Savo by BeyondVR ()
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The 1st Marine Division landed on Guadalcanal, the morning of August 7, 1942. Acting immediately, Vice Admiral Mikawa, commander of the 8th Fleet at Rabaul, assembled a scratch force of 4 heavy cruisers, 2 light cruisers and one destroyer to destroy the transports. The view here is from Florida Is., looking south toward Guadalcanal. The unloading area was to the east (left), out of the picture.
Not knowing that air search had been inadequate, Adm. Turner did not rate the possibility of a surface attack highly, but a mixed screening force was put in place. The most likely approach of a Japanese attack force was either north or south of the volcanic cone of Savo Island, so the Allies had two destroyer radar pickets guarding the entrances to these passages, and two screening forces to the east. The screening forces were three heavy cruisers and two destroyers each, except that Adm. Crutchley, RN, had taken HMAS Australia from the southern group to a meeting on Adm. Turner's flagship. Afterward, he had decided not to return for fear of night maneuvering. Only the Japanese would have a flag officer present at the Battle of Savo Island, the night of August 8-9, 1942, where the US Navy suffered the worst defeat in its history.
Mikawa's force was able to sneak through the passage when the pickets were sailing away from each other, and surprise the southern group. USS Chicago was torpedoed and HMAS Canberra was decimated. Rain squalls trailing southeast from Savo blocked the view for the northern force, and USS Chicago issued no contact report. Sounds of Japanese torpedoes exploding at the ends of their runs were mistaken, by the northern task group, for anti-submarine action taken by the southern group. Furthermore, no one in the northern group knew that Adm. Crutchley was not in command, and the captain of USS Vincennes was expected to fight his own ship and also command the task group. Mikawa's force had inadvertently split in two, eventually catching the northern force in a cross-fire.
Pictured here is USS Astoria, trailing her sisterships USS Vincennes and USS Quincy. The northern force was patrolling a box at 10 knots, at reduced readiness, when three of the Japanese cruisers snapped on their searchlights. It was all but over at this point. Four Allied heavy cruisers became the first residents of what would become known as Ironbottom Sound. Admiral Mikawa's scattered group needed to be reformed, and he decided not to attack the transports, fearing carrier air attack. The naval fighting around Guadalcanal would become the bloodiest the world has known. Poser 6/Bryce 6.