How the US Won the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal | Battle 360 | History


NARRATOR: Friday, November
13, 1942, 1:48 AM. Anti-aircraft
cruiser USS Atlanta patrols the dark waters
off Guadalcanal island in the South Pacific. USS Enterprise has been out
of action for two weeks. And with all the other
carriers in the Pacific down for the count,
these smaller ships must face the enemy alone. Atlanta has sent her
share of Japanese planes to the hunting grounds of hell. But tonight she’s stalking
imperial warships, one of 13 American
vessels on the prowl for an enemy force
of destroyers, battleships, and cruisers. Two massive naval groups
are about to collide in a terrific clash of steel
But what the crew of Atlanta doesn’t know is
that they’re already locked in the
cross-hairs of the enemy. The first of the enemy gunships
move into position to bombard Henderson Field from
Guadalcanal’s Sealark Channel, but these bloody waters will
soon go by another name– Iron Bottom Sound, the final
grave for dozens of warships and thousands of men. In the predawn darkness,
the enemy ships run right into the
guns of USS Atlanta and the American surface
fleet patrolling the waters off Guadalcanal. Like battling pirate ships,
the two sides pound each other from close range, and
the cruiser Atlanta is caught in the firestorm. Steel lightning explodes, as
shells and giant orange tracers fire into the night. Japanese, and American
gunships crucify each other with savage volleys of shot,
shell in Guadalcanal’s Iron Bottom Sound. Hit by the direct fire from
more than six American ships, the destroyer Akatsuki blows up. Destroyer USS Laffey closes
in alongside battleship Hiei and rakes her decks with
rapid-fire five-inch shells and machine guns. From the island, US Marines
watch the epic battle unfold. It goes on for hours. One of the surviving
American Naval officers described this particular
action as a barroom brawl after the lights
had been shot out, and that’s exactly what it was. NARRATOR: Dawn reveals the
scene of an apocalypse. The waters off Guadalcanal
are coated in oil, debris, and human remains. Hundreds of sailors, including
two American admirals, have been slaughtered in
one of the grittiest Naval gun battles of the war. Throughout the
morning, a sea tug navigates the bloody waters,
rescuing American sailors. Most Japanese
survivors are killed. Among the casualties of November
13 is cruiser USS Juneau. Lost when the ship sunk
are all five Sullivan brothers of Waterloo, Iowa. MARTIN K.A. MORGAN: As a
result of the loss of the five Sullivan brothers
on the USS Juneau, the Navy implemented a
sole-survivor policy, meaning that the sole
surviving son of a family would be reassigned to
non-hazardous duty, the thought being that if he continued
to serve in hazardous duty, they didn’t want a family that
lost all of its sons in combat. So the result was sole
survivors would be reassigned and would not be in harm’s way. NARRATOR: The long
morning of November 13 is one of the darkest periods
in the history of the US Navy. The grim tally– cruisers
Atlanta and Juneau are gone, USS Laffey and four
destroyers are wiped out, four additional Allied
ships are damaged, and more than 1,400
Americans have perished. Once again, the US Navy has had
to pay a terrible price to hold Guadalcanal for another day.

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