Destroyer Class: Fletcher
Commissioned 1942
Length Overall 376' 5"
Extreme Beam: 39' 7"
Mean Draft: 17'9"
Standard Displacement tons: 2,050
Normal tons: 2,325
Designed Complement: Off.: 20;  Enl.: 309
Armament: Primary: 5"/38 caliber
Armament: Secondary:  5 40mm twin
4 20mm; 4 1.1"
Torpedo Tubes: 2x5 21"
Designed Speed: 35.2 knots
Designed Shaft Horse Power: 60,000
Screws: 2
Engine Manufacturer: Four Babcock & Wilcox boilers
Type: geared turbines.
Fuel (oil) tons 492

WAR DIARY of the U.S.S. O'BANNON Nov.1 to 30, 1942

Action Report on the Night of Nov. 12-13, 1942 of USS O'BANNON


U.S.S. O'BANNON (DD-450) 
From 1 November to 30 November 1942

           Original to       Chief of Naval Operations
                             (Office of Naval Records and Library)
           Copy to           Commander in Chief, U. S. Pacific Fleet.

November 1, 1942 - Sunday

        Steaming in company with Task Unit 62.4.5 composed of O'BANNON as 
        escort and BELLATRIX (towing PAB Barge #6) and BOBOLINK enroute 
        Ringbolt from Button speed of advance 9.5 knots, in accordance with 
        Commander Task Unit 62.4.4's Movement Order No. 5-42 of October 30, 
        1942 (Copy attached).  Course set passing east and north of San 
        Cristobal.  No unusual incidents.

D. J. MacDonald,
Lieut-Comdr., U.S. Navy

November 2, 1942 - Monday

        Numerous contacts reported, all plane contacts were observed as 
        friendly, unable to develop one fair sound contact. 
        At 1200 stood into Sealark Channel.  At 1350 BELLATRIX was relieved of 
        her tow and stood into Tulagi harbor.  At 1730 BELLATRIX stood out of 
        harbor and we retired to Eastward upon receiving information that 
        numerous enemy ships were enroute.  Upon receipt of despatch from 
        C.T.F. 62 set course to south to pass Sea Cristobal to west and south, 
        Task Unit ordered to return to Button at best speed.  Nothing 

D. J. MacDonald,
Lieut-Comdr., U.S. Navy

November 3, 1942 - Tuesday

        Reversed course and proceeded to return to Ringbolt.  At 0930 joined 
        ALCHIBA, HOPKINS and WOODWORTH and stood into Sealark Channel at 1230.  
        At 1330 task units parted company; BELLATRIX stood into Tulagi Harbor 
        and anchored.  Patrolled entrance until 1800 then stood into Tulagi 
        Harbor and anchored.  Standing by in all respects.

D. J. MacDonald,
Lieut-Comdr., U.S. Navy

November 4, 1942 - Wednesday

        At 0533 underway, stood out of Tulagi Harbor and commenced patrolling 
        off entrance.  At 1150 air raid warning received from Cactus, all 
        hands called to general quarters.  At 1340 secured from general 
        quarters.  At 1530 BELLATRIX stood out of harbor enroute White Poppy 
        via Sealark Channel, took station as escort, patrolling ahead.

D. J. MacDonald,
Lieut-Comdr., U.S. Navy<

November 5, 1942 - Thursday

        Steaming on course 180° T at standard speed of 15 knots, zig-zagging. 
        No unusual incidents.  At 1900 changed base course to 193° T.

D. J. MacDonald, 
Lieut-Comdr., U.S. Navy

November 6, 1942 - Friday

        Steaming as before on course193° T at 15 knots, zig-zagging.  At 2043 
        changed base course to 145° T.  No unusual incidents.

D. J. MacDonald, 
Lieut-Comdr., U.S. Navy

November 7, 1942 - Saturday

        At 0405 changed base course to 133° T.  Radar contacts made on land 
        and friendly planes.  At 1014 all hands called to general quarters and 
        tested main armament.  At 1640 stood in to Bulari Passage.  At 1827 
        moored alongside SS J. C. DONNELL, oil tanker.  Received fuel.

D. J. MacDonald, 
Lieut-Comdr., U.S. Navy

November 8, 1942 - Sunday

        At 0754 underway, stood in to Great Roads and anchored.  At 1536 
        underway proceeding to clear harbor with Task Force 67, composed of 
        CITY; escorts, O'BANNON, MONSSEN, BARTON, JUNEAU; support group, 
        PORTLAND AND JUNEAU, enroute White Poppy to Cactus, via west of New 
        Caledonia.  No unusual incidents.  Base course 300° T, speed 13.5 

D. J. MacDonald, 
Lieut-Comdr., U.S. Navy

November 9, 1942 - Monday

        At 0650 changed base course to 328° T and changed standard speed to 13 
        knots.  During forenoon tested armament.  During afternoon PORTLAND's 
        planes made runs for A.A. drill.  At 1325 changed base course to 340° 
        T.  At 2300 changed base course to 005° T.

