. 09-10S; L. 159-55E.
(5 to 10 miles east of Savo Island).
(c) Depth of water - over 100 fathoms.
(d) Weather - fair.
Sea - smooth.
Visibility - about 4,000 yards for ships, 15,000 yards
for prominent land objects.
(e) Draft (approx) before battle - Fwd. 12'-06"
after battle - Fwd. 11'-02.5"
(f) Slight list, immediately corrected.
(g) Before battle - course 310° T.
speed 18 kts.
After battle - course; in general easterly.
speeds 10 to 37 kts.
(h) Narrative of events:
Preliminary: Task group 67.4 under Rear Admiral
Callaghan consisted of CUSHING (CDD10), LAFFEY, STERETT, O'BANNON,
ATLANTA, Rear Admiral Scott, SAN FRANCISCO, Rear Admiral
Callaghan, PORTLAND, HELENA, JUNEAU, ARRON WARD (CDS12), BARTON,
MONSSEN, and FLETCHER was operating in GUADALCANAL area.
Nov. 12, 1942 - 2000 - Ship at general quarters.
Condition Afirm set.
- 2203 - Reversed course after covering
Nov. 13, 1942 - 0026 - c/c to 275° T. passing through
Lengo Channel in column with
Task Group 67.4 (Admiral Callahan)
in order listed above.
0028 - c/c to 285° T. Enemy planes over
0130 - Enemy forces located by radar.
0148 - Illuminated briefly by enemy
searchlight to port.
0149 - Open fire on cruiser on star-
board bow. Range 4,000 yards
opening. Fired 13 salvos of 5".
Not practicable to fire torpedoes at
this time. Numerous direct 5" hits
were made and a fire started around
number two turret. Range was then
fouled by O'BANNON and fire was
0151 - Received hit No. 1 (see below).
0155 - Task Group received orders from
O.T.C. to "cease firing".
0205 - Received numerous near misses
and hit No. 2. Fired broadside
salvo of four torpedoes at Kongo
type battleship on port bow, range
3,000 yards. Fired eight salvoes
of 5"/38 at battleship bridge
structure. Two torpedoes were seen
to hit, starting large fires. A
couple minutes later men were seen
abandoning the battleship fore and
0220(approx) - Fired two torpedoes and
two salvoes of 5"/38 at DD on
starboard bow range 1,000 yards.
Enemy DD blew up and sank in about
one minute without being able to
fire a single shot.
0227 - Received hits No. 3-11.
0230 - Flooded all magazines aft. Fought
fires in gun #3, #3 and 4 upper
handling rooms, and compartments
mattresses against holes in hull.
Commenced retirement at various
Speeds and courses. All other ships
of our force, that were able to, had
started retirement prior STERETT's
last engagement. Blowing up the
Japanese destroyer at this time
confused the enemy. He not only
fired at the STERETT but also at his
own ships for several minutes.
0255 - Headed for Lengo Channel, course
0327 - Rudder jammed hard right. Backed
full to avoid grounding on Guadal-
0329 - Continued retirement using trick
wheel and rudder order indicator.
(i) The fighting efficiency of the ship was reduced about
80% by the battle. Twenty percent of the ship's company had been
killed or seriously wounded. Both torpedo tubes were disabled (2
remaining torpedoes were jammed in barrels, and one air flask was
punctured); guns 3 and 4 were out of commission; 2/3 of the 5"/38
ammunition was under water; the degaussing cables were out and the
starboard steering cable was severed. As soon as STERETT was out
of the enemy heavy cross fire boilers #1 and 2 (2/3 of total
boiler power) had to be secured. The fire main in the forward
fireroom had ruptured due to shock. All ventilation was out due
to grounding of transformers. Water supply to forced draft blower
lubricating oil coolers was lost. A jumper was rigged using fire
The 5" gun director and 5" guns 1 and 2 were in full
commission; all six depth charge throwers were in commission; all
six machine guns were undamaged; both depth charge racks were
available; QC units were functioning; both main engines, #3 boiler
and the steering engine were satisfactory.