D. J. MacDonald, 
Lieut-Comdr., U.S. Navy

November 10, 1942 - Tuesday

        At 1250 changed base course to 010° T. At 1520 U.S.S. SHAW joined 
        formation.  At 1812 received guard mail from SHAW.  No unusual 

D. J. MacDonald, 
Lieut-Comdr., U.S. Navy

November 11, 1942 - Wednesday

        At 0500 all hands called to general quarters.  At 0514 sighted Task 
        Group 67.4.  PORTLAND and JUNEAU left formation to join T.G. 67.4.  At 
        0543 changed base course to 330° T.  At 0550 secured from general 
        quarters.  At 0947 changed base course to 285° T.  At 1147 made radar 
        contact on plane to west distance 16 miles.  Plane closed and was 
        sighted at 8 miles and indefinitely identified as enemy float plane.  
        Enemy plane opened range to west and disappeared.  At about 1230 a 
        large twin tail flying boat, believe enemy, was sighted low on horizon 
        to west about 9 miles.  At 1358 SHAW had sound contact and left 
        formation to develop.  Task group 67.4 parted company.  At 1430 
        changed base course to 350° T.  At 1830 changed course to 358° T 
        standing into Indepensible Strait from west of San Cristobal.  At 2300 
        changed base course to 333° T.

D. J. MacDonald,
Lieut-Comdr., U.S. Navy

November 12, 1942 - Thursday

        At 0113 O.O.D. reported sighting submarine on surface distance 800 
        yds, see action report.  Fired two shots from 5" guns and stood over 
        to estimated position and dropped ten depth charges.  All hands called 
        to general quarters.  At 0130 secured from general quarters.  Stood 
        into Lango Channel to landing beaches off Kukum point.  Task Group 
        67.4 joined and formed screen around transports.  At 1320 received air 
        raid warning, all hands called to general quarters; transports got 
        underway; combatant ships formed tight circular screen around 
        transports at 1500yds.  See official action report.  At 1407 enemy 
        torpedo planes attacked.  At 1450 all clear sounded.  Enemy's attack 
        was complete failure, all planes except one out of at least 15 were 
        shot down by ships A.A. fire.  No casualties in thins vessel.  One 
        plane struck SAN FRANCISCO's aftermast.  At 1835 transports underway 
        to retire to eastward, this vessel joined Task Group 67.4 which formed 
        column for battle disposition order as follows:  CUSHING, LAFFEY, 
        AARON WARD, BARTON, MONSSEN, FLETCHER.  Proceeded to clear through 
        Sealark Channel covering retirement of transports.  At 2000 all hands 
        called to general quarters.  See action report for account of what 
        followed during later evening of 12th and early morning of 13th.

D. J. MacDonald,
Lieut-Comdr., U.S. Navy

November 13, 1942 - Friday

        See action report for details of what happen during early morning of 
        13th.  At 0408 joined SAN FRANCISCO, HELENA and FLETCHER.  Some what 
        later STERRETT and JUNEAU joined.  Standing southeast in Indepensible 
        Strait.  At 0700 transferred Medical Officer and Hospital Corpsmen to 
        SAN FRANCISCO.  At 0800 left the Task Group and set course to eastward 
        to transmit message for C.T.G. 67.4.  At 1017 changed course to rejoin 
        formation.  At 1526 rejoined formation.  It was noted that JUNEAU was 
        missing from formation.  Proceeding to Button on base course 135° T at 
        a speed of 18 knots, zig-zagging.  At 2000 changed base course to 110° 

D. J. MacDonald,
Lieut-Comdr., U.S. Navy

November 14, 1942 - Saturday

        At 0400 changed base course to 125° T.  At 0834 sighted transport 
        group of T.F. 67.  Commenced steering various courses proceeding to 
        Button along eastern coast of Espiritu Santo Island.  At 1615 entered 
        harbor and went alongside TOPPAHANOCK to fuel.  Fueled ship remained 
        alongside all night.

D. J. MacDonald,
Lieut-Comdr., U.S. Navy

November 15, 1942 - Sunday

        At 0200 the Commanding Officer was called to a conference with 
        Comairsopac.  At 0603 U.S.S. DALE came alongside and fueled and 
        cleared at 0730.  At 0805 underway and proceeded to anchorage.

D. J. MacDonald,
Lieut-Comdr., U.S. Navy

November 16, 1942 - Monday

        At 1000 underway went alongside NICHOLAS and moored.  Filled allowance 
        of ammunition and depth charges but not torpedoes.  At 1423 NICHOLAS 
        underway and stood out.

D. J. MacDonald,
Lieut-Comdr., U.S. Navy

November 17, 1942 - Tuesday

        At 0550 underway proceeding out of harbor in company with SOUTHHARD 
        acting as escort for transports enroute Button to White Poppy.  
        Commander Task Force 62 in McCAWLEY O.T.C. Transports present: 
        course through New Hebrides Island and then to eastward and southward 
        of New Caledonia, at speed of 13 knots.  At 1327 went ahead full speed 
        to investigate strange ship observed hull down on port hand.  
        Investigated small island schooner, Free French colors.  Nothing 
        suspicious observed rejoined formation.  No other incidents.

D. J. MacDonald,
Lieut-Comdr., U.S. Navy

November 18, 1942 - Wednesday

        Exercised all batteries and tested main and automatic armament.  At 
        2305 changed base course to 247° T.  Sighted two friendly ships, MEADE 
        and GAUDALUPE.

D. J. MacDonald,
Lieut-Comdr., U.S. Navy

November 19, 1942 - Thursday

        At 1052 anchored in Dumbea Bay, Noumea, New Caledonia.  No unusual 

D. J. MacDonald,
Lieut-Comdr., U.S. Navy

November 20, 1942 - Friday

        At 0540 underway and stood into Drydock ARD-2 to check repair if 
        possible hull damage received during engagement of 13th. (See War 
        Damage Report) original submitted to Bureau of Ships.  Wire brushed 
        and painted bottom.

D. J. MacDonald,
Lieut-Comdr., U.S. Navy

November 21, 1942 - Saturday

        At 1030 underway from Drydock; made test runs in Dumbea Bay, results 
        satisfactory.  At 1135 moored alongside GWIN in nest alongside 
        WHITNEY.  At 1405 Admiral Halsey was received aboard.  The tender 
        commenced making minor war damage repairs to right barrel No.1 torpedo 
        mount, rangefinder elevation gear, and gun captains hatch on gun No.1.  
        No unusual incidents.  

D. J. MacDonald,
Lieut-Comdr., U.S. Navy

November 22, 1942 - Sunday

        Nested outboard of GWIN alongside WHITNEY, effecting minor repairs.

D. J. MacDonald,
Lieut-Comdr., U.S. Navy

November 23, 1942 - Monday

        Undergoing tender repairs.  Transferred 1000 gals potable water to 
        Y.M.S. 99.

D. J. MacDonald,
Lieut-Comdr., U.S. Navy

November 24, 1942 - Tuesday

        Fueled from WHITNEY.

D. J. MacDonald,
Lieut-Comdr., U.S. Navy

November 25, 1942 - Wednesday

        Availability completed.  At 0732 underway, proceeding to anchorage in 
        Great Roads.

D. J. MacDonald,
Lieut-Comdr., U.S. Navy

November 26 and 27, 1942 - Thursday and Friday

        At anchor in Great Roads, Noumea, New Caledonia.  Ship's personnel 
        taking opportunity of some recreation.

S. E. Davis,
Lieut-Comdr., U.S. Navy

November 28, 1942 - Saturday

        At 1522 underway proceeding out of harbor as an escort in company with 
        SOUTHARD, HOVEY, and STACK, patrolling ahead of sortie of HUNTER 
        LIGGETT, KENMORE and JOSEPH TEAL.  Task Unit 62.4.7 enroute White 
        Poppy to Cactus-Ringbolt area, via west of New Caledonia.  Set base 
        course 230° T, ahead at standard speed 11.5 knots, zig-zagging.  At 
        1822 changed base course to 280° T.  At 2020 changed base course to 
        300° T.

D. J. MacDonald,
Lieut-Comdr., U.S. Navy

November 29, 1942- Sunday

        All hands called to general quarters, tested armament.  At 0931 
        changed base course to 327° T.  At 1923 changed base course to 315° T, 
        at speed of 11.5 knots, zig-zagging, making good 90%.

D. J. MacDonald,
Lieut-Comdr., U.S. Navy

November 30, 1942 - Monday

        At 0812 changed base course to 017° T.  At 1800 changed base course to 
        350° T.  After dark called all hands to general quarters and conducted 
        tracking exercises.  At 2020 changed base course to 022° T. SOUTHARD 
        reported sound contact but was unable to develop.

D. J. MacDonald,
Lieut-Comdr., U.S. Navy


        E. R. WILKINSON,
        Commander, U.S. Navy,


DD450/A16                           U.S.S. O'BANNON (DD450)

Care of Postmaster, San Francisco, California, November 17, 1942.

From:         The Commanding Officer.
to  :         The Commander in Chief, United States Fleet.
Via :         The Commanding Officer, U.S.S. HELENA (Senior Officer,
              Task Force 67.4)
              The Commander South Pacific Force.