The STERETT had engaged three enemy ships, a light
cruiser (probably of the Natori class), a Kongo type battleship,
and Fubuki type destroyer (sometimes spelled Hubuki). Fires were
started on the cruiser and it later exploded while under fire from
one of our heavy ships. Two positive torpedo hits were scored on
the battleship, fires were started and the ship abandoned. This
battleship received severe punishment from several of our ships
and was sunk later by our torpedo bombers. The destroyer exploded
and was seen to sink in less than a minute.
II. DIRECT HITS BY PROJECTILES:
(a) Hit #1.
1. Common projectile - weight undetermined -
4" diameter - either delayed action or faulty
2(a). Range of enemy - estimated 3,000 to 4,000
yards, relative bearing 280°.
3. Impact at frame 159 port, 2½ feet above fuel
oil tank top.
4. This projectile passed through bunks, numerous
lockers, two side bulkheads of ready service powder
stowage in #4 handling room and exited through
starboard hull frame 166, one foot below main deck.
5. Thickness of plating pierced - ¼ inch.
6. Projectile did not detonate.
8. (a) -
(c) Fragment cut starboard steering cable.
(d) Several minor fires were started.
10. Fires were put out quickly, holes in ship's hull
were plugged and secured by shoring. Steering
control was shifted. There was also a momentary
mechanical jam of steering wheel which was handled
by maneuvering with engines.
1. Projectile common - 6" diameter, instantaneous
2. (a) Range of enemy about 4000 yards: relative
3. Hit 4 feet below yardarm of foremast.
5. Thickness of plating penetrated ½ inch.
6. Detonated on impact.
7. High order detonation - no fragments recovered.
8. Impact gouged a hole 6" in diameter cutting about
half the diameter of the mast away.
(c) Fragments severed the main stays and cut mast
ladder in tow. Several small fragments hit director
and dented housing and radar antenna. Fragments
demolished emergency recognition lights, "SC" radar
antenna and TBS transmitting antenna.
10. Rigged temporary manila stays to support mast.
Rigged temporary T.B.S. antenna and emergency
1. Projectile - 6" common - instantaneous fuze.
2. (a) Enemy range 4000 - bearing 230°.
3. Impact 3 feet above yardarm on foremast.
8. No serious damage except to dent the mast, bend
mast ladder, knick the yardarm in several places
and demolish recognition lights.
10. See hit No. 2.
1. Projectile - 4" common - weight of 75% of
complete projectile shell recovered 20 lbs;
delayed action fuze.
2.(a) Enemy range 3000 to 4000 yards - relative
3. Impact at port side of hull, frame 160, 5 feet
below main deck.
4. Projectile passed through bunks and lockers, struck
center support of handling room doorway, passed
through handling room, penetrating the end of ready
service projectile bin and starboard bulkhead of
handling room, expended its energy on after bulkhead
of compartment C-203-L, frame 167, where it was
found on deck.
5. Shell penetrated plating ¼" - handling room door-
way frame 5/16", center doorway panel 5/16",
corner of ready service projectile stowage 1/8",
handling room bulkhead 5/32", vertical upright
7. Low order detonation.
8. (a) - (b) - (c) Very little fragmentation of
Projectile. Damage sustained almost entirely
from extensive fragmentation of handling room
doorway frame and panel. Large splinters from
this structure flew in almost every direction, one
pierced handling room bulkhead, cutting all of
gun 4# power cables and penetrated the hull at
frame 165 starboard, 3 feet above the water line.
Other large fragments pierced the power panels
at bottom of gun center column, tore apart the
ready service projectile stowage, and out the
(d) Fragments struck ready service powder stowage.
Fires were started. Six cartridges exploded.
9. Heavy smoke and acrid fumes were present.
10. Holes were plugged with mattresses and plugs held
in place by shoring. Fires started by this
hit were fought, using house from all over ship,
and CO2 extinguishers from all spaces aft including
engineering spaces. All after magazines were
flooded and all power cut out to guns #3 and 4.