Subject:      Report of engagement with Japanese units on morning of
              November 13, 1942.

Enclosures:   (A) Track Chart.
              (B) Radar PPI Diagrams (1), (2) and (3).
              (C) Report of Executive Officer.

    1.  The following is a report of the engagement with units of the Japanese 
        fleet in the waters surrounded by Guadalcanal, Savo, Florida, and 
        Tulagi Island in the early morning of November 13, 1942.


        Our force steaming in column order as follows: CUSHING, LAFFEY, 
        AARON WARD, BARTON, MONSSEN, FLETCHER, entered the east end of Lengo 
        Channel at about 0000 November 13, 1942, steaming on course 270°, 
        speed 18 knots.

        At 0030 the report was received from the director control that a 
        torpedo wake was sighted ahead passing from starboard to port.  This 
        wake could not be seen by Conn.  No offensive action could be taken by 
        any ship at this time, therefore, no report was made of this probable 
        torpedo.  At this time the sky was quite dark, moon had become hidden 
        behind dark clouds, a limited number of stars were visible, and there 
        was a slight breeze from north northeast.  The sea was smooth.  The 
        ship was in Condition of Readiness I and Material Condition ZED.

        At 0100 course was changed to 280° True.


        At 0130 radar contact was made with enemy units being reported 
        directly ahead and on starboard bow.  The formation course was 
        immediately changed to 310° True.

        At 0137 course was changed to 000° True.  At about this time this 
        vessel's radar screen showed contacts as noted on Enclosure (B-1).  
        Targets were reported by TBS to be on port bow also.

        At 0143 course was changed back to 310° True.

        At 0144 torpedo battery and gun battery were ordered to stand by for 
        action starboard.

        At 0145 three to five ships were visible on starboard beam, distance 
        about 4000 yards.  Three units were heading on an opposite and 
        parallel course at slow speed.  See enclosure (B-2).

        At 0148 order was received over TBS from O.T.C., "Odd ships fire to 
        starboard, even ships to port".  At this time the column was jamming 
        up due to the turn to 310° True.  This vessel was making many rudder 
        and engine changes to avoid collision with ship ahead.  The gun 
        battery was given "Action Port".  The enemy unit which had been 
        visible on the starboard bow could not now be seen and the torpedo 
        battery was ordered to stand by for action port.

        At 0149 enemy vessel on port bow opened searchlight on CUSHING and 
        commenced fire.  Fire from our units was commenced immediately 
        thereafter.  Guns were ordered to shoot at the searchlight on port 
        bow.  It is believed that this searchlight was shot away by our fire 
        for shortly thereafter several blazes were noted on enemy vessel under 
        fire and the searchlight went out.  Our tracers were definitely seen 
        hitting the forward superstructure.  The target's gunfire became 
        sporadic.  This target was thought to be a heavy cruiser.

        At 0153 turned hard right and hard left to avoid collision with ship 
        ahead (STERETT), then resumed course approximately 270° True to rejoin 
        column astern of LAFFEY.  At this time it was observed that CUSHING 
        and LAFFEY were receiving many hits from cross-fire on port and 
        starboard bows.  Rejoined column shortly thereafter and continued fire 
        on a target which now had been identified as a Kongo type battleship.  
        The identification is considered certain because at this time there 
        was a flaming enemy unit on the opposite side along our line of fire 
        which silhouetted this battleship sharply.  My impression at this time 
        is that there were light enemy units drawing ahead to starboard.

        At 0154 order was received over TBS to cease fire.  This order was not 
        authenticated.  Check fire was given and the order given "pick up 
        target on starboard bow".  At about this time the two ships ahead, 
        CUSHING and LAFFEY, were lost to sight to starboard, the LAFFEY 
        apparently sinking.  This vessel was then about 1800 yards from the 
        battleship and in the lead of our column.

        At 0155 there was heavy gun fire to starboard.  No targets were 
        visible to Conn but control said there were several vessels to 
        starboard on westerly course, one of which could be identified as a 
        three-funnel Tenryu class cruiser.  Gun fire was opened on this 
        cruiser.  See Enclosure (B-3).

        At 0156 the range to the Kongo type battleship on the port bow had 
        closed to 1200 yards.  There were numerous fires on this battleship 
        and its gunfire had slackened.  Its fire was all passing over this 
        vessel.  Two aimed torpedoes were fired deliberately at this 
        battleship on the port bow.  Each of these torpedoes were fired to 
        hit, no spread.  Before firing the remainder of torpedo salvo it was 
        intended to await the results of shots 1 and 2.  It was then decided 
        to fire the remainder of a torpedo salvo.  Just as the third torpedo 
        was fired, a tremendous explosion was noted and the battleship was 
        enveloped from bow to stern in a great sheet of flame.  Burning 
        particles fell on this vessel's forecastle.  It was decided not to 
        fire more torpedoes at this time, it being considered killed by these 
        three torpedo hits.  Torpedo five was checked.

        At 0159 gun targets were lost to starboard.  Fire was ceased and ship 
        was swung right to reverse course to about 090° True.  At this time 
        there were five burning and exploding vessels on the starboard quarter 
        and one explosion was noted at a long range off forward of the port 
        quarter.  Control reported that no definite targets could be picked 
        up, Conn could see nothing.

        At 0201 the ship was swung hard left to avoid the sinking bow of what 
        is now believed to be the LAFFEY.  Many personnel were sighted in the 
        water and about 50 life jackets were thrown over from this ship.  
        Shortly thereafter, torpedo wakes, at least two, were seen to pass 
        ahead.  This vessel swung hard left.

        At 0203 experienced a heavy underwater explosion which seemed to be 
        close aboard on the port beam.  This may have been depth charges from 
        LAFFEY but since it was a single sharp explosion it is believed that, 
        rather then depth charges, it may have a torpedo detonating at end of 
        run.  All light and power was lost.  Light and power was regained very 
        quickly but many electrical circuits had been ruptured.  The gun and 
        torpedo controls were reported available in local control.


        This ship then broke off action at approximately 0204 and headed 
        southeast attempting to locate either definite targets or definite 

        At about 0215 a smoking vessel was sighted on the port bow.  This 
        vessel could not be identified.  Torpedo battery was ordered to stand 
        by for action.  This vessel apparently was drawing away to northeast.  
        Although this vessel could not be identified, torpedo fire was 
        withheld.  (From subsequent tracking by radar this smoking vessel was 
        later identified as SAN FRANCISCO with HELENA close by).  From its 
        size and indistinct outline the vessel was believed to be a transport.  
        Thinking that transports may have gotten in, this vessel turned to the 
        south and investigated the coast line about two miles west of Lungi 
        Point where a light was visible on the beach.  No transports were 
        seen.  At about this time the HELENA was heard on the TBS and 
        information received that HELENA and SAN FRANCISCO were standing out 
        Sea Lark Channel.  This vessel then stood out Lengo Channel and joined 
        as escort with HELENA and SAN FRANCISCO at 0415.

    2.  There were no personnel casualties:

        Damage sustained:
             (a) Large fragment of 8" shell hit right barrel of forward 
                 torpedo mount.
             (b) Vibration of port engine believed misalignment or propeller 
                 damage due to underwater explosion or to passing through 

        Damage observed:
             (a) Own forces:
                 (1) Sinking of LAFFEY (0154-0201) (Lat. 09° -15.6' S., Long. 
                     159°-54' E.)
                 (2) Many hits on CUSHING, practically cutting her down to the 
             (b) To enemy forces:
                 (1) Fire throughout and heavy explosions in one Kongo type 
                     battleship.  Location of this burning ship was 
                     approximately Lat. 09°-16.3' S., Long. 159° -54' E.  It 
                     is believed that this battleship sunk.  Several witnesses 
                     state that it was "sagged in the middle and going down".  
                     No witnesses can say it disappeared below the water 
                 (2) Small fie aft in Tenryu type cruiser fired upon by this 
                 (3) At least five other burning vessels, one to the west and 
                     four to the southwest of above location.
                 (4) Two burning vessels, one to the north and one to the 
                     north northeast of above location.

    3.  Impressions of Commanding Officer and various personnel:

             (a) There were heavy guns firing from long range, 10-16000 yards, 
                 from between Savo and Florida Islands, all during the 
                 engagement.  This firing appeared slow and deliberately 
                 controlled.  The Air Defense Officer and the Gunnery Officer 
                 both reported observing this fire and watching the tracers 
                 pass overhead.

             (b) Aircraft flares were believed used by the enemy.  Many flares 
                 were observed between 0205 and 0215 for which there was no 
                 corresponding gunfire.  Some of these flares were dropped 
                 directly over this vessel and the gunfire noted above was 
                 believed at this time to be directed at this vessel as a hail 
                 of shorts and overs were noted.

             (c) That the enemy units were not surprised in the main, although 
                 the enemy units that passed astern to starboard and then 
                 returned passing ahead to starboard, at high speed, were 
                 firing very few guns.

             (d) That the enemy illuminated and opened fire first.

             (e) That the enemy fire was extremely accurate and rapid in the 
                 very early stages of the action but that accuracy and volume 
                 decreased materially within a matter of 2-3 minutes from open 

             (f) That in the latter stages of the action the enemy's center 
                 and left groups were firing at each other.