Main generators tripped out but were immediately
cut in again, after cutting out power aft.
1. Projectile - common, major caliber, undetermined
diameter. Hole of entrance measured 15 inches
across shortest diameter. Instantaneous fuze.
2. (a) Enemy range between 270 and 300°.
3. Impact occurred against port bulkhead of crews
washroom, frame 155, 3 feet above main deck.
4. Detonated on impact.
5. Projectile penetrated ¼" bulkhead.
6. Apparently detonation occurred instantly.
7. High order detonation.
8. (a) - (b) Explosion tore large pieces off from
the handling room doorway frame, also severely
bending and twisting it, and destroyed the crews
(c) Severe damage resulted from flying fragments.
Large fragments pierced the center column of the
gun, severing all power cables; pierced projectile
hoist in several places; pierced after bulkhead
(1/2") and starboard bulkhead of handling room
(1/4") in several places; pierced the upper end of
the lower ammunition hoist; pierced ventilation duct
gas ejection); pierced bulkhead near the
prophylactic urinal; pierced handling room doorway
9. Dense smoke was present.
10. Fires were put out to localize damage, one member
of repair party, despite fierce fires and dense
smoke climbed through opening, made by projectile,
in bulkhead and opened magazine flood valves.
Normal access to these valves was blocked by
distorted doors and dished in bulkheads.
1. Projectile - same as hit #5.
2. (a) Same data ad hit #5.
3. Impact at port side #3 upper handling room frame
157, about 4½ feet above main deck.
4. Same data ad hit #5.
5. Same data ad hit #5.
6. Same data ad hit #5.
7. Same data ad hit #5.
8. (a) Impact caused 15" hole in the port handling room
(b) Explosion warped overhead deck plating and gun
#3 foundation and caused severe fire.
(c) Fragments pierced projectile hoist, center
column cable trunk, pierced the overhead (3/8"),
pierced starboard (1/4") and after handling room
bulkhead (1/2"), pierced one large overhead
longitudinal frame (1/4"). Distances of fragment
holes from point of detonation between 4 and 15
(d) Subsequent explosions resulted when fragments
detonated several tanks of ready service powder.
This caused severe deformation and buckling of light
bulkhead in compartment C-103-L and severe fires.
(e) Entire handling room and adjacent gun crew
shelter and crews head caught fire.
9. Dense smoke and acrid fumes.
10. Damage control party put out fires. All men that
could be spared from engineering spaces were ordered
to bring additional fire fighting equipment to
vicinity #3 handling room.
1. Projectile - same data as hits #5 and #6.
2. (a) Same as hit #5.
3. Impact occurred against port side superstructure
deck after deck house.
4. Same date as hit #5.
5. Thickness of plating penetrated, deck ¼" and
6. Same data as hit #5 and 6.
7. Same data as hits #5 and 6.
8. (a) - (b) Explosion shattered deck and bulkhead at
point of impact.
(c) Pieces of shrapnel pierced armor shield (1/4")
of gun mount number three in numerous places and
pierced the projectile hoist, severed hydraulic pipe
lines, and pierced elevating and training motor.
In addition fragments dented the base ring in the
vicinity of the roller path, causing probable
deformation or crushing of rollers, so that gun
cannot be trained.
10. Several hoses were played on fire through top of
No. 3 mount. Burning clothes on men were ripped off and seriously
burned men were sent forward.
1. Projectile - common - weight undetermined 4"
diameter - either delay action or faulty fuze.
2. Enemy range estimated between 3000 and 4000 yards,
relative bearings 280°.
3. Impact port side of gun mount number 3 about 2 feet
from deck of gun mount.
4. Pierced shield of gun mount and continued on through
5. Thickness of plating penetrated, gun shield ¼".
6. Projectile did not detonate.
7. No detonation occurred.
8. (a) Impact caused 4" hole in port side of gun shield
also about 10" hole in starboard side shield.