             (g) That the use of searchlights for illumination and gun control 
                 is an invitation for accurate fire concentration and that 
                 tracer control is sufficiently accurate not to warrant use of 

             (h) That SG radar is invaluable to the OTC and each individual 
                 ship for early and continued information of disposition of 
                 own and opposing forces.

    4.  The officer and men of this vessel handled the ship and 
        themselves excellently.  No praise can be too high for the expected 
        manner in which they remained unflinching and steadfast at their posts 
        with shells from all sides falling short and over.  It is believed a 
        tribute to the spirit and indoctrination of the Naval Service that a 
        group of American men and boys, many of them never having seen a ship, 
        could be welded into an organization that would stand up so calmly 
        under fire in the short period of this vessel's official life, June 26 
        to November 13.  The officers and men of this crew, each and everyone, 
        handled themselves like veterans and are greatly deserving of all 
        meritorious considerations.    


Copy to:
    Comtaskfor 62 (CTF-67)

Back to the top


November 16, 1942

From:         Executive Officer.
To:           The Commanding Officer.

Subject:      Report of personal impressions and recollections of the night 
              Action with Japanese units in Guadalcanal - Florida Island Area, 
              November 13, 1942.      

Reference:    (a) Article 712, U.S. Navy Regulations, 1920.

        1.   In accordance with reference (a) the following report and resume 
             of my own personal impressions, recollections and recommendations 
             of the subject battle are submitted.


    (A) All hands were called to general quarters at 2003, November 12, 
        1942.  At general quarters, I believed the officer-of-the-deck 
        and remained on the bridge assisting at Conn in order to free the 
        Captain of the responsibility of keeping station.  The ship took 
        station fourth in column order as follows: CUSHING, LAFFEY, 
        AARON WARD, BARTON, MONSSEN, and FLETCHER.  This group of 13 vessels 
        formed what was called Battle Disposition I, simply a column with 4 
        destroyers, 5 cruisers and 4 destroyers.

    (B) This task group was covering the retirement of another task group 
        composed of 4 transports, 2 auxiliary vessels, and their destroyer 
        escort which were clearing Guadalcanal Area via Lengo Channel.  Our 
        task group cleared Sea Lark Channel, stood east into Indispensible 
        Strait, then southeast and reversed course to due west proceeding to 
        entrance of Lengo Channel.  The sea was clam, there was no moon, the 
        ceiling being completely overcast.


    (A) At 2400 November 12, 1942, our task group was off Taivui Point 
        proceeding through Lengo Channel, at a speed of 15 knots.  My task at 
        this time was to keep the ship in position in column.  At 0103, 
        November 13, 1942, we cleared Lengo Channel and changed course to 
        280°, going ahead at 18 knots.  While steaming on this course a bright 
        light was observed sharp on the port bow; this light appeared to be 
        located on the beach; at approximately this same time word was 
        received over the loud speaker that there was a air raid warning on at 
        Cactus; also word was received from our lookouts that unidentified 
        planes showing running lights were overhead.  At 0130 Commander Task 
        Group 67.4 ordered course changed to 310° true by a column movement.  
        It was while on this courses that information began to be received 
        regarding radar contacts on our starboard hand.  The JUNEAU reported 
        radar contacts on the TBS.   
        At 0137 Commander Task Group 67.4 ordered the course changed to north 
        by another column movement.  While steaming on this course Commander 
        Destroyer Division 10 in the CUSHING reported over TBS, ships on his 
        starboard bow and also ships on his port hand.  Commander Task Group 
        67.4 then ordered course changed by column movement to 310°.  There 
        was considerable congestion at this turn, the leading ships were 
        falling back, we became bunched.  The O'BANNON turned inside to avoid 
        a collision with the STERRET, later easing out into column.  The 
        ATLANTA closed in close on our port quarter.  


    (A) The leading ships had just gotten on course 310° when word was 
        received over TBS to attack with torpedoes.  At practically the same 
        instant searchlight from enemy units were seen on port bow and on the 
        starboard bow, illuminating our leading ships.  Initially our guns 
        were trained to starboard and were prepared to fire on this side when 
        an order was received over TBS for even ships to fire to port and odd 
        ships to starboard.  There was a delay of possibly 30 seconds in 
        getting our guns trained out on the target to port.  Firing was 
        commenced by both our own forces and the enemy at practically the same 
        instant.  Our forward guns were trained on the searchlight on our port 
        hand.  Shortly after we had commenced fire something behind a Kongo 
        class battleship was hit causing the battleship to be beautifully 
        silhouetted at a range of not more than four thousand yards, this ship 
        appeared to be on course approximately north.  At the same time I 
        observed on our starboard bow an enemy three-stack cruiser (Tenyru 
        Class) on course about 270°, distance approximately 3000 yards.  This 
        cruiser appeared to be firing at the CUSHING and LAFFEY.  Aircraft 
        overhead dropped flares when the firing first started which lit up the 
        whole area so that our leading ships must have been clearly visible to 
        the enemy.

    (B) During this period, I was conning the ship, from an amidships position 
        at the forward bridge port; gun fire was evident coming from ships on 
        our starboard bow, distant 10 to 12 thousand yards, as the flashes 
        appeared as coming from low down in the water.  While we were firing 
        at the Kongo class battleship, I could distinctly see our bullets 
        hitting her superstructure, flashes, and sparks were coming out of her 
        pagoda tower.  Enormous flames began to appear in and around this 
        ship, her fire ceased and the ship appeared to be dead in the water.  
        About this time I noticed two flashes on the STERRET's stern as if her 
        after guns were hit.  It was shortly after this, that the STERRET 
        stopped in front of us and turned left.  We closed up vary rapidly, 
        orders were given as follows: hard right and emergency full astern.  
        We just cleared the STERRET's stern by about 30 feet.  After passing 
        the STERRET we again came back to course 310° and went ahead full.  At 
        this time I could only see the Kongo class battleship on our port bow.  
        There was firing on our starboard bow but I could not make out what it 
        was; the Japanese cruiser was not visible nor was the LAFFEY or the 

        My first thought then was to remain at full speed and cross ahead of 
        the battleship which seemed to be drawing ever closer.  It was time 
        the word was received over the TBS to cease fire.  It was carried out 
        in this ship.  The Commanding Officer ordered torpedoes fire at the 
        battleship on our port bow.  At about 0157 our course was changed to 
        the right, while making this turn I was concerned at the proximity of 
        the battleship and thought that we would not be able to turn clear of 
        her, so gave the following orders: hard right and emergency full 
        astern; when it was evident that we would clear safely, all engines 
        were ordered ahead full, and course changed to 090°.  The battleship 
        at this time was not firing and was enveloped in tremendous flames.  
        While in course 090° we were illuminated by searchlights and heavy 
        fire was going overhead, coming from the north.  Directly ahead I saw 
        the bow of a ship, I can distinctly remember seeing white numbers on 
        the bow, rudder was ordered to avoid this wreck and we unintentionally 
        passed through a number of survivors who were swimming on the surface.  
        They were screaming something.  I now think it was "LAFFEY"; a number 
        of our personnel threw life jackets, to them.  The firing still seemed 
        to be heavy from the north so that course was changed to southeast, 
        the general direction of the channel.  At about 0205 the ship was 
        shaken violently by an underwater explosion which virtually lifted the 
        stern out of the water.  I was looking out the front port at the time 
        and the airport came down hitting me on the head.  I thought the ship 
        had been hit somewhere about midships.  Word was sent down to the 
        repair parties and enginerooms to inspect immediately and report what 
        damage had been done.  Reports were promptly received that there was 
        no apparent damage but the after engine room reported a rumbling in 
        the port reduction gear and requested that we slow down.  The engines  
        were slowed to two thirds speed.  Considerable firing was still going 
        on and it appeared as though Japanese after we had ceased fire were 
        firing at themselves.  Two black objects were observed on the port bow 
        at approximately 3000 yards, from one great clouds of black smoke were 
        pouring.  These black objects later turned out to be the HELENA, and 
        SAN FRANCISCO.  Course was then changed toward the beach and we made a 
        sweep in the bight just west of Kukaum.  Upon completion of this 
        circle an approach was made to clear through Lengo channel.

    (A) With the use of the fathometer and by staying close to the shore line 
        our position as finally established.  We then proceeded through Lengo 
        Channel at approximately 18 knots.

    (B) During the passage through Lengo Channel information was received from 
        the radar personnel that there was a vessel hugging the shore line her 
        approximate bearing was on our starboard beam; three or four vessels 
        could be seen in Sea Lark Channel.  During our passage through Lengo 
        Channel, the Commanding Officer definitely established the identity of 
        HELENA, SAN FRANCISCO and FLETCHER over the TBS as being the ships 
        observed in Sea Lark Channel.  The ship on our starboard beam 
        apparently came visible well up on our starboard bow after she had 
        passed Taivui Point, this vessel after daylight was identified as the 
        JUNEAU.  At 0358 after clearing Lengo Channel we proceeded northeast 
        to join Task Group 67.4.


    (A) It was quite evident that the enemy were not surprised at our 
        appearance.  No doubt one Task Group of theirs was preparing to 
        bombard Cactus; they had aircraft overhead to provide the necessary 
        illumination.  The fragment which hit our ship was from an 8" 
        bombardment projectile.  The Kongo class battleship with which we 
        engaged appeared to be screening a contemplated landing operation in 
        or near Tassafaronga.  I believe that the light cruiser which was 
        observed on our starboard bow was the outer screen of the bombardment 
        force coming down the northeast, the main force of which was 12000to 
        14000 yards away when the firing commenced.  It is further believe 
        that the Japanese operations for this night had been well and 
        strategically planned in their entirety, and that we completely upset 
        their plans.  A submarine had been sighted off Koli Point according to 
        a report which we had received aboard (prior) to midnight of the 12th.  
        It is quite possible that this submarine was covering the channel and 
        inflicted some damage to the ships at the rear of our column.