(b) - (c) - (d) - (e) -.
1. Projectile - common, undetermined weight and
diameter though probably 5 inch, instantaneous fuze.
2. (a) Enemy range - 3000 yards, relative bearing 280°.
3. Impact at lower after corner of amidships clipping
5. - Detonation at impact.
7. High order explosion.
8. (a) Made a hole about 14" in diameter in bulkhead of
(c) Fragments pierced port bulkhead of clipping room
(aluminum ¼"), severed vertical support (1/8"),
severed sprinkling system pipe line, bent W.T.
door frame, pierced four 20 mm magazines
detonating several rounds of 20 mm, passed
through after clipping room bulkhead, carried
away roller path shield (1/8") of #1 torpedo
tube and shattered gear teeth of training rack
of #1 tube.
(d) Slight explosions initiated by detonation of
20 mm and 45 calibre ammunition in clipping
Flash started minor fires and set fire to
clothing on torpedo men.
9. No noxious gases.
10. Put out fires.
1. Projectile - estimated type common, weight unknown,
diameter 5"; instantaneous fuze.
2. (a) Enemy range 3000 yards. Enemy relative bearing
3. Impact on after port upper corner of gangway desk.
6. Projectile detonated on impact.
7. Detonation was high order.
8. (a and b) impact and/or explosion demolished light
aluminum gangway desk and shield.
1. Projectile - estimated type, common - weight
unknown, diameter 5", instantaneous fuze.
2. (a) Enemy range about 4000 yards - enemy relative
3. Impact at door of inboard barrel, port torpedo tube.
5. Thickness of plating penetrated: Door (3/8") and
side wall (1/8") of #1 torpedo barrel of #2 torpedo
6. Projectile detonated immediately after piercing
7. Detonation was :high order".
8. (a) Impact tore 5" hole in door and wall of torpedo
(c) Fragments pierced machine shop bulkhead (¼"),
side wall of #4 torpedo barrel starboard (5/32") and
torpedo airflask (3/8"), severed glad exhauster line
from forward engine room.
J. G. COWARD
Copy to: Cominch (direct)
Nyd MI (direct)
(006) U. S. S. STERETT
November 22, 1942
S E C R E T
From: The Commanding Officer.
To : The Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet.
Via : The Commander South Pacific Force.
Subject: Sinking of the U.S.S. JUNEAU, report on.
Reference: Art. 712, U.S. Navy Regs. of 1920.
(b) CinCPacConf. Ltr. 16CL-42 of March 19, 1942.
(c) CinCPac Conf. Ltr. 24 CL-42 of June 21, 1942.
Enclosure: (A) Sketch of tactical situation at time of
explosion on JUNEAU.
1. The U.S.S. JUNEAU was torpedoed and sunk at 1101
(-11 ZT) November 13, 1942, in latitude 10-34 S; Long. 161-04 E.
2. At time of attack:-
(a) Task group 67.4 was retiring from battle, base
course 180° T, speed 18 knots, zig zag plan #8, formation as per
(b) Weather: surface visibility unlimited, seventy
five percent overcast, alto cumulus clouds.
(c) Sea smooth; wind force 3, 090° T.
(d) All ships in this formation, less the FLETCHER,
had been damaged in battle on the morning of November 13, 1942.
The STERETT was limited to 21 knots. The JUNEAU had been
torpedoed in forward engine room and was several feet down by the
bow, Due to this condition the JUNEAU had taken station on the
starboard quarter of the SAN FRANCISCO. The SAN FRANCISCO had
been severely damaged, exact condition unknown to STERETT. The
O'BANNON had been in the formation in the early morning but had
been sent off to transmit an urgent radio message. The O'BANNON
had been selected for this duty because both sound units were out
of commission and she therefore was of no value in the A/S screen.
Maximum speed of O'BANNON was 23 knots.