    (B) During our approach to the battle area and while still in Lengo 
        Channel a report was received on the bridge from the gunnery officer 
        that we had just passed over the track of a torpedo wake.  This was 
        not observed by me although I was watching the water very carefully.


        Friendly:  I saw two large flashes appear around the after guns in the 
        STERRET.  The CUSHING and LAFFEY were observed to be under a cross 
        fire from the battleship on the port bow and the cruiser on the 
        starboard bow.  Both of whom were hitting our ships and tearing them 
        down gradually.  Heavy explosions were felt and heard throughout the 

        I did not see any enemy ships blow up and sink but I did observe great
        fires coming from something in behind the battleship on our port bow 
        and the later huge flames envelope the battleship.  Several ships on 
        our starboard hand were on fire but it was impossible to observe who 
        they were.

4. The following recommendations are submitted:

    (A) That less use of the TBS be made during the approach to an engagement.
        Further more it is not completely reliable with all the noise that is 
        created during an action.

    (B) That the PPI on the SG radar have a duplicate repeater on the bridge.


        I recommend that the following officers and men be commened for their 
        performance of duty far and beyond that expected of them in the normal 
        line of duty:

             Lieutenant George Philip, Jr., USN, for his maintaining strict 
             And controlled discipline over his battery and personnel during 
             the entire engagement; for being able to take the enemy under 
             rapid and continuous fire; and for his assistance in the 
             destruction of one enemy battleship and possibly one enemy 

             Lieutenant Carl Ferdinand Pfeifer, USN, for the efficient 
             operation of the entire engineering plant during the emergencies 
             which required at two different times, emergency full speed 
             astern, immediately followed by full speed ahead; and after 
             receiving an underwater explosion which caused the vessel to lose 
             light and power was able to make 24 knots.

             Richard Nelson Lanham, QM3c, USN, who was the helmsman during 
             entire action and who obeyed accurately every order which was 
             given to the wheel, through all the noise which was caused by gun 
             fire and explosions, telephone talkers and wind blowing through 
             the ports.  His work was so well done that in my mind if he had 
             not acted correctly and quickly we would have two collisions, one 
             with the STERRET and one with the wreck of the LAFFEY.

             James Homer Joiner, EM2c, USN, who had the intelligence and 
             presence of mind when this vessel was shaken violently by a heavy 
             underwater explosion causing the ship to lose light and power, to 
             quickly go behind the distribution board and throw in the 
             switches which had tripped, when everyone else in the engineroom 
             thought that the engineroom had been hit.

        That all hands are to be commended for their excellent performance of 
        duty while under the severe strain of continuous enemy fire and the
        close fire of our own vessels for a period of about 40 minutes.

D.J. MacDonald.

FIRST ENDORSEMENT               U.S.S. HELENA              10-S
November 21, 1942.

From:     The Commanding Officer, U.S.S. HELENA (Senior Officer Task Force 67.4).
To:       The Commander South Pacific Force.
   1. Forwarded.


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Serial 0270a

DD450/A16 Serial 0134 of
November 17, 1942

From:         The Commander South Pacific Area and 
              South Pacific Force.
To:           The Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet.

Subject:      Report of engagement with Japanese units on
              morning of November 13, 1942.

1.  Forwarded.

2.  The O'BANNON gave excellent account of herself.  The ship was 
    exceptionally well handled under the most trying conditions.  The 
    employment of both the five-inch and torpedo batteries left little to be 

3.  Concur in Executive Officer's recommendation that PPI repeaters be 
    installed on navigating bridge of destroyers.


Copy to:
Comtaskfor 62 (CTF-67)

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Sail George Radar PPI screen at time approximately 0140.
November 13, 1942.
Count of pips at I and II is not definite.
Counts of pips at III is 3.
Best count of total pips is 11

Sail George Radar PPI screen at time approximately 0145.
November 13, 1942
Count of pips at I and II is not dinite, although operator's impression is more than counted in these two groups at 0140.
Count of pips at III is 3 to 5.
New pips as shown at IV, count as shown, 1 single, 1 double.
Total pip count is 16.

Sail George Radar PPI screen at time approximately 0155.
November 13, 1942.
Count of pips at I,II, and III is confused, grouping was lost.
Count of pips at IV is as shown, 1 single, 1 double.

History of the U.S.S. O'BANNON DD-450


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