0615 - STERETT joined HELENA, SAN FRANCISCO, JUNEAU,
O'BANNON and FLETCHER. O'BANNON reported both sound units out of
commission. STERETT took A/S screen position 4330 and assigned
FLETCHER station 4030, circle spacing 1,000 yards.
0809 - O'BANNON left formation as per below quoted
To: O'BANNON, INFO: All ships present.
PROCEED TO VICTORY LATITUDE 9 DASH 50 LONGITUDE 161
DASH 30 AND TRANSMIT MESSAGE DELIVERED NOW X REJOIN
AT 10 DASH 20 S 161 DASH 03 E AT ABOUT 1000 X EXPEDITE".
0950 - STERETT had sound contact. Reported contact
by general signal and T.B.S. STERETT delivered and urgent depth
charge attack and other units maneuvered radically to clear area.
Results of attack unknown. Contact was definitely submarine as
good hydrophone effect was obtained. This submarine could not
possibly have been the one that delivered an attack one hour and
ten minutes later.
1035 - Sighted several unidentified planes in clouds
on starboard quarter. A/S screen immediately closed to 2000 yards
General quarters and condition Afrim were set. Planes soon departed,
still unidentified. STERETT ordered A/S screen so resume normal
1058 - STERETT was on A/S screen station and resumed
condition two mike sail and baker.
1101 - JUNEAU was blown up in one tremendous explosion.
The entire ship was instantaneously enveloped in a cloud of yellow,
black and grey smoke. Large particles of debris were thrown several
hundred feet in the air. When the smoke cleared the JUNEAU had
completely disappeared. No debris of any size could be seen. No
survivors were seen. Everything apparently had been "sucked" under
when the JUNEAU sank.
The remaining units maneuvered radically at high
speed to clear the area. No attempt was made to search for sur-
vivors, none seemed warranted. The ships were in extremely
dangerous submarine waters. An enemy force of one battleship,
one cruiser and four destroyers had been reported in Indispensible
Strait, course 125° T, speed 20 knots (NPM #326 of November 13,
1942). Our unit had suffered heavy battle damage and two destroyers
were definitely needed in screen.
The STERETT had no sound contact at this time,
possibly because she had just returned from A/A station to A/S
screen at 21 knots.
1125 - One B-17 stood in close to formation. HELENA
transmitted a message to this plane. It was believed the plane
had seen the explosion and would immediately submit necessary
1430 - O'BANNON stood in and rejoined formation
shortly thereafter and was assigned position 1000 yards ahead of
HELENA, sound gear being still out of commission.
J. G. COWARD
Copy to: Cominch (direct)
Information U.S.S. STRERETT
Dictionary of Fighting Ships
U.S.S. STRERETT DD-407
Completed - 1939 - 40
DD 397 BENHAM
DD 398 ELLET
DD 399 LANG
DD 402 MAYRANT
DD 403 TRIPPE
DD 404 RHIND
DD 405 ROWAN
DD 406 STACK
DD 407 STERETT
DD 408 WILSON
1,500 tons (stand)
2,300 tons (Mean War Service)
Length: 341' (oa)
Draft: 17' (max)
4 5"/38 DP
2 40mm twins
2 DC tracks
4-6 DC projectors
2 21" TT (quads)
Speed: 34 knots (max)
Max. Cruising radius:
2,300 miles @ 25 knots
4,900 miles @15 knots
Horsepower: 50,0000 (shaft)
Drive: 2 screws; geared turbine
Fuel: 528 tons oil (max)
The BENHAM's are slightly improved GRIDDLEY's. Outwardly, the
principal difference consist of a smaller, oval stack, enclosed single
mounts for the after guns, and a lowering of the trunked boiler
uptakes leading into the stacks. Torpedo tubes are still in side
mounts, but reduced from 16 to 8 in favor of heavier close-defense AA
War losses include:
DD 397 BENHAM
DD 405 ROWAN
To learn more about the U.S.S. STERETT
visit their Web-site http://www.sterett.org
HISTORICAL CENTER Has photos of DD-407
Online Has photos of DD-407
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